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I can hide it no longer- I have developed an obsession with toilets.
No, its not some really messed up fetish (totally each to their own though- no judgement here…); I have unofficially become an independent reviewer for toilets around my area.
What the hell are you on about Kim? Well, I have had the misfortune of visiting many a toilet in my local area, so feel I can confidently signpost people to one that most suits their needs. This is all thanks to those three little letters that frustrate me so, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
In my head, I have created quite the toilet catalogue. I know which towns have public toilets, where they are and of these toilets, which has communal cubicles (where you can hear EVERYTHING) and which have an individual room. I can tell you which local pubs have the nicest loos and which play music, to really set the mood for your toileting experience. Which restaurants have a single toilet which opens up RIGHT into the eating area, so diners start to wonder if their beef bourguignon is a little off… And if anyone has had the misfortune of having to use a petrol station loo… well! What a game of Russian roulette that is. I’ve had to learn the hard way which ones are nicely maintained and which ones have usually been redecorated by a passing trucker, who dropped and ran!
And it’s not just pee and poop either. I have planned many a story, for when I feel so nauseous that I convince myself that this will be the one time that I actually do vomit. Maybe if I say I am pregnant, they’ll have sympathy? Or food poisoning? I’ll keep a plastic bag in my handbag as a backup plan (True story!)
Now, I know I am making light of this, but it actually has become a bit of a safety behaviour for me, in terms of managing the Anxiety around my IBS and vice versa. I will say though, that I recognise I am fortunate that I often have the choice of where I go, in comparison to those with IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) who may not have that luxury.
I am so pleased to see that a lot of establishments now have signs on their disabled toilet doors, reminding people that not all disabilities are visible. My sister has Ulcerative Colitis and I often see people frowning when she urgently uses a disabled loo.
Crohns and Colitis UK now offer people ‘Can’t Wait cards’, to show shop staff when they have to go, which I hope will ease the Anxiety of a lot of people. There should be no shame in having to go when you need to.
People are so prudish when the topic of poo comes up! Being a nurse, I will quite happily discuss bowel habits with anyone, because looking at your poop is such an important opportunity to assess what is going on inside your body and your general health. I can recite the Bristol Stool Chart off the top of my head (Google it, if you’re unsure of what I’m talking about!) and my family now use it as a funny, but accurate reference when they are worried or notice changes (it was even on my parent’s fridge at one point, but I think it put Mum off her dinner). Maybe it’s a good way for kids to learn to take notice of their bowel health too?