Monday, June 1, 2009

toilet terrorism

First of all I would like to note that - perhaps because I was raised in a quasi-Jansenist Irish family - Things That Happen in the Bathroom are not discussed. Sex? Maybe, in the proper context. Flatulence? As a joke, maybe, rarely, brought up only by the menfolk. Actual digestive issues? Are not discussed. And frankly this is an ethic that I live by. I think the adult world flows smoothly - more smoothly - if it includes all sorts of information, but not What Happens in Potty. Unless you're talking to your doctor, and even then, he should maybe ask you to fill out a form. Not describe what happens in the bathroom, because, well, really.

And I'm going to try to preserve as much of that ethic as I can in this post (and I preserve all of it in real life, or do my best to), but it did occur to me that I have been entirely at a loss for some time over the proper etiquette for such situations, and here, on teh internetz, there are many other young women (proper ladies all, no doubt!) who have suffered with endo too. So they must know. For those who've never had endo - well, this post may sully your Potty Innocence. And I'm not sure whether you can unring that bell. So, you've been warned.

Anyway, today is CD3 and also my first day of tamoxifen (since my endo-style cramping/digestive issues hadn't totally subsided yesterday, I should probably have waited till evening to take the tamoxifen, but I took it in the morning, anyway. Also, BTW, I took two 50mg B6 yesterday and I feel no different. I'll take another two today). And, whether due to the tamoxifen or not, my digestive system is insisting upon frequent use of the facilities. The sort of use for which one hopes that no one else will have had that same thought at the same time. Unfortunately, as in many workplaces, potty is corporate - there are two stalls, in this case, and I believe just the one ladies' room for the whole hallway. If I can tell someone else is headed potty-ward, I just do something else until they return. But that only works for the ladies in my office proper (of whom there are currently SIX. Which kind of limits my solo-potty odds, and I can tell you I don't appreciate that).

I have always been a little unhappy with corporate potty opportunities. But, during my healthy years, potty was always used in public for one reason: too much soda, or some variant thereof. It's only as my digestive system has broken down that I might want to use potty in public for something else.

(It suddenly returns to mind that my father used to sing a little song, of his own composition, "One BM a day will do, it's the same for me and you..." I think this was brought on by the fact that my brother, as a young child, would announce it to the family if he had had diarrhea. Anyway, I never knew if there were a medical basis for my father's little ditty, but if so, well, it doesn't work with endo, in my experience.)

And I have to say that I consider the use of potty for something else to be a tad antisocial. I mean, generally, others do not want to be there. You don't want others to be there. So of course I can wait until the bathroom is unoccupied. But sometimes you can't tell, and sometimes someone comes in while you're there! The nerve. Anyway, although I never thought I would be *that* kind of person, I did at some point take on a habit of waiting out the competition. Sometimes even if I was there first. I developed several time-buying measures, including elaborate nose-blowing. But it has a few times occurred that the other party appeared to be trying to wait me out as well. Once I realize there's a contest on, I always win. But sometimes I think, "What in the name of all that's holy am I doing? I don't recognize her shoes, but what if she recognizes mine? What will she think of a person who would do such a thing?"

I am a grown woman, occupying a workplace restroom in tense strategic silence, waiting out some other adult woman who probably has a stomachache too, so I can assume the territory of the restroom all to myself. Really, I never saw myself ending up here.

And is this what I should be doing? I mean, what's the proper response? Does one address the other toilet-occupying party, and say politely, "Excuse me, but I have come here to [insert explanation]. I estimate I need [] minutes of solo potty time, but I would be happy to take them at another time. Should we arrange to alternate our toilet usage? You can have the first turn."


  1. Oh yeah I've totally been there...
    And sadly since the loss of my dear gallbladder have become quite familiar with the whole gamut of public restrooms.
    I have unfortunately because of, um, increased need for a potty and normally in the time span of oh-my-gosh-i-mean-right-now-rightnow.
    And once I realized you know what? Once I came to terms with the fact that not only is it ok to go in a public restroom... that WOW I'm not the only one who does it! But I now realize I'm not the only one who has lurked in a stall until people left because I refuse to let people see my face after they have shared that kinda public-ness.

