Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mac and Cheese I Can Eat

A while back you all might recall that I wrote a post talking about the problems I had with eating the standard ‘boil and serve’ mac and cheese.  At the time I was at a loss because nothing seemed to help the problem, not even my standard ‘eat this and you most likely won’t have diarrhea today’ foods (banana, yogurt, and tea).  Now, thanks to the suggestions by many, I think I have solved the problem.  The solution, for me at least, was eating all natural mac and cheese, specifically the Annie’s Homegrown stuff.  I also use organic milk and butter when making it, so as not to completely ruin the ‘all natural’ meal.  The stuff taste great and doesn’t cost much more than the regular mac and cheese I used to buy.  Even better, I don’t have to make a special trip when planning to buy it because it can be found at Target and Hy-Vee, which is where I do all my shopping.  Because of this I have also started to wonder how an ‘all natural’ diet would affect a person with Crohn’s Disease, especially one who suffers frequent flare-ups.  Do all the chemicals we put in our bodies thanks to the foods we eat play a role in how severe the disease can be?  It is something I’ve never really thought about, or asked my doctor about, yet seems like it could be important.  Another thing I never really thought about was the milk I drink.  For a long time people have wondered why I never cut milk out of my diet.  The reason was simple: it has never caused me any problems.  Maybe the reason for this is because I’ve always used organic milk (and creamers for my coffee)?  Something to think about.   

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BP Gas Station – No Toilet Paper

As some of you may know, I had to travel to and from Tennessee by car this past week.  I was going down to take part in the 150th Battle of Shiloh reenactment (the battle occurred in April of 1862 and was the first battle that really showed the country how costly the Civil War was going to be), which was about ten hours away.  As always, I was a bit concerned by the drive, but not the point where I worried excessively.  Fearing a diarrhea attack when on the road is something many of us with Crohn’s Disease do, but really, if you think about it, we spend more time worrying about it than actually experiencing it, and once we do experience it, it usually doesn’t last more than a hour or two. 

On the second day of driving, which was far shorter than the first day (we stopped at a hotel about an hour and a half from where we needed to be), I started getting the pains that signaled a Diarrhea Watch.  It wasn’t a warning yet, but conditions were favorable for something.  That something seemed to hit outside of a small town.  The pain was intense and it felt like a colon full of liquefied fecal matter was rushing toward the light.  A few minutes later I was running into a BP Gas Station bathroom, my driving companions familiar with my disease and always ready to accommodate me.

In the end it was a false alarm.  No diarrhea came and I actually didn’t poop from Thursday until Monday – probably due to the food I was eating in our camp (mostly ‘Johnny Cakes’ which is just fried cornmeal).  This was a good thing because while waiting for the diarrhea to hit in that bathroom – the pain made me certain it was coming when really it was just gas – I noticed there was no toilet paper in the dispenser.  Even worse, there was no paper towels in the broken paper towel wall unit.  Still thinking diarrhea was coming I got out my phone to call my reenacting buddies who had toilet paper in the car, but then stopped when someone began rattling the doorknob.  Naturally I told him I was in there, but he wouldn’t stop and kept pounding on the door telling me it was an emergency (why is it people always have to poop when you’re in a single toilet bathroom and facing your own potential emergency), so in the end I gave in and left the bathroom.  I didn’t, however, tell him about my discovery of the lack of toilet paper.  Had he been patient at the door like I have been when in my own emergency, I would have, but his pounding on the door over and over again and yelling to me to get out irritated me.  Unkind, yes, but I won’t lose any sleep over it. 

Now I have to ask, how in the world could a gas station allow their bathroom to be completely out of everything, especially at that time in the morning when many people usually start to experience a need for the porcelain seat?  Also, has anything like this ever happened to you?  If so what did you do?

