Breaking My Taboo: Pooping
Content warning: talk of blood, bereavement, grieving, medical procedures, medical trauma, and sexual trauma.
Society has many taboos. I don’t know if it’s just an English thing, but we have many – sex, blood, periods, sex work, death … the list goes on. People think that we are overcoming the societal taboos, but we’re not. If we were I wouldn’t have withheld a bunch of posts on bowels, and toilet habits – and not the fun watersports kind, the ‘this needs to be a conversation kind’ for fear of judgment. I know I’ve got my own internalised taboos that I find difficult to talk about, but I’m trying to change that.
What prompted the big change? Well, at the time of writing this post I’ve disassociated rather badly. So, in an effort to calm myself down, I’m going to write. I’m going to write about pooping because it makes me uncomfortable sharing, but it’s this uncomfortableness that has prevented me from pushing, prevented me from chasing my doctor in the way I do for most of my other health issues. And that’s not okay.
To be perfectly frank, if I don’t keep myself occupied right now, I’m going to panic, and since I tend to write via dictation nowadays, and talking helps me process … my distraction technique today is going to be a blog post! Hi!
A little key of some of the words I’ll be using:
Hemorrhoids: also known as piles, are swollen veins in the lower part of the anus and rectum. When the walls of these vessels are stretched, they become irritated. (Source: MedicalNewsToday)
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): The pain of CRPS is usually triggered by an injury. But the pain is a lot more severe and long-lasting than would normally be expected. The pain may feel like a mix of burning, stabbing or stinging. There may also be tingling and numbness. You may have periods of pain lasting a few days or weeks, called flare-ups, where the pain gets worse. (Source NHS)
Erythromelalgia (EM): Erythromelalgia, formerly known as Mitchell’s disease (after Silas Weir Mitchell), is a rare vascular peripheral pain disorder in which blood vessels, usually in the lower extremities or hands, are episodically blocked (frequently on and off daily), then become hyperemic and inflamed. (Source: Wikipedia)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): is a common condition that affects the digestive system. It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These tend to come and go over time, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time. It’s usually a lifelong problem. (Source: NHS)
IBS-C: IBS with constipation.
IBS-D: IBS with diarrhea.
So, I made a video a few weeks ago about unexpected bleeding from my vagina. Well, just now there was lots blood from my butthole, and it was definitely unexpected. I’m no stranger to blood, especially for my butthole. You see, the thing about painkillers is they make you constipated, and the thing about IBS is that it can also make you constipated, and sometimes very, very not constipated. So, bleeding, pain, and general discomfort have become normalised for me (though if you have pain/are bleeding from your butt please get it checked!). I did get the bleeding investigated – I had a sigmoidoscopy a few years back, I think in 2017, which found some internal redness and hemorrhoids, and I was comforted by the fact that it was just hemorrhoids, and not any other bowel disorder, until last year.
No, I have bled on and off for a while – but it’s been bright red blood, and to my understanding usually, that’s ‘fine’. Generally, bright red blood means it’s coming from not too far away from the butthole – or maybe even the butthole. Darker red blood, which sometimes is called ‘tar-like’ is the one to worry about (I’m not a doctor, this is just what my GP keeps telling me – again please get yourself checked if you have any bleeding). So, with the hemorrhoids, and constipation the bright red blood has been usual. Until it wasn’t. Until I went to the toilet to urinate and caught a bit of my back passage whilst wiping and there was blood, lots of blood. And I hadn’t pooped. My GP brushed it off. To be honest, I don’t know if she completely understood what I was trying to say, to be honest, I don’t think she ever tries to understand me (that is a blog post for another time). I tried to keep pushing because there was still blood – even when I wasn’t constipated. But she still kept brushing me off.
See, the thing with my health is that there are so many things going on that I have to prioritise. There are that many things going on that quite honestly sometimes I forget. My feet are my main priority; they are a 24/7 worry. There are other parts of me that are problematic pretty regularly too, like my bowels – whilst are usually on my mind, my toilet habits less so, but also kind of not. Let me explain, I am used to constipation so much that going 2 plus weeks without pooping had become normal, as mentioned IBS and painkillers will do that to a person. So, I became rather surprised when I pooped and was always in lots and lots of pain – there have even been a few times I’ve nearly passed out on the loo too. It’s gotten to the point where I have to use an app to keep track because I just can’t remember it’s been so long. I don’t often think about going to the toilet, but I’m almost constantly aware of my bowels, and my stomach. I’ve been worried about my bowels for years. They’ve never been regular – before the painkillers, I was more IBS-D then IBS-C. I have stomach problems, and a list of things a mile long I cannot eat, and another list that might be okay to eat depending on the axis of the earth and whatnot. Before the painkillers going to the toilet 10 times a day was normal after I’m lucky if it’s once every week or even two weeks.
