Ok. Ready? I’m going to talk about something we never do. Pooping. Oh my gawd. I know. Crazy. But we all do it. And when we can’t, it’s awful. So here I go……(writing, not pooping)
Fibromyalgia is known to have many comorbidities, including IBS; (also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which we typically think of as diarrhea, but there’s also a constipation component. Aside from that, many of us take medications that can contribute to it.
In August of this year, I wound up in the ER right before vacation. I was incorrectly diagnosed as having Colitis and treated accordingly. To lessen the intense stomach pain, I was given Bentyl to slow down the movements within my gut. After being given a concoction of morphine and fentanyl for the pain, I was also given Zofran to counteract the nausea. I now believe all that acted as a catalyst for months worth of pooping difficulties.
As we’re all probably pretty aware of, the Fibro/Chronic Fatigue body is a delicate beast. It seems anything we do to it can throw it off. So I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. After two months of continuing issues, I finally saw a Gastroenterologist; who immediately wanted to do a endoscopy and possibly a colonoscopy. Going back to what I just said-that a Fibro body is a delicate balance, neither of these were things I wanted to do, especially with my Daughter’s wedding plans in full swing. So I decided I would try some other things first to see if I could finally correct the issue myself.
Before I go any further, please remember that I am NOT a medical professional and I would never want you to follow my advice without seeing a provider. Please always seek medical care when in need. With that said, here are some of the things I did:
First, I tossed the Bentyl. While it certainly helped with my frequent stomach cramps, it wasn’t even Colitis to begin with (just some horrendous new and unfamiliar Fibro pains), so that made doing this easy. But I also had to seriously consider my use of Zofran. Zofran is used to help with nausea and works like a miracle for me. However, the way it works is by actually drying out your system. In drying out that system, guess what else gets dried out? Yup, you guessed it: poop.
I tried some more holistic medications that the Gastro had suggested, like Senna, which is plant based. She also suggested trying something that is fiber, like Metamucil. Butt the whole point of this was trying to naturally restore my body’s functions, not make it dependent on supplements. They didn’t really work that great either. But they may for someone else.
I started drinking a mug of hot water before bed. This was at my Husband’s suggestion, who has long tauted the benefits of drinking a hot mug of plain water for months. I do this right before bed and occasionally add a little Ceylon cinnamon to it. Think temperature of a cup of hot cocoa.
After doing a little bit of research, I learned the trick of belly rubbing. Not like you do a dog, but more to massage the colon and intestines to encourage movement on the inside, when you apply movement on the outside. Start at your lower right side, which is where the first part of the colon sits, and work your way up towards your rib cage. From the right side, continue to massage across the torso, just under the ribs, and work your way down the left side. I tried this twice a day, three times each.
Next, I looked at the medications I had left. Oxycodone and Tramadol are both medications I rely upon and both are known to cause constipation. That was one of the things the Gastro had highlighted in our visit, too. However, both of those meds are the only reason I have any quality of life. So, no matter what, they both stay. If in fact, those were causing my issues, I would need to deal with somehow offsetting them in the long term. But eliminating them is not an option. At least not if I want to stay out of bed.
And now for the biggie: I *radically* changed my diet. On turning 45 in October, this was something I had really wanted to embrace. But now I had the motivation to really do so. I knew that if I did a huge diet overhaul and still had issues, it was time to go ahead and request both the endoscopy and colonoscopy.
For years now, I have almost entirely eaten organic and especially, non-GMO foods. But I’d also found some really tasty organic, non-GMO “Oreos”-which despite being both those things, is far from a healthy food. Now, I’ve moved strictly to all organic, non-GMO foods and eliminated anything processed. Next, I decided to replace my lunch with a hearty salad. Some days this was a grueling undertaking. It’s much easier to choke down a few crackers with ginger ale, when my stomach is super nauseous-but I was also beginning to suspect that these practices were a driving force with the chronic constipation.
So now, every day for lunch, I have a huge salad. I add things like:
- blueberries, for their anti-oxidant benefits. The defrosted juice from them also makes a great salad dressing.
- walnuts, for the overall health benefits and as a protein source
- apple chips, because, well, I really hate salad
- match stick carrots
- black olives, rinsed with water to lessen the sea salt content
- chia seeds, which are a great source of natural fiber
- raisins, which have some fiber, but are also high in potassium
I choose an organic salad mix that has several different greens in it. My favorite is an organic “Spring Mix”, by Olivia’s Organics. It actually has 19 different lettuces or greens, including: spinach, kale, collard greens and beet root. There’s three main benefits to choosing a mix like this: it’s cheaper than buying multiple different greens separately, it gives you the ruffage your digestion needs from different plant sources and gives you the nutritional benefits of multiple vegetables. Easy peasy.
Next, I looked at my sugar consumption and cut that. Bad bacteria in the body feed off the yeast from sugar. I’m also a staunch believer that sugar leads to multiple bad things in the body, such as inflammation and diabetes to start. And it’s hidden in everything, from marinara sauce, ketchup and salad dressings. So while I have been aiming for quite some time to lessen how much sugar I eat, now I had a driving force behind stopping. Oh, right. Did you also know that sugar is addictive? The more sugary foods you eat, the more you want them. I also would have substituted my morning coffee sugar for Stevia or Monk Fruit, except Stevia exacerbates my Restless Limbs Syndrome and Monk Fruit gave me THE worst foot/toe pain EVER.
I changed my carbohydrate consumption from processed items, like bread and crackers, to a more natural source. While I strictly only eat a salad for lunch; for dinner, we now eat sweet potatoes or rice.
So guess what? It all worked!!! No Senna or Metamucil required. My body is now functioning the way it should. At least pooping wise. And I have to tell you all, that you are awfully special, because I would normally never discuss ANY of my pooping habits with anyone. So THAT is how much I love you all.
But here’s the other thing: my entire torso, which is normally super uncomfortable, even to the slightest pressure, is WAY better. Prior to making all these changes, every night I would go to bed with an uncomfortable mid-section. So much so, that I couldn’t have my Husband put his arm over me in bed. Beyond resolving what it did, I had never imagined it would improve the chronic tenderness I live with.
And here’s what else is surprising. I’ve been to the Allergist/Immunologist and had ALL the testing done. I have zero allergies to food. Except, last night I cheated and had some of those Ben & Jerry cookie dough ice cream bites. Boy that was a mouthful. As awesome as they were, as soon as I was done eating, it felt like I got hit by a Mack truck. The abdominal tenderness came instantly and I got full, nauseous and bloated. WOW!! The effect was immediate and unmistakable. As soon as I finished, I was sick.
So that’s about as much confirmation as I ever could have gotten that dietary wise, I was making alot of huge mistakes!!! This is the second time I’ve done a HUGE dietary overhaul, but the first time had none of the profound effects I’m experiencing this time. I will say, though, that the first time I did it, I was solely focusing on the elimination of gluten and dairy for symptom improvement. I did not, however, go for the staunch consumption of all natural, unprocessed foods that I have this time.
I’m about two weeks into my new regimen and it’s clear now that it needs to be a permanent one. While I haven’t noticed any improvement with anything else (I had hoped for some lessening of my daily headaches/migraines), I’m hopeful that some more may be on the horizon. Even if not, I am happy that I have finally made the last of the health changes I had really wanted to AND……..I have FINALLY found a way to give up Ben & Jerry’s: it makes me sick. That was about the only thing that ever could have done it 😉
I’m now going to bury my head in embarrassment, after disclosing my pooping issues to the world. I hope that my doing so may help someone reading. Otherwise, how silly of me.
As always, all my love, Stace