P**P on the bus

P**P on the bus

posted in: Brazil, Health | 11

 

Ok guys, this story has been written and waiting to be posted since before I started the blog… and I finally worked up the courage to share it with you. Enjoy….oh, and if you don’t like potty talk STOP READING NOW!

 

After I left the hospital in April of 2013, my health continued to deteriorate. I was unable to wean myself off of prednisone. Every time I lowered my dose by even one mg.,  I would experience terrible abdominal pain and cramping. I was in so much pain that I googled which was more painful, childbirth or a Crohn’s disease flare, because I was sure that I couldn’t feel much worse.  I found a forum for mothers with IBD.   Surprisingly, some of them said that a flare was worse than childbirth because it lasted longer and there was no prize at the end. I can’t tell you if that is true or not as I haven’t had a child yet, but needless to say, I was feeling pretty terrible. To make matters worse, my switch to the Autoimmune Protocol seemed to be yielding no results. I was having panic attacks and spontaneous bursts of rage for no apparent reason. At one point I made my husband come into a doctors appointment with me so that the doctor could tell him that I wasn’t really psychotic, my behavioral changes were side effects of my medication. She said that what I was experiencing was relatively tame in comparison with some of her patients who had called her hallucinating when they were on high doses of prednisone. One patient had even called her at 3:00 AM because they were seeing creatures crawling up the walls.

By the end of July I got to the point where I couldn’t leave the house without needing to go to the bathroom. URGENTLY. Countless mornings my husband and I headed out to work on the motorcycle and had to turn around two minutes later. I would run back down the steep driveway with the keys in my hand and sprint up the stairs. Sometimes I made it to the bathroom, and sometimes I didn’t. The stress of the situation seemed to trigger the problem, so I couldn’t just go before we left. I would be in and out of the bathroom four or five times in the morning and would get up at 5:00 hoping that if I had a few more minutes my system would kick everything out before I had to leave. We no longer had a social life because I was afraid to be more than 30 seconds from a bathroom. In retrospect I don’t know how I managed to keep working through this time.

 

This is the driveway I would sprint down in the mornings to get back to the bathroom
This is the driveway I would sprint down in the mornings to get back to the bathroom

 

One day, I had an appointment with my gastroenterologist at 11:00. My husband was working, so I told him “No problem.” I planned to take the bus to my appointment and have him pick me up whenever he was done. I was usually safe from bathroom emergencies after my morning debacle, and would only start having problems again around lunchtime. My doctor’s office was located in the business tower of a mall, so entertaining myself until he arrived would be no problem. Malls in Brazil are full of colorful spandex workout clothes and high-heeled shoes, two of my favorite things!!

I decided to take the “Selectivo” bus. You know how airplanes have first class seats? Well in Brazil there is a whole first class bus, with air-conditioning and foot-room. As an added bonus, it would leave me right at the door to the mall. While twice the price of the normal bus, the Selectivo was usually empty.  This meant I would be able to sit down instead of standing up smashed between a billion people as I would normally do.

Once I got on the bus I thought, “I will be fine, I don’t even feel like going to the bathroom.” Famous last words. About fifteen minutes into the trip my tummy started to churn. I began looking out the window for the nearest stop to see if I would be able to walk to a bathroom. Unfortunately for me, I had no idea where I was. The area between my work and the doctor’s office was frequently on the news for drug wars and there didn’t seem to be a lot of people walking around in the street. It is a decidedly bad idea to get off the bus and start walking around in a sketchy neighborhood. My husband used to say “In the good neighborhoods they ask you who you are and then shoot you. In the bad neighborhoods they shoot you and then ask who you are.” I didn’t want to take the risk of getting off the bus in a dangerous neighborhood, especially without the guarantee that there would be a bathroom. I was even more hesitant to get off the bus because the next bus wouldn’t come for at least an hour and might not even stop if the driver didn’t like the look of me (remember I took the fancy expensive bus, well they are few and far between and won’t stop if they think you look shady). All that was left was too try and make it. Which I didn’t.

 

Maybe not the best place to get off the bus...
Maybe not the best place to get off the bus…

 

When it became clear that the only bathroom I was going to manage to use was my pants, I rudely put my bag on the seat next to me and prayed that the bus wouldn’t fill up. At this point, getting off the bus wasn’t going to help me any and I might as well wait until I got to the mall. I knew the location of the nearest restroom at the mall and wouldn’t have to catch another bus. I alternated between almost laughing and crying for the rest of the trip. I had never been in such an awkward, embarrassing situation in my life. I wondered if I was the only one who had gone through this trauma. I thought about what others would think if they knew, and remembered how important it is not to judge others without knowing their story.

It seemed like an eternal bus ride. The bus appeared to take the least direct route possible. People got on and off the bus, but lucky for me it remained fairly empty. When we finally reached our destination, I realized something that was going to make my exit even less subtle. These cool, rich-people buses don’t have a rear exit and I was sitting near the front of the bus. Everyone would have to pass me to get off. I casually pretended to gather my things until everyone had passed and then quickly stood up and tied my jacket around my waist, hobbling awkwardly past the driver. I was so relieved that I had decided to grab a jacket when I left the house in the morning! Once I got to the restroom, I locked myself into the separate handicapped bathroom and did the best clean up possible. I called E, crying out of humiliation and frustration. I felt like I was no longer in control of my own body. On the bright side, I was in the mall already and had an excellent excuse to buy a new pair of pants.

