Life With IBS – Financial Independence and Disability

You might wonder why the featured image for this post is displaying a bathroom.

Surely, any post dealing with disability would more naturally display a picture of a wheelchair, or crutches?

Well, disability is different for everyone. And in our case, it is closely related to that tiled, warm room in the house we all love. For Mr. Frugasaurus this is often where he spends a large part of his day, and on that porcelain throne in particular.

When we go out, there has to be a plan for bathroom access.

Some days we don’t make it out the door at all, well-meaning intentions non-withstanding.

Mr. Frugasaurus has IBS, and that plays a large part in our quest for financial independence and employer independence.

 What is IBS?

IBS stands for “irritable bowel syndrome”. This is sometimes confused with “inflamed bowel syndrome/disease”, but these are actually two slightly different disorders, where the latter is considered to be more problematic for the person affected. Mr. Frugasaurus is afflicted with the former.

It is one of those diagnoses that you might get if the doctors can’t figure out what is wrong with you. It can include symptoms like pain, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and lack of energy. There is no cure, but some people find relief in taking a few grasps to change their diet.

We are currently experimenting with the low FODMAP diet. It has showed a relief in symptoms for up to three quarters of those suffering, so we figured those were good enough odds to give it a go. After some trial and error, onions have been permanently banned from our cooking (garlic and the green parts of leek seems ok in smaller quantities), along with legumes (sadly) and some other things. It is still an ongoing experiment, but onion seems to be one of the worst offenders.

How does this affect everyday life?

In addition to the pain the sufferer is going through, there is also a lot of stigma attached that makes it difficult for a lot of people to talk about IBS. After all, what seems more immature than bathroom jokes? How would you feel if you were so sick that you were not sure you could actually hold it until the next bathroom came about?

For some people, the shame and embarrassment becomes so severe that they become afraid to leave their own home.

If Mr. Frugasaurus has a reaction, food will pass through his system very quickly. And by that I mean very quickly. It can be no more than half an hour since he ate something and all of a sudden he has to find himself a bathroom. No ifs, buts or “just wait fifteen minutes”.

It has to be now.

This puts a lot of constraints on him in terms of when we can leave the house (never directly after he has eaten, but also not too long after he last ate, because he might be afraid to eat away from home unless there are proper facilities).

Unlike most frugal people out and about the city, we can’t just bring a snack to keep our blood sugar up. Even going to restaurants can be a challenge because, well, it is not uncommon that he has to stay in the bathroom for some time. Male restrooms often have only one stall, which causes issues in and of itself. But secondly, if you are sick, it is nice to be in the safe comforts of your own home.

Picnics? Forget them. We can enjoy a nice day in the sun, but leave the food at home. Park-side facilities are far too nasty, if there are any at all.

Working life

If you were suffering from what I just described above, can you imagine working in any kind of industry where you have to be on the clock to help customers? Or where your breaks are carefully scheduled?

Even a regular office job becomes a challenge. If you suddenly get stuck in the bathroom for an hour, should you work overtime to make up for it? Isn’t that punishing you for something you can’t do anything about? And would you be in shape to work overtime if you’re already feeling sick?

What about the days you can’t even make it to work? You’d need a pretty flexible employer to even bring up your issues in the first place.

Like, say, freelancing or working remotely?

Financial independence as the solution

Mr. Frugasaurus was already working as a freelance online translator next to his studies when I stumbled upon the idea of FI and employer independence.

He is now doing freelance and independent work after he graduated, and we expect his income to climb steadily. This way, he can keep up with deadlines in his own time, but without forcing himself to head down to an office to do work he might as well be doing remotely.

With FI as the backbone of our future, Mr. Frugasaurus could have a terrible flare-up one day, or even a whole week, and be allowed to be sick. He could just not take on as many projects that week, knowing that our economy can handle it.

Self-publishing

Another thing Mr. Frugasaurus is doing, is trying out self-publishing ebooks. The great thing about that is that the upfront costs are next to nothing if you have the ability to finish up everything yourself.

True, the product would be even better if you had a professional editor look at it for you, as well as pay for a cover designer and anything else you might need. But as a startup, it is good to learn the ropes without putting in too much cash. When things start taking off, that is the time to look at hiring other freelancers to help polish the product.

But the other great part of self-publishing, and publishing in general, is that once it’s out there, it stays there.

If you market your baby well, it can just keep selling. There is no deadline for how long your words could potentially bring you income.

If you can build a cushion of good, self-published works that sells well enough to keep a roof over your head? Everything else is gravy. And with other writers and creative people, you know they’ll always keep working on the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and…

Again, building up a portfolio that sustains us would allow Mr. Frugasaurus to be sick, when and how often he needs to be. He wouldn’t have to feel as guilty (I hope) about not getting anything done because he was simply feeling too sick.FI and Disability, dealing with IBS

For us, financial independence is the most badass life insurance we could find. It sits there, right next to buying and paying off a house. And if we can freelance our way to paying off a house? The rest will be gravy once said house is paid off and our expenses plummet.

Over to you!

Are you or anyone close to you struggling with something that makes it difficult to take on traditional work? Has it been a difficult thing to handle? How are you working your way around it? We’d love to hear about it!

4 Comments on “Life With IBS – Financial Independence and Disability

  1. I prefer outhouses to public washrooms. I get that’s probably a minority opinion but still holds true for me. I imagine it can be stressful planning so carefully but it’s great the fear has stopped him from getting out.

    Thanks for sharing! I know it’s not easy on stigmatized subjects.

    • Yeah, we avoid public washrooms too. We’ll pass any dining places without proper facilitoes (which brings its own slew of problems because he’ll get sick if he doesn’t eat as well). We are both adamant that it can’t stop us from going out, even if we are late sometimes.

      Thank you for reading!

  2. I appreciate you writing about this – not many people want to talk about it!

    I didn’t pursue a diagnosis until late last year, but 15+ years of IBS caused a whole bunch of secondary health issues and my IBS symptoms flared really badly, and have continued to get worse throughout 2018. I’m sorry to hear Mr Frugasaurus has such a rough time. I’m usually afraid of travelling to or staying anywhere unfamiliar for more than a couple of hours, so I can understand his worries.

    A diet with zero FODMAPs and almost no fructose relieves my symptoms 95% of the time. Rather than affect me in terms of career (although I’m so settled into my routine that I don’t think I’ll be changing my workplace soon) my grocery bill has increased dramatically. The good news is I absolutely cannot risk eating anything that I haven’t prepared myself, so – like Mr Frugasaurus – expensive restaurants are totally off limits!

    But I do resent it, because I used to spend a tiny amount on groceries before I got sick. Sometimes I dream about how all that extra money could boost my savings…. 🙁

    • Thank you for reading and finding us! It is a sensitive topic and so many people feel isolated and misunderstood!

      I have heard the low fructose argument from another person as well, so it might be interesting enough to look into closer. At the same time, we don’t want to end up with a monotone diet either. The grocery bill is a thing for us as well. Especially since beans and lentils are a trigger for sure (it’s difficult to find motivation to make hummus for one…), but clean, non-processed meat appears fine – but so much more expensive!

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