The Shitty Truth of IBS

Published July 20, 2015 by Harri

I will warn you now, this post will hold no punches. You will get the nasty facts as I know them to be in all their glorious nastiness. If you don’t want to read about frothy shit or sharting, I would suggest you don’t read any further!

I have had bowel troubles for a few years now. My first recollection of having bowel issues and actually connecting them with food, was when I was 18. For a few months, every time I ate chocolate, I would have really bad cramps and would end up racing to the toilet before I ended filling my socks with liquishit. I just assumed I was allergic to chocolate. I was given for Easter that year, some diabetic chocolate. I ate the chocolate before going to work for a 12 hour shift. I wasn’t in work for 20 minutes before I was racing to the toilet to proceed shitting through the eye of a needle. It was horrible. My guts were cramping, sweat was dripping from my forehead and I thought my guts were going to explode. (They did and pebbledashed the toilet a few times). I was sent home and for a few months, I avoided all chocolate. The problem was that soon, it wasn’t just chocolate that was causing a problem. It became other foods, that would leave me doubled over with agonising cramps, sweat dripping from everywhere and left my arse on fire.

After a while, I started getting really bad trapped wind. Horrendous pain, that would leave me rolling on the floor desperate to find some sort of relief for this pain that I truly believed to be trapped wind. I carried on for the next 3 years, telling myself that I was allergic to chocolate and that I just had bad trapped wind. Well, after one particular attack of bad trapped wind, where I spent nearly a month of being unable to eat anything, because it would trigger this horrible pain and then I would be on the toilet for half an hour. Even toast would make me ill. I was drinking Slim fast shakes in an attempt to keep me going. In the end, I had to go to the GP, he took one look at me and said “You have gallstones. We will have to have some tests done to confirm it, but yes,  I believe you have gallstones.”

I had an answer. He sent me to casualty, because the pain was horrific (I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy!) and I had lost over a stone in weight in 3 weeks. Eventually, after some IV paracetamol (that stuff is amazing), some incredible sleeping times and a battery of tests (which included giving someone who was on a CLEAR LIQUID DIET [which wasn’t vodka, just water and clear soup] orange {EDIT:It was actually Pineapple!} juice for a CT scan, which promptly sent my guts into a spasm and left me on a toilet for hours and then put on an isolation ward, just in case!), they confirmed gallstones and diminished liver functions. (I had gallstones blocking the bile duct, which was slowly killing my liver). The Doctor doing rounds actually asked me, “Do you feel yellow?” I still don’t understand how you can feel a colour, but I wasn’t feeling well.

I was released after a week in hospital and sent home with painkillers and told to eat a low fat diet (which is supposed to be beneficial to those with gallstones and gallbladder problems). It didn’t help me.  I was severely restricting my food (out of terror of the pain coming back). I was scheduled to have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal through keyhole surgery) and a week before I was due to go in for an outpatient appointment, I had a really severe attack of pain. I was admitted and told I would be staying until they could take my gallbladder out.

They took my gallbladder out (I forgot to ask them to keep the stones for me, because I was crying as they put me out. It was my first ever operation) and the pain was just as bad. After finally getting normal Liver results, they sent me home. Recovery was painful, as you can imagine. I was told that a low fat diet wasn’t necessary now the gallbladder was out and that I could eat normally. I did. I thought it would be something my body had to get used to. Having fat back in my system. Nope.

Every time I ate anything with fat in (good or bad fats), I would have to do the meter dash. Running to the toilet with my arse clenched in a desperate attempt to try and not shit myself. Which is extremely hard when you hurt too much to move anywhere remotely quicker than a snail’s pace.

It was a few years later that I actually did some reading (on Google, I know!) about gastrointestinal issues. IBS rang so many bells that it had to be that. Trying to convince the Doctors that I had an issue was an other matter. I mentioned that I may be Fat Intolerant. They laughed it off. “Oh really, and what makes you think that then?”

Erm, the frothy, luminous yellow liquishit that sprays from my arse within an hour of eating anything with fat in it. Go fucking figure!

