It is about time that we get candid about our bowels. I know no one wants to talk about what is going on back there, but the silence can be deadly.
I can remember being horrified as a child when my mother would ask me about my bowel movements, or BMs as she refered to them, and I had no idea there was a slight history of bowel issues in my family until I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 18. I think that we have all experienced some form of digestive distress at some point in our lives. From the intestinal flu to occasional constipation to food poising, we all have our issues.
I am guilty of keeping my disease to myself. For years I didn’t really talk about it because it is simply gross. Diarrhea is not a suitable dinner conversation topic and therefore we tend not to discuss it. I didn’t even tell my best friend about my symptoms until I was diagnosed with UC and hiding them became impossible. It is embarrassing. Speaking of embarrassing, I am reminded of when I went to see Sex and the City (the movie) with my lovely cousin, Jane. We got dressed up in our cutest heels and headed to the theater. There was one scene that had the crowd roaring with laughter, but left me feeling flushed as my eyes welled up with tears. If you have yet to see the film, I apoligize for the spoiler, but the movie came out in 2008 and you have had plenty of time to see it! Anyway, in the scene Charlotte (my favorite character) doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time. I tried to force a smile, because I didn’t want anyone to know how closely I identified with this issue on a daily basis. At this point in my disease I honestly can’t tell you how many times I have been “late” to the bathroom. Some times were worse than others resulting in a complete outfit change (I learned to carry a spare with me at all times).
Here I am with my cousin, Jane.
After my diagnosis I learned that my mom had a cousin who had been living with UC for years. I also found out that my mom had another cousin who had to have her colon removed due to colon cancer. I know no one wants to talk about bloody diarrhea, but ignoring it can lead to cancer. I am lucky, now that I don’t have a colon, because having Chron’s or UC greatly increases one’s risk of colon cancer.
My advice to all is to talk about your bowels! If you can’t tell your friends, at least tell your doctor. Also, don’t be afraid of the dreaded colonscopy– the prep really is the worst part, and if I can survive it, so can you.
I wanted to include these photos here because it is an example of a life event that I almost missed out on due to my UC. The photo on the left is Kyle racing toward the finish line.
Just over a year ago, he won the Fort4Fitness half marathon and I almost missed seeing him do it because I was running to gas station bathrooms during the first few miles of his race. Thankfully, I was able to make it to the finish just as Kyle was entering the home stretch. I didn’t say anything about how I was feeling that day because I wanted it to be about Kyle and his big win, but he always knows when I am not at my best.