Today I’m going to be talking shit, or poo if you prefer. Not the first conversation topic you’d reach for necessarily, but one that definitely needs to be spoken about more, once we’re done talking about the weather that is. The matter on my mind is actually IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is so much more than just poo.
According to the NHS website, the main symptoms are:
- abdominal (stomach) pain and cramping, which may be relieved by having a poo
- a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhoea, constipation, or sometimes both
- bloating and swelling of your stomach
- excessive wind (flatulence)
- occasionally experiencing an urgent need to go to the toilet
- a feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
- passing mucus from your bottom
I know…I wrinkled my nose and said “eeew” too, and I experience many of the above symptoms. I’ve had IBS for 10+ years, so why am I just now writing about it? I’m going to insert a ***TMI WARNING*** here, so proceed at your own discretion.
With all the other conditions I have going on, and chronic pain being in my “Top 5” symptoms list overall (you need some kind of organisation with these things), I take some pretty strong pain medication, some of which are opiates*. Though they help my pain, they have their own set of side effects, the one that is pertinent here being very bad constipation. For the last 3 years I have battled with my bowels, throwing fiber and prunes, lots of water, and eventually horrible harsh chemicals (otherwise known as laxatives*) at them. Despite being prescription strength (the laxatives, not the prunes), they still barely touched the, erm, blockage at times. I’d call an (often very painful and difficult to pass) poo every 3 days a good turnout. Constantly bloated and finding ways to deal with my backlog (pardon the pun), I was never truly comfortable in the tummy department.
The last few weeks have seen a turn that neither me now my Dr can truly understand. It becomes difficult when you have multiple co-morbid (related) conditions to know what is causing what. Out of the blue my, ehem, backlog is no more. My bowels, as they say, “have turned to water”. I have had the most stomach clenching, fast moving, buttock clenching diarrhoea I have experienced in a very long time.
With no known cause, and no specific trigger other than eating anything, things have been interesting round here for sure. When you have mobility problems and can’t manage that much needed dash to the toilet, dropping your pants round your ankles in ten seconds flat…let’s just say the washing machine has been running almost as much as I have. Farting is not an option, or at least not till I’m firmly affixed to the porcelain throne. “Normally” I know with 99% accuracy what is wind and what is not, but right now I’d be playing a messy game of Russian Roulette.
This too shall pass (haha!)
So why have I jumped on my computer to tell you all about my Irritable Bowels? About the poop and the farts and the painful bloating?
Because we need to talk about it!
I have a rich handful of chronic conditions, but for the last few weeks, my IBS has ruled my life. It’s made me afraid to go out, in case I can’t get to a toilet in time. It’s taken vital energy from other areas of my life, and redistributed it to wheelchair toilet relay. It’s made life extremely difficult for me, a person so used to managing symptoms and getting round obstacles it’s second nature.
So for the person afraid to walk their kids to school and risk an accident.
The person holding in wind till they are painfully bloated.
The person relying on over the counter medications to get them through the workday, making their condition worse in the long run….
We need to make it a safe thing to talk about. To get past the embarrassment and share our experiences, so we can all find the best ways to deal, and get on living our lives.
Lets talk shit, and if you haven’t already, please see your Doctor.
*all medication is prescribed by my doctor. Never take medication that is not specifically prescribed for you.