A False Sense of Urgency
Last updated: February 2022
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a new phenomenon in my life with inflammatory bowel disease.
My normal IBD poop routine
Up until recently, I was a first-thing-in-the-morning pooper.
I knew that in the hour between waking up and starting my day, I’d need to spend about 10 minutes going to the bathroom. It was routine and predictable, even if uncomfortable and undesirable. And, that dedicated time usually freed me up until mid-afternoon, when I’d typically need to set aside an additional 10-15 minutes to do some more business.
There’s one important thing to note – my stools haven’t been solid since long before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. Although in remission and my trips to the bathroom have been somewhat routine, the contents have not been quite ideal. Regardless, I’ve come to predict how my body works, and so when things changed without warning, I was left very frustrated.
One day, I had the urgency to go poop during my regular morning time. Although, after spending quite a bit of time on the toilet, nothing came out.
I was annoyed and irritated, knowing that I was leaving the house shortly after and would likely end up having to poop in a less-than-ideal public bathroom instead.
About 2 hours later, I experienced the same sensation – the urgency to use the restroom. I was in a store and located the single-stall bathroom in the far back corner. But again, what played out resembled my morning to a tee... I had the feeling that I needed to poop, and I was uncomfortable, but nothing would come out.
A different kind of bowel movement
Towards the end of that day, I finally had a successful bowel movement, and was surprised that the stool was thick, and honestly, hard to push out. This wasn’t at all like my regular poops. It was solid and firm and nothing like the soft sludgy texture I was very accustomed to.
In the last few weeks, this pattern has played out over and over again.
Many days, I've struggled to go to the bathroom until late in the evening. I've spent the whole day wondering if and when the feelings of urgency would translate to some real movement within my intestines.
Talking to my Crohn's doctor
Visiting the restroom over and over again, only to feel like the abdominal cramping brewing inside of me was something firmly stuck, not as urgent as my body had made it seem, and also not ready to make a swift exit.
As any remotely engaged IBD patient would do, I messaged my gastroenterologist. I let her know that I had experienced a pretty big shift in my bowel movements and habits, and I explained this false sense of urgency I'd been dealing with day in and day out.
Tenesmus and IBD
While I'd started some new migraine medications, my doctor indicated that they'd likely impacted my bowels, causing fluctuations between my regular diarrhea and the unfamiliar land of constipation.
She also explained that what I'd been experiencing – the false sense of urgency – was called tenesmus, and affects a lot of IBD patients.
If you've experienced anything similar, I'd love for you to share your story below. How have you managed to deal with tenesmus? Has anything improved your symptoms?
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