Where’s The Love?

July 6, 2010

I wanted to post on this last week, but for some reason I never got around to it. Even though I’m sitting at a desk 8 hours a day with tons of free time to wander around on the internet.

I take the MBTA bus and train into work every day, which typically takes 1.5 hours. Once I get off the train, it’s a 15 or 20 minute walk to my office, during which I inevitably have to use the bathroom, not having done so since breakfast an hour and a half earlier. But since all this is taking place at 8am, the only truly public restroom nearby is not yet open, and I have to hunt for someplace else. The thing is that most places these days don’t have bathrooms that they’re going to let you into. They don’t want to pay for the water. But do you know what? I’m much more likely to give my business to a store that is thoughtful and neighborly enough to allow me free access to their bathroom (even if I’m not buying something at that particular moment). They would make up the water bill in higher sales from satisfied customers. If everybody opened their restrooms to the public, and then didn’t pressure you into buying something to use it, then the individual demand would be very low. I could go here, or I could go next door. No single store would be paying for everyone in the vicinity to use the bathroom.

And even if they did not, it is the right thing to do. A little boy is about to pee his pants. Do you let him use the bathroom and save him the embarrassment and discomfort, not to mention his parents’, or do you turn him away? A young professional is on her way to an important interview, but she desperately needs to go to the bathroom. Do you help her make her interview on time and unsoiled, or do you tell her it’s not your problem?

For some reason, as a society we have lost our good will towards one another. Rather than being kind to those around us, our first instinct is to ask “how will this benefit me?” and when in doubt, we opt to act unkindly.

I promise I will never quote the Bible at you again, but come on people, love thy neighbor.

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In other news, I have recently discovered that I get migraines. Add that to my long list of physical ailments. (I’ve always sort of hoped that having Crohn’s meant I was off the hook for other non-related stuff because, really, how much can one person take? I was gonna get out of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, all that stuff. I guess not.)

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Update: In other, other news, the temperature here has just officially reached 100F. Not even heat index, oh no. That’s the actual air temperature. The heat index is 104. This has always meant ice cream for dinner in my family. Today, for me, it means ice cream and a pair of Lactaid pills. Nothing will stop me.

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Ooops, that was loud.

April 29, 2010

I used to be really self conscious about going to the bathroom in public. Sometimes it’s silent. But let’s be honest, that really only happens when there’s nobody else in there. As soon as there’s another person around, things get loud. And I used to get really embarrassed, to the point that I would wait in the stall for an extra minute or so while the person from the stall next to mine washed their hands, or try to get out fast before they came out. I really didn’t want anybody to see my face. Even that they probably saw what shoes I was wearing freaked me out.

I think by now I’ve been on the hearing end enough times (not as often as the other way around, but often enough) that I’ve more or less gotten over it. Yesterday I was in a public restroom, came out of the stall and washed my hands right next to the woman from the next stall, all with a vague sense of pride. Heard that? Yeah, you did. I find it so satisfying to hear somebody else’s loud poop (also a little gross, but mostly satisfying). I feel a certain sense of connection and solidarity with them that they don’t even know about, especially because (most of the time) I share a public restroom with other women, for whom the pooping stigma is so much greater. I’m not sure it even really exists for men; they seem to just go around high-fiveing each other for it. But maybe that’s just my own bias.

Satisfying

February 15, 2010

Today I feel: awesome. Read on.

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So a couple of times I’ve gotten an unusual reaction to my Crohn’s: “That’s sweet! Pooping is great, and you get to do it all the time!” Well. I suppose it might be great if I got to have those satisfying poops like most people do. People talk about taking poops that feel like you gave birth, and then you look at it with a sense of awe and accomplishment and think ‘Wow, that came out of me?’. I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those, which is too bad because it sounds magnificent, and with the number of poops I have to take on a regular basis you’d think I deserve to have a few that are fabulous, every once in a while.

My suitemate told me about a book, What’s Your Poo Telling You?, which names and describes every imaginable type of poo you could encounter. There’s even a Poo Log that goes with it, and a companion book for pee. Too bad the only ones I get are the “sorry, dude, better luck next time” types.

But today, I was walking up 6th Ave, when it hit me. Great, this is New York City, nobody lets you use their bathrooms (you know those moments, where you start desperately casting about for a Starbucks and trying to calculate how long it would take you to get home from here?). But as it came on, I realized that this was not my ordinary poo emergency. This one was going to stay put as long as I wanted it to. And it really wasn’t a convenient time for me. I was almost done with my shopping expedition, so I thought, ‘okay, let’s do this.’ If it got bad, I’d have to stop, but I was determined. I was going to take this like everybody else and not let the poo interfere with what I was doing. And I beat it. I found the perfect blazer, waited in line at the register, and then walked four blocks home before finally taking my poo. And it was very satisfying. Not as much as I’d hoped, but really, I still have Crohn’s, that’s not going to change.

Aren’t you glad you read a blog where some girl tells you in detail how her poop was today?

I am Maudlin

January 16, 2010

Today I feel: better than yesterday. I’ve been drinking a lot less milk (just in coffee now) and last night I drank 2 glasses. That didn’t work out so well for me, starting almost immediately. I’m buying soy milk later today. (Thanks for the suggestion, Jen!)

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The other day I was talking with my friends about Crohn’s, and I said that I didn’t want to tell my other roommate about it so as not to give her the opportunity to dislike me more. My friend gave me a look and asked me why in the world would Crohn’s be an excuse for her to dislike me?

