I’m gonna be extremely candid for the sake of my readers (and a little bit for myself, well, probably it’s more for me). I have urinary and bowel incontinence issues since my injury. It kind of comes with the territory with a spinal cord injury like mine. The nerves in my spine below the injury were disconnected from my brain and so I can no longer control them for the most part and I can’t always feel when I need to go. This has resulted in some pretty fun surprises, like shitting myself at the library or grocery stores. Exciting!
It’s gotten better over time. I use pads during the day so that usually safeguards me against urine related incidents, but the other thing is a little more messy. I’ve learned that certain foods (greasy meat) and eating too much at once are usually triggers and so I’m more careful and more in control. It was a pretty big deal for me when I went from wearing briefs full time to the pads. Maybe it would be safer to wear briefs all the time but for me these things are symbols of my independence and recovery, and surprisingly it’s not as world shattering and humiliating for me to have an accident as I thought it would be. I usually just take a shower and get back to what I was doing (and maybe eat some ice cream or cereal cause those are my comfort foods and I’m usually pretty hungry after everything in my intestines falls violently out my butt). I only cry like 20% of the time.
It’s ok. Everybody poops. Let’s talk about it. The very young, and very old, and injured (like me) or sick poop their pants on the reg, and for many it’s just a part of life.
About a year after my accident I was dating this cool guy. He was always down for adventures and even though it was fall we decided to go camping. We went out to eat at this cute little Mexican place and then headed to the woods to set up camp. We had secured a nice little bag of magic mushrooms to make the trip especially interesting. So, once we pitched the tent (or he did really. I was on double crutches at the time so I couldn’t really do things with my hands unless I was sitting down.) and started a fire we ate said mushies with several of those campfire classics: s’mores. At this time I would often have accidents about three hours after a food transgression. I bet you can see where this is going.
I don’t know if it was the massive plate of enchiladas, or the double order of s’mores, or the mushrooms that I wedged all up in those s’mores, but I ended up pooping my pants pretty bad. I don’t remember it too well, perhaps because of the depression my memory is poor, or maybe it’s because I was high. I think I changed my pants and then shit on those as well. I remember a lot of laughing. The guy I was dating was very supportive and just thought it was hilarious. I remember the lights from the distant bathrooms were like a pair of eyes in the darkness and I knew I couldn’t make it all the way over to them. My then boyfriend brought me a roll of toilet paper and it was the greatest idea I never had. I tried to clean up without rolling my dirty ass in all the dead leaves and making a sort of shit decoupage. In the morning I journeyed to the bathrooms and bathed my butt in the water from the toilet bowl.
It was on that trip I drew this picture. A reflection of my loss and the pain at facing things I thought I was safe from. If we could erase some of the stigma from natural bodily processes maybe I wouldn’t have felt so dirty even when it had been washed away.