Every twenty minutes? Are you kidding me?

We may each have a unique copy of multiple sclerosis, one that fits us just like a pair of beloved jeans that have split up the back seam and that is no longer manufactured. It fits US, but we don't want to live with anything that doesn't exactly flatter us.

Symptoms we all share

At the same time, there are experiences we all share. One is that there is no such thing as an entire night spent in bed quietly sleeping. There are shared symptoms like lying down too tired to turn over and as soon as we close our eyes, our brains take off and think of EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. I keep a notepad and pen by the bed so that when my brain starts thinking obsessively about something, I can at least jot down the great ideas I come up with. Yeah. Right.

How often we have to get up to pee

And the other thing happens at night too, and that is how often we have to get up and pee! I can see my lighted alarm clock when I get up, and my brain keeps track of how long it's been since the last time I got up to pee. On a really good night, it might be two and a half hours. The other night it was four hours -- I thought I had died and gone to heaven! A full REM cycle of sleep! I knew I was going to waste that benefit the next day.

But there will be nights when it feels like I get up every twenty minutes or so. And I often find that those nights arrive along with another problem that hits more of us than I suspect we realize.

Also managing irritable bowel syndrome

When I'm constipated, which is essentially for the entire forty years since I've been diagnosed, I have to empty my bladder pretty often. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as do a LOT of us. And it's almost invariably IBS(C) -- with constipation. The other kind of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is IBS(D), which as you can imagine, is IBS with diarrhea. Somehow I never mind diarrhea, but that's another story!

But when I'm constipated, I feel as if my full bowel were pressing on my bladder. And I can watch my alarm clock tick off twenty minutes to half an hour as I get up through the night. My cat Gus knows to get out of my way during these episodes, and he sleeps on the other side of the bed. My husband and I sleep in separate beds in the same room. I don't know how he could get any sleep otherwise. SOMETIMES, I can void my bowel in the morning after such a sleepless night, but I can't count on that.

What's been helping my obstinate colon

I have finally reached a kind of detente with my obstinate colon. If I keep the stool soft with LOTS of docusate sodium in the 250 mg capsule and the occasional dose of Miralax, it doesn't get too awful. Although the number of times I've tried to pass a log is far too high, keeping the stool soft has worked for me over the long term. I manage that with a combination of a steady dose of between 500 and 100 mg of docusate sodium per day. Keeping up the fluid and fiber intake and getting in a fair amount of weight-bearing exercise also helps.

I'm sure my fellow sufferers with IBS(C) know too much fiber and stimulant laxative is a true disaster, so the relatively low impact daily diet of stool softener has mostly kept me from disaster. When I have a stool too large to pass without rupture, a good long walk after dark and meditating on the porcelain Honda has usually produced, er, results. Especially the good long walk.

IBS mixed with an overactive bladder

Then of course, there's bowel incontinence, and for that, a big determined smile and as quick a walk as my purple folding cane will allow is about all that works for that! Embarrassment is a luxury we just can't afford.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is part of the mix for a lot of us. Coupled with an overactive bladder, it makes for an interesting relationship with the bathroom. During the recent toilet paper shortage, we installed an after-market bidet. Coupled with reusable toilet paper made from old t-shirts, we have made it through the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 so far.

I hope to hear from others of you with this particular problem, and we can hash it out in the comments! In the meantime, cheers, and if you can't fix it, laugh at it, because what choice do we have?

In solidarity, Therry

Here's a link to a useful article from the Harvard Medical School about the different types of laxatives, including Miralax, an osmotic laxative that attracts moisture to the stool: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/dont-bomb-the-bowel-with-laxatives My vet recommends it for older cats, who respond well to a mere dash in the food with every feeding. The low dose for hoomins also helps, but the Docusate Sodium is more helpful for me.

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