Sunday, 29 May 2011

Let's talk poo (this is not going to be pretty)

(Beware may contain some language/subject matter you find uncomfortable) 

I’ve been feeling a bit shit recently. It has been MS Awareness Week and I’ve been all too aware of my MS.

‘Sugar and spice and all things nice’ might be what little girls are made of but what they excrete is an entirely different matter. There are some bodily functions people just don’t like to talk about. Yet we all experience them. Some of us in different ways.

I remember when my dad was in hospital he had bowel and bladder issues. He found it difficult to know how to say he needed to use the commode. He would forget nurses had fitted a catheter and certainly couldn’t remember the word for it but at least he knew how to say he needed to pee. Every time, I would have to gently remind him that he could just go. It was harder when he needed to poo. He couldn’t find the words. He would often soil himself. I remember once he was in bed and got very distressed but couldn’t tell me why. Eventually he was saying ‘oh I’m going to be very bad’. Unfortunately it was only then I understood the difficulty. I don’t call it being bad but he did shit in the bed. I can completely empathise with his distress.

In my last post I mentioned that one of my MS nurses had wiped my bum when I was in hospital. I had just been transferred to the Neurology ward. I couldn’t walk. I needed to go to the toilet. It was urgent. The nurse got me into a chair and wheeled me the few yards (it was a great room with just four beds and its own wet room). We got into the bathroom but not to the toilet in time. It was messy.

Almost any list of common MS symptoms will mention these:
Bladder and Bowel including: frequency; urgency; retention; constipation; incontinence. (source:

My MS seems to encompass most of these dubious delights.

I suppose I always knew having a weak bladder is no laughing matter (ha!) but when it’s necessary to have a continence advisory nurse (note to self: not an incontinence nurse) you know you’ve plunged a new level. When you can’t tell if what you need is to pee or poo you are in trouble.

Recently I had to pee into a little plastic jar. Twice on the same day. First thing in the morning this was not pleasant but a necessary part of the study looking at the effects of ‘drink on physical and cognitive performance, balance and perceptions of fatigue and effort in people with multiple sclerosis’. Now that’s a mouthful of a research study.

The second urine sample I had to provide was to be given near the end of the exhausting two and a half hour session I endured. I was fatigued, My brain was well and truly scrambled. In the last (walking) test, I was reduced to tears. I hadn’t been allowed to drink anything. 

The next session will afford me the opportunity to drink whilst doing the range of cognition and physical exercises. I expect my results will be better. It’s pretty well known that we function better when we are well hydrated but this study is to establish the evidence for this.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to provide more pee. Then I was worried that what I needed to do was poo. I hate hate hate these lavatorial dilemmas. Fortunately, I managed to do what was necessary and didn’t do what wasn’t. Unfortunately, I had to go straight from the research study session to a voice job in a different part of town. I still needed to do a ‘job’ of my own.

I am not often a victim of faecal incontinence. I usually know where toilets are. I normally get to one in time.

You’ll be glad to know this was true of that day too. I certainly was. When I got to the toilet it was very much only just in time. It’s amazing how the body’s functions can be prodigious on a simple breakfast of a banana.

Sorry if you did find this uncomfortable reading (I warned you) and, unlike my last post, not warm and fluffy even if poo sometimes is! 
Excuse me now I've just got to nip to the toilet.


  1. No need to apologize. MS is hardly a warm and fluffy disease. Mostly it's the opposite.
    Peace Be With You blog

    PS I could only sign on as anonymous.

  2. Yes MS can be quite unpleasant at times. Sometimes I just have to roll up my sleeves and go in and get it. If you know what I mean! (Smile)

  3. The nasties of MS. I experience both bladder and bowel incontinence. MS is often said to be an invisable disease...not when this happens!


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