Going through life with a chronic illness is lonely, painful and at times soul destroying, but the hardest aspect to try and overcome is the depression that lingers. For many years growing up there were times when I wanted to give up on everything, to me, this ‘thing’ that I had with my digestion was holding me back; for me I’ve always been a highly ambitious person who has always known what she wanted and knew that if I had a life to enjoy (different from the one I was living) I would appreciate every moment.
However time evolved and I made peace with the body I had, and for years, managed it the best I could, and yes it was hard and yes it was lonely.
In my many articles where I talk about my past living with chronic constipation, I also go into taking medical matter into my own hands to try and find out why I worked so differently from others and why the doctors were so baffled by my case but offered no diagnosis just treatment for the symptom that was constipation. I decided to become qualified as a nutritionist specialising in digestion.
Here I want to take you through the steps I took to reach the life I have now, a life free of constipation, depression and loneliness.
A Journey To Diagnosis
I could say a good place to start is with diet but good chances are you’ve already tried that… right? Your first step is to have tests performed to find the root of the problem. The key to being successful in your journey is to find a doctor with compassion and sincerity to help you live a happier life. Any doctor that doesn’t take you seriously or thinks your just hyping everything up is not worth it. It may take a while to find a gastroenterologist worthy of your time and remember you have to be comfortable talking to him and he has to be open to listening.
There are various tests he may want to carry out such as these 4 most important:
A Colonoscopy, helps determine any obstructions, polyps or tumours within the large intestine. Some people are either kept awake or put under general anaesthetic. They will video your colon and search for any abnormalities.
Anorectal Manomertry, is where they will test the strength of your internal anal sphincter. It sounds worse than it is but they will just insert a small balloon to the rectum and inflate it until you feel the need to defecate.
A Hydrogen Breath test, this will show if you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). This will usually last 2 hours, where you have to blow into a bag and then your breath will be test for hydrogen or methane gas levels.
Blood test, is always carried out to monitor various aspects of the body. One will be to test the balance of hormones within the body as they play a big part in the functionality of the body’s multiple systems including the gut (in my case my constipation is due to lack of serotonin production).
There may be more tests your doctor will want to perform.
After the doctor has ruled out any serious illness, you can both work together to try and treat the cause for your constipation (remember it’s a team effort). It’s could be as simple as diet and lifestyle changes, which means your very lucky and a little determination will take you a long way. I know now, for me, if I don’t keep up with my daily 2 litres a day, I can become a little constipated the next.
If you have been prescribed medication for a more permanent underlying illness, take each day as it comes. If there is anything I’ve learnt from my experience, it is that my body has it’s own agenda and not matter how stressed or wilful I get about wanting to speed up my recovery time, it will only make it worse. Make sure you have support around you and talk through the hard times with friends and family. For me I had never had a natural bowel moment in my life and had to ask quite detailed personal questions to my husband in order to find out if it was normal, and he was able to give me the support I needed.
Always remember constipation is a symptom of a larger problem, sort out that problem and you have sorted out your constipation. I want this advice to be for anyone who is suffering and is only treating the symptom not a cause. Good luck in your journey to finding freedom from your symptoms.
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