In the end I had to do a stool sample (oh the dignity!), some how, that confirmed IBS.  It’s not just fat that gives me the shits though. High fibre (Bran Flakes and food like that) foods. High sugar foods. All the good stuff really. ON the opposite side of the scale. If I eat too much fruit and veg (Slimming World amount of fruit and veg), I end up constipated. Not being able to crap for a week is horrible. It hurts so much, my stomach distended so much I thought I was pregnant again. The Doc prescribed me laxatives and I didn’t shit right (for me) for a month after.

So, now I have caught you up to date. The history of my bowels and their issues. Now, what is it really like having IBS?

Well, it’s different for everyone, obviously. Not everyone has the same symptoms at the same time. So anything I describe here is what happens to me, unless stated.

So, depending on what I have eaten, you can guarantee there will be farting. How loud or pungent they are depends on the food I have eaten and how my guts have reacted. There does however come a stage where I can’t trust the farts any more. You start to fart and it immediately turns into something that means you clench those cheeks and that hole as tight as you can, as quick as you can, to stop you from sharting (that’s where you go to fart and shit yourself)! With a hand pressed to the tightened arsehole, you waddle like a penguin to the nearest toilet. This isn’t so embarrassing if you at home. If you are outside and in public, the hand can’t go anywhere near your arsehole. If you are outside and surrounded by people who are judging you. You walk, as best you can with your cheeks and every other muscle in that area as tight you as can possibly make it. It’s hard work. All the time you are waddling (or trying not to waddle), the stomach cramps usually kick in. Painfully so. Like you are being stabbed in the gut with a red hot poker. Sweat is starting to bead on your forehead, neck and chest. On a side note, did you know that you can sweat into the crack of your arse?

You are now starting to believe, you won’t make it to the toilet, your guts are twitching and cramping, the sweat is starting to roll down your face into your eyes. The hair on your top lip is now saturated in damp salty water, that your body seems to be freely squeezing through your pores considering what’s waiting to be explosively expelled from your arse. I mean, it’s not like fluid is an important commodity. Right?

As you near the toilet, your arse is starting to dangerously twitch in ways that terrify you. You don’t want to leak. You don’t have a change of clothes, you have nothing to clean yourself up with. It would be a nightmare. You start pleading with your hole, to hold on. To hang on in there. It’s only fair that it pulls it’s weight. It can’t let you down. It can’t back out of the team now and let us all down. NO. HANG ON IN THERE ARSEHOLE!

You end up inadvertently slamming the toilet door open in desperation. You don’t know how long the poor muscle can hold on. It’s at this moment you realise you have button up jeans (granted, I haven’t worn these for many years, but to be honest, anything that needs to be pulled down is a hindrance!). Your hands start shaking, the sweat is now covering your fingers and palms and they can’t grasp the buttons properly. That’s it, you are going to shit yourself.  Just as you resign yourself to this fact, freedom occurs. The trousers and underwear are being hastily dropped to the ankles and you are assuming the position. Buttocks hovering over the bowl, your poor arsehole quits and the torrent of foul smelling liquid freely flows from the depths of your bowls like there is a flash flood in your guts. There is no point in trying to stall it, or even quieten the effects of the putrid water hitting the pan. You have to sit down and accept your fate, for you don’t know how long you are likely to be in this position. If you are at home and haven’t got anywhere to be, this is fine. You can sit on the porcelain throne cramping and spewing the noxious liquid to your hearts, or bowels, content. Take your phone in there, if you can focus on the screen, play some scrabble or do a crossword.

If, however you are out, you can’t. Or feel you can’t. You may have people waiting for you, you may be in a cafe or restaurant. Public toilets, need I say more. If you aren’t in the sanctity of your home, you will feel self-conscious.  The little sniggers from the stall next to you as you try to stop the hell that is pouring freely from your hole. The “Jesus, what were you doing in there? We were about to send a search and rescue team in for you!” comments from either outside the closed door to the only toilet on the premises or the people waiting at your table for you. Or the look of unquestionable abject horror on the face of the unfortunate person who enters the toilet just as you are leaving. These are all factors you will have to come up against.

