Friday, May 4, 2007

Like a Rock

I would rather have diarrhea than constipation. But as I said in Pooping Your Pants Is Cool, cancer patients don’t get to choose. For the entire year of my first cancer, I had to battle rock-hard shits.

If you think it’s strange that I can openly discuss my past bowel troubles, you’re probably right. But that’s what my hospital friends and I did more than anything else – we talked about pooping. We talked about it with our family, doctors, nurses, friends and each other.

Our bowel conditions essentially became a sign of our relative health. We may have had massive tumors and our white blood cells may have been close to zero, but if our constipation was under control then we were perfectly fine.

Most of us had our surgeries after our fifth cycle of chemo. Cancer surgery is generally not something people look forward to, yet it did have some benefits. In particular, there was a brief reprieve from extreme constipation. Although my bowels still weren’t even close to normal because of the narcotics, that paled in comparison to chemo.

PeriColace drug advertisementTo battle my rocks, I was prescribed the stool softener Colace. It works by increasing the amount of water the shit absorbs in the gut. Nowadays I would consider Colace to be a small pill. However, back then I was so bad at taking pills that I could barely swallow a multivitamin, and missed many of my Colace doses.

Without getting into the details, let’s just say I had an “incident.” After that misfortune, I had to switch to the liquid form of Colace, which happens to be one of the worst-tasting substances I’ve ever consumed. Each dose was an entire medicine cup, and had to be taken with eight ounces of water. I was taking it up to four times a day.

One night I was watching The Exorcist with my brother and his friend in the basement, and totally forgot about my nightly dose. Of course my parents didn’t forget and poured it for me. When I went upstairs to go to bed I saw that dreaded cup full of red nastiness. I was heartbroken.

In order to prepare myself, I composed a short jingle entitled “Colace.” It went like this:

Time for me to drink my Colace
It tastes so good
I gotta drink my Colace
I bet you wish you could!

Coming to a radio near you.

My battle with constipation didn’t end with Colace. That red nastiness wasn’t enough to tame the beast, so my nurse practitioner Kiva also prescribed mineral oil twice a day. It was so thick that it took two swigs to finish each dose, which was half a medicine cup.

What is mineral oil?

Mineral oil is the by-product lubricant in the production of gasoline.

No joke.

The oil left a Neosporin-like film around my mouth, which still wasn’t as gross as the end result…in the toilet after a bowel movement. I shat out the oil intact.

On rare occasions, the combination of Colace and mineral oil wasn’t enough. Kiva would then add milk of magnesia or high-powered laxatives to the arsenal. Essentially, there was an “object” blocking the exit, and all of the medicine went to work on the poop above the blockage. Again I won’t go into details, but you can imagine what happened when the “object” exited.

I’ve always been a huge fan of McDonald’s. I just love it. Sometimes I’d pick up McDonald’s breakfast on the way to my checkups. Kiva, amused with my obsession, said, “I don’t know how you can eat those greasy hash browns. But I tell you what, if you ate those every day then you’d never have to drink mineral oil again.”


Anonymous said...

do you have any pics?