Injured, Not Able to Wipe, and Cursing my Crohn's
Last updated: May 2023
As an IBD advocate, I talk all the time about how this is far more than just a pooping disease. As anyone with IBD knows, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can affect several – if not all – other parts of our bodies.
But for the purpose of this article, we need to be really honest and transparent about something. IBD is in fact a disease that largely has to do with pooping. You may wonder why I'm making this so abundantly clear, or why I've started my article detailing something everyone reading likely already knows. Because...
That time I couldn't wipe my own butt
This past year, I went through several months where I could not wipe my behind. And as someone who poops at a minimum of twice a day, whose typical stool is – to TMI – more loose than firm, this predicament posed a rather large and frustrating problem for me.
You may be asking now, Amanda, how come you couldn't wipe your behind? Well, dear reader friends, because in the fall, I had emergency spinal surgery.
I had been rehabbing a herniated disc in the small of my back for months with physical therapy, ice, chiropractic treatment, cortisone injections, hydrotherapy – but there were several conditions surrounding this injury that were out of my control and just not improving. And then without warning, my herniated disc ruptured, and surgery was required within 3 days.
Limitations from back surgery
Now, when I was being prepared for the procedure, I asked as many questions as I could think of while in excruciating pain. I'm clearly not a new patient, and as a health advocate, I knew there were many things for me to wrap my head around while speaking with my surgeon.
What I did not know until I was 24 hours out of surgery was the intensity of my limitations post-operation.
My surgeon originally said, "Well, it shouldn't be that bad. I'm doing this in the least invasive way possible. Once you're off pain meds, you should be able to go back to work. I don't recommend driving for a few weeks."
Again, reader friends, there were some BIG things he left out...
No bending or twisting at the waist? Uh oh
It turns out that for 8-12 weeks post-surgery (I had a tubal microdiscectomy for those taking notes) I could not bend or twist at the waist. At all. I also couldn't lift more than about 10 pounds (which immediately ruled out my three-year-old daughter). And for the first two weeks, the pain would be so severe that I'd actually have to rely on a walker or another human to do basic things like roll over in bed, stand up, and walk to the bathroom.
But here comes the real problem – the no bending and no twisting. How, exactly, was I supposed to wipe my behind?
Another embarrassing predicament with Crohn's
For the first several weeks I conceded. As a wife and mother in my mid-30s, I tested my marriage vows with a new version of "in sickness and in health," and asked my husband for his help. While he had no problem lending a hand, I couldn't help but feel a complete loss of autonomy (again, a new version since being diagnosed with IBD originally), embarrassment, shame, and anger. I was so so frustrated by this predicament.
After much Googling and a few trial-and-error purchases, I found something to solve my problems.
Forget wiping... Enter: bidet
While marketed as a "travel bidet," this handy device is more an at-home/hotel than "on the go" bidet. But with two AA batteries and some water, I was back in charge of my own behind. There are several similar items online, this one linked here just happens to be the brand/style I tried. No endorsement received, just recommending a product that really saved me!
This device has in fact come in handy so much that we keep one upstairs and one downstairs in our house, we use it for our daughter after messy poops, and we never travel without it.
If you have any trouble wiping, reaching, twisting, bending, or simply feel irritated by toilet paper - I highly recommend giving it a go!
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