NOTE: The lack of toilet paper seemed to be a theme during this trip.  I never used the portable bathrooms on site (I just peed in the trees when needed), but did learn that they ran out of toilet paper fairly quickly, and then when cleaned out on Saturday, the people doing the cleaning forgot to restock the toilet paper.  Glad I never needed to use them.  Then again, having experienced this in the past, everyone in our unit was knowledgeable enough to bring our own toilet paper onto the site. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

OH NO! Road closed and I had to Poop!

Anyone out there ever get that horrible bubby feeling while on the expressway?  Silly question, I’m sure most of you have – and more than once at that.  It is a scary moment when on any road, but when about thirty minutes from home on a road that has no real exits until the one you need, it gets even scarier.  This happened to me a few weeks ago.  Every Wednesday I have dinner and a game night with my family.  The drive between my place and theirs is about forty five to sixty minutes depending on traffic, most of it through dark farm country, which I love.  Normally nothing really happens during this drive, one that night, however, that bubby feeling began about five minutes after I got on the expressway.  At that point, I could have gotten off and used a gas station bathroom, but as I’m sure many of you are aware that bubbly feeling is often just a warning rather than an immediate concern.  For me that warning is usually saying I have about thirty minutes, maybe more, until everything breaks loose.  Not wanting to sit in a bathroom that long waiting, especially if others needed it – that is always the worse – I kept going and quickly passed the last real exit before the one I would need would appear.  Nothing horrible happened between then and reaching the exit.  Sure, I had a few scary moments where the bubbles got really painful, but nothing was coming due, so I just gritted my teeth and pushed on. 
And then the exit appeared.

Seeing this my bowels decided to grow excited and give everything a little push.  Normally this would be fine, though annoying, because it’s only like a five minute drive from the exit to my place.  That night, however, it was very unwelcome.  Why?  Apparently, there had been a semi-truck accident a minute from the exit, one that blocked the entire road.  The result, I had to take a detour route that increased my travel time by twenty-five minutes.

Needless to say I was really squeezing and several times nearly pulled off at a gas station to use the bathroom.  In the end I stayed in the car and made it home.  It was a close call, but thankfully one that didn’t end in disaster.  Had I left my parents house a few minutes later or had to take an even longer detour this probably wouldn’t have been the case and I would have been forced to pull off.  Instead I just get to think about it as another odd experience concerning my Crohn’s Disease and the diarrhea I sometimes get from the surgery I had in 2006.  The oddest of course is still the fire alarm at college incident from 2009.  How I ever made it back into my car and then back home before ruining a pair of pants is a mystery, but I did.

Anyone else ever have an experience like this?     

Monday, October 10, 2011

Epic Portable Toilet

As many of you have probably guessed I’m very open about my disease and the effects it has on my body. So open, in fact, that many of my friends feel comfortable enough in sharing their own bathroom moments with me. Others will think about me when they come upon bathroom themed situations they think I will enjoy hearing about. Some will even take pictures of the unusual bathrooms they find and send them to me. The pictures here are an example of such a situation. They were taken at a very high society political event and show the luxury portable toilets that were brought in for those in attendance. Personally, I never even knew such things existed. Just seeing the large note on the side of the toilet urging those that use it to flush leaves my jaw hanging and then asking where does it go? The size is impressive as well. If one of these were brought to a Civil War reenactment women would never have to worry about going inside one with a hoop dress on -- always a troubling issue with the standard portable toilets -- and I wouldn’t have to worry about spending hours sitting next to a disgusting pee splattered urinal sink like contraption. The mirror is a nice touch as well. I’ve never seen one so big inside a portable toilet before. I’m guessing given the attire of the people at this high class event such a mirror is needed because the last thing you want to do is step back out of the bathroom disheveled, which, when using a standard portable toilet is almost always a given.