 

here are some of my favorite colorful spandex items purchased in Brazilian malls
here are some of my favorite colorful spandex items purchased in Brazilian malls

Now I can laugh about these days, (yes there are more stories just like this one) but at the time, I think it was the most humiliating and awkward period of my life… worse than having acne and braces. There is nothing worse than being an adult and feeling like you should be wearing a diaper because you have no control over your bodily functions.

Having IBD, (inflammatory bowel disease) you are already a bathroom ninja. You usually know where all the bathrooms are in a radius of about 500 meters of every place you go. During the five months that followed this incident I became a bathroom Super Hero. I knew where every single bathroom was everywhere in the world. On the walk from my work to my mother-in-laws house there were exactly 3 bathrooms I could stop at without buying anything. My purse contained a change of clothes, and wet wipes. I always wore black leggings, partly because they were discrete and partly because I was so skinny that they were the only pants that fit me anymore. Usually, my super powers worked and I made it to even the most random bathrooms. Restaurants are the best when they are busy, no one ever tells you to buy anything because they don’t know if you are eating there or not and they are usually clean(ish). Sometimes I had to run out during class when I was explaining English grammar to 40 teens. I would just leave without saying anything and come back as if nothing had happened. I am pretty sure they had no idea what was going on, but I am still so grateful that they ignored my disappearances and even reminded me of what I had been explaining when I returned.

After almost six months of this nightmare my doctor had me tested for C. Difficile.  C. Difficile is a bacterial infection that only affects people with already compromised immune systems. It causes terrible diarrhea, weight loss, malnutrition and a host of other problems similar to those of IBD. In some cases it clears spontaneously, and in others requires hospitalization and can be deadly if left untreated.  I tested positive, so not only had I been experiencing a Crohn’s disease flare, but my body had also been battling against a sometimes lethal bacteria for six months. Once I took the required antibiotics I suddenly had control over my bowels and could leave the house without being terrified. The bacteria is also probably why I wasn’t seeing improvement with my dietary changes. My Crohn’s symptoms also began to fade once I was treated. Sometimes I wonder if the reason C-Diff. didn’t land me in the hospital or worse is simply because I was eating such a nutrient dense, whole food diet.

OK….I told my embarrassing story, now you can tell me yours!

11 Responses

  1. Francie Kell

    Great post!! So honest and real. Glad you can see the humor now but I can’t even imagine how panicked you must have felt in the moment. Thanks for sharing your journey! Keep up the good work!

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Thanks for reading! I am glad that I make light of these kinds of things…hopefully it will help others not feel so embarrassed in their own awkward situations 🙂

  2. antyKristen

    I can’t imagine. Admittedly, with my own form of IBS (not officially diagnosed), the worst was p**ping my pants while taking a jog (which has happened a number of times); I was fitting it in before taking a ferry to meet my son. If anyone noticed my beyond sweaty smell (I stood out on the car deck) they didn’t let on. You are so amazing!

    • want to do the thirty day challenge with me? maybe ari will join in?

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      I can only imagine!!! Ferries are the worst…. you run into all these people that you know and don’t really want to see, but there is nowhere to hide. Hopefully your IBS will get better, running seems to “get things going” down there….I had some similar running stories even before my diagnosis.

  3. I’m so proud of you for posting this!! I know what courage it takes to put yourself out there, it’s not easy! What an amazing story you have!! Alright, my most embarrassing moment? Hmmmm, I had a lot of them, but I’d have to say having an accident while I was in Disneyland! That was the day I knew my Crohn’s had officially returned, a year after having a small section of my colon removed. Now my husband I can laugh thinking about those crazy times!

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Oh man….that sounds like a good story. I am so glad we are both at a point where we are so much healthier and able to laugh at these crazy things that have happened to us with Crohn’s!

  4. Karunama

    Empathy. My most embarrassing things aren’t physical, except once, when out for drinks and dancing with girlfriends, I came back from the bathroom with toilet paper trailing the floor behind me from beneath my mini-skirt 😉 [snort!] My friends noticed right away so exposure time was short. The most excruciating thing coming to mind at the moment was when, as a young law wife I was trying to conform and participate and be that bright and vital young woman. I went to some law wives meetings and then was nominated to run for president! (of law wives 😉 I was pushing myself into something that didn’t fit me at all and I was practically pathologically terrified. The day came when I was supposed to give a speech and I was so scared I couldn’t even think much less talk. I knew my mom took tranquilizers so I got my doctor to give me a prescription. Before the meeting I took the prescribed dosage, I’d never taken any of this stuff before. The drug didn’t calm me, it just sort of lethargized me. I still felt paralyzing fear. Between the two — I couldn’t talk. But I wanted to be brave, didn’t want to give up, cave in and I didn’t know how to bow out at that point. At the right time I went up to the podium surrounded by a bunch of eager, smiling women who thought I was a great. They only knew me from some meetings but they’d spotted me as sort of a bright light in their midst. I got up there and completely shut down. You see, I was terrified of people. I could not say say a single thing. I saw the faces around me fold, look surprised, irritated, disappointed and finally concerned. I don’t quite remember what happened after that except that I was mute, left and never went back. I was trying to make myself, my fear of people, get “better” by forcing myself to do something I thought I should. But I couldn’t. Sometimes forcing oneself to do things breaks down walls and frees; sometimes it doesn’t.

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Toilet paper is not embarrassing!!!! But stage fright is….I can only imagine how you felt at the moment!

  5. looks like i wrote this post myself…i admit i never p*** in my pants but that’s only because i never had the courage to get on a bus during a flare.
    the early wake ups (5 am sounds just right), the scary way to work, the turning back, and the “lets not go to dinner-and a-movie but to a movie-and a-dinner because i rather go home after i eat…”…

    i empathy, totally.

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