  2. HAHAHA! I was just in the same unfortunate situation. We have such a small company (only 4 women, 3 on most days) that you can usually count on private potty time, but someone had the nerve to walk in while I was in there today. And of course there's no way to hide identities. Awkward...
    My digestion is one thing that has been awful after this last surgery - amazing how endo can interfere with every aspect of your life.

  3. Okay, I don't know if it was meant to be funny, but I LOL'd at the last paragraph. Hey, when you gotta go you gotta go. It happens to all of us.

  4. Endo can most certainly screw up your digestive system - here I am 1 year post op and still having POTTY ISSUES!

    I got lucky at work though - we have this guy who had a sex change about a year ago and two restrooms have been converted for him, I mean her! They converted two small restrooms into unisex restrooms w/ locks on them - so noone can come in if someone else is there. It's perfect for endo gals too!

  5. I think multiple toilet bathrooms are barbaric.

    Your post was brilliant.

  6. i used to get "performance anxiety" when i had to go number 2 in public washrooms. ever since i got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis i have lost all inhibitions (and during flare ups i lose control so i really can't help it!).

    in public bathrooms i would flush the toilet when i felt any explosive action coming on. it may have wasted water, but i was at least less embarrassed!

    i would say that you just ignore the other person. i would think that there's some unsaid rule about not mentioning bathroom business!

  7. I had to smile at this post because I have soooo been there. I used to do the waiting competition all of the time with the last place I worked.

    My problem with the company I work for now is quite different, and I have to admit that I have actually taken brakes to go to a store down the street and use their restroom. The reason is because while the restroom at work is a single occupant restroom, it is located directly accross from my boss's office and HE leaves his office door open. I have also found that I hate "opening wrappers" (if you catch my drift) during that time of the month (or year as the case may be for me).

  8. Luckily I have a job where I kind of pass my house to a school I work in at times during the day, so it makes that uncomfortable bathroom trips much nicer when I can be at home. Sorry for the endo bathroom nightmare!

  9. I thought I was the only one to time bathroom breaks at work so they'd be unlikely to coincide with anyone else's. I, too, hold off when I know someone else is headed toward the ladies room, and I get miffed when someone has the nerve to walk in while I'm in the middle of things. I even hope she doesn't recognize my shoes under the stall door. Depending on how far along I am (oh, TMI, sorry), I either speed up to beat the other woman out of the bathroom, or I start moving at sub-warp speed so she can get out before I do. It's a private thing after all. I'm not insane!

  10. My sympathies, for both the underlying condition and the logistical nightmare of finding bathroom privacy. I hope the effects pass quickly!

  11. This is an awesome post, and I needed to lol today :)

    Sorry that I'm lol'ing at your toilet trauma.
    I can honestly say I've never done #2 in a public bathroom!! Even before I became crazy irregular (which is now improving, thankyouverymuch), I would always just do my duty in the evening hours from the comfort of my unoccupied home bathroom :) But while this problem of yours is foreign to me, I can certainly see how aweful it must be!!

    It reminds me of a Family Guy episode, where Peter asks the librarian for a good Potty Training book. He recommends a few, like, "Everybody Poops," etc. to which Peter replies: "Well, we're" The librarian quickly takes out a book and says, "Oh well then you want 'You're a Bad Child, and That is Concentrated Evil Coming Out Your Backside.'"

  12. I forgot to mention how cool it was in Japan and Korea that they have privacy options in each stall - little speaker units where you can hit a button and it'll play the sound of a toilet flushing, or some weird music, or other noise to cover may make. LOL, once there was one with birds chirping...not sure how effective that was :).

  13. ha! elaborate nose blowing! hilarious! i dont mind exiting the stall if someone else is still engaged in their "business", but i never like to come out of the stalls when someone else is washing their hands...

  14. I've always found women's washrooms to be a weird mix of the social and the antisocial.

    Re: your comments on my blog
    The progesterone and estrogen suppositories apparently are enough to keep af away. :( I SO hope you're right, though.
    And thanks for what you said about me the other day (re: my DH saying he doesn't want a baby) - that really made me feel good about myself. :)