I wasn’t going to write this post. No one needs to know about my rather alarming and increasingly regular bowel habits, yet here I am waffling again. Why? Well, I have come to the conclusion that we need to talk about our bowel habits more. We need to remove the stigma that surrounds “shit”. That embarrassment factor regarding our bowel habits could actually be rather dangerous in some cases.
I’ve already spoken before about my long history regarding digestion issues and how last year saw my bowel habits change. Here is where I made my first mistake. After a month of going to the loo rather a lot, increasing bouts of diarrhoea and bloody stools, I should have packed myself off to the doctors. But no, there were a multitude of reasons why I didn’t, the main one being embarrassment. No one wants to go the doctors to mention the word poo and blood. My greatest fear was the rectal examination and, as such, I ignored the symptoms. I put it down to stress, I was busy, we were moving again and again, I had my foot operation. The list is endless and to be honest my bowel movements were at the bottom (pun intended) of a very long list.
Food Intolerance Test
As regular readers will know, I finally took a food intolerance test and I was rewarded with a long list of food intolerances. Rejoice! I would now have regular bowel movements again, and for a while it felt like I did. There were what I would call small flare-ups. Flare-ups that I put down to eating out, or to perhaps not checking the packaging carefully. However, roll on January and these flare-ups were happening more frequently and for longer. It looked like 2019 would be another year spent in the toilet. After one particularly bad weekend where I had spent the majority of it in the toilet, in pain and feeling like my insides were going to fall out, I booked a doctors appointment. I just asked for the first one available before I bottled it.
Facing My Fears (And The Doctor)
When I arrived at the doctors I was told that my doctor was a man with a traditional Jersey name that I can’t pronounce or spell. I know that doctors are all professional but I was alarmed when the doctor opened his door for the patient before me. He was young and good looking. Oh gawd, I briefly contemplated fleeing the doctor’s surgery but instead I sent a text to my husband,
“ The doctor is a young man and he’s good looking. I’m not letting his finger anywhere near my flabby arse”.
So it was 10 minutes later that I found myself muttering away about my bowel habits, avoiding eye-contact and praying that he wouldn’t ask me to drop my pants. However, as the conversation progressed I realised how potentially foolish I had been. Yes, the chances of it being anything that is life-threatening are minimal, but, as soon as blood appeared and my bowel movements changed I should have taken myself off to the doctor. We don’t have time to be getting shy over shit because bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK. I should have taken myself off a lot earlier, even if it was to just put my mind at rest.
I was asked if there was any family history of bowel cancer and I had to admit that yes there is, my grandad had it and that my other grandad died from pancreatic cancer. However, they weren’t young and that rather illogical argument was what I had used whenever I found myself googling my symptoms. Another life lesson I really need to learn is – never google your symptoms, just go to the doctors.
Don’t Be Shy
Like I said, chances are that it is not anything serious but really I could have saved myself many sleepless nights if I had taken myself to the doctors a long time ago. Regarding the rectal examination, the doctor felt that he didn’t need to do one. I might have praised the lord, but you know what, dropping your pants is a small price to pay if it could potentially save your life. I’ve been stupid again.
If you have a change in bowel movements then get yourself to the doctor as soon as possible. It was fine, it was reassuring and there was nothing to fear. I’ve had some blood tests and they have all come back as clear, so it really is looking like it’s just IBS. I also did two stool samples that Mr C had to take in for me. Our marriage might have hit a new low when I handed my husband two test tubes of diarrhoea. I am hoping that the poop period in our marriage won’t require future marriage counselling ;-). However, rather annoyingly and partly due to the strikes, I now have to send in two more stool samples, as my other ones have been consigned to the bin.
Sucking The Joy From My Diet
In the meantime, I am keeping a food diary and a record of how many times I have been, and whether they are solid, bloody etc. It’s hardly award-winning fiction but I am hoping that it might help me recognise other triggers.
Right now, it is looking like coffee, chocolate and diet coke are also a no go. Soon there will be nothing fun left in my diet but it’s a small price to pay for a happy gut and, also, it’s important to remember that it could be a lot worse. I am one of the lucky ones. If you have any changes in your bowel habits, don’t be shy, get yourself to the doctor asap. Your bottom is one of many bottoms that they have seen, they have seen them all and they aren’t going to baulk at seeing your behind.
Update – It’s not IBS. More info to follow