Sunday, November 20, 2011

"RED ALERT!" or "It's Funny Now"

A conversation yesterday got me to thinking about my past experiences with my bowels and all of the poor, and very public, situations they have put me in. Growing up a teenage boy with an older and younger brother as well as a mother that is a RN, having Crohns Disease was definitely an experience. It is generally common knowledge that the sounds and smells that come from the human body are a plethora of enjoyment for adolescent boys. If the pain could have been removed from the situation, I am certain I would have loved it as much as my brothers. Over the course of our lives together, before college, there were a lot of attempts at laughter and a many successful attempts at naming certain situations. As with all things that grow older, the terms lost relevance or traction over time. They were all fairly stupid and juvenile, with the exception of one: assplosion. As happens with age, I can no longer clearly remember which of us came up with the term or if it was a collaborative effort. If I had to guess, I would lean 40% to my older brother and then 30% to my younger brother. It's not often that I can't remember who deserves credit for an invention in the family; those with multiple siblings will understand why. I still use this term today as it is a very appropriate and vivid visualization of what I experienced. The term also gave a very vivid image of what was left behind. 

At some point my mother heard the term and was not very pleased with the vulgar construction of the word. It was at this point that my scale came into place. Everyone has heard of "number 1" and "number 2" and knows that they refer to the elimination of bodily waste. As none of us were allowed to use the vulgar construction, I had to come up with something to convey to my mom just how bad I had to use the toilet. We were driving home from the mall and were about 15 minutes from home. Out of no where I blurted out that this one was a "number 50." My mother looked perplexed in that way that I knew I had to explain to someone that was not familiar with the experience. I did this by relating to a normal diarrhea experience as a "number 3." I just reread that last sentence and laughed. Oh to have a NORMAL diarrhea experience! I think that was the first time that my mother, the RN, fully started to have some grasp as to what I was going through. I barely made it to the toilet that day and my older brother, who was driving, actually got the go-ahead from my mother to go over the speed limit that one time. I eventually expanded my scale so that it goes from 0 (no need for the toilet at all) through 100 (instantaneous evacuation of bowels). 

When people hear about my scale, they just assume I am incontinent. If you are one of those people, I can't tell you how wrong you are. This issue has nothing to do with being able to control my bowels, as with incontinence; no, this has to do with sheer force behind what is going on. Think of a garden hose. Most people put a nozzle on the end of their hose so that they can control when the water comes out. People that are incontinent either have a broken nozzle or no nozzle at all. Those that have Crohns Disease have a fully functioning nozzle. So where does the issue come from Well, most people with Crohns or some other form of IBS/IBD have a pressurization system hooked up to their hose. That's right, we have something pressurizing our insides to dangerous levels. After a certain amount of pressurization, even the best nozzle won't be able to keep the water from leaking out. In fact, it will lead to a sudden and massive failure of the nozzle just to release the pressure so that the hose doesn't fail and rupture -- that would require surgery and a resectioning. Been there, done that. One can also imagine what happens when a balloon is overfilled if that helps with the metaphoric visuals. 

I have been asked several times if I have ever experienced a 100 in my life. The answer is yes, several times. I still remember that first time at Wal-Mart. I was looking at clothes when the urge hit. The urge was too strong for me to combat and I fouled myself right in the middle of the men's clothing department. Instantaneous evacuation of my bowels. I picked up a pair of jeans, some socks and slowly sloshed my way back to the restrooms. Before entering the restroom, I told the lady at the customer service counter what I had and that I was going to change into the clothes. She began to protest at which point I turned to the restroom door and she saw the wetness that permeated the entire backside of my pants; she stopped protesting.  I was in the handicapped stall for about 45-60 minutes as I cleaned my rear and legs of the foul mess that had entered my life. I kept my pants, but through away the boxers.  I took the tags to the lady at customer service and paid for the clothes I was wearing and left the store.  

Situations like this have happened so many times to me in the past, that I no longer feel embarrassed when they do happen.  Fifteen months ago I was helping a friend with his boat when the urge hit.  I hit dry land as quickly as possible for the restrooms.  I was moving as fast as I could and I could still feel the pressure mounting inside me.  I was entering the bathroom and thought I was going to make it just in the nick of time. I started undoing my shorts as I entered the stall and I didn't quite make it.  I was lucky and didn't get anything on my clothes.  My back end wasn't so lucky as it was hit with the ricochet from the toilet and the wall.  Even though I was hit with the splatter, I was still lucky due to the fact that there was a shower facility attached to the restroom.  I showered off and left.  I felt REALLY bad for the mess that was left in the toilet, on the toilet, on the wall, etc.  It was bad.

About six months ago, I was helping work on a friend's boat again.  Out of no where I was hit with the need to go.  I made it about half way to the restroom before I knew that I couldn't go any further.  It was time for a big decision that I had to make on the spur of the moment.  I pulled down my shorts and did an about face toward soft ground and lost control.  I then walked half-nude to the bathroom to clean myself.  On the way back, I saw the cameras that littered the docks.  Someone was going to see something that they hadn't bet on seeing.

These are the most vivid occurrences still in my mind, but there are so many more that I could dredge up.  At the time they happened, I was not too happy; but now I can look back and laugh at them.  In fact, everyone that hears them can laugh at them.  I figure at least something good is happening out of the experience.  There are two things that I have learned out of all these public disasters and the first is to always be near a bathroom. The second thing is to get to the bathroom by any means.  I have pushed old men in walkers out of the way just so that I could get to the stall in time.  After all, it is much more socially acceptable for old men and young boys to foul themselves than it is for a 20-40 year old man.


  1. In my house we call it a "Number 1000" :)
    As I read todays blog, all I had on my face was a smile.. that someone else is going through this also... and with the same intensity!!!
    Im not saying its a good thing, but its just nice to see other people go through it...

    I ruined so many occasions for my husband & family... When we were at Disney during our honeymoon, things got out of hand. It was freezing cold, and in my case cold and crohns dont work... I needed to use the bathroom every hour or so, even when farts were on the horizon, i just could not risk it....

    anyway, i hate those times (as you mentioned) when you are in a supermarket or a department store and out of no where BOOOM! its coming OUT!!!! and there is no help about it!!!! For me, one of the side effects where i KNOW that i NEED the wc NOOOOOW - i get goosebumps!

    I now know that when goosebumps arise, then its a "number 1000" and my family or who ever is with me would drop everything and help me find the wc...

    Its very hard explaining it to people also... friends and some relatives still don't get it...

    Anyway, sorry for blabing... but i just felt excited that someone else goes through the same bad "badder" situations as I do.

    Crohns is a pain in the ass!

  2. It is definitely a poor situation. I try to laugh about it later, that helps.

  3. Oh man! A family member also has Crohns and I remember exactly the same situations! No one really understood at first, but we learned VERY quickly that when they had to go, it meant NOW and not in even 20 seconds.
    And then, we had a running joke about needing a gas mask after the assplosion (which we also used the term) because it was some of the most vile stenches we have ever encountered that just lingered for hours whewwwww!
    I now know so many people affected by Crohns and it just sucks, but luckily now if you have to follow a specific diet, its so much easier than 10 years ago ughhh.

  4. The ability to follow specific diets and remove certain items from diets is definitely much easier now.