Post-surgery many people have problems with bowel control.
We take for granted our ability to control bowel motions, but forget that we went through our early years being ‘potty trained’.
Potty training was a real thing. We learned to make ourselves go on command and also to hold back inbetween. This wasn’t just learning to control the anal sphincters and further back in the gut, but recognising the signals from the rectum.
Unconsciously we were also training the colon. Telling it when to start up peristalsis in the lower colon, which in turn fires up along the whole of the colon, and also to stop it.
Surgery takes away a section of colon – the chain of command is broken. The body has to retune itself so that peristalsis is normalised.
This is important to the nature of the stools. An important role of the lower colon is removing water from the stools to firm them up.
- If the faecal material does not spend enough time in the colon, not enough water is removed – result – diaorrhea.
- If peristalsis stops, too much water is removed – hard stools and constipation.
Some learnings from the group
- 1) Drink plenty of water.
- 2) Go to the loo regularly and sit there until something happens.
- 3) Eat fibre to provide bulk
- 4) Take time to be aware of the bowel signals, not just the anal sphincters
- 5) Adopt a regular eating pattern
- 6) Acknowledge to yourself that you need to take potty training seriously.
- 7) Senna and Imodium are lifesavers at times.
- 8) A coffee after breakfast is good stimulant for potty training.
- 9) Alcohol, is on the whole not very helpful
- 10) The Changi Rice Water trick really does work.
- 11) Don’t eat after 6pm (it works for some people)
The randomness and lack of controls after surgery is something that can be managed, but it does take time.
Your body was tuned to the long colon, and now you have to retrain it.
Remember, it probably took 3 years to become potty trained the first time round – now that you are all growed-up, you can probably do it more quickly