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.

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