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Joe and Danielle of Double Baggin' It use lyrics and laughs to encourage legislation.
Best friends sing Schoolhouse Rock! hit “I’m Just a Bill” to advocate for those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill,” we sang during the 2019 Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s Day on the Hill advocacy event. It’s not every day two best friends with ostomies sing old school Schoolhouse Rock! tunes, while dancing around dressed like a giant bill, literally on Capitol Hill. It’s also not every day that those same best friends inform congressional staffers that they are also sittin-with-an-h on Capitol Hill in order to stress the importance of their mission.
We have participated for over three years in support of the Foundation to “Cure Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and to improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.”
Each year we join other patient advocates, caregivers, and medical professionals in Washington DC, to help push for legislative changes. We spend the first day educating volunteers on the legislative priorities as well as on what to expect from the actual Day on the Hill. This education includes a Civics 101 lesson, which this year took the form of Double Baggin’ It performing the Schoolhouse Rock! classic “I’m Just a Bill” live with Dr. Tom Uhlman on guitar. We laughed, learned, and got pumped up to advocate for change!
We haven’t always been a dynamic-duo willing to wear silly costumes, and tell people we are pooping in front of them, to make a point. Much like others in the ostomy community, we’ve faced challenges from everyday life, chronic illness, and surgery.
After my ostomy surgery, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to take the stage as an improviser again. It didn’t happen right away, but after about a year to recover and adapt, and with concerted effort on my part, I pushed myself and I got back on stage again. The audiences never know that I’m literally pooping on stage, but sometimes their responses indicate that I’m figuratively pooping on stage!
Living with severe ulcerative colitis for over a decade before having my ostomy surgery, I was a shell of myself. I never knew if I’d be able to get back to doing the things I loved before getting sick, like hiking, camping, and traveling. But boy was I wrong! My ostomy gave me back my life. In a ceremonious event, my family and I paraded my car toilet (yes, I had a toilet in my car!) onto the lawn for garbage pickup. What a liberating moment (and most likely a weird sight for my neighbors)! After time to heal, I found myself getting back to everything I enjoyed and more. My daughter Lauren, three years old at the time, proudly told everyone “momma poops out of her belly.” Even at that age she was my biggest advocate. She helped me realize that my ostomy (aka, “pooping out of my belly”) was truly my super power. Stella, my stoma, allows me to live my life fully – and has helped lead me to a life of advocacy and awareness.
As Double Baggin’ It, we share our stories to encourage people to push themselves to live their best lives. We know that living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and/or an ostomy isn’t easy but it doesn’t have to hold us back from living life to the fullest. So, get out there and rock out with your bag out!
“I’m Just a Bill” was written by Dave Frishberg.
Financial Disclosure: Danielle and Joe received compensation from Hollister Incorporated for their contributions to this article.
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