I’ve recently returned from a family holiday to Pattaya in Thailand.
You couldn’t ask for a more ideal setting for a holiday, the weather was great, the company was great and the hotel was fantastic.
For anyone who’s familiar with flying you’ll know the issues with using a plane toilet.
They are cramped, uncomfortable and a poor excuse for a toilet. I know we’re flying 40,000 feet in the air so I don’t expect luxury, some room to move would be nice though.
I’d been feeling unwell for a while previous to my holiday, lots of bowel movements, up to 40 times a day at some points.
I couldn’t tell you if this was stress related or not because I didn’t really feel much stress.
I was absolutely dreading the flight there to be honest, the day before we flew out I was stuck to the toilet. I’m not a nervous flyer- I’ve been on lots of planes so it wasn’t nerves? I just felt incredibly unwell. I couldn’t stop opening my bowels.
The day came, I’d already been to the toilet about 10 times before leaving the house- I had used a rectal foam enema to try and ease the urgency and I’d take some Loperamide to slow down the frequency of my bowel movements.
Luckily my dad had pre booked our seats on the plane, we were on a back row and right near the toilets- this put me at ease a little as I knew there wouldn’t be a huge walk or rush to find the toilet.
I still visited the toilet on the plane around 10 times despite my loperamide being taken.
To ease my apprehension of my bum leaking due to my diagnosis of Bile acid malabsorption I had also purchased some maxi sanitary pads to make sure if I leaked or had an accident that it wouldn’t seep through my clothes.
The first flight was to Doha and was approximately 7 hours, the second from Doha to Bangkok was 6 hours – it was a long journey, I was so bloated and uncomfortable and the loperamide had started to work- it’s annoying when you need to go and you can’t.
After arriving in Bangkok we had about an hour and a half drive to Pattaya with no stops. I decided to use the airport toilet just in case – I’m so glad I did.
Over the course of the holiday my Ulcerative Colitis was causing me real problems, I was constantly stuck on the toilet, I was in pain, I was leaking and bleeding.
It did mean that I did have to miss out on some family outings due to the unpredictable nature of UC I didn’t want to risk going out and feeling any worse than I did.
It was unfortunate as the trip was planned for my mums 50th birthday and I felt absolutely awful for being unable to spend quality time with my family but I was feeling so unwell and I don’t think I was good company.
I did have to refuse some day trips out due to the toilet facilities at the locations, having visited a few attractions before I was slightly apprehensive about the cleanliness and the traveling to and from them.
There were parts of my holiday which were great and I was able to get out and enjoy myself but for the majority of my holiday I was unable to fully emerse myself into the holiday as I was so nervous about being unwell and disconnected from my family.
I spent a lot of my time on the toilet or sleeping, it doesn’t sound much of a holiday does it? It was an ideal setting to be able to wind down and relax and recuperate, I had tried to do both but my toilet trips were getting in the way.
I wanted to highlight the unpredictability of Inflammatory bowel disease and how it can affect your daily life. I might look absolutely fine and be smiling but inside I’m in so much pain.
I’m extremely lucky to be able to travel with IBD and visit some beautiful places around the world. Just because you don’t see my pain doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Overall I did enjoy parts of my holiday which I’m incredibly grateful for. It’s just a shame I was unable to enjoy all of it.
That said I wanted to leave a few top tips that I found useful:
- Make sure you have all of your medications,make sure you have enough, if you don’t pack extra.
- Pack some wet wipes, anti bacterial gel and a change of clothing and underwear- if you do have an accident you’ll be well prepared.
- Purchase some sanitary pads or incontinence pads – they aren’t glamorous but they’ll really help.
- Pre book your seats if you can, if you can’t you can put in a special request at the time of booking.
Travelling with Inflammatory bowel disease isn’t easy. Infact it’s incredibly exhausting and testing at times.
U.K charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK have been working on their #TravelwithIBD campaign with airports/train stations and service stations to increase awareness of invisible illnesses like Inflammatory bowel disease and also encouraging them to provide better facilities.
Unfortunately in countries like Thailand there is little to no awareness of Inflammatory bowel disease or anything like the work Crohn’s and Colitis UK are doing.
Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s campaign Travel With IBD (click the link to sign) is supporting inflammatory bowel disease sufferers like myself to gain better access to facilities and raise much needed awareness.