July 7, 2018

not my first poop rodeo

Pouch and sleeve folks alike are forced to come to terms with ... a more intimate and comprehensive ... relationship with their intestinal tracts.  We spend a lot of time thinking about them, analyzing them, listening to what they are telling us.  After all, someone sliced us open in the past and either removed some intestines or traumatized them by proxy, and then there was all of that gut flora repopulation and the massive systemic effects that we are still discovering with surprise and delight, like new mental health issues and the increased risk of colorectal cancer and the joys of constipation.


I've been having these episodes for the last few months (why they waited to begin after nearly two years is only a peripheral curiosity) wherein I suddenly become bloated.  I do not mean the kind of bloated where you ate a big meal and your tummy is a little uncomfortable and tight and unbuttoning your jeans helps.  I am referring to full-abdomen bloating with sudden onset that makes my stomach taut, like being instantly four months pregnant, and so painful that I can't fully stand up straight and have to walk slightly bent over, usually to the bathroom at work in order to remove the shapewear bodice I'm wearing.  I don't even care that this results in my going bra-less for the rest of the afternoon.

But sometimes it happens in the evening.  Sometimes it happens soon after I eat.  Sometimes it happens two hours later.  Sometimes it happens after I eat dairy.  Sometimes I eat dairy and nothing whatsoever happens.  Did I eat too fast?  Is it gluten?  Should I be taking probiotics?  There are so many directions to head.

My current working theory, conceived last night, is constipation.  I get dehydrated and then spend a couple days catching up on my liquid intake (which, grudgingly, sometimes contains substances other than coffee).  Meanwhile, I've become constipated from the dehydration, but there's all this liquid and not enough intestine "backstream" to absorb it, so my body goes all "what the fuck?" on me and panics and jettisons all the coffee and water and almond milk and probably blood and air (because there's gas involved, too) into my peritoneal cavity.  At least, that's what it feels like.  I know that would actually be fatal, but walk with me here.  It hurts.

Last night was such a night.  And I was thankful this morning when things finally worked themselves out - yeah, see what I did there? - and my theory had its first confirming data point.  It isn't any particular thing I'm eating.  It's constipation.

I never really respected constipation before my gastric bypass.  It was something that happened to older women in commercials, something they noticed in dim-lit bedrooms just before they went and took a nice laxative pill that "worked gently overnight" but that was actually dubbed "the white tornado" by real humans who weren't being paid to act in commercials.  The corner in the drug store with all of those products remained invisible to me, until a couple of years ago when I thought I was having my first experience with constipation and purchased a box of pink pills, which surely couldn't be as bad as the white ones.  It promised to work gently overnight.  I took one at bed time.

The next morning, nothing happened.  Huh.  Maybe I wasn't constipated after all.  Oh well, no harm done.  I continued through my day, shopped for groceries, went home and put them away.  I headed across town to my therapy session.  And I almost made it, except that as I turned left at the stop light less than a mile from her office, I began shaking and sweating and even though I'd had some sandwich turkey for lunch, I thought I was dumping something fierce.  Then the cramps hit, and the sensation of wanting to faint.  It wasn't safe for me to drive.  I managed to pull into a Wendy's parking lot and stumble blindly into the bathroom, only giving one-fifth of a shit that it was a two-staller.  I don't even know how I texted my therapist to tell her that I was dumping and very sick and stuck on a toilet two blocks away in the bathroom at Wendy's and probably dying but maybe not and I was going to be late one way or the other.  Then I set the phone down and gripped the metal bar in the stall with both hands and involuntarily went into Lamaze breathing.  No onset of flu had ever taken me so violently.  I've also had two colonoscopies and prepped for them with various poisonous potions of misery posing as Gatorade.  Yawn.

Tornadoes come in pink, I learned that day.  When I did make it to my therapist's couch, it wasn't to talk about my childhood; it was to lie in agony and finish experiencing weakness and semi-delirium and waves of pain that made me shut my eyes tightly until they passed.  In a way it was therapeutic in its own right, because I had never appeared so vulnerable on that couch before, or received such compassion.  She actually went and got me a cool cloth.

We had a ceremony when I threw away that box of pink pills.  It was a Thing.

I respect constipation now.

P.J. got up shortly after I did this morning, and I happily announced that I had pooped a lot and felt better and see? my theory is probably right and now I have a working hypothesis and objective and probably one of those tri-fold boards, and all I need now is to do some science and write a lame-ass report about it.

P.J. just said, "Do me a favor ... don't publish your work."

Me:  "Ooo, that's a great idea - I'm going to blog about it.  Like, right now."

P.J.:  "Oh god, what have I done?  Why did I even open my mouth?"

Me:  "Well?  I needed a topic for today."

P.J.:  "What am I worried about?  It's not like you haven't posted about poop before."

Me:  "There needs to be more poop awareness.  And yeah!  This isn't my first poop rodeo."

(exactly three seconds elapsed .... )

Me:  "I do not like the phrase 'first poop rodeo' and I don't think I want to say that again, like, ever."


I just had to say "poop rodeo" again right now and in the title and yet again right above this sentence, but that's it.

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