‘My bum went on strike and my entire world ground to a halt.’

Until recently, I assumed that my brain was the most powerful organ in my body. It is complex and intriguing, responsible for everything from my memories to my dreams, my movement to my thoughts, my autonomic nervous system to my sight. My brain shapes my entire being. I think therefore I am!

Well, the brain might be complex, but, as it turns out, it is not in charge at all. Over the past few months, I have discovered that another organ is the boss. It is far less intriguing but way more stubborn, and when it shuts down, I barely think at all. 

For context: I have always been a very…. regular kind of person. I enjoy a predictable morning routine. I wake up, I eat an orange, I drink a coffee, I feel a little grumbling, and within a few glorious minutes, I am sorted for the day. 

Earlier this year, to my dismay, my morning routine went out the window. I had to change treatment for the autoimmune disorder I've struggled with for years. My old meds had stopped working, and a drug I'd had success with began giving me a rash. 

The new medication was a miracle. My joints stopped aching. My skin improved! I felt full of energy for the first time in months. 

Well, as one door opens, another closes - the back door, to be precise. On day three of the new medication regime, I woke up, I ate my orange, I drank my coffee and… nothing. 

Watch: Your bum could be the cause of chronic pain. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

This was very unusual, but I wasn't concerned. I'll just eat some prunes! I thought. I ate six in one session, drank a ton of water, and then waited for the magic to occur.

It did not.

I tried ten prunes, twelve prunes, fifteen prunes at once! I chugged litres of water. I ate flaxseeds by the bowl.

Nothing happened. No movement at all. 

The problem wasn't going to resolve itself, so I began huffing laxatives. Senna was useful, but my doctor warned me I could wreck my system if I used it too frequently. I tried Metamucil, which was, frankly, disgusting. I tried Movicol, which was unpleasantly syrupy and rich. I had a few days of Lactulose, and, honestly, you don't want to know what that one does to you. None worked reliably, and the doses required to get things going were becoming untenable. How many sachets of chocolate laxative mixed with water can one drink without exploding?

A lot, I discovered. An awful lot.

It was astonishing how one minor issue could have such a huge impact on my wellbeing. My insides felt heavy. My stomach was distended. I was irritable as hell. My capacity to concentrate was shot.


One department went on strike, and the entire factory ground to a halt. 

Bodily functions usually tick away in the background; we really only notice them when we're doing them too much, or way too little. On the new medication, I noticed little else. I had considered myself to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests and ideas. Now, ninety percent of my brain space was occupied with how… well… round I looked, how much Lactulose I could get down, and whether I'd have any success that day or not.

I talked about it incessantly, too. My partner and I had only been together for a couple of years, and we had not spent much of that time discussing my gastrointestinal system. Now, he had to put up with daily – and, sometimes, hourly – updates. I'm not sure he was entirely thrilled with the situation, but he stoically supported me, sharing my frustration when everything shut down, and celebrating with me when the gates of heaven opened.

After three months of daily torment, I took a break from the meds. Within days, my system returned to normal. I never imagined I would be so ecstatically grateful for my morning routine, but that's what an interruption to regular programming can do for you.

Sadly, there is no better option for me right now, so I have to resume my meds again soon. I know now what's coming, and I am bracing myself for impact.

I always thought I had agency over my life, but really, I'm just ruled by my bum.

Feature Image: Canva.

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