YANMD: Stuck Poop, Upper Colon Edition
June 17, 2017 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Again, YANMD but the internet isn't helping on this. For the past 3 weeks I've had a "stuck" feeling, literally like something's there, in my upper left ribcage area. Xray a week ago revealed matter. Basically, there's poop hanging out in the upper part of my colon. A week of stool softeners and laxatives and the discomfort (not pain) and it's still there. Now what?

PCP assures me this will move on its own and will send me to a gastro if it's still there in a month, but I know people here are super smart and somebody has got to have some idea I haven't considered.

To pre-answer all questions: CBC came back normal except for elevated inflammation (which could be inflamed intestine or inflamed parotid gland). Related or not -- I am scheduled to have swollen parotid gland removed in 2 weeks; in December I had swollen neck lymph nodes removed -- no cancer and neither infectious disease nor endocrine docs can explain why glands are swelling. "It's just one of those things" is accepted explanation, once parotid gland is removed fingers are crossed that'll be the end of that.

Back to the poop issue. I'm having completely normal functions twice daily, no fever, no jaundice, no changes at all. Just this feeling of something stuck there (which again, xray confirmed is definitely there).

Doc also checked for anything else this could be and it's not my heart or spleen or liver or anything else--definitely just the poop.

I have no idea if these two things matter but here they are: swollen glands and packed poop are all on left side of body, and 4 weeks ago I went hardcore Atkins, only meat and cheese for a week, a major change from my typical very green diet.

I've been treating it with magnesium citrate and Miralax--results are explosive poops but no relief from weird pressing pain. I've read about dependence on laxatives so I'm wondering if I should stop them since this thing isn't moving anyway, or am I being impatient and should I keep using them?

I guess what I'm asking is, is there anything else I can be doing to move this piece of poop? Do I stick with this laxative/magnesium citrate stuff or will that make everything worse? Try a liquid diet? I know to go to an ER if it gets really painful or I get a fever but in the meantime, what the hell else can I do? *

*please know this is an incredibly embarrassing question and yes, I get the joke that I'm full of sh*t, which I keep telling myself.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it were me I'd go to the gastoenterologist now if possible. S/he is a specialist for a reason (knowing lots more about that organ system than your internist does). Also, I'd stop using laxatives because they're not doing what you want and they're irritating you.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:53 AM on June 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Dude that sounds like a bowel obstruction and you need to get it checked out by a gatroenterologist, stat. I'm no doctor, maybe he can be sure it's poop and not a tumor.... but my husband was recently diagnosed with colon cancer at 36 and he complained of that same feeling. Good luck.
posted by amro at 6:54 AM on June 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yeah, call your PCP and insist on that gastro referral now. This is one of the reasons that the healthcare system is so broken: we often have to advocate for ourselves hardcore to get care. You can say something like:

"Hi, doctor X. I am calling about the stuck feeling I've had in my side for three weeks. I want to be referred a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. I do not want to wait for a month to see if this goes away. This is interfering with my quality of life." "Quality of life" are often magic words that will open the door to the care you request (and deserve), in my experience.

Also, if you're still on Atkins, I would go back to the greeny diet unless your doctor told you to do Atkins.
posted by sockermom at 7:01 AM on June 17, 2017 [12 favorites]

Totally unprofessional opinion. stop the Atkins and go back to your green diet with fiber, see a gastroenterologist now, not in a month, stop the laxatives. I hope you will be ok.
posted by mermayd at 7:04 AM on June 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'll call for the gastro referral asap. For the sake of my own anxiety, please refrain from any (more) scary anecdotes.

I get this is something to move on and I will.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:47 AM on June 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Not real advice, just personal observations - I follow a keto diet, which is very similar to atkins. And if I'm not careful and eat too much protein and not enough greens (damn you nummy protein bars), things will get very uncomfortably backed up pretty darn quickly. I'm pretty sure I've felt your "stuck" feeling. Maybe ease off the Atkins for a bit until things resolve.
posted by cgg at 7:49 AM on June 17, 2017

You colon can get dependent on motility laxatives like dulcolax, but not on bulking ones like Mirilax.

Did you have general anesthesia for your recent surgery? Any painkillers? Those are both very constipation-inducing, as is a change away from green in your diet.

