Originally published in December 2015
Stomach troubles have plagued me for as long as I can recall. When I think of all the things they’ve ruined for me, one particular example comes to mind…
My boyfriend had taken me to a romantic seafood restaurant then to see the Pittsburgh Symphony. But before the first note reverberated off of the crushed velvet walls, I was forced to suddenly abandon my date, humiliation censoring my explanation. Sweat drenching my face, I groped my way to the restroom, fully expecting to suffer a slow, painful death in a fancy bathroom stall laden with floral wallpaper and too much brass. I was gone so long that my boyfriend actually sent a female attendant into the loo to check on me; I sent her back with a message: BRING THE CAR ‘ROUND IMMEDIATELY. WE ARE LEAVING.
Turns out the slow, painful death was my social life; that bathroom display put me on high alert and it was a long time before I was taken anywhere upscale again. Fortunately, the boyfriend eventually proposed, and before 250 of our closest friends, he promised to love me in sickness and in health.
And even when I pooped myself in public.
Having my gallbladder removed, speeding home to make it the bathroom, doubled over in agony reminiscent of labor pains, sweating through my clothes, unsuccessful attempts at keeping food journals to pinpoint what exactly sends me rushing for the porcelain throne, limiting lactose, swearing off fried foods, steering clear of lettuce, exercising regularly, drinking more water. NOTHING HAS WORKED. Nothing has identified the THING that sends me running for the restroom on the regular.
A round of recent tests and blood work have proven I am healthy as a horse. In fact, I would like to take a moment and brag about my low cholesterol and superb blood pressure. Husband, are you listening?
I am more than grateful to go without a previously assumed diagnosis of Celiac Disease, but I would still like to know what the eff is wrong with me?! I mean, it’s not exactly normal to spend more time in el baño than at the dinner table, right? Even my kids are like, “Uh, Mom? How long are you gonna be in there?”
FOR-EV-ER, you guys.
As a last ditch effort to identify the crappy culprit, I had me a colonoscopy. Oh, yes. At the ripe age of 35, I completed the dreaded colon cleanse and was knocked out while strangers violated my bum.
What? Humility is overrated.
I have learned many things as a result of this experience, and I’d like to share them in hopes of helping someone else prepare for their professional pooper scooper.
Do keep a sense of humor and surround yourself with like-minded poopers, such as Susan, AKA: the Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva.
Do suck that laxative through a straw while holding your nose then chase it with water because OHMYGOD.
Do set up the bathroom like a luxury hotel suite, complete with WiFi and a Christmas card station. You’re going to spend a lot of time in there, may as well be productive.
Do consider including the HD photographs of your colon in select family members’ Christmas cards. Particularly the family member who chanted as you chugged your laxative…
Do resist the urge to beat your husband with a shoe when he buys the wrong Italian Ice after your very specific request for “lemon or lime because it’s clear; I can’t eat the red stuff because it stains the colon you sonofabitch.”
Don’t let your husband invite family over for dinner the night you cleanse. Even if his heart is in the right place and he wants to repay your parents for all the meals they’ve made, just don’t. A Sunday family dinner from which you are excluded will quickly turn you into a hangry monster. Also, listening to your Dad chant, “Chug it like you’re in college!” doesn’t make the laxative go down any easier.
Speaking of the laxative, don’t drink it in front of your sensitive 4-year-old who, by the way your face puckers up and your gag reflex is challenged, thinks you’re dying.
Don’t let your husband “fix” the toilet seat prior to your cleanse. If the seat absolutely requires fixing, don’t throw caution to the wind–hire a professional! Trying to keep your balance while atop a wobbly bowl while doing your business is not easy, nor comfortable, nor something anyone should have to endure while their insides are falling out.
Don’t underestimate The Force. Ever see an elephant pee? That force will be with you. You have been warned.
Don’t skimp on the toilet paper. This is probably TMI, but my bathroom antics have been so severe lately that the cleanse wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me. (I’m attractive). I didn’t require all the baby wipes and creams that others recommended, but cheap 2-ply TP wouldn’t have done the job. Upgrade the toilet paper situation, pluck a cloud out of the sky, just get something suuuuper soft because you’s gonna be a’wipin’!
Don’t trust a fart for at least 48-hours.
The procedure itself was not a big deal, once I got over the idea of strangers being all up in my behind. After giving birth three times, you tend to take that sort of thing with a grain of salt. The anesthesia was my favorite, the doctor was very informative, and the nurses were all fantastic. My husband waited patiently and didn’t laugh when I woke up looking all ridiculous, cockeyed glasses and half-opened eyes. He’s obviously the better spouse because I would’ve Instagrammed the shit outta him. With no definitive answers, I’m assuming a blanket diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is coming down the pipeline, which is fantastic because I’ve always wanted to introduce myself as, “Hi, I’m Stephanie and I crap myself.”
C’est la vie.
Can I come home with you?