Constipation, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Trots

This is your existence. In this text lies a tale about the day-to-day, the blasé, the baseline reality. Your reality. Every second fleshed out from the candid scourge of incontinence.  Every waking moment, from the bowl of cardboard-flavored Grownup Brand cereal to the cup of Sleepytime tea, these moments, each and every one of them, are yours.

Five days worth of food rests like a flatulent belt around your hip bones and intestines.  Like a fanny pack of black, stagnant hatred hugging and spackling your insides.  This hidden, amorphous child kicks and screams and oozes.

Let’s do some math here.  Three burritos equivalent in mass to – for examples sake – a Moe’s burrito. Five cups of yogurt topped with granola and fruit. Two packets of oatmeal. Five frozen entrees for lunch (for example, vegetarian lasagna or black bean enchilada with rice and veggies, etc.). A bowl of tortellini with sauce. A bowl of ice cream with fruit and nuts. Countless cups of coffee and tea.  You will carry these foods, pregnant for an unknown term.  Though, your body efficiently filters these vittles down to only an additional five pounds and occasionally a golf ball’s mass excretes itself past the stress-induced Jericho’s Wall of your sphincter. Tight, like a shoelace knot that only loosens with a pen or needle.

No one wants this Black Gift[1].  Over the course of these five days,  you will gain five pounds. At one time, almost a distant memory now, you fit nicely and felt like a human feels. There was no unnecessary baggage or bouncing baby playing around in there. And yet at the end, your gut will distend outward, bloated into a representation of early pregnancy. Well, maybe the bulge isn’t really there, but standing in front of the mirror, hating your bowels, it seems to protrude angrily, shaking a spiteful middle finger in your face.

Entirely your choice. Those words flicker like a bad B-movie monologue. As you stand there, curled on the toilet or glaring at your gut as it yields absolutely nothing, those words are your only comfort. Everything that’s happened is entirely your choice. Each ounce catalogued and consciously selected. The impaction, the Jericho’s Wall, you are powerless to remove them, but maybe – just maybe – that’s because you unknowingly hold the key to the gates. They materialized from something within you. Both from a profound sense of panic, your heart thumping out a science fiction space station alarm from just behind the wrinkled flesh of your forehead. From stress, overwhelming stress. Cortisol uncontrollably vacillating because no magic force will come and change anything. It’s entirely up to you; entirely your choice. And these words whisper from nowhere.  Defiant. A reminder of just who  invited this black guest and all his baggage into the citadel of your body.[2]

***

For a while, it will seem temporary. You go through stages: denial, anger, hatred, rejection, etc. Just like death.  Look, there’s a hidden grandiosity here and by the end you’ll see. Its a journey. This new reality of yours. These are just some of the places it will take you. There may be more, but you’ll have to pen your own adventure.

After a gastroenterologist visit . After reaching for every pill and herb and sacrificing to any virgin or whore who promised to fix it and still no relief. After nearly shitting your pants on several occasions when deeply stranded on a long run.  Still, after all the self-hatred that comes with your body’s decision to do that to you, multiple times, figurative eons from a toilet.  A sort of: “really? Really?! You want it to come out NOW?!  Then you develop a toned-down PTSD for long runs and start keeping an intake/output log and start calculating the likelihood of the mass around your waist, how many miles you can put on it before it just decides to totally fuck you.  After all that.  Then, realize you have to reckon with a new, broken you.

Next, prepare for the whole problem of personifying it. Which rears its head – the problem of personifying does – like a Cobra, striking for your sanity as you think, hey maybe I shouldn’t think so much about pooping.  Maybe it’s OK if it – the poop – doesn’t come out. But then, it – the poop, still – strikes again, light years from a toilet, embarrassingly crippling you from the deep recesses of human biology.

* * *

You do not shit from Monday to Friday.  Every week of your life. For the past six months, let’s say.  This admission avoids a sudden realization.  It builds, day-by-day, stoked by anger and lack of control. And then, percolating in a vat of liquid self-loathing, hatred on a cellular level – your cellular level – you sit down and write these words.[3]

Rebellion was bound to happen. No one takes this kind of bullshit from their own body. Everyone looks for a way out, an answer: drugs, therapy, changes of habit, etc.

