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The Pan

I remember thinking to myself, “I will never use the toilet again by myself for as long as I live.”  There I was, seven months into my yearlong stand in the hospital. I was well enough to be awake, and get out of bed, but not well enough to go to the bathroom on my own. Since I was still excreting so much bile a day, I was constantly calling the nurses. I was using the bathroom so many times that the nurses decided that it would be easier if I used a bed pan every time I had to go to the bathroom.

Constant urgency to use the bathroom

Morally, it was terrible. I know that I was weak and my muscles in my butt were not strong. I was twenty-one years old, and I was upset. I was embarrassed and hurt. Emotionally, it took a toll. It was just another thing that I had to get used to. I wasn’t ready to do this nasty task. I wasn’t ready at all.

My urgency to use the bathroom wasn’t too bad, but every time I would have to go to the bathroom, it would be a process to get out of bed to the bathroom or the commode.

Using a bedpan while in the hospital for Crohn’s

The bedpan was not appeasing. A piece of cheap plastic in the shape that seemingly fits around my buttocks. In order to get the pan under me, I had to lift my body in the air and sit on top of the pan. The pan would actually pinch my skin and cause such irritation. Once I got the pan underneath me and went to the bathroom, I would have to take my other hand to grab the roll of toilet paper. I would have to position my body up in the air again to clean myself. I then had to balance my body even more to grab the pan and place the soiled paper into the pan.

I then would sit back down into the bed would get dirty because I wasn’t able to really clean myself. Then I would push the button to call the nurse to clean out the pan. The process would start all over again.

I would use the pan a few times a night. To keep myself even cleaner, the nurses would place a pad underneath me and just change it out every time I used the bathroom.

Memories of this horrible experience

This went on for a few months. Just like riding a bike, I got really good at it. Oh, let me just add that I would use hand sanitizer to clean my hands. I was able to grow out of using the bedpan, but the memories still are real. Every time I see one, I cringe, as the memories come back oh so quickly. Going even further, if I am cleaning myself in the shower, I swear there is an imprint of the pan on my backside. It might be there, or it’s just my imagination. Whatever it is, the feeling serves as a distant memory of the horrible experience I encountered.

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


  • Matt Nagin moderator
    1 month ago


    I’m so sorry you had to go through this. However, you were able to overcome it and remain positive which is admirable. I have my own share of horrible hospital stories that make me cringe to think about.

  • Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford
    1 month ago

    It’s weird what you block out of your memory… It’s something I hadn’t thought about for a long time!
    Plus, having to defecate (quite loudly may I add) on a ward with other people in it, with only a flimsy curtain for privacy was mortifying!

    – Sahara (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    2 months ago

    You are a TRUE Warrior, Paul! Having PTSD from such circumstances is totally normal and understandable, but I am happy to hear that you have arrive on the other side of it and can share your story with others to prove that no one is alone in going through this.

    I hope you are doing better these days, and hopefully the worst is all behind you.

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    I cannot imagine having to do this for as long as you did. You are such a fighter and you have the best attitude. I’m just so glad you are doing so much better these days. Cheers to you and all your strength!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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