I would like to introduce myself. My real name is not Ren, and I am not from Aberdeen(see email) but I do believe I suffer from Shy Bowel(how do you spell that P word?). I also suffer from Shy Bladder(another crazy P word) but not to the same extent of my Shy Bowel. Here are a few tidbits of info on myself. I am 24 years old, I've been very thin but of muscular/wirey build all of my life, have a voracious appetite(except during bouts of constipation of course), and up until recently I would generally say I could defecate anywhere if the urge presented itself. I am telling you this information so as to paint a better picture of my symptoms that I will describe in detail in the following.
Here is my story:
I can vividly remember being 3 or 4 years old and defecating in my blue, cordeurouy pants, and being scolded by my mother for doing so(natural reaction, of course). From there my earliest memories regarding #2 are as such:
1. I took my sweet time(I liked to read on the toilet at a young age)
2. Sometimes I couldn't go and I would then need to lay down on the couch or my bed to let the feelings of fullness subside.
3. I never defecated in school growing up, from K-12. I am not sure on the causation of this, whether I never had the urge or whether it was voluntary, though I am leaning to the latter.
4. I would get occasional constipation and when I was 10 or 11 I was taken to the doctor for blood in my stool. The recommendation was more vegetables and fiber in my diet. Suffice to say I fought this with my parents all throughout growing up(I didn't like vegetables).
Therefore any bathroom troubles I had were equated to being caused by my diet.
When I got my first job at 15 I didn't find it difficult to defecate at work. There were many restrooms avaiable and I would naturally choose a single occupation, low trafffic facility to "facilitate" the process.
I can only recall one instance of being unable to deficate, and was only to relieve this at work by consuming a liter of prune juice(disguised as a dare). This of course led to a very unpleasant episode of diarrhea and my first recollection of having a hemerrioid. This particular episode was when I was 17. I would like to note that around this time my diet was getting better with more vegetables, and consuming more water. It was around this time I developed a sure-fire way of defecating if I was constipated. This method would involved consuming a large glass of water, and around the time I felt the urge to urinate from this glass of water, I would then be able to defecate. This became less and less effective and was replaced with coffee when I began drinking it regularly at the age of 19.
This may be sounding more like a story on diet and constipation now, but I think as I tell more it may become clearer.
When I left home for college(still 19) my diet digressed pretty badly(meals of peanut butter sandwiches on enriched white-bread) and one Friday evening after a night of partying and drinking I awoke to the strong urge to defecate. As I was, in a strangers apartment, needing to go pick up my car across town, I couldn't use the bathroom(or could I?[more on this later]) so I had to hold it. And hold it. It wasn't until I arrived at home and tried to defecate that I was unsuccesful. I was unsuccessful in attempting to defacate for a full 7 days even when doing the following:
1. I drank an entire 64oz bottle of prune juice. This essentially gave me very very bad gas, but no bowel movement.
2. Use of stimulant laxatives. The results from this would 3-8 hand-rolled cigarette sized fecal matter, but would offer no real relief.
3. Smoking cigarettes before, and while on the toilet(and I didn't smoke).
At this point my abdoment was visibly distended. I couldn't even fit into one pair of my jeans. It was affecting my performance in class(very uncomfortable, gas).
It's almost miraculous that when I DID defecate it was on a Saturday night, just AFTER I had declined an offer to attend a party. I had a sudden urge to go and when I sat down, fully expecting nothing but gas: voila! I filled the bowl with so much I'm suprised I wasn't sitting on a mountain of my own...(you know).
And so, I had never felt so good. When I stood up my distension was gone, I could fit into those jeans, and hey..I just took a dump!!!
Sadly, the following three weeks were not so successful. I was only able to defecate after I purchased a "colon cleansing" product that used a senna based laxative. I believe after using this product I was able to "normalize" my bowels.
But from that point onward any form of Shy Bowel I had before this incident was amplified. I was afraid of becoming constipated again so I would always make sure that if I had to go, it was in a safe place. A few months later I picked up smoking cigarettes and this gave me extreme regularity. I didn't have to worry about using the right bathroom because my urge to go after smoking was so strong that it wasn't a problem(or was it[even more later]).
