I joined the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America when diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 1997. (By 2009, that diagnosis was updated to Crohn’s disease.) I wasn’t yet 30 years old when I received my membership card in the mail, and at that young age I was mortified when I saw the back of the card:

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The thought of thrusting that card at someone, such as in a queue for a restroom, was more than I could bear. I threw the card away.

As the years went by, the urgency to get to a restroom became, well, more urgent. I sent away for a new membership card, and yesterday I’m sure glad I did.

I love taking photos of vintage neon signs. One of my favorite things to do in a new town is to drive its old highways and byways – thoroughfares that existed before interstates and freeways – looking for old diners and motor hotels. Nowadays those routes are generally in industrial, run-down areas. Many times there isn’t so much as a fast food restaurant for a pitstop.

Driving the industrial area of North Little Rock yesterday, I came across a cool old dry cleaner amidst vacant and boarded-up buildings:

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And then it hit me – that familiar burning and cramping sensation in my guts, starting the two- to five-minute clock to get to a bathroom.

My RV park was thankfully less than a mile away. I punched the gas, increasing my speed to 40 mph in a 30 mph zone. That’s when I saw the police officer on my right.

He turned on his lights and briefly engaged the siren, pulling out of a driveway behind me. I pulled over immediately. By the time he was at my window I had my license, registration, and proof of insurance at the ready. I also handed him one more thing – my membership card for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

“Officer, I know I was speeding. I have a intestinal disease called Crohn’s disease. I need to get to the restroom immediately. If I do not get to a toilet in the next few minutes, I am going to have an accident. I am staying at an RV park about a mile away.”

He got it; I detected the sense of immediacy in his eyes. He trotted, not walked, back to the squad car, running me through the computer. I was already thinking – if he was intent upon writing me a speeding ticket, I was going to ask him to follow me back to the RV park, where I could use the restroom while he completed his paperwork. But then, he trotted back to the car, handing me my documents and exclaiming, “Get going! But slow down, okay?”

I thanked him profusely, already turning the ignition and engaging my blinker. I planned to take his advice and slow down, but not yet. Two minutes later, pulling into the RV park, I knew I would not make it if I had to unlock the rig, negotiate the stairs, and walk to the back of the motorhome. With no time to spare, I got to the public restroom at the campground, slammed it in park, left the car running with the animals inside, and made it just in time.

Thank you, Little Rock police officer, for saving us both from some pretty intense embarrassment. Thank you, CCFA, for the immensely useful membership card!