The Mighty Logo

A 'Badass' and Her 'Bad Ass': Finding the Humor in IBS

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

My ass has been very bad lately, so I think that qualifies me as a badass. Well, it’s not actually my ass that’s been naughty, it’s the things inside of it. You know.

I hate to even say the names. I never thought I was a prude, but a few years ago, when my ass really started acting up – or should I say acting out – all of a sudden this whole new vocabulary of body parts came into my world.

I’ve had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for about 40 years and I rarely told anyone because it had that B-word in it. Now, after all my ass has been through over the past few years, the B-word seems so tame, I could probably write a song about it. If I could write songs, that is. Maybe I’ll try a poem. Here goes:

Inside my ass is my bowel.
That word is not really so foul.
It could be much worse.
I would have to curse,
Had my given name been Colin Powell.

(Sorry, General.)

OK, I won’t quit my day job. But here’s the thing – I did have to quit my day job. Not to write poetry, but because my ass has been acting so shitty. And in order to figure out my ass misbehavior, there have been, shall we say…punishments.

For example, the Balloons and Party Hats test. I think it has another medical-ese name, but I don’t remember it. That happens when your ass highjacks all your brain cells.

How it works is someone in a lab coat sticks a balloon up your ass. Not the balloons the carnival clowns make that they tie up in knots to look like an elephant. Although when it’s in your ass, it feels that big. And, who knows, maybe those lab coat people are just moonlighting? Maybe they’re really clowns or carnies. I mean, what kind of person wants the job to stick balloons up people’s asses?

In fact, when I asked the clowns – I mean, the lab-coated techs – what they say when they’re at a party and someone asks them what they do for a living, I didn’t get a really good answer.

(I really did ask them, by the way. What else do you talk about when someone’s about to put a balloon up your ass?)

Sometimes the carnies – I mean, the techs – fill the ass balloons with water instead of air, so it’s like the water balloons you dropped on people outside your dorm in college from the third floor window. Oh, you didn’t drop water balloons in college? Me neither, but I’ve heard about it.

So anyway, when my ass went in for this punishment, a very nice nurse had me lie on a hospital bed on my left side and face the wall. Which was really kind of her because who wants to face the person who’s putting things up your ass? Then, someone came in to assist her. I couldn’t see this assistant because I was facing the wall, and I don’t know if she wore a lab coat, so maybe she really was a clown or a carnie. I don’t why it took two people to put balloons up my ass. I guess it’s no fun to play without friends.

After the friends were done playing with their water balloons, they started putting other things up my ass, too.

I think they were back there behind me looking around for fun props to use.

“Hey, there’s a stethoscope, let’s try that.” “Oh, what about that landline phone receiver?” “Look! A vase of flowers!”

I don’t think they found an actual party hat, but they should think of adding that to their repertoire because balloons and party hats just seem to go together.

The most amazing thing about all this is that my ass and I survived. I thought I would die of embarrassment or humiliation. I didn’t. I thought I could never look anyone in the eye again because of the blow to my dignity. I have.

It wasn’t fun, but it’s funny.

For me that’s the key. Whatever punishments my ass and I have to endure, I will find the humor in it. I’ve had so many procedures and tests and my nether-regions have been ogled at by so many strangers, I should charge a fee for nude modeling. That very thought is funny, if scary.

These appointments are always a bit of an assault on my modesty, and I have to steel myself every time. But once they’re over – and even in the midst of them – I can’t help but joke about them. In these predicaments, laughter really is the best medicine.

Sometimes, the most embarrassing situations are hilarious when we talk about them. Come clean and get a good laugh. It’s the best salve for my bruised ego.

As for my bad ass, I think I’ll stick with Preparation H.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Originally published: April 7, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home