alt=two versions of the same woman face each other with a toilet between them. The woman are in a standoff, looking distressed.

The IBS-C Standoff: The Ongoing Battle with Constipation

It is day 3 of my current standoff with IBS-C. For those of you who do not have IBS-C or IBS-M, that means it has been three days since I was able to go to the bathroom. I am negotiating a hostage situation at this point.

While 3 days may seem like a very long time to anyone who does not have these ailments, it is actually fairly common for many of us who do. The first 2 days are filled with dread, knowing how this will likely end. By day 3, you know there will be no good outcome.

The consequences of chronic constipation

You see, constipation ends in one of 2 ways. It can end naturally, and that generally results in a good bit of pain all on its own. Larger stools and straining can cause hemorrhoids and, occasionally, fissures. It is unlikely to end without pain.

Sometimes intervention is required. Most of the time this means taking some type of medication to relieve constipation. This does not always work. In some cases, it might require more than medication. IBS-C can result in a bowel obstruction or impaction, and odds are a typical laxative will not resolve the issue.

Playing the waiting game

Of course, waiting for constipation to resolve is a real pain. I mean that quite literally. Intense cramping is expected. There is often a feeling of intense pressure that adds to the misery. Throw bloating and gas into the mix and you have yourself a well-rounded bout of constipation. Welcome to the party.

We still must eat, but eating adds to the misery. When parts of your digestive system already feel full, adding to its contents results in more pain. At some point, nausea will arrive. This makes it more difficult to eat. The party never stops.

Why I wait to intervene

Some of you are wondering why someone would wait until day three before taking something to relieve the problem. Some of you will be baffled at the fact that I still will not be taking anything to relieve the problem. Laxatives and stool softeners tend to cause me more pain and misery, and it is only a temporary solution. Sometimes the problem only becomes worse after I take something.

After many years of dealing with the back and forth of IBS-C and IBS-D, I have grown used to gauging how bad the situation is. I know when intervention is required. Day three is not it. Yes, it is extremely uncomfortable, but it is not at a point where action must be taken. I will give it another day before I act. Taking a laxative is a last resort. It will add to the pain, and the relief is only temporary. Constipation following it may be even worse.

IBS-M: To treat or not to treat?

Anyone who does not have IBS-M might wonder why I don’t simply take something on a daily basis to regulate the issue. Well, that causes more problems for me. I have bouts of both diarrhea and constipation. That means treatment of one will eventually lead to the other, and it will most assuredly be worse. It is impossible to regulate.

For someone who has IBS-M, life is a series of swings from one extreme to the other. There is no rhyme or reason to it. The only choice any of us has is to ride it out and hope for the best. That is true for all types of IBS. We are all suffering. We are all just trying to make it through each day without a major disaster.

As I drag myself through day 3, I hope you are not sharing my plight. I hope you are symptom-free. If you are in this same boat up a certain creek, you have my deepest sympathy. May we all find relief from whatever form of IBS we have.

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