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And Here Comes the Shit

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

August 14, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

I didn't panic as the shit began to seep out of my behind in line at Walgreens. I mean, I am the queen of shitting on myself. Like for real, for real. In fact, I've shitted on myself so much over the years with AIDS and have told those stories so many times, that one of my most famous mishaps is the muse for the lead character in actress Sheryl Lee Ralph's one woman show, "Sometimes I Cry: The Lives of Women Infected and Affected by HIV!" Yep, "Ms. Chanel," that's me, shitted on myself in a restaurant, dressed to the nines, in St. John and Chanel, had a melt down, clean my butt with toilet paper and toilet water and waltz out of that bathroom like the Diva I am and finished my dinner.

Shitting on myself is no big deal, I've been there, done that! I thought that I was emotionally immune to a shitty behind and clothes. So as the poop seeped out of my butt in Walgreens last Sunday, I told myself, "You can do this girly!" So I gently laid the items that I was holding on the counter, whispered to the cashier, "I'll be right back," and I walked out of that Walgreens and headed across the street to Starbucks where I knew a bathroom would be guaranteed. "I got this," I whispered to myself again. But right in the middle of the street between Walgreens and Starbucks, my ass exploded and poop splashed out of my ass like a water hydrant on a hot summer day in the hood. I flexed my ass muscles inward but that was futile, the poop kept coming and coming and coming. I could feel it trickle down my thigh and I knew that the light tan shorts that I was wearing would not be my savior.

I walked briskly into Starbucks as the poop kept coming and went straight to the ladies bathroom. The door was locked, I moaned, "You have got to be kidding." As panic crossed my face I reached for the handle on the men's room right next door. "Lord please let it be empty," I mumbled as poop and panic sucked the life out of me.

"Thank God,"I cried as I pulled my shorts down and sat on the toilet. As poop flowed out of my behind like water in a faucet, I looked down at my shorts around my ankle full of shit and sighed deeply.

"Bitch you can't have nothing easy, can you?" I asked myself. Like for real, I feel like I'm on a perpetual "Job Test," or something. Let's see how resilient she really is, that's what I think is someone's plan for me; yep how can "We," whoever we are, the devil, the universe, the Karma from my last life time, God, some crazy ass with a voodoo doll is putting me to the freakin test, to see how much I can really withstand.

YES, they are scheming against me, I can hear them now, "She thinks she's immune to shit, well, lets show her. She thinks she's a tough cookie, well what's she gonna do with this shit?" Yep, that seems to be my test. My doctor even said yesterday,"Like why can't you get something easy like strep throat." All we could both do was chuckle.

But there was no chuckle in me sitting on the toilet in Starbucks. This was not going to be an easy one. My shorts were so soiled, I knew I could not leave the bathroom the way that I had came. I just didn't have it in me to put those shitty shorts back on and walk out that door. I sat defeated! After three days of taking laxatives and shitting this was becoming all too much for me, just way too much. My ass had diaper rash and now shit was everywhere, my ass, the toilet seat, the floor and bathed in my tan shorts.

"I'm tired Lord ,"I mumbled, "tireddddddd." After the BlogHer conference I came home and hit the sack. I was beat to no end. The IV medication was still in my system when the conference started, so my struggles during the conference, I believed to be a residual from the IV medication. The pain in my side and back just wouldn't go away, but I had checked on my kidneys, which is the biggest danger while on cidofovir and they were fine, so I kept it moving.

But after 3 days in bed after the conference, I knew something else had to be wrong with me. By that Wednesday night, I crawled out of bed and made my way to the ER. After fourteen hours, the doctor had the answer. My bowels were totally full. "Excuse me," I said. "Yes," the attending that had taken over my case said, "The exray shows that your bowels are totally full from one end, to the other." I looked at him long and hard, "He had got to be kidding me," I thought to myself, while trying to make sense of what he was saying.

"But I've had bowel movements everyday." I said. "Well," he explained, "Sometimes, loose stool can escape constipation and slip out the side. Hummmmm, for once in my life I was speechless. I sat puzzled. He continued to explain that he was prescribing Magnesium Citrate to help clean out my bowels.

I arrived back home at 4:00 A. M. tired and beat down. The next morning I began the process of cleaning me out. I touched based with HIV doctor, who manages my primary care and she suggested an additional laxative and concurred with the ER doctor that it may take a couple of rounds. We knew what the problem was, but had no answers to why I had the problem. The first step was to clean out all those freakin toxins from my body.

Thursday I spent the entire day in the bathroom and it was not pretty. Friday morning when I woke up, I was so red and raw I couldn't go another round. I needed a freaking break. I had small bowels movements throughout the day but I was not in any condition to drink another bottle of Magnesium Citrate. When I woke up Saturday morning my pain level hadn't decreased one bit and I pulled myself emotionally together for another day of laxatives. After breakfast, I drink that nasty bottle right on down and waited, and waited, and waited and waited and nothing came. My stomach was on fire, but still nothing came.

After about 6 hours of waiting, it was clear to me that that particular laxative was no longer working for me and I headed to Walgreens to pick up the other one my doctor recommended.

YES! I was standing in line with a laxative in my hand when the poop started to sip out of my behind. "Really Lord, like for real for real God,"I mumbled. I've been sitting at home all day and now the shit decides to come. Usually I'm able to laugh at the madness, but sitting on that toilet in starbucks, looking down at my shitty shorts 3 blocks from my house, I was numb.

"What the fuck am I going to do?" I asked myself over and over and over. I just sat, looking down at my shitty legs and shorts, unable to put together any kind of action plan. Super Woman had left the room.

To Be Continued...

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See Also
HIV & You: Managing Gut Symptoms
More Advice on Coping With Diarrhea

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Brooke Davidoff (Seattle, WA) Fri., Sep. 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm UTC
I LOVE the way you write, I can't wait for part two!! You are badass!
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Comment by: Mike (austin) Thu., Sep. 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm UTC
This was difficult and easy to read all at the same time! I have never received a decent explanation for the randomness of diarrhea. I've looked for patterns of drugs I take and nothing! Thank you for sharing!!
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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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