IBS: The Big Squeeze

If you are unlucky enough to have IBS, (irritable bowel syndrome), you have my sympathy. It’s shit. Literally

What’s IBS?

IBS is a condition that affects the digestive system causing stomach cramps, diaria diahorea diarr the shits, bloating and constipation.

It’s common.

It comes and goes.

It’s usually life-long.

There’s no cure for IBS but it can be managed with medication, relaxation therapies, changes to diet and carrying spare bog roll.

With IBS some people poo for Britain. Others can’t poo. Some unfortunate sods alternate between the two.

Me? I have constipation dominant IBS, but it hasn’t always been the case. Do you want to know more? Or have you hit the X tab yet?

My IBS started when I was under a considerable amount of stress. My, (then), husband was having a nervous breakdown and his timing was especially crap because I was about to give birth to our second child. My digestive system took a direct hit and subsequently threw in the towel. I was 21.

At the start of my IBS I wasn’t constipated. On the contrary. The slightest hint of adrenalin and I was releasing the ‘sewer snake’. Bizarrely I needed a poo every time I went up into the loft, I have no idea why, it’s not as if our loft was an exciting place, it was cramped and full of stuff we couldn’t be arsed to take to the tip. Even so, within minutes of climbing up there my colon would start doing the can-can and I’d be taking the loft-ladders two steps at a time trying to get down to the bathroom.

By then, the time-scale between ‘stirrings’ and potentially soiling myself had reduced alarmingly. You get my drift?

Twenty, (plus), years on things have changed. I’m invariably constipated. Bummer, right? Alongside this is right-sided pain and bloating. These days I only have to side-glance a pea and I look 6 months pregnant!

Oh, and I fart a lot.

Ladies do not fart!

One, I’m no lady.

Two, everybody farts.

Even kittens!

So first, let’s define constipation.

  • infrequent poos
  • difficulty or straining when you poo
  • feeling of being unable to completely empty during a bowel movement, or the sensation of wanting to go but not being able to.
  • you fart for Britain.

I don’t know about anybody else, but my pain goes away a bit when I finally do manage to ‘download some brownware’.

Living With Constipation and IBS

Diet

I find it helpful to keep a food diary to see which foods give me gyp. Dairy and wheat are the usual suspects, but a lot of other foods can aggravate IBS symptoms.

Eating your food as close as it is to its natural state will benefit you and your bottom. As a general rule, if something has an ingredient list a mile long – it’s best to avoid. Also, overdoing the fruit and veg could make things worse. Remember me and peas?

Big one this: Never skip meals!

Also, stop eating when you are full.

Look, if you can’t breathe, there’s no room for pudding. You’ve had to undo your stretch-fit jeans as it is!

Laxatives

Sometimes it’s necessary to take laxatives. Occasionally I have to give myself a rid-out with prescription laxatives. This is only when the other methods have failed. Or I’ve been on the codeine. Eight sachets of this stuff and my colon surrenders itself completely. It’s what the GP calls a ‘bowel reset.’ This is a last resort and it’s under the supervision of my GP.

*It’s NOT a good idea to rely on laxatives indefinitely!*

Water

Dehydration causes constipation, so fill up on the H20!

Exercise

Moving about helps to keep everything flowing within the digestive system. There is a reason that most bed-bound people become constipated. Walk. Swim. Breakdance. Whatever. Just move.

Relaxation

If you have IBS, chances are you are stressed-to-shit, (if only ha ha), so it makes sense to address your stress-levels and do as much relaxation as possible.

Straining

Just typing this sub-title brings tears to my eyes!

One must always try and resist the urge to strain out a bowel movement!

We’ve all been there. Stranded on the lav with Mr Turtle’s head and his front legs hanging out of our lower orifice. It’s like the colon REALLY wants to go for it, then half way through says, ‘ You know what? Sod it. I’m bored now. Laters, yeah?’

What to do? We can’t sit there indefinitely with poo hanging out of our arses, can we?

Do we reach round and help Mr Turtle out? *boaks* Or do we take a deep breath in – grab onto the sides of the toilet seat – and bloomin well go for it?

Then there’s the pain..

Once I had to peer into the pan to make sure I wasn’t passing glass shards because that’s what it f**king well felt like!

It felt like labour. I was having to do the hoo-hoo-hoo breathing and everything.

I was cold and sweaty.

This was hardcore defecating and it comes to no surprise to me to learn that a lot of people die on the toilet. Granted most of those are elderly or have heart conditions. It’s a spike in blood pressure that finishes them off, apparently.

In the end, I birthed what felt like an 30lb baby through my bum-hole. In reality, it was a turd the size of a raisin. I was both awed and horrified at how something SO small could cause me SO much pain. It was a lot like giving birth, actually – only minus the drugs.

