Accidents And Urgency With Ulcerative Colitis
There are some really terrible videos out there on the internet that are supposed to be funny. Sometimes all I can do is just shake my head at my disappointment in people who get a laugh about another person’s misfortunes. Someone who has a really bad biking accident. A little girl whose parents have just played a cruel joke on her... or my personal favorite (insert sarcasm) the person who poops their pants in public.
Urgency and accidents with ulcerative colitis
With ulcerative colitis, I've had my fair share of accidents and close-calls. When a kid finally is able to use the big-girl or big-boy potty instead of going in their diapers, it is celebrated! Potty training can be a real pain in the neck for many parents.
Once you are potty trained you never really think much about the bathroom... that is until you are hit with a disease like mine. The urgency is such that you could never even imagine unless you’ve been there yourself.
There have been several times where I would break out in sweat running to the bathroom and nearly missed the toilet. Other times I have had to pull over on the side of the road to go because I was in the middle of nowhere and there wasn’t a bathroom in sight. I wasn’t prepared in that instance and had to use a grocery bag to clean myself up afterward. I went home that day and didn’t go into work because I was so upset.
The pain and panic that comes with an accident
But I’ll never forget the day I had a real accident. It was about 20º outside. Frost covered the ground. Just two weeks before, I decided to pack an IBD “emergency” kit just in case.
My husband thought this was a little extreme, but I didn’t ever want to be caught unprepared. I was in my car headed to work on a busy highway, again, in the middle of nowhere. Just woodlands and farmlands on either side.
Suddenly, and without any kind of warning, the urge hit and it hit hard. I had never, in all my life, experienced such pain and panic. I tried my best to hold it. I was going to have to pull over on the side of the road again.I was sweating and crying doing my best to find a spot. I found one behind some trees and bushes and just as I had stepped out of my car, it happened. I pooped my pants and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
What type of colitis are you living with?
Unable to control my bowel movements
I cried and I screamed! There I was, a 28-year-old woman who couldn’t control her bowel movements! I’m not supposed to be in a situation like this. Yet, there I was in all my glory. I grabbed my emergency kit and removed my socks and shoes.
I crept over behind a huge pile of sticks where I wouldn’t be seen. I felt the frosty grass and leaves beneath my bare feet. I stripped down, half-naked and shivering, cleaned myself up and put on a new pair of underwear and jeans.
I didn’t go to work that day, either. I called my husband crying. It wasn’t until I arrived home with my bag filled with soiled clothing that my husband understood what had happened. He apologized for doubting my preparation with the emergency kit.
People with bowel issues who cannot physically hold it are in a lot of pain
When you have an accident it changes you. To anyone out there reading this who may be embarrassed, not knowing who they can talk to if they have an accident: you are NOT alone. If you need to talk to someone, I am here. I know what it’s like. I’ve been there.
To everyone else I say, next time you watch a “funny” video of a person pooping themselves in public, you might want to re-think it before you share it.
I believe there is a time and place for "potty humor" as far as toilet and poop jokes go—it’s how I cope! But a video that highlights another person’s misery shames patients into silence. Laughing at their misfortunes is not appropriate or funny at all.
What is your comfort level disclosing your IBD to your employer?