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. 


  1. This has happened to me too many times. I always carry a pack of wet wipes. Plus the inpatient people knocking at the door, I get the urgency to use the bathroom but Im not sitting in there knitting a sweater.

  2. Bill,

    Sorry to learn that you had to have surgery. Bummer.

    Hope you are feeling much better now.

    I can relate though through this story. Although my Crohn's Disease was located in my small intestine which caused me to have regular vomiting (a drag) I understand the need for a bathroom.

    I was driving my work van in Solana Beach, CA one day and that bad feeling came over me.

    I had to vomit so bad and no bathroom was in sight.

    So as quickly as I could, I pulled over to a safe spot and let it go.

    Super embarrassing. Cars going by - people watching. But you got to do what you got to do.

    Certainly can't do that if you have to poop of course.

    And I agree. Not having toilet paper in a restroom is just not acceptable.

    The janitor was definitely dropping the ball on that one.

    How do I know? I was a janitor at one time and made absolutely sure that there was more than enough toilet paper available for anyone...anytime.

  3. I hope that future generations will not judge us by the conditions of our public restrooms. Why a person cannot use a public toilet and keep it clean (and actually flush the damn thing) is beyond me. Stay strong my friend.