No Longer Embarrassed
Last updated: August 2021
Bowel habits have not always been a subject I was comfortable in discussing...whether it be with family, friends or strangers. Everyone knows that poop is a subject that is not one that comes up in polite conversation. It causes a lot of embarrassment for many. That used to be me, too.
Poo is still taboo
I never talked about my bowel habits with anyone. I did not even feel comfortable bringing up the subject with my doctor. In 2007 I was a camp counselor several thousands of miles away from home. It would not be until 2011 before I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, but while I was at camp, I had a few digestive issues. When the doctor and camp nurse came to see me, I did not tell them about the diarrhea I was having. Totally a bad idea! You should always give your doctor the complete picture so they can diagnose you and treat you properly. I told no one of my bowel issues, but thankfully I got better shortly after.
The beginning of the end of my embarrassment
Fast forward to 2011. That’s when my health problems started tanking. It was just after New Year’s and I had been dating a guy for almost a year. Things were going well and I knew in my mind that he was “the one.” But I didn’t dare go into details with him about my bowel problems. Not at first anyway. It took me two weeks of pain, diarrhea and blood to go see my doctor and explain things to her! When my doctor told me she wanted a stool sample, I thought I’d reached the most embarrassing point in my life… until the nurses got a hold of that stool sample and made a huge deal about how disgustingly awful it looked… but that’s a story for another time.
You eventually stop considering poo to be taboo
Being diagnosed with a disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, changes you. It forces you out of your comfort zone. It forces you to look at bowel habits as a normal part of life. Everyone poops.
The defining moment
I remember having to submit another stool sample to a different doctor. And it was then that I realized that this was my life now. I had to get over being embarrassed talking about how my bowel habits were going. I handed this stool sample over to a nurse who wasn’t quite so rude about it. I looked her straight in the face and said, “I’ve just realized I’ve lost all my dignity.”
She chuckled and said, “This is not a big deal at all... wait until you have children!”
Now, things are completely different. Whenever the subject of my health as it relates to my battle with ulcerative colitis comes up, I’m more open and honest about it. If someone asks me what my symptoms are, first I ask them if they truly want to know because it might be embarrassing for them. Most of the time, they’re truly curious and ask me to please continue.
Talk about it
I want to encourage everyone to throw their embarrassment over their disease out the door. It’s not easy–believe me, I know! But as soon as you’re able to let go of the idea that poo is taboo, it will free you up and help you learn to accept your life with a disease.
When you leave the shame behind you, it makes others comfortable and more willing to accept your disease and it helps you accept you for who you are. Don’t be ashamed of your disease. It’s not your fault you’re sick. Be proud of the battles you’ve fought and how far you've come. You’re stronger because of your battle. Your disease does not make you weak. It does not rob you of your value. The more we talk about our diseases with others, the more awareness we raise. And awareness is going to be the key to getting better treatments and cures.
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