Traveling challenges: marine toilets!

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Marsky
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Date Joined Jul 2007
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   Posted 6/9/2008 5:59 AM (GMT -7)   
As some of you know, I have IBS-like symptoms from either having my gall bladder removed and/or my sigmoid and 15 inches of my colon removed - both in 1999 (rectal cancer, Stage I, etc.). I struggle with daily bm's and D. I've tried so many approaches to my situation, to fit in with a normal colon world.....anyway, my latest strategy really seems to be helping the most - 6 or so small meals, plain foods (still on my trusty low residue diet, what I've had to follow all these years), keeping my stress level low, etc. In other words, not overwhelming my gut with huge, large meals (like I used to before cancer....).

Anywho, hubby got a new boat this past spring so our family of 4 took an all boating vacation this summer. On a floating house......okay, the pictures were beautiful and accommodations looked nice.

However, I have to laugh that the marina staff who rents them do not tell you until CHECK IN that it comes with a marine toilet and you cannot put anything in this dinky toilet that doesn't come out of your body naturally. I even packed an enema just in case things got too out of whack for me (something that does turn me around when I cannot get the messy almost-D like stool to thicken, sorry for that lovely detail). Well, I thought - I cannot overwhelm this touchy toilet with the after affects of an enema. So that baby stayed packed - LOL.

Was I panicking - yes and no. My family thought I wouldn't even check into this "cottage".

I checked in, went to inspect the toilet right away. I thought, okay I can do this. I was already eating very small meals so I continued eating like this, ordering from lunch menus or the sides sections of a menu (small side salad and baked potato for example)......

Funny thing was, my family was pretty grossed out having to throw away their toilet tissue!

We ended up using an outside large garbage can with tight fitting lid and using saved plastic bags (thank goodness I didn't ask for paper as I usually do at their local grocery!).....since I go all day, without fail, I started using large sheets of paper towels and then wadding up my tissue, then I had to use sections of newspaper b/c the paper towels were running low (plastic bags were already running low and I knew my finicky family wouldn't use newspaper!).

I dubbed this garbage can our diaper pail. I had to find the humor somewhere in this situation....

At one point hubby said - look if it's too much, I'll run you into the marina and you can use their bathroom. First glance you think it's a regular waste toilet. Wrong! Another marine toilet.....

I also bought baby wipes.....I felt like I was truly going back to my mothering-diapering days, in a way. Our girls are now 18 and 20.

Had one rough night (what I call my body's natural way of cleaning itself out) and then 3 or 4 great days - formed stool, not messy - oh thank you God! Yes, I was also praying.....LOL

Second to last day, our water was cut off (workers in the area had been putting in another floating house and cut the line). I had a mini-meltdown. I was ready then and there to pack up, and just go home. Hubby said no way, we paid for another day......water was out for less than an hour. Workers apologized several times.

I felt entitled to that meltdown - wouldn't you have one?

Long story short, we all put up with this different way of relieving yourself but didn't like it. Hubby told me it was a nice concept for a one time trip. That is when I fell in love with him all over again. He promises from now on we'll be in a cabin, cottage on land or stay in a state park's lodge (where there are numerous bathrooms, I'm quite good at finding hidden gems of bathrooms, near a reception type room that isn't being used.....LOL).

Well, just had to share......beware anyone if you stay on a floating house. They do not show you these bathrooms in their brochures or even tell you about them until they hand you the key - literally!

Mary/Marsky

Post Edited (Marsky) : 6/9/2008 1:07:31 PM (GMT-6)


Gretchen1
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 3459
   Posted 6/9/2008 6:41 AM (GMT -7)   
Ok I don't post here, but this subject title caught my eye.  What a great read.  I am sure you did not mean this as pure entertainment but I loved this!!!  You are such a good writer!  I enjoyed reading about your adventures.  Your family sounds delightful.  I am so glad I read this!  Thanks for posting.

Gretchen       co-moderator MS board       diagnosed with MS July 2006


Marsky
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Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 1956
   Posted 6/9/2008 6:53 AM (GMT -7)   
Gretchen - oh you are quite welcome. Sometimes you have to find humor in a less than desirable situation. And let me say this was definitely a less than desirable situation! Never have I been more happy to use a regular bathroom in a gas station on the way home and even more happy to see my favorite bathroom! I almost kissed it (don't worry, didn't do that) but that first sit down visit was sheer heaven.

I think regular toilets are so underrated!

One of the sayings my family came up with was - "I think I need to use a bag"......now I did have a temporary colostomy after my first colon resection so I did wince when they said this. But they didn't mean to make light of those that need bags....they meant Kroger bags! Or they'd come out carrying it and head to the diaper pail. With a smile. I joked we needed a picture of this but they shouted - nooooooooo (picturing Anakin/Darth Vadar's reaction when hearing Padme died in child birth here....).

