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A stand up caution sign is positioned in the middle of a store aisle, showing the poop emoji in the center of the warning triangle.

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, 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 its 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 your 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! I somehow 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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • dmcnair2016
    2 months ago

    I have had to start wearing pull ups. I had rather do this than mess up everything I have on. I have done that and the floors everywhere. I don’t go a lot anymore unless I absolutely have to. I feel so embarrassed and guilty.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    2 months ago

    It pains me to hear of the impact this condition has had on your life @dmcnair2016. You are not alone in feeling this way, and I think pull ups can be a great way to add a level of security and confidence. Thank you so much for sharing and please know we’re thinking of you and hear for you anytime. – Shelby, IBD Team Member

  • dmcnair2016
    2 months ago

    You mentioned Vaseline in your comment. Can you tell me what it is used for and how to use it?

  • Jenna Farmer moderator author
    2 months ago

    to stop things chafing or feeling sore down below after too many toilet trips/too much wiping, Jenna, IBD Team Member and Writer

  • terry2768
    2 months ago

    ive had many accidents however im not sure what the vaseline is for if you could elaborate on this it may be helpful

  • Jenna Farmer moderator author
    2 months ago

    to stop things chafing or feeling sore down below after too many toilet trips/too much wiping, Jenna, IBD Team Member and Writer

  • DOUGUTE
    2 months ago

    I remember one accident I had years ago. I was working as a tax auditor for the state. I was in a CPA office doing an audit on his client. I had to use the bathroom and actually got there in time. Used the facility, then had the accident while walking out of the bathroom. It really stank and was all over me. I cleaned up best i could, but i did not have extra clothes. I had to leave the CPA office and find a store for clothes. Was over an hour from home. It was so embarrassing.

  • JessicaH moderator
    2 months ago

    I’m so sorry that happened to you, @dougute, I can imagine how that must have felt. Other community members have experienced similar situations. You’re not alone in this- we are here for you. Wishing you well. Kindly, Jessica- InflammatoryBowelDisease.net Team Member

  • myibdstory
    2 months ago

    Accidents unfortunately do happen. Yes they are so embarrassing.The one good thing about this,is the very fact that it makes other people aware of IBD. A lot of people have no idea what this disease is capable of doing physically or mentally.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    2 months ago

    You make a great point @myibdstory, and I so admire you seeing the silver lining. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. – Shelby, Team Member

  • Annifirst
    2 months ago

    Actually, this accident doesn’t sound so bad. What about when diarrhea is streaming down your leg and onto the floor as you try to reach the restroom? After you’ve cleaned yourself up, you take a bunch of paper towels to go clean up the store’s floor. People DO notice when this happens, and it is miserably embarrassing.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    2 months ago

    Ugh @annifirst, I can’t even imagine how embarrassing that must have felt and I’m so sorry it happened to you. I know others in the community have experienced very similar situations, too, and you are certainly not alone. Thank you for sharing here. – Shelby, Team Member

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this story, Jenna! I don’t think you are “oversharing”, either…you are just being REAL.

    We’ve all been there and as you said, the more we talk about it, the more we normalize it, and perhaps can make others feel more comfortable with their situations and their bodies, too.

    –Julie (Team Member)

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