You've seen the commercials about diarrhea. It's not something to be embarrassed about, but we try to make light by calling it something else – the runs, the squirts, the trots, Montezuma's revenge, or the polite word – dysentery. Yet, when it comes down to it, they all mean the same thing to each of us: RUN!!!
The blessing of Parkinson's disease, is we don't have to deal with the trots or the squirts as do others. We get to deal with that other word we don't want to talk about: constipation. You know, that plugged up feeling you get where you have to poop but you can't. And for people with PD, this can be a real stopper. When you're at this place, you want to get some of that miracle stuff they advertise and be one of the “thousands who poop with ease.” Ah yes, those were the days. Now, if only once in a while, you long for the trots.
What to do? There is no miracle pill and you don't want another drug and as user friendly as they want you to believe Metamucil is, if you've got PD, get rid of it. For whatever reason, it hardens once digested in a person with PD and will only make things worse. Miralax is a good substitute, is a clear liquid, is fairly inexpensive, and is recommended by doctors to ready their patients for colonoscopies. And, it is safe.
Your diet plays a crucial part in this war against being plugged up. Stay away from white breads, pasta and rice, if possible and focus on whole grains and don't forget what you're mother told you: eat your fruits (figs and dates are great) and veggies. Lots of them. But – even maybe more important is WATER. Drinking eight or more glasses of water a day is more than enough to stay hydrated but is the minimum you should be drinking to help maintain softer stools.
Constipation also affects medications. It causes the stomache to empty slower, disallowing the pills to enter the intestine where they are absorbed more efficiently. Constipation has also been linked to bowel cancer and really – who wants that? PD is enough.
Other things you can do is walk each day as that has 'un-constipational' effects (did you like that big, made up word?). Also, try rocking when seated on the commode ( a polite way of saying the toilet or the john), and I don't mean like in a rocking chair. Lean to the right and then the left slowly, as that helps to move the muscles associated for making a good poop. I also saw a video of a woman demonstrating how to poop easier (she was just demonstrating, not actually pooping) and she suggested rubbing your lower back to try and help things along.
Whatever you do, don't take constipation lightly. Tell your doctors. Recently I spoke with a woman who knew a woman with PD who was just diagnose with colon cancer and it went undetected for some time, as she and her neurologist thought she was just having constipation issues. Perhaps. But at some point, that changed.
So keep on top of your bowel movement situation. If it changes, tell your doctor. If you're struggling, tell your doctor. If you're in pain, tell your doctor. If you can't poop, tell your doctor and don't be embarrassed. If you can't seem to broach the topic, just print out this article and hand it to him/her and say with pleading eyes, “Help.”
He is there to help things run smoothly for you.
Stop straining. Start smiling.