a person embarrassed hiding behind a toilet on a stage

Going To The Bathroom Alone

The “bathroom,” is a place of privacy. This is a place where humans take advantage of the quiet time as well. This is a place of refuge, a getaway if you must.

Before having Crohn’s, I had an “Iron” stomach. I would use the bathroom normally going about one or two times. I was clearly independent. I knew the “rules of the bathroom.” You go, clean, and wash. Nobody bothered me.

No more privacy in the bathroom

When I came home from the hospital, a weight of 82 pounds at 21 years old, I lost the privacy I once had in the bathroom. I lost that “refuge,” the “throne,” or whatever you might call it. I had a nurse.

The nurse lived with my family and me for three months. Her sole job was to take care of me since I was so weak after my ventilator experience. Yes, she had to follow me into the bathroom. 

So I am twenty-one years old and this lady is going to watch me go to the bathroom? Why? Oh, that’s right, that’s her job. She had to watch me use the bathroom and assess what I did. She had to keep notes. I understood for some of it.

The embarrassment of accidents and using the bathroom

I didn’t understand why she had to watch me disrobe to go to the bathroom. I was twenty-one years old, and if it was somebody my age, sure have at it. It wasn’t somebody my age, it was someone in their mid-forties.

To make things worse, I lost all muscles in my buttocks. This meant that when I stood up, the stool would just pour out of me without warning. I couldn’t control it, and it was quite embarrassing.

There were times where this nurse had to clean me up. It was degrading and very upsetting, but I had no choice. I didn’t have the energy to do it myself, so I had to let her help me.

She knew it bothered me because she would say things such as: “It’s OK Paul,” and “This Won’t Be Forever.” I had to believe her.

Needing adult diapers because of Crohn's

I also wore male adult diapers when I first came home. This was so degrading. Again, a young adult, and I wasn’t potty-trained. There was no more going to the bathroom alone, and for about three months, this was what life was at home.

Going out in public did not happen. Would the nurse have to follow me into a public bathroom? How weird would that look? Would I ever date again? How could that happen, I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own.

Looking back on this difficult time

I look back on that time now, and I will admit that it was rough. As the months went on and I built my strength, the frequency of the nurse declined. As the years went on, I became friendly with the nurse that took care of me. 

She joined us during the many benefit walks for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. A family friend she became. A person who got me through the worst...I’ll never forget.

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