Let's skip ahead from 2006 to the present. I am about to turn 25 and I quit smoking "cold turkey" 8 months ago. In the 4 years I smoked I became constipated very very few times, maybe 3 at most(and I can really only remember 1 time).
I was relatively regular until one day about a month and a half after I quit smoking I wasn't. I then tried to recall before that moment when I had my last bowel movement, and it was probably 3 days prior(when I was usually going once a day in the morning after coffee and a cigarette). My thoughts immediately went to my diet and I then began eating better and drinking more water. On the 5th day of constipation I resorted to a Magnesium Sulfate/Epsom Salt/ saline laxative solution. I drank 4 tspns mixed with a large glass of water and within a few hours I made a complete bowel movement(followed by many runny ones for the next 3-4 hours).
For the next 5-6 weeks I was having varying degrees of success using many different methods. I was eating GREAT. Enough fiber(insoluable, and soluable) 128oz of water(I weigh 128lbs), a balance of fresh fruits and vegetables. No dairy, only soy. I even purchased the SAME colon cleansing kit I did 4 years prior, but it didn't work, it just made it worse after 2 weeks of usuage. None of these changes made any correlating results. A few times towards the end of my battle with this case of constipation I would be able to defecate after I woke without any aid of a laxative and feel amazing. And then some days I wouldn't. It came to be for a while that I would "bulk" up for 5 or 6 days and then have to use an Epsom Salt laxative, which would actually create bowel movements for a few days(instead of simply that day). It felt like a week long binging and purging process. I was afraid to become dependent on the epsom salt so I stopped using it.
It wasn't until I moved into my very own apartment by myself that I became suddenly regular again. I mean more regular than I have EVER been. I would wake up and first thing hit the toilet. As soon as my flesh hit the seat I would feel the rumblings and go about the business. My diet at the time was still impeccable, and to me it reinforced the theory that I simply needed to get used to the amount of fiber I was intaking, coupled with quitting smoking, that caused this sudden 6 week bout with constipation. But as magically as it came it disappeared.
So for the next 4 months or so I was regular, and my diet would dip a little bit, but it was generally good. I thought I was "cured". Or was I? I am constipated now, or I was. When I first started writing this I had just taken an Epsom Salt laxative, it wasn't but a few sentences ago I made a bowel movement. But it was earlier today that got me thinking this:
What if it is not my diet, but it is ME that is causing this constipation? Or, what if it was the former that caused the latter? You are thinking "what?"
Ok, so a few times throughout I put the phrase "more on this later" in parenthesis/brackets for the purpose of taking you back to those moments of time, with the my new theory. The theory is this: My constipation is caused by shy bowel. I would hold my bowel as a kid, as a teenage, as an adult, not necessarily until I got to a "safe" place, because if the urge is strong enough I can go at work, or a friend's house. But then again sometimes, I couldn't. It depended on the moment, the level of stress, the people I was with etc.. The first time I became severely constipated in college, I wasn't able to go when I felt the urge. I could have stopped somewhere, but refused to attempt to because the place wasn't exactly ideal(a restuarant, a gas station, etc..). The second time, 8 months ago, happened because I would have to hold it at work, and not because I didn't want go, but I actually couldn't drop what I was doing to use the bathroom. And so my recent bout with constipation is very similiar. When I had the urge, I had to decline because I was doing something that "couldn't wait". It's rough, trying to balance when to call off something because you need to defecate. Or to go ahead and put it off only to not be able to go.
In the past my regularity had been kept in tact by using more private bathrooms. If I had to use a semi-public one(where the chance of someone coming in was low but still a chance), I would defecate, stop when someone came in, and resume when they left. Now I am kind of blocked in. Where I work we have to "display" when we go to use the bathroom because they are locked(this is Los Angeles, transients and drug users love open bathrooms). The keys are kept in front where anyone can observe carrying the key attached to a chunk of wood that says "BOYS"/"LADIES" on it. This also puts a time constraint on it, as there is only one bathroom per sex for 30 or more employees.
I've been typing this for so long, I am afraid I've lost my point so here I will summarize:
Today I realized I have Shy Bowel, and I want to do something about it. I told my story, maybe it can help you, maybe you can help me.