Dealing With Embarrassment And Cancer: The Time I Pooped My Pants

I’ll be honest, not my best title but I feel like it grabs attention, right? Anyways, let’s talk about embarrassment. A lot of the time, people talk about the pain and misery cancer puts you through and how you have to be a warrior to endure it and all that hoo-haw. But people never really talk about something that goes hand in hand with cancer: embarrassment. Or lack thereof, I guess.

Don’t get it twisted, I don’t need cancer to embarrass myself. I’m quite good at that without needing a terminal illness’s help. And before cancer, I was still no stranger to embarrassing medical issues. From the literally hundreds of warts I had to get burned off when I was a kid to the cyst in my ass crack caused by overly-hairy buttcheeks that I was supposed to get surgically removed in college, I was already fairly used to getting rosy cheeks from a medical diagnosis. But cancer has taken it to a whole ‘nother level, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one in this cancer community whom has endured some embarrassment during my treatment. I’ll bet there are lots of people out there who have to deal with embarrassing side effects because of chemo, and they’re too embarrassed to talk about it. Maybe they’re even ashamed. Or worse yet, maybe there are some who are experiencing serious side effects that could do long-lasting damage that they’re not telling their doctor about because they’re embarrassed. Just no bueno all around!

The moral of what I’m saying is that when it comes to cancer care, it may be best to leave your pride in the waiting room. I’m not saying don’t take pride in your fight or what you’ve achieved, just be prepared to laugh at yourself sometimes.

In an attempt at solidarity and a hope that sharing my own woes may make others feel better, I’ll share one of my favorite stories from my cancer journey. I was in the neuro ICU, recovering from my brain surgery where I had a cyst in my brain stem drained. It turns out brain surgery is actually not that fun and unsurprisingly, your head usually hurts a little after it’s been sliced open and a needle was shoved into it. So it should come as no surprise that I was on a painkiller or two for a few days afterwards. If you’ve ever had big boy surgery and taken some big boy drugs for it, you are probably more than aware that a classic side effect of painkillers is constipation. But not your everyday constipation like “I ate too much nacho cheese so I missed my morning dookie today.” Opioid-induced constipation is the kinda shit where you don’t poop for a month and you feel like you’re gonna burst at the seems like that little twit Violet who blows up in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. To combat this constipation (at least for me), you usually have to use a nice laxative in the form of a suppository to loosen things up and get the pipes unclogged. For those whom have never experienced the joy of a suppository, it’s a pill you take up your tailpipe. Honestly not that bad, just looks weird having to bend over for your nurse so they can really get up there. Anyways, I was post-op for a few days and having some solid constipation so I got a nice suppository and then it was left up to Father Time to decide when things were going to kick in. Unfortunately, I forgot I was also having an old friend come visit me that day, and as luck would have it she showed up riiiiight as things were really starting to get shaking. I figured since I had been so clogged up recently that I would be fine just holding it until she left. Unfortunately, that’s not really how laxatives work. So I was in my room, chatting with my mom, girlfriend, and friend from high school, and I let out a nice wet fart. I mean, nothing too bad, just one of those honkers that sound like someone had stepped on a duck. I just had brain surgery, God forbid I fart a little, whatever. The fart was only the start of the flood gates opening, however. I suddenly got wide-eyed and realized there was a train coming that wasn’t about to stop no matter how hard I clenched. So as my entire week of food was now starting to rush out of me, I tried to simultaneously slide over to my commode while also asking my friend to please excuse me for a minute, but it was sorta like trying to rub my belly while patting my head at the same time and the result was neither one was accomplished. So I ended up shitting my pants in front of everyone and then having just the most aggressive diarrhea of my life into a bucket right afterwards. My girlfriend got the joy of watching, and it was really just an all-around good time for everyone involved. It was a little uncomfortable asking my friend to come back in the room after everything was finished and cleaned, but we managed to finish our conversation without anyone acknowledging what had just transpired.

So that’s the story of me shitting myself after surgery, hope you all enjoyed it. I’m sure I have better stories too but none come to mind at the moment. Anyways, I hope you all can find comfort in knowing that we all have to do humiliating things sometimes, and if you’re having trouble with something that makes you uncomfortable, just know we’ve all been through it before, and you’ll get through it too.

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