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No bowel obstruction, but miserable

Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2013

Hello all,

This is my first post.  My mom was diagnosed in May 2011, and it's been a rough two years.  She never achieved a full remission, and her longest stretch off of chemo was 6 months (she's in chemo currently...on her fourth drug, I believe).  Good digestion has always been a struggle through the chemo.  She would find herself very constipated right after treatment, but then her digestive system would restore itself after a few days.  However, for the last month, she has been completely miserable.  She is passing very little (tablespoons of diarrhea a day) and is experiencing abdominal pain, cramping, and distension.  Our first thought was a partial bowel obstruction, but an x-ray and CT scan ruled this out.  No obstruction, so the hospital sent her home.  They also thought, due to the cancer, that she had more fluid build-up in her abdomen, but when she went in for a procedure, there really wasn't any fluid to drain, so she was sent home.  She's scheduled for a colonoscopy next week to see if that reveals anything else.  I should add, just for background information, that she's 68 years old, eats very well, and has stayed very active throughout the past two years (she's my hero...the toughest 100-pound woman in the world!).  

Lately, she was told to try a "low residue" diet, I think to prevent so much build-up in her system when she can't effectively pass it.  She's also been advised to take laxatives on a regular basis.  Still, she is very uncomfortable and, now, reluctant to leave the house because her bowels are so unpredictable and she has little control, which is extremely embarrassing to her.  I know she's reaching out to her doctors, and I just wanted to reach out to all of you on her behalf.  Has anyone else experienced this?  Has anyone found something that brought them relief/comfort?  I just hate the thought that she has to live like this.  I want every day she has to be the best, most comfortable, most fulfilling it can be.

Thank you so much for any thoughts/resources/guidance you have.

With gratitude,


Posts: 1995
Joined: May 2003

So sorry to hear how uncomfortable she is - I know the feeling.  As to suggestions, it's so hard to give any one word of advice because she could need a combination of approaches.  What I thought of first, though, is active cultures, such as those found in yogurt, cottage cheese, and even supplements.  Going through all that she has will really put your body in a tizzy, and upset the normal balance of pro-biotics in the body.  Just a thought.

Your Mom is a pillar of strength and truly an inspiration!  Hope that her colonoscopy comes out okay, and that she will find some relief soon.  Keep us posted.

(((HUGS))) & Prayers,



lovesanimals's picture
Posts: 1364
Joined: Sep 2011

You sound like a very caring and supportive daughter.  I am so sorry that your mom is suffering so.  I have not actually been in her situation but I'm hoping your mom is still drinking a lot of fluids and if possible, getting some gentle exercise, even if it's just walking around the yard or house, to maybe help to get her bowels moving.  I do know all too well the fear of leaving the house because I didn't know if I was going to have to run to the bathroom.  There have been times when I wore women's Depends (adult diapers) to ease my fears of an "accident".  These products can really help a lot.  In fact, there is a Depends Silhouette that lays fairly flat to the shape of the woman.

Sending prayers and good wishes for a good outcome from the colonoscopy.  I too hope that she feels better really soon!


Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2013

Hi Kelly,

Thanks so much for your kind words.  I'll pass along the information about the Depends product.  I know that's a tough thing for her to accept -- having to wear something like that -- but I also know getting out of the house is essential for her sanity.  If she can find something that fits and is fairly comfortable, that will probably help.


Thanks again for your kindness.




Posts: 8
Joined: Aug 2013

Thanks so much, Monika.  I appreciate your warmth and encouragement.  I'll pass along the suggestion about pro-biotics.  I'm sure you're right -- her system is so out of whack it's "forgotten" how to function normally.  Really hoping for some improvement in the weeks to come.


Best to you,


Alexandra's picture
Posts: 1311
Joined: Jul 2012

I agree with Monika's suggestion of probiotics. In a similar situation I was using once a day probiotic Ultimate Flora Critical Care (10 strains of microflora 50 billion cultures per capsule). It is manufactured by Renew Life and sold at health food stores and online. There are many other brands and they are much stronger than what is found in yogurt and kefir.

