Penance Diarrhea

I'm one of those people that get diarrhea so much that I know how to spell it on the first try. Indian take-out? Diarrhea. Public speech? Diarrhea. I get pregnant diarrhea, I get period diarrhea. When one of my kids tells me they have diarrhea, I promptly, immediately, get diarrhea.

It all goes back to my trip to Haiti in March of 1996, my senior year of Christian High School. While most teenagers took off for the sexy heat of Mexican beaches during Spring Break, I was determined to pay Jesus back for the sins of my Spring Breaks of 1994 and 1995 and so instead, went with a dozen classmates and a couple teachers to help the good people of Port Au Prince, Haiti.

We were advised not to touch their food or drink their water. Obviously, right? I mean, obviously. So we consumed large quantities of pre-packaged food and water bottles that we had brought down there from home. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but somewhere along the line one of the teachers (Paul) and Jason (my then boyfriend) and I must have ingested a bit of something somewhere and got super sick.

I'm talking like, bacterial infection-sick. Paul got hit first. We had to pull our truck over (we rode in the back of the pickup inside a cage) and Paul jumped out and threw up everywhere and crapped his pants. When we got back to where we were staying (in an abandoned elementary school), Jason started throwing up. And then, I joined the ranks.

Unfortunately, we didn't have plumbing. The only way to flush the toilet was for one of us to carry a bucket from the bathroom down an outside flight of rickety stairs, draw water up from the well and carry the water back up the stairs and dump it into the toilet. But because we were so sick, that was just not going to happen. Needless to say, everyone else avoided that bathroom. We'd take turns throwing up, tossing our underwear into the bathtub, and slinking back to our bedroom. The boys and girls were originally split up into two rooms but it quickly became The Sick Room and The Well Room. At one point Jason just gave up and fell asleep on the bathroom floor.

It was finally time to go home so we washed up the best that we could and got on our flight, fell asleep in the back, shivering and pathetic and when we got home we collapsed into our beds after long, hot showers. A visit to the doctor confirmed that we had acquired a bacterial infection called Shigella (along the same lines as E. Coli and Salmonella) and they had to quarantine our school.

I had diarrhea for a year.

And that's my story. Whenever I get nervous or anxious, I screw up my face, clench my bum cheeks together and apologetically point to my stomach and mutter, "Haiti, '96" and bolt. 


  1. That reminds me of when I got amoebic dysentery in Turkey. I too spent a week in a "sick" room with two similarly-suffering friends, the owner of the hotel-room wondering why we never went out (reason: it was too far from the toilet). When I finally got home again, I got excruciating cramps for a year whenever I had to go to the toilet.

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  3. I like that Suzy's first entry for Who Writes this Shit is all about shit. Brilliant...why didn't I write about shit?

  4. Thanks for giving me diarrhea with this post, Suzy.


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