The first thing that comes to mind occurred when I was nine and I was with my Mom. She asked me “When is the last time you had a bowel movement?” I thought she meant, when was the last time I threw up. After all, whenever the stomach flu came to town, I got it. I cheerfully replied, “oh, about a year ago”. Needless to say, this misunderstanding led to shock and embarrassment with my mom marching me into the bathroom with an enema bag and, well I’m sure I don’t need to go into any more detail about what happened next! Whatever the outcome it must have satisfied her as I don’t remember her ever making any comment on it again. I assure you I never made that mistake again!
Sometime during my 20’s I began to notice something strange regarding my digestion. I was visiting a friend in Seattle for about a month and for some strange reason I got on a graham cracker kick going through several boxes during the time I stayed there. It seemed that the whole time I was there I didn’t have a single bowel movement. For whatever reason I didn’t feel that it was a problem that needed to be solved, I just stored the experience away in my memory banks. You see, I had never been regular and didn’t know that was an issue.
In my 40’s I was introduced to IBS, a term I’d never heard before, by my new husband, who was himself a sufferer. I started to notice that my long-ignored constipation was now causing regular stomach cramps. My family physician advised that I should begin adding fiber to my diet. I tried every fiber supplement on the market. Each would work for a while and then stop working. By this time, a lifetime of constipation had already damaged my colon.
Late one Sunday night, the cramps became so awful that I wound up calling my doctor’s emergency line. The doctor on call advised me to take a saline enema and contact my doctor the next morning. As soon as 2 drops of the saline entered my system, I started screaming. I uttered the words I thought I would never say to my husband. “Call 911!” My colon had ruptured and if I would have waited until the morning I’d have died. By midnight I was in surgery. When I woke up on Monday, I was in possession of a colostomy bag but was missing a large part of my colon.
It’s been 5 years since that awful night and although I am grateful that the colectomy saved my life, it didn’t have to happen. When I was little perhaps more attention should have been paid to my bodily processes by my parents. When I was living on my own, I clearly should have been more aware of my own health issues, but back then, before discovering what was actually my problem, I just didn’t get it.The colostomy bag did not cure my IBS-C, however I learned how to control it with 3 doses of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (generic Miralax).