Crohn's storytime: Today, I had 'an accident' right in the middle of a shopping centre
We seem to see gut health being discussed more and more frequently at the moment, but some topics are still very for taboo. For women, in particular, it seems it's fine to share that you're 'bloated' or even a bit constipated. It's ok to use euphemisms like 'a funny tummy', 'tummy troubles' or 'upset stomach' but god forbid we actually go in detail about what's going on with our bodies. Because none of those really cover the horror of being midway through a shopping trip, feeling like you NEED to go THAT second and, you guessed it, just not making it.
The embarrassing feeling after an accident
'Funny' or 'upset' don't really cover that feeling when you know what's happened and have to somehow find the courage to walk to the bathroom to clean up, all whilst internally replaying in your head 'I can't believe I've s**t myself'. As you walk through crowds of people flaunting their perfectly normal digestion systems (I know IBD is very much invisible and that women drinking a latte or that man holding shopping bags could too be struggling, but sometimes it's easy to forget that!)
Accidents happen and you're not alone
Why am I oversharing? Well, because when this happens, you feel like the only person in the world it's happening to. You feel embarrassed, you almost blame yourself. You question 'why me?' or 'what's wrong with me?' so I just wanted to write about it today to let you know that you're not the only one. Chances are, even people who don't have IBD have done this at least once after eating something questionable, so most of you reading this, you are probably no stranger to that urge, that panic, that rush! It happens. It happens to all of us, I promise-we just don't talk about it!
And, although I was absolutely convinced it was obvious and everyone was staring, I doubt they actually were. Even if you feel like EVERY SINGLE PERSON has noticed, they probably haven't. The steps might feel painfully slow. You feel like people might notice the sweat pouring off you or the half run/half walk you do when you're clenching (!). But chances are they are so self-absorbed with their own lives they haven't even batted an eyelid.
Cleaning up after an accident
Once you've made it to a safe haven, the embarrassment might be over but you've still got to 'clean up.' Luckily for me, accidents are few and far between but that means they catch me off guard. I always forget to pack things, like spare underwear and vaseline (if you know, you know) but thankfully since being a mom, I do at least have a wet wipe handy! Somehow, I managed to salvage the situation and took a bit of a breather.
I don't let an accident ruin my day anymore
When I first experienced this many years ago, my whole day was ruined. I would beat myself up about it and isolate myself. But this time, I was determined not to let my Crohn's win! It might seem like its the end of the world but don't keep it inside, talk about it. I was comforted by my husband and ended up spending a lovely afternoon with him and my baby. Yes, it sucks and it's horrible but by talking about it and dealing with it, it can help you move on and not dwell on it.
Because that's the thing. Talking about it normalizes it, and although I'm not suggesting finding your next-door neighbor and reliving all the glory details; don't be afraid to be honest with your loved ones about what you need and how you're feeling. Whether that's skipping lunch or running out to buy you some new underwear! In this case, my husband got me a peppermint tea, sat me down and went and did some shopping which gave me a chance to sit calmly and soothe my belly!
I hope my reliving experience has been helpful to you. Remember that when it comes to Crohn's Disease, s**t really does happen! So all we can do is to try to deal with it best we can, and hopefully, find the strength to laugh along the way.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?