I had similar ish problems after a year of surgeries. My GI doc said: Mirilax daily for two-three weeks, lots of water, increase the foods that help (for me this is bran cereal, bananas, corn, roughage lettuce, prune juice) and avoiding ones that don't (peanut butter and nuts, white bread, pasta).

I'd continue the mirilax but skip the mg citrate, as that is a laxative of last resort.
posted by Dashy at 7:50 AM on June 17, 2017

Sorry for the scary anecdote... My husband is doing fine now if that helps.
posted by amro at 8:25 AM on June 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

There are some self massage routines for constipation as well. Low risk and might be worth a try while you're waiting.
posted by five_cents at 8:45 AM on June 17, 2017

I honestly think going off Atkins is going to help you. Is there a medical reason you haven't gotten back to eating the way you did previously, to see if that helps?
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:15 AM on June 17, 2017

is there anything else I can be doing to move this piece of poop?

Here's a not scary anecdote for you!

I went to the ER a few months ago with this problem (upper colon) in excruciating pain. (X-ray confirmed there was stuff there.) The ER doc sent me home with sort of a super-miralax solution (3L to be consumed in a few hours) and that helped but not completely. A week later I went to the gastroenterology who gave me Su-Prep, which they give you before a colonoscopy. OP, it worked! He also scheduled me for a routine colonoscopy since I was overdue anyway. (It came back negative.)

My only warning is that, unlike a colonoscopy, where you'd be on a cleansing fast for a few days first, the Su-Prep was very powerful when it came to eliminating the backed up poop. Not painful, just kind of shocking.

What I think happened is I ate a huge bean burrito and accidentally took lactaid instead of beano, and then accidentally took metamucil for a week instead of miralax. The doc told me to take the miralax once or twice a day from now on, so it's pretty gentle. Once a day seems to be working just fine.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:22 PM on June 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Maybe a tangent, but "Hardcore Atkins" shouldn't (IMNSHO) be "all meat and cheese" and you should eat some greens. He talked about vegetables (broccoli specifically) in I believe all his books.

Try eating some fiber/veggies or just take some psyllium husk (should be legal on Atkins) and try going off the laxatives. But yes, I think you should go to a gastro doctor as soon as you can get in.
posted by getawaysticks at 4:45 PM on June 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have bad endometriosis in my colon and experience that stuck feeling a lot. I had success with colonics and downward massage from chest to left groin during the process. Please note that I saw a nurse practitioner with a great deal of experience, choose your colonics person carefully. The colon should not be filled, but just enough to let the massage help get things moving from under the sternum. I found less knowledgeable practitioners add great discomfort by over filling and stressfully asking you to hold for too long before they switch the out valve.

(It is really cathartic by the way, to see the outflow, especially when the top of the colon's contents leave your body. Obviously ymmv, but when you've had a problem for ages, done the rounds of doctors etc, watching the exodus is very helpful feedback. Gross as it sounds.)

I recently had a colonoscopy and did the low residue diet and prep fluid and it was great. My GE/colonoscopist said I should do the cleanse regularly to deal with that stuck feeling that comes from colonic inflammation.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:10 PM on June 17, 2017

I've been having a lot of this recently, to varying extents (which is underestimating some of the raw "I'm about to have a huge health incident" anxiety involved), and for. I cleared one of these by walking 10 miles without stopping.

But: one thing that's resolved a lot of these issues for me and that you can do right now while you're waiting medical attention: Chew gum. It should wake things up in your bowel.
posted by ambrosen at 11:34 PM on June 18, 2017

Update! The day after writing this, I had blood in my stool--went to ER and was admitted. I appear to have diverticulosis, cyst on spleen, internal hernia and internal hemorrhoids. No cancer seen on CAT scan which is 90% accurate for this although colonoscopy will give full picture.

CT scan showed blockage had passed, pain is diverticulosis, blood is from internal hemorrhoids. They have me on a liquid diet, then low residue until it heals. Will get colonoscopy in a few weeks, awaiting H Pylori results which gastro docs think is causing this.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:46 AM on June 20, 2017

Yay! I had totally forgotten, but when my husband was in the hospital with a bowel obstruction but had not yet had surgery, the doctor said it was likely either diverticulitis or a tumor.
posted by amro at 4:45 PM on June 26, 2017

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