Friday, February 4, 2011

The Power of Poop

Attention readers, if you intend to read this post, be advised it's long, graphic and deals with poop. Seriously. Don't say I didn't warn you...

I have an abnormal colon. It's redundant. What does this mean? My transverse and sigmoid colon are too long. See, I'm such an overachiever that my colon decided to be longer than normal! Too bad this isn't a good thing.

See, this is a normal colon. Mine doesn't look like this.

Last fall I went through some testing at the Cleveland Clinic to find out exactly what was wrong with me. I had always assumed I had an undiagnosed food allergy, or IBS maybe, something along those lines. Why did I assume this? Well, because I was always constipated. (Again, don't say I didn't warn you.) My whole life I've had issues going poop. The idea of being regular was something I never understood. I pooped maybe twice a week, if I was lucky. It was always painful, even as a child. I used to have to hold my mom's hand while I was on the toilet because of the pain. As I got older I just figured it was the way my body worked, simple as that. I never really considered that this problem was affecting my quality of life.

I had gone to doctors in the past, I was always just told "more fiber," or "more water," or "just use milk of magnesia when you're constipated." WTF? I've damn near bought out the prune supply at my local grocer, I've tried powdered acacia root, I've gone through the agony that is stimulate laxatives. Most items would work for about a week, then same old, same old.

I never considered really figuring out what was wrong until I starting running. I like to run, I like the sense of accomplishment. I have never hated my colon more than I have as a runner. A scheduled run is fine, so long as my colon is clear. Imagine being so backed up that it hurts to sit in certain positions, or so constipated that you have pain in your lower back from the pressure of your full colon pressing against your kidneys? I don't have to image this: I live it. All of a sudden, as runner, my life is being seriously affected by my colon. For example, last night I was all pumped to do some hill work. By the time I got home from work I was close to doubled over in pain. It's really hard to run with a severely backed up colon.

Now that I know what's actually wrong with me, I'm trying to make things better. For one, I was prescribed medication to help with my issues. Unfortunately, it's not really working. It helps a bit, but it always makes me feel nauseous and gives me headaches. I'm finding the side effects aren't exactly worth the nominal results. I've visited some on-line forums for people with the same issues, and it looks like a seriously restrictive diet (no red meat, no dairy, minimal gluten and easy on starchy foods) is the best recipe for my colon. That prospect is depressing as hell, but it might have to be my last resort. Certain herbal supplements work for me, but they have a very high rate of addiction - I don't want to go there. Some people swear by aloe vera latex, others take a daily spoonful of virgin coconut oil - these are options I am willing to explore.

So, why am I telling you this? For two reasons: First off, to get the word out about redundant colons. I wish I would have known sooner what was wrong with me. I felt a million times better when I realized I wasn't the only person out there dealing with this. And second, to ask for help. Have any of you dealt with an issue like this? I know it's a long shot, but it's still worth asking.

Ultimately, I want to get better. There is one other medication I can try, surgery is an option ( a colectomy) but I really don't want to go there. The thing is, when I wake up the morning of the Cleveland Half-Marathon, I don't want to have to worry about my colon getting in the way of my success.

So, dear readers, I thank you for staying with me through this post. Most people don't like to talk about poop, but just remember...


  1. What a crappy condition (nice pun, huh?). Seriously though, that really stinks. I would think running might make matters a bit easier, ie: loosening things up? Hoping you find some answers you can live with.

  2. I've never heard/read more poop talk then I have on running blogs. See, you're in good company.

    I hope whatever non-surgical and non-painful treatment you try next does the trick. Best of luck!

  3. runners LURVE talking about poop, pooping, lack of're in good if we got just figure out a way to get you "regular"...

  4. I'm complete opposite. I usually go 2-3 times a day. I thought that was normal until college, when my roommate told me it wasn't, and then I asked my dad.

    I hope you find some comfort and treatment.

  5. Ugh... that is no bueno girl! I hope you're able to work this all out without having to give up all the good things! :(

  6. I hate having medical issues that NO ONE can explain. Now that you know what's going on, I hope you can find a solution that works. Unfortunately my GI issues aren't of the "can't go" nature, they're of the "go too much" or "GO NOW OR ELSE!" variety.

    I know it sounds obvious, and for all I know you've tried it already, but have you tried an over-the-counter stool softener?

  7. I don't know if you will ever see this, because this post is from February and it is November. But I just found your blog, read this post and wanted to respond on the chance you might read it.

    I had the same problem . . . sometimes I wouldn't go for a week. It caused all sorts of painful problems. I tried various medications but finally a gastroenterologist put my on Miralax EVERY DAY. He actually told me to take as much Miralax as I could tolerate. I know this sounds strange but it has changed my life.

    I get up in the morning, I go to the bathroom, that's it until the next day. Like a normal person. Miralax is a stool softener, not a stimulant laxative so it is not addictive. Other stool softeners never worked for me the way this does, and you can adjust the dose however you need. I take twice the regular dose every day . . . that gives you an idea of the severity of the problem I had (and I drank tons of water, ate ridiculous amounts of high fiber foods, and exercised daily).

    I'm a competitive athlete (triathlon) so I now exactly what you mean about it interfering with your workouts. Give the Miralax a try. It's not cheap but it is so worth it and there is a less expensive generic available.

    Hope this helps.

  8. I'm not sure if this page is still open, its 3 years after the last post, I hope this reaches you. I too have had *digestive issues* since the day I was born. Ive also been in pain management on narcotics of one sort or another my whole adult life. Needless to say, by 25 my whole tract came to a grinding halt!!! Then last year I had several bouts of chronic pancreatitis due to a gallbladder filled to the brim with stones. Seriously, there's so many you could pave a small driveway lmao! I was given some meds for a while to normalize parastalsis, keep all digestion running at a steady regulated pace. Its called reglan. It also helps with nausia caused by other meds, so that's a plus. The downside is that for some reason it makes you sleepy until you get used to it. For me, the reglan and an evening snack of about 6 prunes kept me right as rain. It sounds funny but, my mum SWEARS by an evening snack of TRISCUTS!!!! They honestly work for her!! Digestive problems are no laughing matter when it becomes a hindrance to your life. I have lots of other tips/tricks/methods if you're interested. My email is . good luck to you and happy new year!!!