Chris’ Story, Minnesota

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On April 3rd, 2009, my second son, Max was born. He has since grown into a kind, creative, pickle-eating, ten-year-old with an amazing sense of humor. Even though it’s been ten years, all of the “what-ifs” from the day he was born still haunt me every now and again.

“Why wasn’t I more assertive with my doctor?” “Why didn’t I ask more questions?” “What could I have done differently?

After Max was born, the doctor never told me that I endured a 4th degree tear. The only information I received about my son’s delivery was from my mom, who said the aftermath of his birth looked like a horrible, bloody car accident. At one point, I saw the look on her face as she was watching the doctor stitch me up,and I knew things weren’t good. However, at the time, I didn’t even know 4th degree tears existed, so I just assumed that I had torn maybe a little bit more than normal, and that it was no big deal. Little did I know that the “car accident” in the delivery room was going to affect me for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t until a year or so after Max was born that I went to a specialist, and was officially diagnosed with a 4th degree tear and fecal incontinence. Since then, I have had about five surgeries, tried all of the latest and greatest devices, injections and procedures, unfortunately, with no success. You name it, I’ve tried it. I often wonder how doctors can perform brain surgeries, transplant organs, and operate on babies when they are still in the womb, but they just can’t seem to fix my torn butthole!

I think one of the hardest things about living with fecal incontinence is that it’s such a lonely condition to have. In regular, every day conversations, people talk about diabetes, high blood pressure, illnesses and broken bones, but no one talks about chronically sh*tting themselves. It’s just not something that’s easily brought up in conversation. Can you imagine if someone asked me how my day was going and I responded by saying, “Well, I sh*t myself on the way to work this morning,” or “Thanks for asking, but my butthole is completely raw from leaking and wiping for the last five hours.” Even though it’s a life-debilitating condition, the embarrassing stigma of it makes it so difficult to talk about with others. Even when I had all my surgeries, I told people I was having back surgery because I was too embarrassed to tell the truth.

Over the last ten years as I’ve become “older and wiser,” my advice to all women struggling with a 4th degree tear and its effects would be that it’s ok to throw yourself a pity-party every once in a while. After all, dealing with this sucks! Yes, there are awful days—and sometimes the awful days turn into awful weeks—but be kind to yourself. Allow yourself grace and compassion. We as women and moms are strong and try to do it all, but it’s ok to take care of yourself. Lastly, try to find purpose in what you are going through. As cliché as it sounds, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. The traumatic birth or 4th degree tear that you experienced is serving a purpose in your life. Find what that purpose is, learn, and grow from it.

Would life be easier if I didn’t have this condition? Of course. Has living with this condition made me a stronger person? Absolutely. And I would do it all over again because I got a pretty darn amazing kid out of the deal.

Life is short.

Believe in yourself.

Love yourself.

You’ve got this, girl.

Chris Beck ~ Rogers, MN

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