One angry gastronintestinal tract

As I showered this morning, a thought occurred to me:  I’ve really gotta get my shit together. Figuratively and literally.

About ten days ago I maxed out on Immodium over the course of an hour or so. Twice, in the days that followed, I swallowed a single Zofran for nausea. Five days after the initial incident, I realized I had not moved my bowels since then, which I quickly attributed to the constipating effect of the Zofran.

Lots of prune juice, a hot bath and much pacing did little to alleviate my discomfort. Constipation alternated with diarrhea, each in insufficient amounts to calm the burning in my gut. I was miserable. I’m still miserable.

Generally I prefer to dwell on the emotional side of cancer, weighted heavily toward the opportunities for personal growth it can provide. Now that my bowels are the center of my being, I see no opportunities here other than evacuation (that, and bad excremental jokes).

Yesterday I had my standard issue CT scans of chest and abdomen. I have expressed in previous posts my distaste, make that loathing, for oral contrast (liquid barium feebly dressed up as a milkshake). Prior to my appointment, I actually contacted my oncologist to say I felt I should not forego the barium this time, in case there was some structural explanation for my ‘situation’. Not one, but two attendants in radiology questioned the amended order, as they were well acquainted with my long standing rejection of oral contrast. “Are you certain?” they asked. And yes I was, determined to get to the bottom of this (there I go again–I acknowledge it is in poor taste, but far too easy…).

As I lay in bed last night, the heating pad across my lap barely muffled the strains of borborygmi. I finally fell asleep only to awaken to an odd and distantly familiar sensation; I hastened to the bathroom not quite in the nick of time.

I can joke about it (there is very little I regard as sacrosanct), but in truth, it was a new personal low, brightened only by the fact that there is a bidet in our bathroom.

Occasional nausea and some cramping have been regular side effects of my current treatment regimen. Once a week I may vomit and/or have diarrhea. But it has never gone on for days at a time, and constipation has not been part of the mix. It could be that by taking Zofran, (anti-nausea medication that I was recently prescribed) a mere two days after four tabs of the anti-diarrheal medication Immodium, I got myself all out of whack. And the barium undoubtedly provided greater provocation for my already irritated gut.

It has certainly been a crappy (last one, almost) week. And I’ve made up my mind once and for all that oral contrast does not agree with me:  I plead incontinence.

17 responses to “One angry gastronintestinal tract

  1. I’m sorry you are having such a crappy week! Hope to see you in Boston tomorrow night?

    • Julia, the ink was barely dry and your comment popped up! I hope, hope, hope I am up to coming. It is my intention! I tried to email Diane just to say hey and let her know I would try to be there, but it bounced back. So if I don’t make it, please give her my regards. Hope to see you though!


  2. Sharon Burrell

    oh my gosh this just sounds like an awful time of it. Don’t know if you can take it, but magnesium capsules (magnesium oxide Twin Lab 400 mg) can really help sometimes with constipation. Doesn’t usually cause cramping or problems unless you take too much. One with water at night to start. I really hope you feel better very soon and get some relief for the nausea. Maybe with warm weather around the corner and a chance to get more fresh, warm air things will get better.

    • That is a great tip about the magnesium and I shall inquire. Sitting in the warm sun would definitely do a body good.


  3. ugh, crappy indeed. So sorry you are dealing with this. Shit happens ~ and while not making it to the bathroom sucks, I have to think there is not a person it has not happened to. Hope your stomach settles NOW. love you

    • Tis. I have already begun to hear some tales related of similar situations. Only being human isn’t so bad, I guess.

      Love, Linnea

  4. even when you are literally full of shit you can still bring a smile to my face. Full of it or not you will always be one of the most inspiring and valued people in my life. And that’s no Bullshit!

  5. Linnea- so glad you got it all out. Sigh, you bested me on all the crap jokes before I could begin. Assuredly, Chris and I had been there, done that. Will spare you the details. Is there a t-shirt for successful peristalsis? If not, there should be. From the tone of your latest reporting, I pronounce you well! Keep us posted. Thinking of you always.
    Lots of love,

    • Joan, those crap jokes just kept coming (Ha!)…or not 🙂 I am better; back to just the garden variety weekly GI disturbances. Entirely manageable. And yes, I justified the tmi in regard to my bowels (my 14 year old was rather horrified…you’re writing about that?) as being a matter of great interest and sometimes far too much import to all who tangle with anti-cancer agents.

      love, Linnea

  6. Your post was hilarious but I can only imagine your miserableness. (is that a word?) So sorry. Praying you’re feeling better, especially on this day of remembering back 7 years ago…and counting…and counting! Still counting! That’s what counts! 🙂 Kudos!

    • Carol Ann, if it’s not, it should be 🙂 (and it was!) Sometimes you have to ignore the numbers (those depressing stats) and sometimes you celebrate, and yes, keep counting.


  7. Linnea, what is it about lung cancer that gives us carte blanche to discuss our bowel movements with the general public? I’m not sure, but I’m delighted you did. Not only does it make me feel that I’m not alone in my 4-day dry spells, but it also comforts me that we’re not above potty humor. I enjoyed the post, and I certainly hope things keep moving along for you.

    • Jessica, if it’s relevant, I’m going to write it. There is indeed comfort in knowing that even our most banal humiliations are understood. And yes (it’s just too easy, isn’t it?) things are moving along. Hope they do for you too (I will take diarrhea over constipation any ol day).


  8. Oh my. As my grandma used to say, “Bless your heart honey.” And as I still say, “You crack me up.” And as we all have to acknowledge, “Life isn’t fair.”

    Love you.

    • Sally, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard those particular words of comfort. Reminds me of mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and homemade pies. Ah…the good old days and the people who lived in them. And you know you crack me up.

      Love, Linnea

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