I hope you mom finds relief soon.

Cafewoman53's picture
Posts: 737
Joined: Jul 2010

Every night I take stool softeners and take a dose of mirilax when needed, which is often but the chemo sometimes  n makes me stay close to the bathroom too.

I am terrified of getting a bowel obstruction so I try to stay on top of things

Hopefully your mom will find her own way of dealing with this It is only a small part of this ordeal so she should do what the drs. tell her . Good luck it is difficult but she can do it 


abrub's picture
Posts: 1854
Joined: Mar 2010

An Integrative med MD suggested taht I take a supplement called GI-Revive for a month.  The componenets help restore the intestinal mucosa, so that digestion occurs more normally.  He also wanted me on lots of pro-biotics.

GI-Revive has both a powder form (one tsp sprinkled over food once a day) or capsules (7 capsules once a day.)  The combination of that and probiotics (making sure to include both acidophilus and Bifidium.)

Scar tissue may be pulling on her bowel, complicating the passage of food.

She might also consider acutpuncture or other complementary medicine.

Posts: 22
Joined: Jun 2013


I am so sorry your mom is having such a difficult time with her bowels. Nothing is worse than having to deal with irregular bowels and the pain that goes with being constipated. I hope they were able to give you answers with her colonoscopy.

I had alot of bowel involvement early in my disease; tumors caked my large intestine like frosting on a cake. I had a lot of abnormal irregular bms and alot of bloating and discomfort. I also would get constipation  after chemo as well. It wasn't fun.

Fortunately I had been a Hospice RN 20 years before and I managed my symptoms pretty good with the help of my oncology nurses.

I would drink as much water as I could. I avoided dairy (caused more abdominal bloating). Kelly's suggestion for walking was good.. I would try to walk every day to get my bowels moving. I would eat fruit and vegetables. I took 17-34 mg Miralax (Polyethylene Glycol) every day. (I would add it to prune juice.) I would also use 2 biscacodyl 5 mg tabs at bed time and supplement with suppositories.

I was able to have a bm every day and I felt better. I also used depends for urgency ... (usually for bladder).



Susan P's picture
Susan P
Posts: 103
Joined: Sep 2013


I'm 61 & have been on this journey since May.  My bowels are a problem, too.  I seem to alternate bbetween extreme painful constipation & diareah.



I've been wearing depends for 11 years now severe stroke & incontenance.- it would be more embarasdsing/upsetting for me to have a big pee spot on pants than foir someone to know I wear these




I take stool softeners - they are supposed to encouage the bowels to hold water  a home-care nurse told me to figure the amount that worked for me    I tke 2 @ night & 1 in am I'll up it a little if I need to 


if I haven'tgone in 3 days.I take a senokot laxative to encourage the bowels to work 

I try to eat lots offruit & veggie fiber aqs well as whole grain products high in fibe rnnuts are really  goood I try to stay away from white flour product & potatoes. you have to figure out wehat in her  diet may cause some problems we are all different what weorks for me may not help youir mom.

I'm very sedintarty due to stroke spend a lot of time in my wheelchair-- I know this makes things worse.



Good luck in utilizing these suiggestions & phase in what wshe will agree to as you can.









I heard somewhere ththat  the best way to hydrate your body is by eating lots of fresh fruit along with drinking water.



LisaI dion'tr tyhitrhinkthere  is any one answer- have to figure out  what works for by utilizing some or all of the suggestions you get.



there are suppositories aqvailable to help the bowel work.


we keep micro lax, a small pre packaged enema, on hand when things are bad.


Modesty has to be thrown out the door whwn dealing with this problrm  - my awesome husbandof 37 years gtives me the enema when needed & don't you know I hate thaqt he has toi do it but it id what it is

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