Thursday, January 7, 2010

Those averse to bathroom talk, please beware

Recently, before the holidays, my work employed a quaint little exercise in lieu of gift-giving. Everyone in our department had an envelope on our desks, and we were each given blank index cards which equaled the number of co-workers I have. We were to – anonymously or not – write what we enjoy about that person and any holiday wishes, and slip it into their envelope. Definitely a bit hokey, but well-meaning, and I was the first to write out my cards and slipped them in their assigned envelopes. I did mine anonymously and most of mine were short, sweet, and to the point, even goofy at times with things like “You simply have the greatest head of hair ever!!” or “You’re a wise guy, and that’s definitely appreciated (well, mostly)” and “You’re absolutely terrific, but I don’t know about that dog of yours!” for a co-worker who regales us with tails (typo on purpose) of her very neurotic dog.

A few days later my co-workers began filling my envelope and they wrote the most beautiful, prosaic compliments and filled the card (I instantly felt ashamed as I obviously didn’t comprehend the scope of the exercise and was immediately pleased my cards were anonymous, which was short-lived, though, as everyone else signed their name making the anonymous perp very, very obvious). One of the things that almost every single person wrote (out of about 15 or so) was they enjoyed how I “say it like it is” and was so “genuine and candid” and they enjoyed my sense of humor. It was all very sweet: and a narcissist's dream (which I hope I am not, but I still reread them all at least five times), but I wanted to open this post with this story because I was hedging on whether or not to write about my next topic. Then I remembered I had already written about workplace bathroom etiquette, the very personal longing to have a family, and now, how my colleagues have encouraged my candidness, so I’m going to dig right in and discuss. By “it” I mean FLATULENCE. Oh, and farting. And all of that horrific bloating and distension that accompanies Crohn’s. (Do you see why I was a tad hesitant at first?)

I bring up the bloat because I was terribly gassy the other day. The type of gasiness I had to tell everyone about (because, obviously, everyone likes to share how gassy they are). First I emailed Matt and said I was “going to die in a horrible explosion” due to my gas. He gets this a lot and wrote back “Poor K.” That was it! Because I didn’t get the pity I was in search of, I thought about telling my co-workers but (rightly) hesitated: I have already been accused of TMI (“too much information”) because, well, I tell it like it is and a few months back started a diatribe against women who get Brazilian bikini waxes and the men who like them. (Look, you have hair there for a reason…it’s called chafing!). Now I just embarrassed my own parents, but I will stand strong!

Dealing with gas at the workplace is a nuisance. How do you safely, discreetly, “discharge” of the this gas? Just as importantly, how does one discreetly unzip their skirt so a big, fat stomach can breathe? Don’t kid yourself: these are major issues that demand answers.

About five years ago, relatively early in our relationship while living together like the sinners we are, Matt devised a procedure for eliminating gas that we simply call – to this day – “The Procedure.” When I complain of the bloat, he simply says, “Do you want to do The Procedure?” This is where this post gets tricky and you may never look at me again the same, or revisit the site. (But you’ll be missing out on a lot of top-notch knowledge like The Procedure.) This is important stuff, and The Procedure is nothing to joke about. Also, I swear that I didn’t come up with this…it’s allll Matt.

This is what you do: the person who is having the gas attack lays on their back on the floor, legs up in a V shape. Their partner (and really, no one other than your partner should be told to go through this…like the vows said….”for better or for worse”) grabs both ankles and pushes the gas-o’s legs back, toward their head. This creates the perfect positioning for eliminating excess air. The person standing can also rock the person’s legs back and forth, building up gassy tension. Like I said; this was all Matt’s idea.

Now don’t look at me and say “eww”. I do this in the privacy of my own home – never right before we have visitors…come on, I have some manners!—and everyone has excess gas occasionally. For us with Crohn’s, it can be frequent as our intestines are inflamed and narrowed. Really: since my diagnosis, my frequent farting quotient has sky-rocketed. I know it’s not “womanly” and “becoming”, but neither are any of the other elimination methods the body employs. Sometimes you just have to help your poor torso along.

I have a friend—who lives in a small space with his significant other—who has never smelled his partner’s eliminations. While I respect some mystery in the bathroom, this baffles me. I am also sort of in awe. You see, not only does Matt do the procedure with me, but either one of us will use the bathroom while the other is in the shower. Or, when Matt has to use the bathroom, he’ll very debonairly say, “I have to poop!” and skip off (or shuffle, but it’s usually said with a certain glee and a bounce in his step…he’s an odd one). Afterwards, he’ll often regale me with tales of his “best poops”; the ones that nary required toilet paper (I suppose, this is very much like a dog, but this has never happened to me).

I don’t write this to embarrass myself, or embarrass Matt (maybe a little bit of the latter), but to continue my quest to just “say it like it is”. We all – Crohn’s or not—get gassy once in a while, and while the human body is a beautiful machine, it does have its eyebrow-raising moments.

I want to dedicate this post to Matt – my partner in crime – and, last but certainly not least, Gas X. Thank you for all you do.


  1. Kathryn,

    As one of your co-workers, "the procedure" is old news! You shared this one with a us a few years back. I believe it was Megan (in cube 1), you (in cube 2) and I was standing next to cube 1 and 2. When you hear about these things you don't forget the moment! HAHA.


  2. Kate- You are correct! I do remember that moment. Good memory. Kathryn- I just bought beano yesterday b/c I have been severely gassy lately and we were having hotdogs for dinner...

  3. Awww...sweet, sweet memories!! I'm glad "The Procedure" left an impression on you both! (My job is complete!). ;-)

  4. The Procedure sounds kind of like the Plough yoga position.

    You have to be careful when executing this move in a class.


  5. Nancy,

    I stopped going to yoga because I was the only one there who the teacher had to continually correct, but I think I now have an even bigger excuse hearing this!!!!

  6. Dare I say I have "the position" when I have the gas issue? It is a little difficult to do this in public and is most reserved for the comfort of my own home but I do agree - sometimes you just gotta let it out. TMI and all!! Thanks Kathryn!!

  7. So glad I'm not grossing out all my audience, Jenni! Viva The Procedure!