What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I know I keep name-dropping that surgery I had a couple weeks ago. Until I can have sex again, or ride my bike without getting scolded by my gyno (two more weeks, YES!), it’s just very much on the forefront of my mind.
Also the scabby wound across my bellybutton from laparoscopic* itches, which isn’t helping.
The ironic part about having an operation to remove a huge-ass cyst at that moment in my life, though -- if you’re using Alanis Morissette’s loose definition of the word ironic -- is that a few weeks prior, I had finished a 30-day inpatient program, or REHAB, where I'd say about, mmm, 85 percent of the women I was with were there for opiates, be that prescription pills or heroin.
Call me a naïve douche, but I clutched my non-existent pearls (we could have jewelry, but I have no pearls) when I discovered heroin was a THING among non-scummy dudes bumming around on the streets, or nodding off on the subway.
One of the girls I adored the most, in fact, whose birthday is a few days apart from mine, watched music videos with me at 5 a.m. when we couldn’t sleep, and made me laugh so violently I cried on numerous occasions, was in for her fifth attempt to kick dope.
(Since our flight out together, she’s disappeared, and I hate her for it.)
Talking to a lot of the women was enlightening, fun facts-wise: I learned that you can shoot heroin with Gatorade or Coca Cola, for example, and also that a lot of people start using H after getting hooked on pain meds like Oxycontin after surgery. Heroin is cheaper, stronger, and more accessible than prescription meds.
So when I’m about to be rolled into the operating room, and my doctor’s telling me she’s giving me Percocet for post-surgery pain -- and that it's VERY ADDICTIVE -- my head’s going, “Oh god, please don’t,” while my mouth’s saying, “OK, yeah, I got this.”
There were a couple seconds when I considered attempting to get through the pain without strong meds. Then I remembered I’m a precious princess child, and highly sensitive to everything, and not hardcore at all.
I went through a bottle of Vicodin, a bottle of Oxycodone, and many episodes of the "Real Housewives of Orange County" and "Kourtney & Kim Take Miami" (I feel like I understand these shows now) over the course of five days.
Also: I didn’t poop.
After the third day, my lack of #2 started stressing me out to the point where I became jealous of my boyfriend’s long trips to the loo. I did some Googling, and read that the anesthesia from surgery temporarily paralyzes your digestive system, and also that OPIATES paralyze your stomach and decrease motion in your intestines that helps pass along food.
In short, these drugs make you super constipated.
My gurgling-shit-filled-gut reaction was, “DUH! I knew this!” Out of the many stories I heard during those very long 30 days in Palm Springs, one of the most disgustingly vivid had to be a heroin addict who was so constipated, she had to pull a poop out from her colon. And one said her friend used a butter knife to wedge hers out. Neat, right?
As much as I loved taking a couple Percs and lying around like an old Labrador all day, I knew I should seek no more pills, avoid taking laxatives, and try to poop again, naturally.
Even if you’re not taking opiates, here are some ways -- all tried and tested by your dear author, who didn’t need a butter knife come toilet time -- to poop when you're feeling backed up:
Like all you addicts need an excuse for this one. Coffee stimulates muscle contractions in your large intestine. But we have to get the food down there, first.
GO GROCERY SHOPPING
It's not like you can jump up and down until the poop comes out. (I tried. Really.) You have to get the right food into your digestive tract to get everything moving along.
Now, here’s what to get:
- Whole grains: Whole wheat oatmeals, cereals, and bread
- Flax seeds
- Fruits: Pears, pineapples, papayas, and grapes
- Dried prunes (they actually had a jar of these in my women's house and now I see why)
- Vegetables: Carrots, dark leafy greens, lima beans, and/or soy beans
What my days looked like after opiates, eating-wise: A bowl of sliced pineapple and pears, whole grain oatmeal with flaxseed an hour later, kale cooked in coconut oil with carrots for lunch, a bowl of high-fiber cereal and lots of grapes for dinner, and strawberry juice mixed with flax seeds throughout the day.
I know it's not much -- when you’re stomach’s starting to get filled with fecal matter, you’re not really hungry, anyway.
TAKE NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS
Mine have made appearances in other posts: I have both cold-pressed flax seed oil and papaya and pineapple enzymes, to be taken with every meal, and probiotics.
Raid your natural food store supplement selection for ones you’ll feel most comfortable with. Avoid any dieuretics -- they'll flush out your body's potassium and make you dehydrated. That brings us to...
DRINK WATER! WATER! AND MORE WATER!
You may feel like you’re about to vomit or explode outwards (as in, not out of your butt). Drinking loads of water flushes out your system and prevents dehydration, an extremely dangerous side effect of constipation.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN EAT, NOT WHAT YOU CAN’T
I know this point’s annoying. I also don’t want to tell you to not eat cheese, though. Meat, sweets, and most dairy products aren’t going to help you out, either. Personally, I noticed when I filled up with stuff that helped, I didn’t even have room for the other crap. (Heh, crap.)
What route do you take when you want to take a poop? Do you chew on ginger root? Do you think I’m crazy and just take a laxative? Have you ever abused laxatives? What’s the longest you’ve gone without taking pooping? Tell me!
I talk about lots of other shit on Twitter: @caitlinthornton
* For those who said that the operating team probably didn’t shove a camera down my throat, but into the tiny incisions in my belly, you’re smarter than me: I had a follow-up appointment yesterday and asked my doctor. Also, she yelled at me for riding my bike. HMPH.