Now, just looking at the first picture one gets a sense of how epic this portable toilet is and probably wouldn’t imagine that there would be even more things within, but there is. With a quick turn to the left -- that’s right, how often can you actually turn to the right or left in a standard portable toilet -- we can now see the amazing hand washing setup the luxury portable toilet has. As if that isn’t enough, however, they have also added flowers. The toilet seat cleaner they have behind the toilet in a nice touch as well. Such a thing would come in handy at reenactments since every now and then people leave a bit on the seat itself when struggling to use it in the middle of the night. Perhaps the most striking thing about this portable toilet is that it wasn’t unique according to my friend. All of them were like this and they had enough so that one wouldn’t have to worry about waiting, unless of course there was some catastrophic problem with the food that sent everyone at the event running for them all at once.

Anyone else ever have the privilege of getting to use a portable toilet like this? If so, please do tell us about it, and, if you have pictures, shoot them over to me in an email so I can share them with the world (of the luxury toilet, not you using it).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ever Have to Use a Clogged Toilet in Public?

This is a situation I haven’t yet talked about on this webpage despite the fact that it has happened to me before. It was back when I was a manager at a restaurant, one that I hated working for because the owners kept cutting our staff down in hopes that it would increase profits even though they already were making profits higher than most restaurants in the area, which in turn meant the employees who were there were often yelled at by customers for taking so long with everything. They also refused to give me my raise once I became a manager even though they expected me to do all the extra work of a manager. At one point I even discovered that some of the new employees I had had trained were making more money than me. It was bad. Anyway, the place had two really small bathrooms that could barely accommodate a total of five people (men and women), the men’s room being the worst of the two since it had only one toilet. Adding to my frustration I had been told in no uncertain terms that I could no longer use the women’s room during an emergency because a customer had complained. No one seemed to care that I had a medical condition and that they were probably in violation of some law.

One day while working a ten to four shift I was told by an unhappy customer that the toilet in the men’s room was clogged. This was around eleven thirty I believe because when I told the General Manager he said he would worry about it after the lunch rush was through. Startled, I told him he could not leave a bathroom unusable during an entire lunch rush, especially not when it seemed like people were frequently using the toilet given how often I had to wait when in the middle of a diarrhea attack. Naturally he told me not to worry about it because it wasn’t my concern. I disagreed, but kept it to myself. Anyone with Crohn’s Disease will know that finding yourself working all day in a location without a bathroom is of the utmost concern. In fact, once such a situation is realized it is hard to think about anything else.

Several more people complained to me during the lunch rush and I apologized to them for the bathroom situation. Of course this wasn’t enough to make them happy and almost all called in complaints to the head office, and since I was the one talking to them, guess whose name they filed the complaints against.

By two o’clock the lunch rush was over yet the toilet situation had not been looked at so I mentioned it to the General Manager again. This time he told me he couldn’t do anything about it until one of the other senior managers came in because he was going to have to go out and get the tool needed to work out the clog (in the past they would have just called a plumber but due to the owners not wanting to spend much money such calls were no longer made when things like this happened and instead the place would rent a piece of machinery to use). Shaking my head I went back to work, and sure enough within about thirty minutes started to feel some rumbles of trouble in the intestinal track.

Hoping it was just pain and not really a sign I would be having diarrhea, I went about my job until about three fifteen, which was when I knew I was going to have diarrhea within the hour. By this time a senior manager had arrived, so the General Manager was off picking up the special plumbing tool they needed, one that I knew was a half hour away since I had been sent out to pick it up in the past when the toilet had been clogged. He would not be back in time. So, with only forty five minutes left to go and the place pretty much empty of customers given the midday time, I asked the senior manager if it was okay if I headed home, which was only five minutes away, and told him I was going to have stomach issues. He said no because he didn’t want to work the front of the restaurant by himself. I understood this since I had been working it by myself for two hours -- ringing up orders, plating them, and serving them, all while tending to the drive through as well (way too much for one person).