A straining session for me ensures a visit from Emma Roids (piles) where it hurts to sit down. Standing up’s isn’t much better. Plus, they itch like buggery!

Let me tell you now. There is NO dignity, whatsoever, in having to ram a three-inch suppository into one’s quivering bum-hole. Or anybody elses. Or in buying tubes of Anusol in the local supermarket. It’s hardly discreet is it? The clue’s in the name. ANUSol.

At this point, you’re either horrified (bordering on projectile vomiting) or nodding with profuse empathy. If it’s the latter, I pity you.

My last remaining tips are as follows..

Toilet Roll

Don’t buy cheap 2 ply. Your botty deserves better, no? Plus, yer fingers go through the cheap crap – which can be icky. Pay extra and pamper the poop-shute!

NOTE: Definitely, no IZAL. Using Izal is akin to wiping one’s arse with a crisp packet!

Blood in Poo

If you have piles through straining you may or may not experience blood when you wipe. Or you might see it in the pan. If this happens to you and it’s your first time, postpone the heart-failure. It’s most likely due to piles. Get it checked out, just to make sure.

Purge, When You Get The Urge

For this, I penned a lil poem.

Every time you need a poo.

Go t’ bathroom and sit on t’loo.

Look at your phone or read a book.*

Don’t delay cus it’ll hurt like fuck hell.

Changes In What’s Normal For You

If your symptoms change see your GP. 99.9% of the time it’s nothing to worry about, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Finally, talking about what’s going on with your bowels is only as embarrassing as you want to make it. It’s a normal (and essential) bodily function. Embarrassment costs lives. Opening up (shameless pun) can mean the difference between life and death. Nuff said?

  • Don’t sit on the loo for hours reading books or messing with youir phone. You’ll make yer piles worse!

Carry On Up The Colon

colonoscopy co·lon·os·co·py (kō’lə-nŏs’kə-pē) n. Examination of the inner surface of the colon by means of a colonoscope. Also called coloscopy.

In idiot terms, it’s a camera up the bum!

I nearly had one of these a few years ago but by the time I saw the consultant my symptoms had all but gone and I’d worked out that it was down to a menopause supplement I’d been taking which contained iron and I can’t take iron. This time however there’s no such reprieve because my bowels are giving me major gyp so I’m currently waiting for my appointment to flop onto the mat so that I can get some serious worrying in.

Now, I did my homework on the colonoscopy first time round so I already know that it’s the colon cleansing prep that they give you which is the hardest part because to all intents and purposes, it’s EVIL!

So, yeah, NOT looking forward to that..

Most people say that the procedure itself is painless and sedative helps and BOY AM I GOING TO BE SEDATED!

Not so much as a FINGERNAIL will be going up my backside without me being pissed as a fart but once I am riding the pink unicorn they can pretty much do what they like.

Speaking of fart..

Seemingly I will be farting for Britain after the C scope due to the amount of air they put in to inflate the old bagpipes.. safe to say I will be leaving my dignity at home!

But it’s the waiting that gets you isn’t it?

Fear of the unknown…

It’s the thinking that I will be one of the unlucky ones who’s colon gets punctured.

It’s the thought of violent poo action once the prep has sufficiently irritated the lining of my colon.

It’s the thought what if..

What if they find something?

What if it’s a nasty?

What if I look at the monitor and see a ginormous tumour clinging to my colon like a limpet?

What if the tube won’t go in?

What if the tube won’t come out?

What if I have a coronary and die with a length of tube up my arse?

What if.

What if.

What if.

Holy Shit!

Being a glass smashed all over the floor type of person, I immediately go for the terminal option. Straight from piles to palliative care, me.

THUMP THUMP CLUNK CLUNK THUMP THUMP KER DUNK KER DUNK THUMP THUMP

That’s my heart clanging in fear.

My poor old sphincter is permanently clenched at the thought of being violated in this manner and as for having to wear one of those stupid gowns? I have a phobia of those things due to having put one on the wrong way once and I was er flashing my lady bits instead of my bum. It’s those verbal instructions you see. All I heard was “put gown on”..

Anyhoo, I am bulk buying extra soft bog roll and have several books lined up on Kindle for when I’m shitting myself delirious. I’ve also invested in some Vaseline and Sudocrem to smear around my bum hole as apparently it will think it’s been set fire to?

Hopefully it won’t be as bad as I fear and I have nothing more sinister than a bad case of Farmer Giles.

Finally, it goes without saying that if you’re having bum probs like blood in your poo, unexplained weight loss or changes in bowel habits to go and get yourself checked out. Don’t be embarrassed. It’s nothing that your Doc hasn’t seen or heard of before. Bums is all in a days work, innit?

Wish me luck, folks.

‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?’ ~ Actual comment from bloke having a colonoscopy.

Creative Commons Images