I would like to say hello to the loyal readers of Jackie’s blog. Jackie asked me to do a little guest blogging in order to relate to her male readers because, as she puts it, she “doesn’t have a wang”. She was looking for a little insight from me about male J-Pouch issues. As a proud J-Poucher for over a year, and a proud male for much longer than that, I think I’m up to the task.
My struggles have probably been similar to those of the female J-Pouchers, but I believe that many male J-pouchers (myself included) have a more difficult time dealing with the emotional pain that results from years of going through IBD, surgeries, and adjusting to life with a J-Pouch, in a healthy way. Not only do we try to suppress our feelings, but our male friends often do not provide the best emotional support.
Dudes in general do not seem to be as good as women at being compassionate. Shortly after I got out of the hospital after my first surgery, a few guys who knew the details of my procedure started referring to me as “shit bag”. When I was rather sick with colitis, every time I would run to the toilet, my roommate would yell, “Shit! Shit! Shit!”. This chant got a little old considering I was running to the bathroom every 10 minutes and was in intense pain. I’m not overly sensitive, and as a professional comedian I can take teasing almost as well as I can dish it, but I probably could have used a little more empathy from these guys. Thankfully, I have some good friends who have been extremely supportive and understanding throughout all my health battles.
Even though society has taken steps to combat gender stereotypes, men still tend to be conditioned to believe that any display of vulnerability, anxiety, or sadness signifies that they are less manly. Guys go to great lengths to avoid being called a “pussy”. Because of this, I think many male J-Pouchers/IBD sufferers do not seek the emotional support they need due to a fear of showing emotional weakness.
To the men, fellas, my bros, don’t disregard the emotional impact all this health stuff can have on you. As I have recovered physically, I’ve been trying to focus solely on advancing my career, especially because my health issues have had such a negative impact on my professional life. However, I have learned that if I do not take the time to vent my frustrations with my recovery or to acknowledge the emotional pain that years of suffering caused, then I will end up being as unhealthy emotionally as I used to be physically. So, I make sure to take care of myself emotionally because I’ve been through too much to neglect any aspect of my health.
Good luck to all of the dude J-Pouchers out there as you progress in your recoveries. I’d like to extend a virtual bro-hug to all of you.
Justin Berkman is a professional comedian living in Los Angeles. Luckily for him, he got an ass disease, and an endless slew of jokes!
You can see Justin talkin’ about colitis and ostomies in this video!