IBS isn’t the type of crap that you can subtly cough over whilst you are in public. Literally, that shit won’t wash. You will get called out on it, but complete strangers who will want to know every detail of your bowel movements and then, why you are shitting like you have just eaten 16 scotch bonnet chillies.

People don’t care that your guts are twisting and burning their way to another dimension in their haste to completely expel everything that may be in your bowel. It’s funny to them.

The horror of realising there is no loo roll is unquestionable. Do you dare ask the person next to you to pass you some? Do you take off your underwear and use them to clean yourself up, dumping them in the bin on the way past? If you are at home, you can either do the semi naked waddle to where the loo roll is kept, or shout for your spawn to bring one to you. If you are out, it’s a pot luck of whether someone will help you.

I have learnt to carry my own tissues, just in case. Which brings me onto my next talking point.

When you have gotten over the fact that sweat is dripping down your crack, or the fact that your arse has explosively expelled the entire days worth of nutrients from the depths of hell, you have to wipe your arsehole clean. Now, you can’t just use any type of bog roll, oh no. This is another kind of hell, many with IBS face. When you have to wipe your arse anywhere up to 10 times to make sure it is clean, double check that the blood isn’t from inside your bowel but because you have wiped too many times and the sensitive skin around your bumhole has decided to attach itself too the tissue, and then wet it under a tap (if you have one close to hand) to make sure you are completely clean, it has to be a sturdy loo roll. One that is gentle and soft, not so harsh that it’s like raking sandpaper across the puckered and highly abused star between your cheeks. It has to be able to stay together whilst wet, we can’t have it falling apart as you wipe the last of the toxic nastiness from your flesh, but it still has to be able to flush. We can’t be blocking the toilet. Not when you need it so often! A good durable toilet roll is important. I find one with Aloe vera in to be very handy. It also smells nice, which is an added bonus. There is also the pins and needles you get in your feet, the dents and red marks you get in your arse cheeks and thighs from sitting on the toilet for so long. Seriously, have you ever tried shaking off two dead legs because you were on the toilet for that long that you have lost all feeling! Trying shaking the life back into them, whilst pulling your underwear and trousers up and trying not to fall on your face into the bathroom sink? It’s hard work!

So, what am I trying to get people to understand here?

Having intestinal issues is embarrassing as hell. We don’t need them pointed out to us, as we are the ones who have to clear up the mess, whilst people stand over us and laugh. The pain that goes along with bowel problems can be immobilising. Intestinal tract issues can leave a person without any confidence at all, and so fearful of leaving their home that they don’t. So if you know someone who suffers with these issues, don’t mock them. Not even as a joke. It’s a shitty joke (yes, the pun was intended). If they want to laugh and joke about it, cool, but don’t join in. Let them decide what is funny about their condition.

If you don’t know anyone, you just happen to be in a toilet and overhear someone in pain or shitting the Nile into a porcelain pan, don’t comment on it. Ask them if they need help. Ask them if there is anything you can do. Don’t be a shit about it. (Again, pun intended!)

EDIT: I have just been made aware that people with Bowel or incontinence issues (in the UK) can use a RADAR Key and a Can’t Wait Card. More information on Living with Incontinence and some more here at the Bladder and Bowel Foundation.




5 comments on “The Shitty Truth of IBS

  • ❤ I shall endeavour to always keep about my handbag, some soft wipes and tissues, in case you are 'oot an aboot' with me 😀 Love ya lots DD1 😀

  • I know exactly how you feel! I am lactose intolerant but it was years before that was discovered. Including me eating chicken korma regularly and wondering why it affected me. The worst time was when I changed my diet to Slimming World and had to eat 2x dairy portions a day, one of which was a Mullerlight yoghurt day, which seemed to kick everything off. Before I was diagnosed, I once had diarrhoea every day for 6 weeks, and when I went to my GP, he told me it was my fault because I was fat! When it comes to public bathrooms, I am a pro now at pooing quietly with diarrhoea!

    Thank you for posting this, even though I have my own digestional issues, you have reminded me to be mindful of others in bathrooms. I will start carrying tissues around with me, just in case anyone else needs them. I hope that you’re having a toilet-run free day 🙂

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