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Guest Blog Post: Traveling with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) by Christina Ruotolo

29 Nov

Christina Ruotolo is a published poet and prose writer and owner The Ruotolo Agency: PR & Literary Consulting.  She also suffers from IBS and is a confessed Imodium addict.

Last fall, my boyfriend, Craig, got stuck without a ride in Myrtle Beach. I had just enjoyed a dinner of greasy food and a large iced tea and was gearing up for a night of watching movies and enjoying a nice evening alone, when the phone rang at 9pm.

Craig needed me to pick him up. Myrtle Beach was close to four hours away. I’m not sure why I didn’t just make him take the bus (probably because that thought didn’t cross my mind). I put on my comfy driving clothes, grabbed our dog for safety, put gas in the car, grabbed a roll of TP (just in case) and headed down the lonely stretch of country road toward the beach.

About forty-five minutes into my journey, just me and the dog, my stomach started rumbling and doing its usual IBS flip-flop. I thought it was just nerves because I don’t enjoy driving at night, and if you saw some of the areas you have to go on the way to Myrtle Beach, visions of any scary movie would come to mind.

A few moments later the urge to vomit came over me. I had to lurch the car onto the side of the road and wretch for ten minutes while the dog looked at me in horror. Whatever greasy meal I had eaten was now out of me, or so I thought. I pulled myself together and made it another thirty minutes into a tiny town where I threw up again—this time in a park with barely enough time to open the car door.  Another thirty minutes down the road, I threw up in a church parking lot.

I was a hot mess and crying, but I was already half-way to the beach—there was no way I was leaving Craig without a ride. I had come this far; I just had to keep going. I started downing Pepto pills and praying that I would not throw up anymore. The dog kept giving me funny looks; I think he was worried about me.

It was already midnight, and I was driving down a two-lane road in the middle of freaking nowhere when my urge to go to the bathroom grew so severe, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  Once again, I pulled the car over to the shoulder of the road, turned the headlights off, pushed the dog in the back seat and jumped in the passenger seat, barely getting my butt out the car door before all hell broke loose.

While I relieved myself, I spotted a truck coming down the road.  First I was scared he would see me with my ass hanging out the car door, but then I was scared he would think I needed help and stop. I cleaned up as fast as I could and headed over to the driver side of the car, but when I went to pull the door handle to get in my side of the car, it was locked.

To make matters worse, the car was running with my cell phone and dog inside. How the hell did I manage to get myself into this predicament? Ahh, yes I remember now, I have freaking IBS, and today it was beating the shit out of me, from both ends. I just broke down and cried while my dog pressed his face up to the window, looking at me like I was insane.

Then I began to think of all the horror movies that I had watched, and I thought about all the Jethro-looking men in trucks that would come kidnap me, leaving behind my running car and a barking dog with a pile of shit next to it. Maybe the police would come and think that I had run away from embarrassment alone.  But when the cops deduced what had taken place, I would be the laughing stock of Hicksville.

I looked up to the heavens, put my hands in the air and yelled, “REALLY?!”

Then I prayed that there was a rock somewhere because I was not going to let IBS win this time. I would find a way to get in that car if I had to use my damn shoe to break the window. I walked over to the other side of the car, avoiding you know what and HAIL MARY.  The passenger door was not shut all the way.  I jumped for joy, jumped over my shit and jumped back in my car and cried even harder.  I was so happy to be back in my car. I had forgotten that I could still be kidnapped, but the stench of my shit was probably both a killer and bear deterrent.

One hour and thirty minutes later, I hugged my boyfriend and told him my incredible story.  Four hours after that, we finally made it back home.

I told Craig if he ever got stuck again, he better learn to hitchhike, cause this ass ain’t going to pick him up no matter what.


For more info on Christina check out her blog here: and her agency here: And more info on a book Christina worked on that benefits Haiti:

They’re Like Opinions. Everyone Has One.

14 Mar

surgical gloved handsOf all possible varieties of doctor visits, those pertaining to the ass are perhaps the most embarrassing.  Don’t get me wrong, trips to the OB/GYN and urologist top the list as well.  Nothing makes a woman feel quite as vulnerable as some good old-fashioned stirrups, and urologists have been known to scare a penis into tiny-turtle-mode. Although everyone has a rump, universal ownership does not preclude individual mortification.  Trust me.  Unfortunately, I know what I’m talking about. 

On a trek through Europe in ’94, I gorged myself on bread and cheese, oblivious that the combination would produce enough ass-spackle to clog my internal plumbing and warrant a doctor’s visit.  Once you’ve had a nurse spread your cheeks while a doctor conducts a probing that results in a latex puppet show starring your own shit, your threshold for embarrassment reaches new levels. 

Take a poll of dreaded phrases a doctor can utter to a patient, and chances are “You’re going to need a colonoscopy,” will make the top ten.  Why?  Perhaps it’s the image the mere mention of the procedure connotes: plumbing devices snaking their way through one’s bowels.  All fetishes aside, it ain’t a pretty picture.  Some of the preparation for a colonoscopy is a lot like preparing for any surgical procedure.  You have to fast on a diet of clear foods for 24 to 72 hours beforehand.  But that’s where the similarities end.

By all accounts, the worst part of the preparation is drinking a solution that looks, tastes, smells and behaves like Drain-o for your intestines.  My mother referred to it as “two liters of hell,” as it set her nether regions on fire.  A friend referred to the concoction as “liquid Scrooge” because it incited a parade of meals from past, present and future to erupt from his ass.  The Ring of Fire has an evil twin that exists outside the realm of the Pacific Ocean.  Hopefully, the patient’s butt lava will only spew into his or her toilet.  My mother has not always been so lucky.  Let’s just say she had to sacrifice a few bathroom towels for the cause. 

I have always suspected that proctologists and gastroenterologists have to have a sense of humor about their job.  I just can’t imagine being exposed to that many ass-related problems and not having a good chuckle now and then.  And the stories they must have.   If you ever find yourself having to undergo an ass examination or exploratory procedure, take comfort in the fact that despite the humiliation, you’ll provide entertainment for the medical staff responsible for your well-being.  Lucky for all of us, one gastroenterologist was generous enough to share some of the most hilarious things he’s heard while his patients were under “conscious sedation”  (which involves drugs that relax the patient, but thankfully leave him with complete butt-probe amnesia).  Below, I’ve reprinted what the doctor overheard.  Enjoy!

1. ‘Take it easy, Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before!

2. ‘Find Amelia Earhart yet?’

3. ‘Can you hear me NOW?’ 

4. ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’

5. ‘You know, in Arkansas , we’re now legally married.’

6. ‘Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?’

7. ‘You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out…’

8. ‘Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!’

9. ‘If your hand doesn’t fit, you must quit!

10. ‘Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.’

11. ‘You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?’

12. ‘God, now I know why I am not gay.’

And the best one of all.

13. ‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?’

(Originally printed in the Miami Herald by Dave Berry.  Read a copy of the entire article:

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