Constipation can be a pain, more so when my bowel control is impaired. My spinal cord injury is at C-5/C-6 (fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae). An injury above the T-12 (twelfth thorasic vertebrae) level loses the ability to sense when the bowel is full. It will empty by reflex or automatically. This is called the upper motor neuron or reflex bowel.
I follow a programme where I empty my bowel every third day with suppositories. This enables me to plan my routines and activities. My bowel programme usually lasts about ninety minutes – from insertion of a suppository into the rectum to the conclusion. However, for the past few weeks, I have been suffering from constipation. I suspect that Sangobion, the iron supplement that I have been taking, could be one of the causes. I have been spending two to four hours inside the toilet huffing and puffing without much success and have been feeling miserable lately because of that unfinished business.
To counter constipation, Wuan has been adding more vegetables to my meals and fed me with papayas, oranges and bananas. Additionally, I have been eating prunes. This is something that I do not fancy eating if not for its bowel easing properties. All that were in vain. Nothing worked. Laxatives and enemas could help but those are options that I would rather not resort to if I had other choices.
I first came to know of Lactulose when the doctors prescribed for Mum. She was taking Dihydrocodeine Tartrate to relief her pain during those last few months. One of the side effects of Dihydrocodeine is constipation and Lactulose was to counter that. Lately, I have also discovered that Lactulose has been prescribed to people with spinal cord injury. That made me consider it as one of the options to help ease the recurring problem.
Lactulose looks and tastes exactly like sugar syrup. It is a synthetic sugar, used to treat constipation. It is not metabolised or absorbed by the body. Bacteria in the colon breaks it down into acids. The acids draws water to the colon and softens the stool. A quick research with Google confirms that it will not produce adverse effects on people with chronic renal failure. In fact, Lactulose also draws ammonia from the blood into the colon where it is excreted with the stool which helps people with liver disease.
I had my first dose on Wednesday. As I did not know how I will react to it, I took the minimum recommended dose of 10ml. I increased it to 15ml on Thursday. A short while after I had my second dose, I had the urge to move my bowels. There was still some hints of constipation but as my bowel gradually cleared, it became easier. Today is the first time in many weeks that I have really felt relieved. And here I am telling the whole world about it.
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