I was an incredibly stupid teenager. Monumentally stupid.

But I didn’t think so at the time. I knew everything. Everything about everything.

My friends and I used to joke, “Just kill me if I’m in a home or can’t wipe my own ass.” That was our hard line;  it was the brick of the partition between wanting to live and wanting to die.

And it was hilarious at the time. Because it was impossible, so far off into the future from our teenage years that we were incapable of imagining it ever happening. Not only did the idea of being unable to wipe our own asses seem impossibly far away, none of us had ever known—yet—anyone who had been put “in a home” or needed assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as ass-wiping.

We were young. Our parents and even most of our grandparents were young. Ish. The loss of a particular skill that we had taken—and would continue to take—for granted was so far beyond the scope of our imagination that it seemed an impossibility.

We were teenagers. We were damn near immortal. I had survived several automobile accidents (and by several, I mean that I had so many wrecks that I’ve lost count, only knowing the “totals” which were four.  Two of the four  “totals” were the same car twice. Yes. Really. Twice), and that didn’t count near-misses such as racing to beat a train to deliver my high school valedictorian and salutatorian to our graduation practice.

A separate incident, an actual collision in which I put my seat belt on LITERALLY seconds before I was hit and flipped while attempting to turn left onto a highway in dense fog. The light was out of service, and I put on my seat belt. Stopped at the blinking red light, I, who never wore a seat belt back then, clicked it together literally seconds before attempting to turn left.

And yet I did. Surviving the crash with barely a bruise may or may not have added to the illusion of immortality. Taking the insurance money—and what little I had saved from my job—and having the car rebuilt was probably not one of my brightest decisions ever. Especially when I totaled it again just a couple of years later.

I did mention that I was a monumentally stupid teenager, right?

I thought I knew everything in my teens.

The older I get, the more I realize I really didn’t know anything about anything.

Of course, I’m realizing that not knowing anything about anything has been replaced by knowing a little about a lot, but sometimes the effect is the exact same.

Like when I poo-poohed the most ridiculous present on earth: a bidet add-on to a toilet.

It looked harmless enough.


“This is the most ridiculous present on earth,” I said, or something like it.

I was past 40. By now, I knew everything, right?

It was a present from my parents, no doubt hand-picked by my mother. I’m pretty sure it was wrapped and given separately, away from the prying eyes of children.

Because it had to do with a toilet. And toilet activities. The dirtiness of it all.


Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I get my penchant for giving practical gifts from my mom. I want to give things people will use.

Now, the argument for the gift was sound: it would help on days when I couldn’t wipe my own ass.

But it’s icky, I thought. Who—outside of some folks who specialize in a very specific kink—wants water shooting up their ass anyway?

It seemed like the most ridiculous present on earth, a bidet addition to a toilet. I had been introduced to Cottonelle clean wipes by a neat-freak of a friend, and, once getting past that ever-icky feeling that is encapsulated in the word moist, I thought they were the best things ever.


                OMG so much happiness!

Seriously. The. Best. Thing. Ever.

I was embarrassed when my parents installed it, this add-on bidet thingy. I was embarrassed thanking them for it, even if I thought I’d never use it.

I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever, and I kept right on thinking it until I had my next flare—one that froze my neck and both shoulders.

I couldn’t lift my arm—not to put on a bra (my ultimate test for being able to go to work or not), not to wave to my dog, and certainly, not to wipe my sensitive parts after what is referred to in the medical field as elimination.

This is the part of Rheumatoid Disease and other chronic conditions that impair mobility about which health professionals don’t volunteer information. They talk about the disease—some more than others. They talk about treatment and drugs and physical therapy–some more than others.

But to find out the REAL nitty gritty—your expected quality of life—you have to corner them.

They don’t talk about work-arounds for things that actually make up the nuts and bolts of life. The repetitive, every day things that are required to be independent. Like brushing your hair or your teeth. Or putting on socks. Or a bra.

Or taking a shit.

Maybe they’re embarrassed, too. Maybe they’re waiting for us to be less embarrassed about it so that we can bring it up.

And in my experience, they are simply not addressed.

But this—this simple item—literally changed my life. This most ridiculous thing ever, God-send of a present literally made my life better. On my good days, I can use the toilet, rinse, and dab-dry-and-go. On my bad days, if I can’t be dry, I can at least be clean.

And having a clean ass ranks as one of my top requirements for a decent quality of life.

Funny. I never would have considered having a clean ass as a requirement; it was simply an unnamed assumption.

Until I couldn’t have one.

It takes a little bit of getting used to. It’s a little cold. Not as could as I thought it would be, but definitely cold enough. Not enough to give you the chills, but it is–after all, tap water–and in the winter, even in South Mississippi, tap water can get a bit…nipply.

Another warning: Be sure to have your ass on the seat when you try it out. I discovered it can shoot clear across the bathroom without some sort of gluteal barrier.

It’s self-cleaning, but I tend to wipe it with a wet rag just because I can.

And to think, now they have a bidet attachment with cold AND warm.

A clean ass is a happy ass.

[Image Credits: Featured Image Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash

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