The Poo Pew Predicament

I have an amazing tip for the pew (eww!) of poo.  When you have great advice, it HAS to be shared.  Even if it is uncomfortable to do so, the improvement that it could provide to someone is more important than the unease of discussing it.

The definition of predicament is – a difficult, unpleasant or embarrassing situation.  For persons with Crohn’s disease, going to the bathroom is a HUGE predicament.  From the commercials you see on television (for pharmaceuticals aimed at the treatment of Crohn’s disease), you would think that “the going” is the big problem.  They make the “going” appear to be urgency.  Looking for a bathroom quickly.  They are right, that is extremely problematic.  But, the “going” is myriad of additional issues – the frequency (or, lack of frequency), the consistency and the dreaded odor. 

Throughout my course with Crohn’s disease, the bathroom issues have changed.  But, one thing that has not, is the odor of my output.  Particularly in my 40’s, when my disease has been at its most turbulent, my bathroom issues have been the most stressful.

For two years (between 2011 and 2013), it was necessary for me to have an ileostomy.  This is a stoma at the end of my terminal ileum (small intestine), that empties into a bag.  It bypassed the remainder of my digestive tract. 

Certain foods – onion, garlic, fish, CHEESE and EGGS – OMGoodness.  Awful!  I was worried, while anticipating my stoma surgery, that people would smell the contents of my bag.  But, the amazing thing is – you cannot.  I could be right next to someone, and they would never even know that I had a bag.  But – open the bag – and, wow!  The odor is unreal.  Because the food doesn’t go through the entire digestive process, the aroma is overpowering. 

I have since had a reversal of my stoma. But, in 2016, I had narrowing of my intestine that resulted in a bowel blockage.  Due to the blockage, I had a large portion of my terminal ileum removed.  So, even though I don’t have the bag (my intestinal tract has been reconnected), I am missing that portion where most of the enzyme digestion takes place. I empty much faster now (frequent, fast, awful diarrhea), because this process does not occur.  And, the odor is almost identical to that of the bag I once had.  It smells like partially digested foods.  It is more than strong, it is unbearable. 

Having an overwhelming smell in your own home bathroom is one thing.  But, to attend a public function, especially where you know people, and to leave the bathroom with such a strong odor – almost keeps you from attending.  You have to decide – will I eat there? What will I mask the odor with?  Will I leave and try to get home to go to the bathroom (it usually cannot wait). 

There is a solution that has worked for me.  The product I use is called Poo-Pourri™ (Before-You-Go Toilet Spray).  On the back of their box it states, “Poo-Pourri is a pure blend of essential oils that eliminates bathroom odor before it begins – so you can leave the porcelain throne smelling better than you found it.”  You use it by spritzing the water in toilet with a few sprays. Then, do your business.  The Poo-Pourri creates a barrier that pulls the odor underneath.  Then, it just flushes away.  (A tip for stoma patients – spritz the toilet water, then place a few squares of toilet paper over the top. A stoma nurse at Penn State Hershey gave me this tip. It stops the splashing of the water, when the contents from the bag are emptied. Her tip was vital for me.)

I love that the Poo-Pourri spritzer’s come in a small, portable size.  I keep them discreetly in my backpack.  And, the essential oil smell is very pleasant.  You can use a friend’s bathroom or a public restroom, and it doesn’t smell like a cloud of cover-up spray.  It is just fresh and aromatic. 

Again, from the product packaging, it states that “No synthetic fragrance, parabens, phthalates, aerosols, alcohol or formaldehyde – ONLY stink-fightin’ good stuff (oh, and a pinch of magic).” [Ingredients in (and, not in) the spray.]

I buy mine at Target.  Sometimes they don’t have it on the shelf, but you can pre-buy it for pick-up at the service desk.  Or, it is available through Amazon.com and other retailers.  The photo I put on this post, shows a three-pack.  This would give you a sample of three popular essential oil scents – coconut lime (my favorite), lavender vanilla and original citrus.  I haven’t tried some of their other scents – such as jasmine rose, vanilla mint, tropical hibiscus, lavender peppermint. 

I did buy a funny package shaped like a tool box, labled “Master Crapsman” for my uncle (who also happened to be a carpenter – lol – so, it was perfect!).  It contained Poo-Pourri’s Trap-A-Crap and Royal Flush scents (two spritzers).  It gave my uncle a laugh, at a difficult time. (He was battling cancer.)  And, it gave a potential solution to the odor he would be facing with a new stoma. We both giggled over the hilarity of the packaging and very clever puns.  The package was a crafty ice-breaker – to give him a gift that was an answer to a problem, while also providing humor as we discussed something awkward.

Anytime I hear of a friend or acquaintance who has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (and, if they reach out and ask for tips), I include a spritzer with the basket of items I buy for them. It is such a game changer. It has given me the confidence to go out into the world and not worry so much about using the bathroom.

Poo-Pourri really is a magical solution for a predicament many with Crohn’s face.  This spray with the funny name might seem like a “gag” or “joke” gift.  But, it is actually no joke!  It is a solution to stop the dreadful, gag inducing scent of undigested food in your output.  I hope this post helps.  I have stopped being uncomfortable talking about poop,  because it is a part of living.  But, if you have Crohn’s or Colitis, it is a bigger, more problematic part of your everyday. 

My hope is that this tip might help someone with IBD live better. 

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