A woman looking sad and nauseous sits on a park bench in the background. In the foreground, people are walking, talking and running along a path.

IBS-C Complicated by Mobility Issues

One of the first things we are told to do when we report constipation is to increase the amount of exercise we do each day and walk more. For someone with mobility issues, that is not possible.

I did not realize how much walking helps relieve constipation until I developed mobility issues. To be frank, with all the other changes going on it was one of the last things I noticed. Unfortunately, when I finally noticed it the issue was a very big problem.

IBS-C vs. IBS-D with limited mobility

One of the biggest reasons why it took so long for me to notice is because I have bouts of both IBS-D and IBS-C. When I initially developed a mobility issue, I was smack dab in the middle on an episode of IBS-D. This, of course, created its own set of problems. Attempting to run to the bathroom when you cannot run can lead to embarrassing accidents and absolute misery with pain and fear of an accident. I quickly assumed this would be my biggest problem with IBS and a mobility issue. I was wrong.

Eventually, the bout of IBS-D turned to IBS-C. As I transitioned from one phase to another, it was not anything out of the ordinary. It seemed like a typical episode of IBS-C. That changed. It became a total nightmare. Walking does indeed help relieve constipation, and I did not notice how much it does help until walking was not an option. To say slowing down really slows things down is a huge understatement.

I can only walk short distances, and try as I might I simply cannot increase how much I walk. It is physically impossible, and this has taken a huge toll on me in many ways. The biggest problem is the extent of an IBS-C episode. Since I also have bouts of IBS-D, the typical treatments for constipation can cause big problems. Finding a middle ground for effective relief without initiating a full-blown bout of diarrhea seems impossible.

Consequences of severe constipation

During a recent episode, I experienced the worst constipation I have ever had in more than four decades of living. There were, um, ‘physical injuries’ resulting from its severity, and that caused even more problems as the bout of constipation continued. I relented and took a mild stool softener and probiotic in hopes of finding relief and allowing myself time to heal. My body took a drastic turn on me, and the result was the single most embarrassing moment of my life. “Fine,” I thought. “At least it is over and things will go back to normal.” I was so very wrong.

After several hours of miserable cramps and counting all the stripes on my bathroom wall, I was able to return to normal life for a bit. I assumed it ended the bout of constipation, but it did not. It continued for several weeks. Every trip to the bathroom was a painful experience. Bloating and cramping were relentless. It was only then that I realized my limitations with mobility greatly affected IBS-C.

Seeking balance

Walking the tightrope between IBS-D and IBS-C was certainly difficult before, but it is much more difficult now. My fear of taking a stool softener has thus far prevented me from trying again, but I may be forced to resort to it in the near future. Trying to predict the unpredictable has become more complicated but seems even more necessary. Continuing bouts of painfully severe constipation must be relieved in order to prevent horrors such as bowel obstruction or impaction.

Once again, I am stuck trying to find answers to improve my balancing act. With IBS, it often seems like things shift as soon as you have it figured out and well-managed. Just as IBS continues to change, I will continue to seek a solution. Until then, I will sit and wonder if I should remodel the bathroom so I have an activity other than counting stripes while in the midst of an episode.

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