hand reaching for a falling mug with coffee spilling out

That Old Familiar Feeling

Hi. My name is Amanda. I’m 33 years old, I’ve dealt with symptoms of Crohn’s disease for over a decade, and I’ve been in clinical remission for nearly two years.

Today, I almost pooped my pants at Target.

Something that hasn’t happened to me for a long time.

Something that brought back the familiar feelings of anxiety, fear and shame in one instant.

Let me tell you more.

Increased urgency after drinking caffeine

I became a first-time mom last year, and my daughter still wakes up to eat during the night. Since her arrival, I’ve needed to rely on caffeine a lot more than I used to.

My guts go through phases of acceptance and denial of different caffeinated choices - and sometimes it’s hard for me to keep up with their preferences. I tend to bounce back and forth from soda to energy drinks to coffee to espresso beverages to ice tea - some being safer than others.

Now, mama loves herself a good cold brew. But, I don’t get it so often because sometimes, it really irritates my stomach. Usually, it’s just some cramping followed by some diarrhea, and then I move on with my day. Not that big of a deal, especially if I’m at home.

Well, today, I was out of the house (of course). I worked at a coffee shop for several hours and felt pleasantly surprised when my iced coffee didn’t make my stomach churn. When it came time to break for lunch, I squeezed in a few errands while I was out on my own. My last stop was to pick up a few things at Target.

Sudden urgency and the feelings before an accident

I was about halfway through my list, in the opposite corner of the store then the restroom, with a cart full of things, and as I bent down to pick up something off a lower shelf, I felt a twinge in my belly and immediately the slamming shut of my anal sphincter. I slowly stood back up, overwhelmingly fearful that I wouldn’t be able to move from the spot I was standing in without literally having an accident in my pants.

Now, friends, this wasn’t my first experience nearly soiling my pants as an adult. Crohn’s disease tends to give you a plethora of opportunities to have this experience, but it was the first time in a few years.

It was definitely the first time since my pregnancy/the delivery of my daughter. It was the first time that it happened basically out of the blue, while I am in remission. The first time that I was not in the least bit prepared (physically or mentally) for this event.

The fear of having an accident in public is unexplainable

As I stood and gathered my thoughts, clenching my cheeks together, I felt unbelievably overwhelmed. Like, I needed someone to tell me what to do. Like I most certainly wasn’t a functioning adult in that moment. And then I realized that I had to be an adult, and shy of texting my husband or my best IBD friend, I had to handle the situation at hand, alone.

That walk, with my cart, to the store bathroom was excruciating. I could feel the diarrhea burning all the way through my body, and I knew it was a matter of seconds before it was going to escape, whether or not I was ready for it. That fear - it’s one that I don’t think is possible to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Honestly, in that moment it was hard for me to process and I’ve experienced it before!

With some swift movements, expert clenching, and holding my breath, I was able to drop my pants before my butt exploded. I wasn’t quite yet in the seated position on the toilet yet, but at least I was gracefully hovering above it.

Did that really just happen to me?

After emptying the contents of my intestines into the Target bathroom, washing my hands, checking out with the items in my cart, and walking to my car, I sunk into the seat in a little bit of disbelief. Had that really just happened to me?

The truth is, it had. And to be honest, it probably will again. I have Crohn’s disease, and even while in remission, I still experience symptoms due to the damage my disease has caused my body. I still experience challenges and moments I wish I could erase forever.

If any of this resonates with you, I’d be grateful to hear your story below.

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