As you can probably guess, the diarrhea hit before my replacement was going to be coming in at four and before the General Manager was back with the plumbing tool. Given how empty the place was I probably could have used the women’s room without a customer complaining again, but I decided to teach the General Manager a lesson. It’s something I still feel a bit silly about, but hey, when in a situation like that thoughts and decisions aren’t always completely rational. Add in the B-12 deficiency I was suffering at the time and my mind was pretty much useless. To this day I have no idea what happened after I finished filling up that clogged toilet bowl. All I know is my time in the bathroom took me up until it was time for me to leave, the senior manager forced to work the front of the restaurant while I was in there, and that I clocked out and went home without really saying anything. No one ever confronted me about the situation, nor did anyone ever talk about it.

So, anyone else ever find themselves in a similar situation? If so what did you do?

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Crohn’s Disease Facebook Page

For several months now people have been emailing me asking if there was or ever would be a Facebook page for this webpage blog. In the beginning my answer was always “no, not at the moment, but maybe one day,” followed by a link to several great Facebook Crohn’s Disease pages. Sometimes this satisfied those that were asking, sometimes it didn’t, a follow up email often arriving with a plead that I create one sooner rather than later, because, as they put it, they like my sense of humor about this disease and thought it would be fun to be able to interact with me on a Facebook page. At first I never understood why one couldn’t interact with me on my normal Facebook personal page, but now realize that I have so many different groups of friends on there -- Civil War reenactors, history buffs, horror fans, writers, book reviewers and Crohn’s Disease sufferers -- that it became hard for people who just wanted to focus on Crohn’s Disease. Some also expressed shyness about interacting with me on there due to how many non-Crohn’s Disease people would see it as well. Because of this I decided it was time to create a My Crohn’s Disease Facebook Page. Of course I will still post Crohn’s Disease stuff on my regular personal Facebook page, but will focus more on the My Crohn’s Disease Facebook page when asking questions and encouraging people to share stories about themselves. So, without any further explanation, here is a link to the My Crohn’s Disease Facebook Page. I hope people join it and share their stories and thoughts and information on this horrible disease.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Can You Eat Yogurt?

Last year I wrote a few posts about how eating yogurt everyday has helped keep my diarrhea output under control. Ever since then I have been getting angry emails from people who tell me yogurt is on some Crohn’s Disease ‘do not eat list’ (apparently along with every other ‘dairy’ product) and that I’m jeopardizing my health and the health of others by eating it and telling others that it helps me. So now I have to ask, does anyone else eat yogurt regularly as a part of their Crohn’s Disease diet or do you stay away from it? For me I eat it everyday, not because I necessarily like it, but because I like that it replaces the good bacteria that is essential to the proper function of the small intestine, which in turn seems to keep the amount of diarrhea I suffer at a pretty low level (Crohn’s Disease often kills this good bacteria). The fact that I’m able to go on long road trips, out to movies, out to dinner, camping almost every other weekend, and work 14 hour days on movie sets without much fear to me is proof that the yogurt is working. Sure I do suffer diarrhea from time to time, my Bill Pooped Here blog posts show this, but I seem to suffer it a lot less than others with Crohn’s Disease. I also seem to be able to eat foods that most people with Crohn’s Disease stay away from, foods that will cause me diarrhea if I don’t eat the yogurt regularly (I know, because for a year right after my diagnosis I wasn’t eating yogurt and suffered diarrhea everyday). Nothing I say within my reply to these angry emails seems to get this point across and instead causes more angry replies from the people sending them. I don’t know why. Some even while tell me that they can’t wait for the day when I suddenly find myself in the hospital because I have ruined my life by eating something like yogurt. So again, I have to ask, does anyone eat yogurt or am I the only one. If you do eat yogurt is there a certain kind you eat that helps? I only eat the Yoplait Original French Vanilla yogurt, mostly because I’m not a fan of eating anything with bits of fruit in it. I also have never really experimented with various yogurts to see if any have a negative effect on me (the only exception being the yogurt smoothies I used to buy that seemed to cause a lot of diarrhea -- see the Back to Regular Yogurt post). Instead I stick with this one because it seems to do the trick. Last but not least, if you don’t eat yogurt how do you maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your intestines?