Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A Poo Story, And Not The Good Kind

If you are squeamish, this might not get the blog post for you to read. If bodily functions bother you, ditto. If poo stories are too much for you to take, ditto again. This blog is, however, a vivid insight into some of the more personal, intimate challenges that I face with ALS. Some of these challenges are faced by most of us; mine are just more complicated, compounded by the slow loss of muscle tone and ability. Oh, and this entry, to start with, gives me an opportunity to apologize to the cleaning staff at the Days Inn in Desoto, TX. I am sure they've had to deal with mess before; it's just never been mine.

To start with, I need to discuss a bit of a change which has happened to me over the last 6 months. For some reason, a reason I have now figured out by the way, I have developed a very strong stomach and lower bowel reaction to beers with a high malt content. This means some of my favourite beers, things like Kilkenney, Guinness, traditional ales and stouts, now cause amazing and explosive gas reactions within my lower gut. I know other people who have this reaction; it's new for me.

I've always had what some might call a "cast iron stomach"; very little can actually upset my tummy. I've never needed Tums or any other sort of acid control medications until ALS came along. Over the last two years I have lost my appetite for spicy foods and, of late, developed this volcanic stomach when drinking heavily malted ales. I am fairly sure this change in stomach has something to do with the witches brew of medications I take these days, some of which are known to cause gas, others of which are known to emphasize the effects of their co-prescribed medications. In fact that is that plan, that one drug is helped by the other. The gas part is not in the plan; it's just a pleasant side effect.

The other day in Dallas, Katherine and I had a beer. It was a lovely stout in a nice large glass. I figured I could handle one without too much side effect. Then Katherine couldn't finish hers and far be it from me to waste perfectly good beer. I figured I would have a couple of hours to deal with the effects. After our day out, we went back to our motel just outside of Dallas.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, exhaustion hit me pretty hard when we got back to the motel. Katherine gave me a bed bath and said "go to sleep". She failed to say anything about underwear. I simply passed into slumber without moving, immediately. Unfortunately my stomach did not go to sleep. Sometime in the night, while I was fully asleep, deep in my exhaustion, my bowels decided that the gas therein needed to escape. I should point out at this time that, no matter what the doctors tell you, ALS does steal some of our muscular abilities from your ability to control your bowels. It happens, trust me.

Escape it did, with the full force and velocity that only an explosion can explain. There were chunks in the process along with a certain amount of liquid discharge. I slept through the whole process. It wouldn't have mattered if I was awake; I couldn't have gotten out of bed in any sort of timely manner to deal with this kind of event. Ask me how I know.

When I awoke in the morning, I sensed something was awry. My butt was stuck to the sheets. Once peeled free, I saw the extent of the damage. I asked Katherine for dry towels and wet wash clothes, which I then used to clean the sheets as best I could. Thank goodness there was a mattress cover; it needed changing too. I didn't look at the mattress; I'm hoping the cover did it's job. After that, it was into the bathroom to clean myself as well.

I was embarrassed at first until Katherine pointed out that only she and I were witness to this unfortunate event. After a while I realized there wasn't really all that much to be embarrassed about; this kind of thing happens to lots of people. The thing that bothers me, however, is that this kind of thing has not happened to me before, at least not like this. It frustrates me that the combination of medication, beer, muscle weakness, exhaustion and general failing health are at the root of this. Most of that can be attributed to ALS.

I won't stop drinking beer; I like it too much to give it up. I will, however, change the style of beer I quaff, shifting to those with less explosive results. It's a shame. I really like Kilkenny and traditional ales.

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