The only answer I could come up with was that it’s a pretty gross thing to think about, and so if you already dislike someone then the notion of them pooping a lot is going to make you wrinkle your nose a little. But really, it’s a bodily function, albeit a malfunctioning one in my case. I’ve had this idea in my head all this year that not only do I not want to share that personal a piece of information with a roommate who is anything but friendly towards me, but that somehow I shouldn’t tell her.

I still don’t plan on telling her because it’s my business and I only like to tell those people who I think will be sympathetic towards me, but I don’t fear that she’ll find out anymore. What would happen? She’d be grossed out, and she might judge me. But it’s not like she could take it as a personal offense such that she would actually treat me any worse. But it took my friend calling me out on thinking foolishly for me to realize this. I am constantly thankful that I have found so many good friends with a sense of humor about things like this who will not only joke about it with me but who aren’t shy about giving me a good kick in the teeth when I’m being dramatic.

After These Messages…

December 7, 2009

Today I feel: pretty good, actually. I’ve been treating myself well these past few days and it definitely shows!

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So I’m taking a short break from the blog since this is the dreaded finals season at NYU. Happliy, after the 15th I will be basically done, and free to work on Christmas gifts (hand-made is the way to go people, I’m telling you) and write my blog! Well, that and frolic around Christmastime New York. Until then, I have every hour of my next week-plus mapped out for me, and that does not include blogging. Hopefully it will also not include my Crohn’s flaring up because of the stress.

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Just a quick anecdote (followed by an inspirational quote) before I leave you again. I was walking home from a party on Friday night with a friend when he said to me “okay, we’ve gotta get back quick so I can take a poop”. It was then that I remembered that though my guy friends have blessed me with the ability to talk openly about our poops, they have this strange aversion to pooping anywhere but in their own home. I have never had such qualms, because I developed Crohn’s before I developed the awareness of social taboos that would make me hold it in until I was at home. Today the issue is this: I either poop in your toilet or on your floor, which would you prefer? And besides, you must own air freshener. It’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned. And yet, most “normal” people absolutely refuse to poop in other people’s bathrooms, or even in public restrooms. Get over it, people. And that is why Crohn’s has actually made me a more sane human being than the rest of them.

Which leads into my inspirational quote (which I wrote about in my NYLC application):

“Take pride in your pain; you are stronger than those who have none.”
-Lois Lowry, Gathering Blue

I read this in middle school, and will always remember it because I knew it was written for me. Don’t get me wrong, Lois Lowry isn’t my aunt or anything, but it’s people like me that she must have been thinking of when she wrote it. Yes, Crohn’s is a mostly negative experience, but one side effect is that you become proportionally strong, and I think it’s important to remind yourself of that once in a while.

Lying about Poop

November 8, 2009

Today I feel: pretty alright. I haven’t had much of an appetite since I’ve been sick, so there hasn’t been much Crohn’s activity either.

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There’s one thing that has always been a problem for me, and that is the fact that there are no polite words to use in talking about Crohn’s disease. When your intestines get inflamed, the result that you feel the most directly is that your poop gets really nasty. And that’s difficult to say without grossing people out. My doctor uses words like “stool” and “bowel movement,” but that actually sounds much worse to me. One of the biggest blessings I have received recently was when, after I came back from the bathroom, a friend of mine looked me straight in the eye and said these exact words to me:

“How was your poop?”

How liberating! It made me instantly comfortable to have him cut right through the euphemism and ask me directly what was going on, and we went on to have a good conversation about what it was really like to live with Crohn’s. That’s exactly what I hope to bring to this blog: a frank and open discussion that makes no apologies for its own content. It’s uncomfortable enough to live with Crohn’s without stressing about what it’s okay to say.

In my opinion, one of the most difficult things about Crohn’s is the social stigma of it, because in our society, girls do not poop. People love to joke about poop, and my guy friends seldom poop without announcing their intention loudly and dramatically to the whole room. But having Crohn’s is like being ‘that guy’ who takes the joke way too far.

Not everyone in my life knows I have Crohn’s, just my good friends and my family. And even with them, I always feel uncomfortable saying so when I have to poop, especially for the third time in two hours. I usually lie and say “I have to pee.” I feel totally comfortable telling people I have Crohn’s, and having them know theoretically that I poop all the time, but I don’t usually like people knowing when it’s happening right now. Especially not when I’m using somebody else’s bathroom, because I’m always afraid they’re going to hear me! I know most people say they feel very uncomfortable pooping in public bathrooms, but that’s where I feel most comfortable because if it’s noisy, at least I’m anonymous. When it’s in my friends’ apartment, it was me, no question.

Even though I know my Crohn’s is in no way my fault (unless they find out sometime in the future that Crohn’s actually caused by nail-biting, in which case I guess it is my fault), I always feel like people will judge me for it. You poop all the time? Gross. I could hear that nasty poop you just took in my bathroom! No way are you ever coming back to my place! But honestly, this has never happened to me. And I don’t think it ever will unless I start hanging around real jerks, which, so far, I don’t. It’s my own insecurity, but it affects my life at least as much as the actual physical symptoms of Crohn’s do. But when I start really stressing about it, I like to remember my friend saying to me “how was your poop?” It reminds me that my friends are there for me, and love me in spite of my disease. And that makes it bearable.

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If you’re reading, give me a shout out! I’d love to hear from you and get a sense of what you want to see here.

Sorry this took so long to get up, I’ve been really sick lately, and the antibiotics I’m taking for it have been a big drain on my energy, which doesn’t make it easy to write well.