Readers, it’s time we talked about poop.

The other morning I woke up to find at least six large piles of dog poop at the bottom of the staircase in my new apartment. My roommate’s beloved pooch (who I often claim to be my own) had left the early Christmas presents out by accident, I’m sure.

This is not like him and, no, he wasn’t sick. My understanding is that he and my roommate miscommunicated about what time he was going to be walked that morning and we’re all still getting used to the new place.

That being said, the piles of poop reminded me of my own digestive issues. While the dog couldn’t hold it all inside, that’s all I can do.

I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Not the “I gotta go, gotta go right now” kind, but the “girls don’t poop” kind.

All my life I thought it was normal to poop only once a week or two. I thought struggling on the toilet was something everyone did – it’s what my family members do, anyway.

But as I grew older and talked incessantly about the issue with college friends, I realized that this isn’t normal. My bowels are not normal. I’m not normal.

Although at times I tried to strike intestinal balance by altering my diet, I usually would put the matter to the back of my mind (and deep into my bowels).

“It’s really not that bad,” I’d think.

Then, one day, after I had gotten married and moved to North Carolina, I couldn’t get out of bed. My stomach hurt so badly that I couldn’t move and I didn’t.

When my then-husband came home after work that day and realized I hadn’t moved from my makeshift coffin, he rushed me to the Naval Hospital. I don’t remember if he had to carry me, but he should have.

It was brutal. Probably the most excruciating pain in my life.

At the hospital they put me in a gown, stuck needles in me and hooked me up to a saline IV.

Yay, hydration.

Then they X-rayed me. And, as it turned out, I was full of crap (literally!). And gas. In fact, bubbles of gas were trapped in between the toxic waste inside me, which was giving me the excruciating pain – gas trapped with no escape. I could’ve exploded. Ew.

Anyway, the doctor was surprised I asked to see said X-ray, but allowed it. He was right. It was gross.

He diagnosed me with IBS and referred me to a specialist to get a colonoscopy. After a grueling night of drinking gallons of fluid between glasses of iced tea, I was in another gown waiting for a hot date.

“You’re not gonna take me out to dinner first?” I asked the colonoscopist before fading into a drug-induced oblivion.

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They removed a few polyps and I was on my way. For anyone who is putting off getting a colonoscopy, I have to say it’s not so bad. The fluid beforehand … well, that’s not great.

Having told you this story, you’d think that after that I would get on it. I would get healthy, eat right, take any necessary medication and down Metamucil like it’s my job.

No, no, reader. As you know already I’ve been eating Taco Bell and leading a relatively sedentary life. No bueno.

But seeing the mounds of poop the dog left behind has inspired me. That same day (after a hike – OK, more like a walk) my bowels were aching to be rid of the brown rocky terrain trapped inside my body. The walk had so excited them that my stomach was swirling, I was getting the chills/sweats and even may have fainted if the fear of what I’d look like when I awoke didn’t haunt me. I had to get to a bathroom.

I went inside a restaurant and located the toilet. As I sat there waiting, though, it seemed that every woman in the place streamed through, occasionally glancing at the stall door that stayed unopened.

These women knew what I was doing, but I doubt they understood the urgency, the embarrassment, the fear of being found out.

It isn’t a pleasant thing to talk about, but I think we need to. There needs to be a freeing of the poops!

Be polite, yes, but don’t deny yourself because, if your bowels are like mine, when you miss the opportunity it doesn’t come back until next week.

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. Jersey Girl runs every other Sunday. Follow her on Twitter at @RiaSestito or email her at msestito@napanews.com.

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Public Safety Reporter

Maria Sestito is the Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She covers breaking news as well as crime and courts. Maria came to the Napa Valley Register in 2015 after working at as a reporter and photographer at The Daily News in Jacksonville, NC. S