Mary

Post Edited (Marsky) : 6/9/2008 8:00:45 AM (GMT-6)


7Lil
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   Posted 6/9/2008 8:19 AM (GMT -7)   
Marsky,
THANK YOU for the great read. I can only imagine your horror upon seeing that toilet. I give you MAJOR credit because I don't think I could ever do it. At least now you can say you've been there and done that... and, maybe you never want to do it again.  tongue
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Keriamon
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Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 6/9/2008 8:47 AM (GMT -7)   
My grandparents have had a touchy septic tank for years. I grew up having to throw away toliet paper at their house, so we don't think anything about it. They don't even have a garbage can with a lid on it (although my grandmother empties it everyday; it never stinks).

For future reference: when you lose water, you can still flush a toliet with a bucket of water. Seeing how you were on a lake, you can always go out, get a bucket of water out of the lake and then pour it into the toliet bowl (not the tank) and it will flush. Also works if you lose water due to winter storms; melt snow in a bucket and then flush the toliet with it.

Is the only difference with a marine toliet that it dumps directly into the water?

Gretchen1
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Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 3459
   Posted 6/10/2008 6:37 AM (GMT -7)   
Hey Mary,
 
Humor is the way for us too!!  I have two boys that are learning to adjust to a mom with MS and some limits.  One day I was on the phone to someone and my boys were playing the jukebox in the hallway.  My friend on the phone wanted to know why the music was up so loud.  I was trying to explain that is was a jukebox and you can't adjust the volume.  I could not for the life of me remember what that darn thing was called!!!  I had to ask my son, "what is that thing in the hall that plays music?"  Word recall, by the way is just one of the cognitive problems that can show up with MS.  Well my boys just thought that was hilarious.  Now if I pause to search my poor noggin for a word, my boys say "jukebox".  It is a hoot!!!
 
Thanks again for the laugh.  Good luck with everything!
Gretchen       co-moderator MS board       diagnosed with MS July 2006


Marsky
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Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 1956
   Posted 6/10/2008 7:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Gretchen - oh that is such a cute story. That will be your family's code word.......I'd like to say I never forget words but I do......the reactions you get from others when you can't think of an obvious word!

I went online looking at more deluxe floating houses we had seen in the area, I always do this when I get home from a vacation. I'm just a little nosy, I want to see what they look like on the inside. Hubby confirmed it last night though while walking our dog - "Mary, we're never staying on a floating house again!"

Up until then I believed him 99.9%. Now it's 100%!

But like the first time I went in a portalet (on another vacation, out in the boonies in Wisconsin), I can say I survived a week of marine toilets. A few other marina restaurants had flushing toilets. But not many.

One funny comment my 18 yo daughter had on day one - "I am not pooping on this trip." I said "oh great, I'll be going home with constipated people." She just sighed but held off for 2 days. I would tell her - "that's not healthy, don't hold it" (I can't even begin to try and hold it for long and my pre-cancer days are a foggy memory....LOL)

Oh the things we talked about on this trip.....and for someone whose whole world revolves around a toilet 24/7, you'd think nothing would bother me but after a while, I thought - okay can we talk about something else besides pooping in a marine toilet? LOL

Just so glad I am home now!

Mary

Sarita
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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 6/11/2008 12:36 AM (GMT -7)   
LOL, Marksy!!!

I LOVE boats and have had many episodes of D in all varieties of marine toilets, so I hear you on this one...I consider myself lucky that I am so unabashedly unashamed of my diarrhea...I just tell other people (as well as myself) to suck it up. Okay, maybe that wasn't the best image...
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Please always remember to consult your medical professional regarding your medical questions; this forum is intended to provide patient-to-patient support. Although some of us have healthcare backgrounds, we cannot diagnose or treat patients on the board.


Marsky
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Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 1956
   Posted 6/11/2008 7:42 AM (GMT -7)   
Sarita - I need to be more like you - unabashedly and unashamed of my diarrhea. Hey let's get T shirts made up!

I still have a private laugh when relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers just assume what bothers me is my stomach. Then they want me to take something for the nausea.

I just politely say - oh thank you for that suggestion, I'll try that.

I no longer try to educate anyone about my situation. I just don't even attempt an explanation anymore.......so in some ways I have moved past my apologetic days - I just take care of my needs and to heck with what they think....

When I grocery shopped for this trip in their nearby town, I stocked up on TP but since the marina staff was very helpful when loading and unloading, I kept one 6 pack back in our car. Hidden. I didn't want them to see me check in with 12 rolls - they had 8 in the house already....I thought for sure they'd lecture me, now you know you can't put TP in the toilet don't you?

I think I've finally recovered from our trip.

Mary

7Lil
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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 6/11/2008 10:53 AM (GMT -7)   
Mary,
In 1 of the many IBS books I read, someone mentioned an IBS support bracelet. He (a comedian, I can't remember his name) asked why there isn't a brown bracelet for IBS like there is a pink for breast cancer, blue for autism, purple for Katrina relief, red for aids, etc. He's right though. We should have a brown bracelet that reads "Cure for IBS." LOL I wonder how many people would actually were them though.  tongue
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