Thursday, 1 August 2013

Nursing, bowel movements - a patient's thoughts.

On twitter, the #WeNurses were having a chat about poo and constipation.

So, in a very random blog, because I couldn't work it out in 140 characters.

Complex patients who are on a ward for a while who are used to self managing their medical needs at home might not flag up issues with constipation. They may shrug off the issues as insignificant.

Because it IS insignificant - even though it is also really important.

I know this doesn't make sense, but what I mean is:

I have probable delayed gastric emptying, and always have issues due to bowel laxity (a common complication of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) and medications. I also have severe HEDS (connective tissue disorder) and PoTS (autonomic dysfunction)

However, when I was hospitalised a few years ago, for 5 weeks, despite...well....concrete blocks being an appropriate description, I wouldn't have flagged it up with staff had they not asked my 'grade' on the bristol stool chart every day.


Because I was there for cardiac issues. Cardiac= I won't worry you with other stuff that is normal for me. So I would only raise cardiac issues unless pressed (or a joint had fallen off and I couldn't realign it - joys of EDS) I was there to get better at staying conscious. And satisfying though it is to do a proper bowel movement, quite frankly, when my heart rate keeps hitting 160 because my autonomic system is throwing a strop, I couldn't care less about a toilet stop!

But if you ask, I'll tell you.

I tell you 'normal for me'. Which actually can be anywhere between grades 1 and 6. And which often requires intervention at home (sups, laxatives, massage, manual assistance). So it means nothing, other than my bowels are  a little messed up on occasion.

But if you ask me what the grade is - you will know accurately, and can take action if needed.

Long live the bristol poo chart!

Yes, there really is a Bristol Stool Chart - a chart of poo.


  1. Good to know that rabbit pellets of various densities needing "help" getting out is "normal" for EDS. I thought I was just cursed, or it was another fun bit of the Crohn's. And yes, long live the Bristol Stool Chart!

  2. I think your point is an important one. Patients would often think (and Im as bad as anyone even as a AHP) this isn't to do with why Im here /what is asked about so I wont mention it. But actually it can help nurses know how you are as a whole person and that is a good thing too.


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