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I had constipation after the stroke. It wasn’t unusual for me to defecate once every 5 or 6 days. A few doctors told me that the muscles in the bowel weren’t working correctly. That was the easy answer. And I believed it because nothing was working correctly. I believed it until I did research on constipation. And the doctors may have been wrong

According to researcher
s at the University of Michigan, “Stroke by itself does not cause constipation. But constipation often occurs after a stroke because you 1) are not drinking enough liquids, 2) are in bed most of the time, or 3) are taking certain medicines as part of your treatment. If your constipation is severe, stool can become lodged (impacted) in the bowel.”

That was me, all right. All of it. 

In another article in the Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, the researchers took 55 brain-injured patients. They divided the patients into constipation (number=29) and non-constipation (number=26) groups, achieving 7.32± (plus or minus) 3.63 and 5.04± (plus or minus) 2.46, respectively. 

The constipation group had significantly elevated constipation scores, with prolonged CTT (Colon Transit Time, the colon responsible for producing the bowel) of total right and left colon, and it depended on these factors in a table entitled, “The General Characteristics of Patients with Brain Injury:” 
Total Number of subjects                                   55
Mean age in years                                               61 +- 14.1
Sex (male/female)                                               37/18
Brain injury in months                                       11.1 +- 17.5
Type of brain injury (infarction, bleed, other)  33/20/2
(Press your doctor for where in the brain your injury occurred)
Site of brain injury 
Frontal/Parietal          5
Temporal/Occipital    7
Basal ganglia           24
Thalamus                   6
Multiple                      3
Other                        10

But the article didn’t say how much liquid they drank, how much bed rest, or what kind of medicines they took. In my opinion, University of Michigan hit the mark: ie, too little liquids, too much bed rest, and/or medications.

My solution to constipation was when a doctor recommended a stool softener. I was afraid at first because I thought it would give too strong an urge to make it to the bathroom. 

After 5 years of constipation, the stool softener improved my quality of life because I “go” once a day or so without any urgency. And I eat everything that’s supposed to be in a healthy diet with no restrictions (except keep a consistent diet of Vitamin K because I’m on Coumadin). See a doctor first because something else may be afoot, but if the doctor says to try stool softeners for constipation, permit the bowel to go forth. I buy the cheap kind from Walmart. 

I’ll end with this cartoon that says it all, to both pee (https://stroketales.blogspot.com/2019/03/incontinence-for-stroke-and-other-tbis.html) and poop:

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman

Joyce Hoffman is one of the world's top 10 stroke bloggers according to the Medical News Today. You can find the original post and other blogs Joyce wrote in Tales of a Stroke Survivor. (https://talesofastrokesurvivor.blog)
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Rebecca Dutton
5 years ago

Thank God for Miralax powder. Glad you wrote this post.

Joyce Hoffman
5 years ago

Sue, awkward sentence construction is what it is. CTT = Colon Transit Time, and I go on to explain what the colon does. Not your cognition this time!

Sue S
5 years ago

Interesting read, thank you.

I didn't know what this bit meant:
"(Colon Transit Time, the colon responsible for producing the bowel)" – is there an error/typo, or am I just confused? The latter is quite possible, my cognition was affected by a stroke of my own!

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