That may be all you want to know about this particular subject.
But if not, I’m going to share. If you read the “About Me”, you’ll understand my motivation for sharing. You know, life is real and I am real and you are real and we all have struggles and I actually think we should talk about them more. Because, otherwise there is the tendency to think we are the only one with struggles.
Everyone has a WorstThingThatCouldHappen in a given situation that they are hoping, you know, doesn’t happen.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could whisper into the Universe’s ear, “Hey, there’s just this one thing that I know I could never survive, sooo…” and have the Universe reply, “Cool. I’m noting that. I’ll have the crew put a lock on that for you.” Instead, I swear the Universe is thinking, “Cool. This’ll be interesting. I’m going to push you right off that particular cliff.” I know, I know, the Universe is benign, God loves me, yadda, yadda, but the thing about that is, the WorstThingThatCouldHappen sometimes does anyway.
I don’t want to trivialize the WorstThingThatCouldHappen because some of them are devastating. And some of the devastating ones are also inevitable. None of us are going to live forever, we will all eventually lose the people we can’t live without and also our cats.
But we do survive a lot of WorstThingsThatCouldHappen and still have happiness times. When I was a little girl, one of the WorstThingsThatCouldHappen was having to go through with my ballet recital. I was painfully shy and this event simultaneously AbsolutelyCouldNotHappen and WasGoingtoHappen. Apparently, I expressed some reservation to my mom just to the point that a person who was making a case for an international war crime tribunal would; and then after the event, claimed that it “wasn’t that bad”.
Here’s my new WorstThingThatCouldHappen and if you’ve been reading my blog, you won’t be surprised at all. Since rectal cancer, I’ve been deeply afraid that running would make me have an accident. The thing that planted that fear in my mind, is that for some time as I was recovering from my ileostomy reversal, doing anything else often made me have an accident.
Now, I have graduated from that condition. I haven’t cracked my emergency repair kit open in over a year. I’m not afraid to wear white underpants (especially nice for when you are wearing white overpants). But running, you know. Exertion.
Even people who haven’t had rectal cancer have accidents when they run.
So here’s the thing, pooping is a concern for runners and people who run talk about pooping. (So do doctors and nurses. I mean, not just on the job, but at home too. I know young parents also talk about poop a great deal. (I still remember the radio show where the new dad referred to his baby’s poop as their family’s main Gross Domestic Product)).
One of the times I did the Riverbank Run, I noticed the first port-o-potty along the route. It came up pretty fast. We had really just rounded the first curve. And the line was huge. If you gotta go, you do not want to have to depend on a port-o-potty directly along the Riverbank Run route and roughly twenty thousand other folks in the throes of extreme exertion. But the point is, running does increase the likelihood of this particular bodily function.
So probably the last people I should be shy about my fear with is runners.
But I was not in that place and this was the worst thing that could happen as I started this new adventure and I was sure it would happen immediately and consistently whenever I ran.
And it didn’t!
We ran a couple miles together on our first group run. I was wondering what I was going to do out in a snow covered park with no public facilities among a group of people I just met, but I had no problem. I can’t tell you how, uh, well, relieved I was. And neither did I have any problem at any of my training runs, group or on my own, at any time after that.
Until. I did.
It was the night I did two thirteen minute runs with a two minute break in between for the first time. I had finished and was walking, almost home. And I didn’t make it.
I was mortified. John was gone and I closed myself in the bathroom, hoping to sterilize the room and all of its contents (including myself) before he returned so he would never know. So that I could continue fooling him into thinking that I was decent and feminine and perhaps even pretty, instead of the big, disgusting creep that I had obviously become. Naturally, then, he did come home and find out what I was doing in there.
And there were repercussions:
My life did not end.
John chose to continue in the marriage.
I went out and ran again without pooping my pants, every time after that -
Until. It happened again.
The next time I was half way along on a five mile run on the trail between Millennium Park and the zoo. And, you know, when you run on a trail and you don’t have a chauffeur (as I confess I don’t, it has something to do with being an archivist), you run out and back. Half way is the point when you are furthest from your car. I was miles from my car. So I basically had to do that thing that we adult humans have to do way too often; just keep moving forward even when its uncomfortable.
Back by the car, there was a public restroom. And it was just abuzz with activity. A cute, young woman who looked like a good runner walked in just before me and then a woman came in with a couple children who were skipping around and being loud and exhibiting an alarming lack of boundaries.
And here’s the only thing you can do in that situation: Swallow. Take a damn stall. Do the best you can to fix the problem. Acknowledge that this is not your fault and if there was any way to avoid it, you would really, really, absolutely have done that for sure. Avoid looking up and making eye contact with anyone through that little crack in the stall door. (Eventually, apparently, blog about it?)
The third time this happened, I barged in the door at home and bellered at a startled looking John, sitting innocently on our couch, “Bathroom now. Situation bad.”
So I have basically responded to my Worst Fear the way that Elaine responded to that guy in the aisle seat on the airplane when she was stuck in the center. You remember, right? She started out all embarrassed and apologetic that she had to disturb him because she had to get out to GO TO THE BATHROOM. But by the end of the flight, when she needed him to move, she put her face right in his and shouted “Hey!”
(By the way, you know you can click on these and see a clip, right?)
And this, I believe is an excellent response to one’s Worst Fear. Pull an Elaine. Put your face right into the thing and scream at it to get out of your way.
Then pull up your (dark colored) panties (with the large pad affixed) and be on your way. (This may require an introductory period of whimpering.)
I’m still really, really hoping for this to not happen. I’m learning more about my body and can predict better how it’s going to behave and I’m also developing better strategies (a little more Imodium in the evening, etc.) but I’m going to continue training for the Fred while I negotiate with the guy on my aisle seat.
I wish you peace with your WorstThing.