Your first rebellion takes place in the form of caffeine and other diuretics.  These substances pump salts into the intestines and salts love water, so they drag the water along.  You piss a lot. Underline, bold, italicize ‘a lot’. Diuretics also cause your blood vessels to contract, causing the spidery nets and webs of vessels around your colon to loosen.  Thank your lucky stars because you only get one benefit from this, when, during the infancy of your Black Gift, you attempted to punch everything out of with coffee and tea.  You peed quite a lot.[4] Nothing solid made for the exits, though. Instead, it felt like a spiny sea urchin had lodged in your stomach.  It hurt, unbelievably.  A few times you doubled over with pain, unable to move.  Crippled by this self-inflicted injury, friendly fire in the war on your colon, which if you’re keeping up, is a total prick to you so he kind of deserves it.  This pain comes from a combination of just the sheer physical presence inside the intestines and also a rapid and catastrophic dehydration of sensitive blood vessels in the digestive track. The end result was a sort of mock labor pains, suggesting an immediate exit, but giving no relief. Contraction after contraction, sending you running for the toilet with a mixture of V-day joy and Female levels of bodily torment. Ultimately yielding very little of ‘it’. All this, for all the pain and diuretics and urine and rolling around in public because your stomach was on fire.

A side effect of this anger-driven method is incredibly hilarious.  Hemorrhoids.  A word to the wise, do not Google that.[5]  Approaching your body with this since of conviction and anger didn’t seem like a bad idea at the start. Imagine the lack of control, the pain, the bloating, the inescapable fullness. Also, losing weight because you just can’t – just fucking can’t – put another drop in there. Did I forget to mention how hard it is to get hungry when you feel like I’ve described above? Well, think about it.

Anyways, in these early days you had just started running again.

That takes some getting used to. Running with a fanny pack full of shit, bouncing rhythmically, but not persuaded to leave.  Stubbornly stretching and belching out pockets of hot, embarrassingly pungent, fart and unsatisfyingly remaining in place at the end of it all. Sometimes. But, Victor.  You can’t sit on him. You can’t wipe your ass.  You can’t really shit – imagine dragging a brick over a blueberry without breaking it and that the blueberry is attached to you and fucking hurts just when you think about that there’s a blueberry on your asshole.  It hurts like nothing else. Hurts in the kind of way where you uncontrollably shout “Aaagghhhhh” when you touch it accidentally, much to your own personal shame when you remember this is a public restroom and everyone else can hear you. But, what do they care.  They come in there and verbally announce the all-types of satisfying relief they experience.  Invisible cheeks hitting seats mere seconds before loud explosions of exiting material. Grunts, sighs of relief. The liquid rush of high-fat diets all making immediate headway while you set there, fester and cannot even remember what real audible relief feels like.

***

Then, maybe herbal stimulants.  Surely, some sort of laxative tea exists. In retrospect, clearly your monkey brain was firing on all cylinders when it came up with this one.  Basically, this tea give you cramps and drinking it before bed time is ill-advised.  You’ll wake up in the middle of the night with cramps. In the morning, you’ll wake up for work with cramps. At work, all day, you’ll sit doubled-over in your office chair to put pressure on this fecal love child that’s rightfully angry.[6] Literally, a whole day goes to waste just nursing the after affects of that tea. It’s a truly, horrifyingly bad concoction.

Around this time, fuck it, time to visit the doctor. Right?

The doctor basically pokes around with his gloved hands. Prods your core that was thoroughly lived in at this point in the week.  Felt the black hate child, murmured to himself, ordered blood work to check if you have some sort of shitting disease – Krohns runs in the family – and gave you some bacteria pills – like the pro-biotics that are in the yogurt that I eat every day for breakfast.  Other than some stupid stuff, nothing worth mentioning happened. The pills sort of get you back to shitting regularly. Which must be voodoo.  For fucks sake, you eat yogurt and boatloads of fiber regularly forever, your diet hasn’t changed in months and the shits all of the sudden appeared like a haunting. But, calm down. It gets worse.

This is where constipation really starts to fuck with your brain.  What’s really causing this, do I have any control anymore? Can I not ‘take something for this’? When you dispel the Great American Assumption about medicine for something so simple as shitting, you start to lose it.  You look for magical solutions, animal sacrifice, the correct combination of late-night alcohol and a heavy breakfast[7] and consider all types of bat-shit solutions. Various shamanistic diet changes: Spreading high-fiber niblets throughout the day. Concentrating them in a block with diuretics. More cheese, no cheese. No peanut butter. More fat. Less protein. A big bag of fruit before bed.

The probiotic pills did seem to work. But, why? Was it just that at that point in time, you felt sick and wanted to Take Something For It.  Having then ingested Something For It, your bowels opened up regularly at 10am like they had been for the past four years.  And then, after the trial meds, it slowly crept back in.  That’s how you know its magical thinking that caused it. OK, look. I know you’re saying, so get more of those pills.  First, they only kind of worked. You never get empty by the pill. Where you just lay back afterwards in a type of vacant post-coital glow, fantasizing about what to fill up with or whether even to fill up and just ride the empty train with a skip in your step and flowers in your hair. No. These pills changed nothing. Certain stressful incidents would immediately re-impose the embargo.  That’s how your know its something much more complicated than mere biology.  And then, the truly brutal realization. Not like you didn’t hate work before.  Instead, not only does your job rob you of sleep, and time, and dignity. You can’t shit anymore and now the only way you’re ever totally empty is from the trots, but we’ll get to those. Another almost name-worthy adversary, the Trots.

