The extent of my fears pre IBD extended to forgetting my lines for a performance I was in; singing in public; worrying how I would get through the worst hangover of all time and trying to meet university deadlines.
Being diagnosed with IBD and my worries changed.
My top three are easily:
Oh my god there is no toilet roll in the facility and I don’t have any on me.
Oh my god there are heaps of people in the toilet and I seriously need to go; and my personal all time favourite.
Oh my God, there are no toilets.
My life whilst having IBD became about toilets. I’d plan days out and my first initial thoughts were “are there any toilets nearby?”
If I was out, I’d make mental notes of any toilets I had seen and whether they were secluded.
Pre IBD I would use public toilets for wee wee’s only. However, when the option is use the toilet or shit your pants, you get over the fear of going publicly preeettty quickly.
I particularly remember once when I was out and suddenly, with no warning, had the urgency to go. If you imagine a time where you are really ill, and the urgency you felt when you needed the bathroom, that’s the urgency I regularly experienced.
I sought out the nearest toilet, failing miserably. Panic flooded through me, I needed a toilet now or I was about to have a horrific accident.
An angelic spotlight has appeared accompanied by Godly music and I found a secluded toilet.
The relief that I’ve made it in time and that there were no people in the bathroom to hear the dramatic symphony that took place floods through my system
I reach for the toilet roll; my hand comes back empty
I look around to see if there is any in sight.
It dawns on me; there is no toilet roll.
I start looking again, convinced I have missed it, though why I am looking upwards is beyond me, I just thought I’d check all bases.
I have done my business without checking to see if there is any loo roll.
I search my bag frantically.
Please something, anything.
Not even a receipt (which by the way I have also had to use when I had an incident with my stoma.)
I’m panicking now. Tiny beads of sweat have appeared on my brow and I feel uneasy.
And so my friends I made perhaps one of the most awkward decisions of my life.
I opened the cubicle door, pants round my ankles to see if there is any toilet roll in the next cubicle.
I made it without anyone barging in on my and seeing the sorry sight.
I breathe a huge sigh of relief and reach for the sacred paper about to grace my backside.
No toilet roll in here either.
Shit, fuck, monkey balls.
I am in a major predicament.
I have a do or die moment. Pull up my trousers and pretend that the faint smell of poo is not coming from me, and if it is I must have stepped in dog shit.
Or, and this is a big or, somehow manage to wash myself in a public bathroom.
I’ve worked out I’ve been in here for about 15minutes by myself. The chances of someone else coming in are highly likely.
I decide to wait a few minutes whilst I make my decision and then someone comes in.
My thankfulness is audible.
Thank God/Allah/Buddah/Any holy figure, I didn’t go at that time.
I wait with baited breath hoping they will be quick. They are.
As the leave I decide I have to do this now and off I stumble, like a penguin to the sinks.
I can’t believe, at this moment of my life, at 21 years of age, I have my pants down and I am attempting to wash my arse in a basin.
Somehow I manage to do it, dry it AND no one came in to witness the sorry spectacle.
I won’t lie to you; I felt a mini sense of achievement and walked out the bathroom feeling like a ninja.
I know some of you reading this would have been like “why the hell did she do it?”
I have, in my time of having colitis, had only two dreadful accidents and a sprinkle of oopsies that can be covered up easily.
I know what it is like to go around for the day realising that something has happened and that you can’t control it.
I hate the feeling of wondering if people know something, that any sniff anyone would have done would send me running to the toilet, trying to sniff my own butt in an attempt to know how bad the smell is.
There were times where I could not control my bowel movements, rendering me helpless, making me feel ashamed and disgusted with myself.
If I can avoid that feeling, I will at all costs.
That my friends, is why I found myself washing my arse in a basin at the age of 21 in a public toilet.