I am a firm believer that a positive attitude alone can get you half way to anything you set your mind on. In the case of severe, debilitating Crohn’s disease, the other half comes down to science, the right medication cocktail and, more often than not, surgery. While my Crohn’s disease did take so much from me in my early twenties, I was determined to not let it take everything.
This meant that I would try to join my group of co-worker friends once a week for happy hour and dinner at a new restaurant fairly close to our office. My co-workers knew I had Crohn’s disease; they had to. I missed half a day of work every 4 weeks for my Entyvio infusions and had countless doctors appointments. They knew there were some weeks that I had to work from home more than my allowed 1 day a week, and they didn’t ask any questions. It was also the office joke that my 107 pound dog weighted more than me – I think this was actually the only way they could openly handle how skinny I had gotten. While they knew all these things about me, I always downplayed my Crohn’s to my co-workers, making it seem equivalent to the common cold. I never wanted special attention, nor sympathy. I really just wanted to be “normal” at work, because outside of work, my life was so far from “normal” for a 20-something female. Anyway, I felt happy hour and dinner once a week was a fairly “safe” event for me to attend. There were always bathrooms in restaurants. We typically had to work the next day, so the night ended early, and I always used my 55 mile commute home as an excuse not to drink.
One Thursday night, the group decided to visit a local pizzeria for our weekly event. Carbs always seemed to settle well with me (I used to joke with my sister that I was the skinniest fat-ass she would ever meet), so I ate the pizza and had a pretty good time! It was on the way home that IBD came a’knocking.
In true Crohn’s fashion, I suddenly had to go to the bathroom and had less than 30 seconds to get to one. Like I mentioned earlier, my commute was 55 miles one way. The bathrooms on my drive were like mile markers for me. Having to frequent them, I knew which ones were nice, which ones were scummy, which ones were one-personers, and which ones were port-a-potties.
On this Thursday evening, my closest option was the latter. And while I say “option”, I really had no choice. This particular port-a-potty was about 7 miles from my house and located at the base of a small mountain. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a sign that said the parking lot was closed after dark (yup, it was dark out), but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my shit together during the next 7 miles home. I parked my car, left it running with the lights on, and rushed towards the outhouse.
I took one step out of my car, and it happened. I could touch the door of the port-a-potty, but it was too late. This sitting-to-standing-bowel-release situation happened to me a lot. It was like getting your favorite colored balloon handed to you as a child, and then watching it float to the sky 5 seconds later. Heartbreaking, and so defeating. I decided to use the port-a-potty anyway, to clean up, before jumping back in my car to go home.
While in the port-a-potty, using my cell phone as a light, I heard another car drive into the parking lot. Totally freaked out, I decided my life was not worth this shit and opened the door to beeline to my car (which I left running for the lights). When I opened the door, five feet in front of me, stood. a. man. Scream here. I did.
It took me about 30 seconds to process that the man was shining a flashlight at me, wearing a hat, and was a police officer. He saw the lights on my car parked in a closed lot and was coming to investigate. I explained to the cop that I had severe Crohn’s disease and needed to use the bathroom on my way home from work. He profusely apologized for scaring me. And I was back in my car, headed home, sitting in a pile of my own shit (not that this was the first or last time it would happen).
To say I was glad that I had already shit my pants, before the police officer showed up, was an understatement. He actually had no idea that poop was oozing down my leg (I was wearing a dress)! My Crohn’s and BMs were very emotionally activated – regardless of the emotion – happy, sad, nervous, excited, SCARED…I guess this is the only instance in recent memory where I can say I was scared “shitless”.
Last September, I finally hung up my TP sash, and retired from my 10+ year rein on the porcelain thrown as the Port-a-potty Princess. Outsiders think having an ostomy is shitty, but they have no idea that the phrase “scared shitless” was invented by a Crohnie who shit their pants 5 minutes before being scared.
Former Port-a-Potty Princess, signing off.