Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Confidence or just IBS?

A couple of weeks ago, I was working in the computer lab when an interesting young lady at a computer began a conversation on her cell phone. The computer labs are generally quiet as people are trying to study. Her conversation was loud and easily heard through the entire room. It went like this:

This is (Insert name here) and I have an appointment with the physical therapist at 4. I won’t be able to make it because I have severe diarrhea.

Sadly, I’ve heard this many times before. Working as an aide at a physical therapy clinic over the summer exposed me to the harsh reality of this epidemic. I heard the above statement almost word for word over the phone many times while cancelling and rescheduling appointments. More often than not, a 30 minute discussion about detailed feelings and symptoms would arise out of this unnecessary conversation. I have often wondered at what point diarrhea changes from a private inconvenience to a topic of discussion as if it were a headache or an arthritic flare up.

Yesterday, as I was walking home from school, I passed a student walking to class while playing a penny whistle. He was trotting along as if leading an imaginary horde of rats and children away from the city. This inspired me to reflect on my life and experiences. Why would an integrated member of society play a penny whistle while walking to class or publicly announce a particularly violent bout of diarrhea? Maybe it isn’t a temporary lapse of judgment. Perhaps these individuals are simply confident. Perhaps they are comfortable enough with themselves to publicly enjoy that which most would keep private.

Is it confidence or IBS? Why not both?