I'll warn you now, this isn't going to pretty. On the off chance I had any allure to speak of to begin with, I can guarantee the next few hundred words will obliterate it.
For the last ten years the structure of my day has been dictated by my busy bowels. I've always had a speedy metabolism, but these days my innards conduct themselves like an Olympic bobsleigh team. My daily schedule is controlled by my petulant paunch, and it's become necessary to assess every journey/task and appoint a risk factor. To avoid embarrassment I dress according to the jeopardy rating - white jeans are currently off the agenda.
Recently I've been consumed with the idea of writing to the Department of Health to see if sufferers could be granted some sort of badge that allows us to jump public toilet queues and be exempt from the extortionate 30p charges at Waterloo. I also find myself pondering what life would be like if it were considered normal for an adult to wear a nappy, an anti-odour one with state of the art in-built soundproofing - my work at music festivals would certainly be less tense.
It's been a stressful month, one which has made my tummy more reactive than ever - I'm explosive. The relentless trauma to my posterior means I have to sit at a jaunty angle to relieve pressure from the hot spot/eruption point, and there is more than a touch of the John Wayne in the way that I walk. Feeling perennially guilty for flaking out on friend and work duties is another depressing side affect of the condition.
If I do dare to go for a meal I know that I will likely need to 'empty' before leaving the restaurant. No big deal if there are lots of cubicles soundtracked by loud popular music. However, in comes the spotlight of doom when you realize there is one lone throne. You feel hurried by the shuffling feet queuing outside, and you are awkwardly aware that the humans attached to the feet can hear everything going on in the war zone (even if you try to mask with timely coughs). Signs saying 'toilets for paying customers only' give me another reason to feel guilty. I dined in McDonalds three times in two days last week - I felt it my moral duty after utilising their facilities...well that's my excuse and i'm sticking to it!
Dating was always hazardous. At dinners I didn't want to appear to be a hoighty high-maintenance girl that asked for certain parts of the meal to be removed and others to be put on the side - so I ordered with little regard to what I knew to be aggravating ingredients. One particular date my inner daredevil found it impossible to ignore the seductiveness of a Hot Chocolate Fondant pudding. It was a high risk decision, and the inevitable happened. Basically, I played russian roulette and got shot with a bazooka. That night, and the half hour I was clamped to the ceramic, taught me that I must have my phone with me at all times. Okay, I could put my vocal bodily functions to good use and toot my own unique morse code, but instead I text to reassure my company that I've not done a runner, nor spending a ridiculous amount of time touching up my make up. It's worse. I've logged onto the toilet and I'm making a huge download. Get yourself another drink.
Thank god I've never been into one night stands. After-all, only someone who loves you would put up with this s***. There's nothing like saying 'I need to do a poo first' to extinguish the fire in a male's loins and eradicate passion from a potentially sexy moment. I'm sure the face of someone permanently clenching throughout 'the deed' is hardly a turn on either. Bloated and suffering from cramps, a stinging bum and gas, also makes you feel far from hot to trot....
My poor uni boyfriend put up with a lot of crap. In halls your assigned room becomes your lounge, office and bedroom, and I was lucky enough to get second floor's spacious disabled room. Unfortunately alongside the handy seat in the shower, my dorm's ensuite had a sliding door which hung off the runners and let both sound and whiff escape. The living arrangements meant that the mystique was forced out of our relationship pretty early. To make 'dropping the kids off at the pool' less Danny Boyle gritty, I would drown out with music. Outkast's 'B.O.B' proved to be track of choice, a relentless, fast paced racket - acoustic folk, minimal production or serene instrumentals would not be sufficient. If you read this, I apologize for permanently tainting the Hip-Hop legends for you.
You may think the manner in which I refer to my poo problems as crass and unfeminine, and you'd be right. My openness was stifled for a while having noted how my male friend's faces would transform into grossed out gurns at the mere thought of females needing to do number 2's. I'd try and be vague and maintain some ladylike refinement when people questioned my reasons for avoiding certain food/drinks and leaving social events early, and how I remained slim despite my impressive appetite. But some people are innately nosey, or lacking in tact, so I'd often be probed for further details. 'What happens to you if you do eat that *insert indulgent food*?' they'd ask. So I decided to be open, to the point of over-sharing, and try and approach it with some humour...toilet humour. That said showing pictures of my latest 'Jackson Pollock' has proved too much info for some.
To end on a serious note, I only make light of this chronic problem because it's easier than concentrating on the misery and difficulties it brings to everyday life. Yes it's common, and I'm thankful it isn't life threatening, but the condition's ability to affect your quality of life is very real.
P.S I am currently undergoing various test and scans regarding my IBS-like symptoms. A piece on the difficulties of diagnosis is coming soon.