Now, you are at work, kicking people out of their homes who might have been making back payments on their overdue mortgages because a previously sympathetic justice system had become so waterlogged since the collapse that they just can’t be bothered to give two fucks anymore. Seriously, this deserves an explanation[8] and I’ll try to make it interesting. Because, unsurprisingly herein lies the root of the problem. You can’t shit anymore because you wake up every morning, commute 45min., and then sit on your ass for 8 hours and kick people out of their homes. You’ve done this for almost a year now and have gotten incredibly bored with it, kicking people out of their homes.  There’s some seriously bad psychology to unpack here. Or maybe to drop off at the pool. Hah! Drum-snare, cymbal-riff. Good night everyone.

* * *

Relief, in this worst of all possible worlds, remains unreachable. And so, running. More about that.   Imagine you run 6 days a week and for the longest time, get crippling cramps on the treadmill. And you’re too afraid to run outdoors because, well, you’ll see.  Not to mention, your expelling some war crime quality gas on about day 4 of your cycle. Of course, the treadmills practically sit on top of each other. Nearby runners have to smell, if not hear, the machine gun staccato of flatulence when your intestines place a pocket of the stuff in the firing chamber.  This tragic, flatulent tango becomes your reality.  This is who you are at the gym.  Stuffed up and heavy, bloated, running a leisurely 7:20 mile, ripping ass constantly.  Occasionally, your gut provides a sharp and painful reminder via cramp that you have guests.  Usually three-quarters through your run, some serious farts escape. After about mile three, your body gets to this point. It changes its mind and no longer wants to play parent to the house party it has hosted this past week.  Your body signals this by favorably expelling a lot of gas. Favorable because its so goddamned uncomfortable to run with four pounds around your hips, jumping up and down.  See, things get shook up when bouncing in the rhythmic fashion of a proper runner’s form. And then, after enough gas, reassuring amounts usually because at this point running, if it doesn’t actively hurt, is at least unpleasant, so you’re in this false sense of security because relieving amounts of pressure vents behind you and then, suddenly, the ball drops.  The fecal bowling ball descends the ball retrieval device, rolling into place for proper use. At this point, it is entirely your decision to shit. You can comfortably exit a treadmill and park your rear on a toilet and everything will explosively, but not painlessly, leave you.  Fun fact, it was not until the trots that I learned how shit gets so high on public restroom toilets.  Maybe you’ve held a job that involves cleaning toilets or been so unfortunate as to have to vacate waste at a truck stop and then stared awestruck at just how the hell flecklets of poop got not only up under the seat, but up onto the back plate of the toilet. Now you know. The trots can defy physics.

Sometimes, you  want to run outside where nature is your toilet, you might say. If you do, you aren’t me. Let’s say you want to work up to a half marathon.  The trots knows you’re 2.2 miles from a toilet and fast approaching 2.5 miles from a toilet. It starts to strike, just like always.  Some heavy intestinal shifting occurs.  And you start to fart, but you know by now that no relief can possibly come from venting steam.  And with each artful bounce-bounce of your runner’s stride diligently covering maybe three feet of the 5,280 feet in a mile.  You bounce-bounce off some steam and pray that the ball won’t drop. And then it does.  It drops just like always.  And now, curse whatever cosmic being you have the luxury of being the creation of, because you’re a record three miles from a toilet in a well lit and sparsely shrubbed Tampa hellscape. A veritable no-public-shitting Utopia.  Even if you wanted to pull a bear[9], you couldn’t. You have the option though. Your infinitely benevolent, but clearly dickish supernatural creator has allowed your biology one chance for a dignified exit from this run.  But with each bounce-bounce, it becomes less and less your choice.  You bounce-bounce thousands of times each mile and eventually this cascade robs you of the choice you’d just been given.  It is either shit now in your pants or you shit now in a toilet.  Maybe you see a choice there, but I don’t. For various traumatic childhood reasons, I find ‘bear’ing equally unacceptable to shitting my pants. Especially with no TP.  And so, you try to walk off the trots. And here is where the trots tries to earn a name.  Previously you covered maybe a mile every seven minutes. Now you’re lucky to walk uncomfortably over hemorrhoidal blueberries at 20 minutes per mile.  With any footfall heavier than a graceful shuffle causing terrifying and painful intestinal contractions.  You try to pick up the pace to a stately put-put jog, make it a few yards and the trots, reinvigorated by your sudden stirrings, freezes you hard in your tracts with the first glimmer of true shame. A turtle’s head. A prairie dog. Now, maybe some runners in your group pass you knowingly and judge your anti-bear sensibilities. And in the end, you find a toilet and experience the same explosively painful relief, but still, relief.  Still, painful. Yet, it’s a kind of freedom. The only true relief. The only kind you have anymore. A deep and abiding sense of emptiness, until Monday when it all starts anew.


