Let's talk poop

HEY YO HEYYYY! 

What a title right? I have NO SHAME on this topic. It has been something that I've struggled with literally my entire life, and so I'm a PRO on the gastrointestinal system. Actually, not really, if I was a pro, I would be more regular but I have a lot of knowledge to spit out at you as a fellow struggler, pharmacist, and who doesn't love a little poop talk right? Okay, let's dive in. EW. {I'm gonna save pictures for another blog article HA}

Today, I'm going to discuss constipation. If you are someone that struggles in the opposite direction then this blog may not be for you. Many fit girls and many unhealthy people struggle with this issue. The gastrointestinal system is very complex, and honestly not the most understood so normally if you are chronically constipated then the GI specialist is going to tell you that you have IBS-C. What this translates to: You are constipated all the time, and miserable all the time and we really don't know how to help you but we are going to give you a disease state to make you feel better about life. 

Can you tell I've been through it all? My first big encounter was in the 7th grade when I passed out in California Dreaming bathroom from an impacted bowel. There was a nurse in the room who told me that my appendix had ruptured and they got the ambulance and took me to the hospital. What do you know? I was constipated. True story. HA!! I was on a mission trip, and they were praying over me. Hilarious. Okay moving on.. 

I was told to start eating more fiber. And by fiber, they must have meant more chicken fingers and french fries and more cheese. I ate so horrible. My next hospital visit was in college. Same situation-passed out, impacted bowel, "eat more fiber". I begged for more testing, but they said it wasn't necessary. Years later, after struggling literally every day with it and just learning to live with it, I was scheduled for endoscopy and colonoscopy. I didn't go through with it. We were going to have to pay out of pocket, and I was convinced after much research that we were going to pay for it, and then they were going to find NOTHING and I would be back to square one. I can almost bet all of you reading have been through this. It's so common. Colonoscopy-STILL NOTHING! So, they tell you IBS and send you on your way. 

Lately, in the pharmaceutical pipeline, there have been some drugs to be used in constipation. They are called Amitiza and Linzess. They take about 6 weeks to begin working, and the trials look really positive. If you have been through all other options, this is definitely something to look into. However, I wanted to offer you up some tips that have changed my life. 

Step 1: Start with diet 

As usual, nutrition and diet is not stressed enough. They tell you to eat more fiber so you start eating fiber one bars and wonder why it's not doing anything. I truly believe that our GI systems are super funky and thrive on consistency of diet. My problems were the WORSTTT when I was restricting during the week and gorging on the weekends. The body just doesn't know what to do. So get consistent with diet with an adequate amount of fruits and veggies for fiber. Eat as whole as possible. Don't obsess about it, but just make some positive changes.

Step 2: Start taking Metamucil or Fibrocon. I personally think that you could skip this step if you are really changing your diet for the better, but this is going to be what all physicians recommend that you do. This is just simply a fiber supplementation. 

This is stepwise, so if that doesn't work... 

Step 3: Stool softeners 

There are many different brands but Docusate is a good one, so just take them for a week to give it time to get in your system and get things moving and if it isn't working then move on because in my personal opinion, it probably won't work. 

Step 4: Osmotics (Miralax)

DING DING DING!!! Okay I'm such a fan. If you ask me, this will be my go-to first thing. Miralax changed my life. It's a powder that you add to coffee. Give it about 7 days and it is NOT a laxative. It simply pulls water into your intestines (and you can't even feel it-it's just natural movement) and softens the stool. Again, give it time!! If you are using this for more than 2 weeks at one time, then consult your physician to make sure that you can continue taking it. I use it every single day in my coffee! :) 

Step 5: Stimulants

This is going to be your last line option. This should not be your first line. I really screwed myself up and got my body addicted and the muscles in my colon really weakened by weekly use of laxatives. I even got to the point where I had to take 4-6 at one time to even produce a movement. I look back, and I honestly thought it was because I had a "problem" but I never took them unless I hadn't went for 2 weeks. It's pretty necessary at that point regardless. This is going to be harsh. It's going to hurt, but it will work. It should get the job done. Again, you do not want to take these on a regular basis AT ALL. It's so dangerous for your health (electrolyte imbalances are no joke). 

Many times if you go to the hospital, they may use an enema, and I've had to use one many times. This is like last last line as in "This shiz has to come out NOW". An impacted bowel is a very serious issue. Fecal matter only has so much space to fill up the intestines. After your intestines are full then it has to go somewhere else. If it gets into your bloodstream, then that is bad news bears. Impaction can actually be fatal so this should be taken seriously. Sometimes, I will still have weeks where I haven't gone all week. I can FEEL it. I always tell Tanner I feel toxic, literally....and I am.

Again, check out Linzess and Amitiza. I think that they are going to be more frequently used in the future for gastroporesis (slow movement), but not many physicians even know about these yet so mention them and they may could look it up and write you a script if they feel it's appropriate for you! I've heard awesome things!

You need routine. You need consistency and you need to find what works for you and stick with that. However, I think that if you get your diet consistent, your life will change. Let me be the first to tell you that I totally understand how awful this problem is, and how much it can affect your daily life so I hope this helps you to find some different options. Don't skip right to colonoscopy and expensive doctors visits. Try nature's way of fixing things and over the counter first! :) 

With love and poop,

Katie

UPDATE: It was mentioned through a comment below that I COMPLETELY agree with. While I joked that many times a colonscopy is done and nothing will be found, this is just simply what seems to happen a lot. However, also as I mentioned, the gastrointestinal system and constipation needs to be taken seriously. If you are experiencing continued discomfort then it is important that you reach out to your physician and make sure that there aren't other issues that you could discover that could be life changing for you! 

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