Readers, I often write about being an old soul with different ideas on life. But not today. I’ve debated writing this for some time because it has brought me great shame and anxiety throughout my life. Unless you go through it yourself, it’s difficult to understand the life I live. And by this, I mean it’s complete shit living a life with IBS.
Remember in Along Came Polly when Reuben (Ben Stiller’s character) goes and eats Indian food? Yeah it was hilarious, but I felt for the guy. I’ve been there before, on a date (in this case Buffalo Wild Wings – not my choice). The date was going well and I was a few beers deep. Then, I felt my stomach rumbling and the cold sweat came in. It was certainly not my first rodeo, and all I could think was “God damnit not again.” I can laugh about it now but at the time, I wasn’t sure how long I’d be in the bathroom, if there would be multiple trips and mostly, would it be obvious? Thankfully, Lady Luck threw me a bone that day. but I knew it could have been way worse. It has been way worse.
Honestly, I feel like a ticking bomb and it’s really no way to live. Really anything can set it off and at any time. I used to think that I was lactose intolerant or I had Celiacs or something, but I have come to own the fact that I was just dealt a shitty hand.
One of the more unfortunate drawbacks is the many different bars and restaurants I’ve had to pound porcelain in. These bathrooms have varied from a crapper without a door, where I’ve had to hang onto surrounding plywood, brace on the wall like a slingshot and do a hit and run, to toilets that are covered in pee (the hover method is best for these) to nice restrooms that I ruined just a little bit by with bowels; I’ve shit everywhere, man.
You never know when it’s going to hit. A few years back, I went to a concert down the Jersey Shore at one of Asbury Park’s more famous venues. I had just begun dating my girlfriend a few months before, so she was not ready for this. After a day of fun in the sun, drinking liquor and a greasy burger, we headed to the concert. Right after the opener finished, I knew I was fucked. I told her I had to pee, but that was a lie and I knew I had three options: run to the ocean, find a trashcan or kick in the door on the dude that had been in there for 15 mins. After pleading with the hipster in ripped jeans to hustle up and a friendly guy letting me cut him in line, I narrowly missed having to blow up a trashcan in front of people for what turned out to be one of the worst toilet experiences in my life.
When this kind of stuff happens to you on a semi-regular basis, you learn to plan your life around it, or at least try. A roll of Tums is now my best friend. After I’ve been around people enough, they know that it’s always in play. If I’m race-walking or breaking into a run, people are very accommodating (they don’t laugh in my face).
There’s never a good time for IBS to strike. Children’s parties, nights out, dates. You name it, I’ve had a bad episode. One cold day, my friends and I were playing pond hockey. I had a few cups of coffee, and after a rousing bout of activity combined with some beers, I created a fatal combination. After feeling the familiar rumble, I knew I was fucked (again). I made it to the car and let loose in an empty beer box, pants only halfway down, only to see a family driving by from a day of ice fishing. I’m sure the image of me will forever haunt their dreams. I had no TP so I had to use an old towel that I threw into the woods after. Everything would have been fine, but my pants took on some collateral damage. I had no other choice but to call the Mrs., tell her what happened and to ready the shower. She had the front door unlocked for me when I got home.
After many years of dealing with this, I’ve learned to own it. It’s a part of my life as much as anything else. I don’t eat spicy food nearly as much, which has kind of helped. I’ve learned to laugh at the situations, not get mad, and take appropriate action. I’m sure everyone knows someone like me; the best thing you can do is be compassionate and thankful it’s not you. Unless you go through it, you’ll never understand that when you’re sliding into home and you feel a little foam, it’s most certainly diarrhea..