Life In the Toilet

I know this isn’t exactly polite conversation, trust me, it’s necessary. You’re about to read the “inside” history, the story of my stomach. For all those with unremitting digestive problems, read on: there is hope.

It all started so long ago, it’s like talking about a ghost. When I was young, I spent my spare time reading, running around, and eating to calm my anger (divorcing parents), my restlessness (no boyfriend), and my angst (acne). I believe it’s called “emotional eating." Eventually running around turned into moping around or watching TV. I started to pack on the pounds.

Given the endless rounds of boy fantasies and infatuations I tortured myself over, being chubby was out of the question. I embarked on a serious weight loss program and in true Pammy-Push-It-To-Extremes Fashion, overdid it. This was at a time when the word, “anorexic,” was not bandied around as the highest form of a compliment you could pay a woman. All we knew was that when the singer, Karen Carpenter, died she was awfully skinny.

For those who have ventured on this path, it is well known that the journey out of anorexia is cast with a thousand hazards. Ending up with a raging case of bulimia (eating and purging) is one of them. Bulimia, in turn, does wonders to a digestive system.

Fast forward through a decade and every variation on psychiatry and therapy, to 1988. I finally meet a therapist, Viola Fodor, who at last helps me get on the train out of Eating Hell.

Still I was left with the consequence of years of crazy eating: poor digestion in all its many noisy, groaning forms. Most women can relate to getting constipated when they travel. For me, life had become a never-ending trip.

I was telling this sad tale to my new naturopathic physician recently, Dr. Donese Worden. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t offer it up unprovoked. She has a detailed questionnaire with an entire section dedicated to bowel movements: frequency of, size, shape, color, smell, floater or sinker? I guess that’s what natural docs do, they ask the questions no one else wants to. (Sex came up later but that’s another post.)

Naturally, I was repulsed. But I was also relieved to be bearing my soul about the things that really bothered me. Dr. Worden jotted notes as I took her through the litany of my toilet tribulations. I have gas every time I eat, boo hoo. I can’t poop regularly, sob sob. I have to eat cups of fiber to "go," moan, moan.

Dr Worden patted my hand reassuringly. She had a plan, the first step of which was to test my blood for food allergies. This would tell me which foods were causing inflammatory reactions with all the related symptoms of indigestion and poor nutrient absorption.

In a couple of weeks, I got my results. About twenty foods were listed as problems. They were things I ate everyday, eggs, peanuts, chili pepper, wheat, garlic, and even sugar (omg). Being desperate, I immediately set about eliminating all the items from my diet (even sugar).

Within a day, I noticed something new: silence after a meal. The stillness was almost eerie after years of being followed by “quacking ducks,” or “dying ducks” as a friend once put it. I was elated. Everyday seemed to bring improvement. Then one morning, I was inspired to write the following note to Dr. Worden:

Dear Dr Worden. You are a great doctor. For the first time in my life, I don’t fart. This morning I pooped a Chihuahua. It even barked at me. I don’t know how to thank you for restoring my digestion to health.

My friends say it’s a sign of old age when all you want to talk about is your poop. I say poop on them. They’re envious because they’re full of poop now and I’m not. Anyway, I have to go now. I have to poop again.

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