IBS, fiber therapy, and string in poop



Just kidding … sort of.

For those of you allergic to “too much information,” read no further.

I mean it!

OK.  As you may remember, I’ve been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome since 1999.  (Nope, I didn’t get to party like it was 1999!)  Though I’ve had it at least since 1990.  Mostly IBS-Diarrhea (IBS-D).  But I didn’t get to see a truly helpful gastroenterologist until 2002 or so.  He put me on high-fiber therapy, specifically fiber supplements (pills like Fibercon) and any other fiber I could cram into my eating habits.*  Since then,

and here’s where it gets graphic,

sometimes when I’m on the toilet, I feel something hanging out of my bunghole, just taking its grand old time passing/dropping.  Recently, with greatly increased soluble fiber dosage (Thanks, Heather, the acacia powder  really does seem to help! [aka “gum arabic“]), sometimes I see whitish strings in my stools there in the bowl — too long to be worms, an inch or more — and eventually I solved the mystery of the hanging business by getting a fistful of TP and just grabbing what was hanging … and it was a rubbery/plasticky stretch of material that I could feel breaking stiffly just inside my anus, like there was more in there — definitely not a lifeform, Mr. Spock.

Well, I just got around to Googling “string in poop” (without quotes), hoping for some unvarnished, un-PC, honest, forthright discussion.  And although Yahoo Answers isn’t necessarily C. Everett Koop, all told, several links seem to have the ring of truth in them, like this one, this one, this one, and this one.  Could your gastrointestinal tract really do that to fiber, twist it and pound it into unrecognizability?  Think about how long the tract would be all stretched out, like they say, and all the muscles squeezing and twisting, acids, weird and normal fluids and bacteria and other things you’re eating, fermentation, reactions … and I could see it.  I may run it by my doc just to make sure, but I feel alot better about it just now, so much that I wanted to spread the word, because apparently I’m not alone!  Even beyond Yahoo there was this page (text-search for “string” — quotes not necessary).  In its basic nature, fiber is sort of waxy, hence I guess the occasional weird forms it gets metamorphosed into.

WHEW!  Thank you, Jesus!  Amen!

(*–Dietary fiber, to be clear, in light of what follows!  However, he failed to differentiate between soluble and insoluble fiber.  Most Americans trying to eat reasonably-healthily — not our traditional steak-and-potatoes — have no shortage of insoluble fiber in their diets: raw vegetables, even some cooked ones like broccoli, carrots, and other ‘yummy’ things like that.  This is the kind that goes right through you.  When you have IBS-D, you don’t wanna overdo that, though you shouldn’t go without it either, or so I’ve read, and so I do, mostly.  [Screw whole grains!!]  Soluble fiber isn’t greased lightning [correct spelling!], but goes slow enough to soak up all that excess fluid that otherwise sends you “running.”  That’s what IBS-D’s need tons of: beans [they’re not just good for your heart], other fibery, mushy stuff like that, and other soluble fiber.  Wikipedia is all over fiber.)