And It All Comes Back to the Poo!

***This is NOT dinnertime reading! Do NOT read if you are easily offended, nauseous, or just don’t like to talk about bowel movements***

Isn’t it funny, we all go to the toilet, but we don’t like to talk about it, particularly number twos.

Today, I had a ‘normal’ bowel movement – but what is considered to be a ‘normal’ bowel movement?

A bowel movement should be soft and easy to pass, though some people may have harder or softer stools than others. In general, stool should be brown or golden brown, be formed, have a texture similar to peanut butter, and have a size and shape similar to a sausage. In many cases, a stool that varies a bit from this description is no cause for alarm, especially if it is an isolated incident.

It seems that most of us, especially those with IBS issues, never have a ‘normal’ bowel movement. In fact, our ‘normal’ is more likely to be those ‘really difficult to push out rabbit droppings type,’ or the ‘rush to the closest toilet explosion,’ or even the ‘my ass is dribbling type.’

Most of us who live with FM also have IBS. FM and IBS are co-diagnosed in up to 70% of FM patients. IBS (also known as irritable colon, spastic colon, mucous colitis, or spastic colitis) is a disorder of the bowel, or large intestine. It is characterized by severe abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel movements, and a variety of other symptoms.

It has been estimated that as many as two-thirds of all IBS patients have FM, and as many as 70% of FM patients may also have IBS. These statistics differ greatly from the corresponding rates in the general population, where only 10%-15% of individuals are estimated to have IBS. It is unknown if the two conditions are related symptomatically or causally, or if their frequent co-occurrence is merely a coincidence.

Adding pain killers to the mix can be frustrating and painful.

Now, the ‘really difficult to push out rabbit droppings type’ tends to be a constipation. Constipation means different things to different people. For many people, it simply means infrequent stools. For others, however, constipation means hard stools, difficulty passing stools (straining), or a sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. This is called fecal impaction, a condition in which stool hardens in the rectum and prevents the passage of any stool.  According to reports in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, constipation or infrequent stools occur in 30% of FM sufferers.

Constipation also can alternate with diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is an increase in the frequency of bowel movements, an increase in the looseness of stool or both. It is caused by increased secretion of fluid into the intestine, reduced absorption of fluid from the intestine or rapid passage of stool through the intestine. This is the other two types of (what I refer to as) our ‘normal.’

My point to all this crap (Ha! Ha! Lol!) is that I get used to the IBS stuff: I have cramps, I take Buscopan; I have diarrhoea for too long, I take Immodium; and, if I’m constipated, greasy fish and chips seems to do the trick. But when I have a ‘normal’ poo, it feels like it is dragging all my insides out with it. It’s tiring and it’s physically draining. It leaves my body feeling empty (but not in a good way!).

So, is this what ‘normal’ feels like?

Further Reading: 

 

Intestinal Fortitude

 

My stomach is NOT my friend! I am lucky enough to swing from constipation to diarrhoea in less than the blink of an eye.

Research findings from the Walton Centre in the UK report that the small bowel in FM sufferers (and when it comes to IBS, we are definitely sufferers!) shows overgrowth of abnormal bacteria. The study demonstrated an increased intestinal permeability that produces increased hyperactivity of the intestines. Intestinal permeability means abnormal substances gain access to the body and alter its immune function.

Constipation

According to reports in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, constipation or infrequent stools occur in 30% of FM sufferers. Constipation is defined as having a bowel movement less than three times a week. Some individuals complain of abdominal pain and straining to move the bowels in conjunction with the constipation.

Diarrhoea

Clinical Nurse Specialist describes diarrhoea occurring in up to 90% of FM sufferers. Individuals describe a pressing urge to move the bowels as well as passage of unformed stool. Diarrhoea occurs along with high levels of anxiety. Reports in the Journal of Nutrition indicate ingestion of probiotics decreases the symptoms of diarrhoea.

Fecal Incontinence

The Journal of Psychosomatic Research reports 2% to 7% of individuals with FM report uncontrolled passage of stool. This fecal incontinence transpires frequently in concurrence with diarrhoea and creates major problems in daily life. If it has ever happened to you, you never want to leave the house again (or, at least, without knowing where the closest toilet is!)

gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, gastroesophageal reflux disease describes the condition where food travels backward from the stomach into the oesophagus. The oesophagus is the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. Characteristic symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease include epigastric pain, a sensation of fullness, and heartburn. gastroesophageal reflux disease and other intestinal problems occur in 50% of FM sufferers.

I have tried some (very expensive) probiotics without any improvement. Basically, I make sure that I have a constant supply of Imodium, Buscopan and Durolax on hand, at all times.

Has anyone found something that works (not just on symptoms)?