The Journey: A Story about Poop

Programming note: I haven’t been on top of posting in the last couple of weeks. I apologise. I will be catching up with that as we go forward. Don’t worry, I ain’t dead yet!

There is something taboo about talking about your bowel movements. Pooping is one of those supremely private acts that, unless you’re a parent with young children, is something you try to do as secretly as possible.

For me, my shyness about my bowel movements meant that I avoided pooping in public restrooms or anywhere other than the 1-2 designated “safe places” for me to poop.

So, to talk about your bowel movements, well… it is like confessing a dark secret, and you never know how people will react. With surprise? Disgust? Morbid curiosity about how others poop? Am I pooping wrong, do I poop in strange ways?

So today, I am going to talk about Poop. If you are squeamish or don’t want to read, feel free to move on. But this will be some rather personal stuff, so be kind, and wipe appropriately.

 

*deep breath, * let’s jump in (metaphorically)

 

So, there is a thing called the “Bristol Stool Scale” which was developed in 1997 to categorise bowel movements. This handy scale, made into a chart (that’s illustrated!) helps you understand what is a good stool, and what is a bad stool. I will be using this to help explain my stools without going into the gory details. It is also interesting that this scale is only 20 years old as if categorising poop wasn’t really thought of until the mid-90’s.

 

Also, it illustrated all the different types of poop. I mean… 7 categories? Really? I never thought of a poop scale being that differentiated, but… apparently, it is.

 

Pre-surgery, my bowel movements were… pun intended… very shitty. My Stool would sit on 6-7 on the Bristol scale for the last few years. This, of course, led to a very miserable experience. Prior to surgery, I couldn’t remember a time when my stool was anywhere near regular for more than a one-off. In many respects, I figured that it was my new normal. I would have a bowel movement once or twice a day, it would be explosive, and then I would move on. This had led to some unhappy bum health as well. Being a gay man, I feel we are more… attuned… to that area of the body, and it never felt right or in “good shape.” However, that is a conversation for another post.

Now, this is likely based a lot on the food I was eating. I ate a lot of take out, I would eat a lot of carbs, I would also eat a lot of processed foods and junk food. Even during my weight loss periods, my stool had been all over the place, with 5-7 on the Bristol scale being my normal and everything else deviating from that.

Then the surgery happened.

To say my Bowel movements changed would be an understatement. I mean, who knew that sewing your stomach together would lead to shitting in a completely different way.

Immediately post surgery, my stool was next to non-existent. Mostly due to my diet, I would go to the bathroom rarely, going 1-2 a week rather than a day. As I moved into Pureed Foods, and later, soft foods. The stool reflected my diet: still, on the 5-6 scale, less 7’s which was always good. When I got into solid foods, for a long while, my stool sat comfortably on the 5 scale, with each week getting more “regular” as it were.

Then, I started exercising, and from there, my food consumption had to go up. With more food, more variation, I figured my bowel would return to its old ways. However, it seemed the change again. With the absence of Fast Food, Junk Food, and high carb counts, my stool then went into mostly Type 4…. And a lot of it… and the frequency changed. I went from 1-2 a day pre Surgery to 2-3 times a week post-surgery, and now, I basically poop whenever I eat too much.

So… that seems to be good… I think?

The other thing is that along with the changes on the Bristol scale, other things have changed when it comes to my stool. i.e. color and smell.

So… color. That is one of those things you also never talk about. Of course, your poop is *supposed* to be brown, but that hadn’t been the reality for me for a long time. The Mayo clinic gives a good rundown of what the different poop colors mean.

 

I like to use this site, (and its big image) because not only do they use the poop emoji, in a semi-serious way but the information is the same. My Pre-Surgery poop color would range from very light Brown to green, to yellow. With Brown/Yellow being more of the norm than the exception.  Again, this was my “normal” and having never really thought about my stool color, I never really talked about it with doctors.

Post surgery though, the Yellow and green has gone away (except once but I think that is fine given the information). I get only brown to dark brown poops now when I go to the bathroom. It looks weird to me now.

And lastly, the smell. Now, this is interesting. When searching for more info about “smelly poops” you find a lot of not so definitive answers of what that means. The closest I came was the US National Library of Medicine, which gives some rather high-level answers to the smelly question. In short, the smell of my poop got worse post-surgery. According to the site, that could be due to two main things: diet change (check), and Malabsorption. Since a theme of Bariatric surgery is a period of malabsorption in the body, this makes sense. But daaaaamn, it is not pleasant. After 10 months living the post-surgery life, I have come to expect a smellier poop.

Because Surgery changes everything, this process has been incredibly interesting to me. You are so used to how your body functions, and then you do something like bariatric surgery, and what you knew was out the window.

In stepping back, it is apparent how unhealthy I was being, and my poop was reflecting that. I was eating shit, and therefore my bowel health was shit. Now that I am eating better, I am shitting better (but overall smellier).

Now… onto the next topic… sex.

 

But let’s not mix the two topics.

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