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"Oh! So you poop a lot...?"
"Yeah, I had a really bad stomach bug last year, I know exactly how you feel."
"You don't look sick..."

Phrases like these can make any person with Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis furious. These phrases, on the surface, can seem demeaning, insulting and downright hurtful. My response to this? Don't be too hard on these these people.

Now hold up, let me stop you before you call for my head! Please hear me out!

"This is an outrage! These people just don't understand the pain and suffering I go through on a daily basis!"

No! They do not! For the most part, these people aren't trying to be mean. They simply do not understand. And this is exactly the point of this post. By saying these seemingly very insulting phrases, these people are demonstrating their lack of knowledge.

They are, in essence, saying, "Wait, I don't get it... you poop a lot? Big deal! Everyone poops. Everyone has an upset stomach now and again." Yes. This is true... but not everyone poops 15+ times a day of bloody, watery stools. Not everyone has cramps that feel like a Tasmanian Devil is viciously clawing and gnawing away at their intestines.

They are saying, "I understand! I can totally relate to what you going through. Stomach bugs are no fun." No, stomach bugs are not fun. Imagine having to live this way 24/7 for months and even years on end without relief. You're having vicious bouts of diarrhea and vomiting numerous times a day and there's no stopping it and no knowing when (or even if) the suffering will end.

They are saying, "You look ok. I cannot see your suffering, so how can you truly be suffering?" It's true. I do not look sick on the surface. Have you ever seen an iceberg? They look pretty harmless on the surface, too, but if you look deeper, you'll see why one of these seemingly innocent icebergs sunk the Titanic.

These statements, and many like them, have made me realize that people out there do not truly understand the nature of the beast we call IBD. What these statements tell me is that these people only have a basic knowledge of my disease. It tells me that because of this, in order to truly raise awareness, I need to educate people by beginning at their level of understanding. 

I'm starting a campaign that addresses these people's basic understanding of IBD by using the oh-so-symbolic toilet paper. I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot of flack for this. However, I believe, as I said before, conversations need to start somewhere. So what better place than somewhere everyone can relate? Beginning October 1st, I'm asking people to wrap themselves like mummies in toilet paper and snap a selfie holding up signs explaining that while IBD has caused you to suffer, you can still have fun and enjoy life and learn to laugh at your situation. On Twitter, we'll include the hashtag "#ShowMeTheMummy." For example, my sign says something like the following:

"Ulcerative Colitis has caused me countless hours of suffering. Even though I've had multiple hospital stays, doctor appointments, harsh medications, two surgeries and a blood transfusion, I can still have fun and enjoy life. #ShowMeTheMummy"

Yes, words can be offensive and hurtful, but as I said before, it is because these people are simply not educated about these horrific and sometimes debilitating diseases. Please join me and help me raise awareness. Learn to appreciate the fact that there are aspects of our diseases that are a bit humorous. Don't take everything so seriously. Learn to laugh at your situation once in a while. Roll with these punches and laugh with these people about their basic understandings. Life is too short to be offended and angry. Turn these potentially negative and hurtful situations into opportunities to explain to these people what life with an IBD is really like. You never know... one person might make the difference!!!

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