The events that led me to getting diagnosed with IBS started after my first backpacking trip to the coast of the Olympic National Park. I was so worried about the pain in my abdomen that I cancelled my solo trip that year, because I didn’t want to have the pain escalate when I was hiking alone in the wilderness. I got all sorts of tests and finally got a diagnosis the following January.

I’ve been back from the coast for a about two weeks, and I have noticed an increase in abdominal pain. About a week after we got back, the IBS felt like it started to flare up. And about four days ago, the pain got intense enough to interfere with my getting a good night’s sleep. I imagine the next thing will be increasing pain, changing from burning to sharp.

I have to wonder if there’s something about the radical change in environment that affects me. Hiking on the coast exposes me to very high humidity. Close to 100%, I’d guess, when the fog is rolling over the beach. And Boise is in a high desert environment. Mostly low humidity – it’s kind of amazing how quickly things dry here, especially in the summer heat.

Or maybe there’s something in the water that works its way through my system. It probably isn’t food related, because I eat what I eat on any backpacking trip there. There is an exception – we’ve only ever had smoked salmon while backpacking on those trips, but each time we did, the sources were different – and it isn’t like I don’t eat salmon regularly at home in Boise.

I don’t have problems when I’m on the coast. I can get to a point when I’m having less problems while I’m in Boise. But moving from the coast to the high desert causes problems.

Of course, the problem with this theory is that I’ve also spent some time in South Carolina, not known for a dry climate, and returned without having these same kind of issues. Although I wasn’t backpacking in South Carolina. I spent most of my time in air conditioned, climate controlled buildings. I mean, yes, we went out on the lake, but I spent every night inside a house. So there is a difference in exposure level.

I guess if I want to prove this, I’ll have to travel to some other humid place and go backpacking. Maybe without any smoked salmon.

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