[1] Suck it Anne Rice fans.

[2] That was a vampire reference. Like, that a vampire can only enter a domicile when invited.  Anyways. *cough*

[3] To what end? Who fucking knows.

[4] Don’t you remember?

[5] Mason Chimato described these best when I got my first one from working out stupidly (poor squatting posture, actually).  “A butt knuckle.” I named mine Victor, only because he defeated you. And no, I don’t name things. My dick is unnamed. I wouldn’t name a dog or a child if I ever had one. You know, if it wasn’t entirely unpractical to refer to them in proper noun form.  Naming isn’t my thing.  Something just felt right and necessary about naming the guest who appeared on and inside my sphincter and generally pissed me off and made me feel helpless for about 10 days.  He felt like a bare-knuckle boxer’s knuckle punching out of my colon.  Except, that knuckle is as tender as a bruise or a welt, filled with irritated blood vessels.  So, in trying to punch everything out – honestly, I didn’t set out to make this extended metaphor from the beginning but now that its ended up that way and I rather like the cheap pun – I got a hemorrhoid.  But for the purposes of this, you get to have one too. Congratulations.

[6] Maybe I didn’t paint a bad enough picture.  Let’s say, although I still drink coffee and tea – and it still give me the shits on Sat/Sun – I never, ever drank that tea again.

[7] The nuclear option of constipation relief.

[8] If after reading what I’m about to say you still want more information, I recommend the book Griftopia by Matt Taibbi.  A lot of this is my own experience and I can verify it with Taibbi’s work, especially about GSAMP 2006 (my job) and Alan Greenspan (my thesis).

My specific function at this law firm is to acquire final title of the property, the certificate of title, the recorded deed.  Eviction begins as soon as we have title, also marketing and sale of property can complete once we provide title to our REO (real estate) company. See, it’s like a Vertically Integrated factory. Which means, we represent banks.  The banks are providing ‘product’ which we then gussy up, evict and then turn over to a sales-side company.  All of these three work in unison, although the banks are represented by many firms and not all have an REO (or home sales) side.  Mine does.  This is a lot like the Robber Barons.  Who, if you remember American History, were businessmen who owned the hills, owned the mining equipment, owned the ore, owned the railroads to ship the ore and owned the mills that refined and stamped the ore.  Except in my world, we only have three steps.

1) Bank provides loan knowing the mortgagee will never be able to pay it and then

2) Pays our law firm to foreclose on them and get the house back to the bank who will have a hand in

3) Selling the house to someone more marketable, or maybe to another schlep who can’t afford it.

A lot of times, defendants object to the foreclosure process.  They claim to never have been notified of a sale.  Or, they’ve been promised by a loss mitigation consultant that their foreclosure will pause while they negotiate a reduced settlement that will keep them in their home.  Two things happen here: a) a lot of these loss mit. consultants are just thieves who take your money and never even bother to contact the bank about working things out or b) the banks “lose” your financial paperwork and never process the mitigation because frankly it’s more profitable for them to purchase your home at auction for as little as $100 and resell it for actual money than it is for them to get small payments from you over the next 25-ish years. That’s why they did step 1 in the first place. Banks can make a small killing up front instead of waiting on 25+ years for the loan to mature.

And let’s not even get into the mentality of financially rigging people to fail, forcing people who qualified for fixed-rate mortgages into adjustable-rate mortgages.  The difference of which I am leaving to Taibbi because he goes into much better detail. To heartrending and mind-fucking detail.

Its stressful to have to overturn these objections, acquire title and kick people out of their homes.  Especially once you start reading what the mortgagee has alleged in their objections. Fraud, misrepresentation, outright lies, lost paperwork and insane hurdles. And in the end, the courts always sides with the bank. The courts side with the Bank of Americas and Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers of the world (some of these don’t exist anymore, but their loans still do and the justice system still gives these crooks the benefit of the doubt in the legal system)

[9] As in, a bear shits in the woods.

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One Response to Constipation, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Trots

  1. Pingback: Necessary Self Congratulation « Nerd Runner

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