My worries spiked when my grandad passed away from bowel cancer this year. I will admit writing this is making me a bit teary because I’ve not had time to grieve. My health has taken up all my time, and available energy so I’ve not had time to sit down and grieve. After things settled down again, I went to my doctor and asked if it put me at risk, especially with my family and medical history – they told me no. That because my grandad had passed a certain age, there was no reason to be worried, and there was no need to check. However, I have been trying for the past year or so to get another colonoscopy, to put all my worries at ease, but it’s not as simple (not that it ever was) as last time.
If I want to colonoscopy, I say that lightly – no one ever wants a colonoscopy, I don’t just have to drink 2L of horrible laxatives again, I have to work around my body. I have to figure out how to keep painkillers in my system, I have to figure out how to get to the loo when I can’t walk as my feet will be in a flare because the drugs probably aren’t in my system – hell, I might actually have to do it in hospital because they might have to give them via IV. Being in a hospital would be its own problem because I have had a very bad history with hospitals. I love the NHS, but I’m pretty sure I have PTSD from my two, kind of three admissions to hospital where I had a doctor called on me by the nurses for requesting the morphine I was prescribed. The last, and I guess the most important point is I have to get over the trauma of having a stranger put an object up my butt with PTSD from past sexual trauma. There are so many considerations.
The worst part? Most of the time the doctors don’t want to work with me and my health considerations. I’m currently trying to go private for a gallstone operation because my worries weren’t taken seriously on the NHS. There is a very good chance I have CRPS and erythromelalgia (EM), along with my other health conditions – including asthma, circulation problems, a very hypersensitive body, and sensitivity to drugs. This makes surgery, and other medical procedures difficult and risky, but the doctors haven’t listened to my concerns. Heck, I get brushed off every single time I try to voice that my period has caused devastating health issues.
Speaking of my period, ever since I had the implant inserted my bowel habits have once again changed. I have been to the loo four times this week and that is unheard-of. I know that progesterone impacts the bowels, and I know that’s what’s happening in my case however with my IBS, it’s not just regular bowel movements. My body doesn’t do a normal level, it goes to the extreme. Either it’s 10 times a day or once every 2 weeks, and I’m worried it’s ramping up to that. So, that’s another worry.
The point of this blog post? I don’t know. I’m scared. I am terrified that my feet have put everything else on the back burner, things I should’ve been paying attention to. I know there are a few things – like the lump in my armpit, that I need to get a second opinion on (the current opinion is a hormonal cyst, but it hurts like a bitch). I know I should have pushed harder, but I kept getting brushed off. Honestly, I am tired. My God, I am so tired. I work hard and have so many projects so that I don’t have to think of my health all the darn time because it is so easy to fixate. It’s so easy to spiral and become nothing more than a depressive lump on the sofa.
Ultimately, I am worried that my severe IBS was misdiagnosed because I had a sigmoidoscopy and not a colonoscopy (fun fact this is what colonoscopy looks like in dictation ‘: Oscar P’). I’ve worried about it for years. And yep, it could be that it’s just hemorrhoids, and I’m an anxious ball for nothing, but better to check than to assume everything is fine.
I will be calling the doctors tomorrow, and I will try to get a doctor that’s new. I think I’ve gotten to a point where I need a fresh set of eyes – even if that means a brand-new person I’ve ever met before doing an internal examination.
Please fight for the health of your body, because in this day and age you cannot rely on a doctor to do it for you – I’ve had past medical professionals censor themselves when talking about the bowels. I dropped the ball advocating for myself when it came to the topic of my bowels, and my gastrointestinal health. But when you consider the taboo, and how we are told to keep quiet – to not talk about pooping, it’s far too common that these issues become bigger than they need to be because society has told us we can’t talk about them. Because we shame young kids for their bathroom habits which they then remember years down the line (hi, me). Because there’s past trauma relating to the bowels, or the anus and the idea of going through a medical exam again which will bring up all the trauma feels is something you can’t deal with right now. Whatever the reason and that reason might be the hardest thing you have to talk about in therapy, don’t let it hold you back because unfortunately when it comes to the taboo topics – it might be your health on the line. I know it is mine, and it’s both why am talking about it, and will be actively advocating for myself once again to get a colonoscopy, and to be put under a Gastro doctor … that hopefully won’t discharge me this time.
For now, my brain is back, my panic has eased. I am going to do a little bit of work, and then spend the rest of the day doing various crafts (probably resin). I am going to concentrate on my keeping my mental health under control today, and not spiralling into a pit of anxiety that the implant is currently making me do – another post for another time.
If you read this jumble of words, thank you.