The Poop Files: I've got the Runs

The poopy policeman line up by Paul Chek

I’ve got the runs!

A few weeks ago I was in Durbar in Notting Hill with some friends having a seriously wonderful time, belly laughing that left me almost too exhausted to eat. ‘Madame G’ was trying to get to grips with her new gluten free diet having done some Gastro Testing, whilst at the same time trying to play down the fact the waiters all referred to her as ‘lunch lady’; she could no longer hide anything.

 ‘’Can I eat ? naan’’ she would ask, whilst eating it. I knew she knew the answer so I said its Saturday night why not start on Monday. This was exactly what she wanted to hear so I gave her what she needed. Naan!  On the other side of me was my friend Pinak who was pretending (I know this now) to be interested in my I phone X with face recognition. He asked how it worked as he swiped the phone in front of my face and bingo it opened. I could see he was on my phone but thought noting of it, I had nothing to hide and it was Pinak afterall, what could he possibly get up too? Well 5 mins later the fruits of his deceiving nature had been published on social media for all the world to see. 


Facebook : Updated Status: Hannah Richards ‘I’ve got the runs”


Within seconds I had had messages of condolence; people were impressed at how honest I (pinak) had been and how brave I was to share! “Good to see even the gastro experts have these common problems” was one comment! I was suddenly sharing the very things, thoughts, feeling that are just not designed for social media or for British conversation. However it was causing more of a stir than the side splittingly boring holiday Heathrow terminal 5 updates, bikini selfies or pictures of food porn around the world, not to mention another lunge/ squat in a gym somewhere. It was at this moment I decided to start the POOP Files and talk about the most under rated subject for overall health and well being your poo!

I decided to let Pinak bask in his man glory and let the status stay up for 24 hours. I felt he had gone to great lengths at hacking into my phone for it to be embarrassingly removed (by me) within seconds, neither was I embarrassed. It was actually delightful to watch the pleasure he was experiencing. He resembeled a naughty school boy who had put a whoopee cushion under his teachers chair; he sat content at his sophisticated prank, every few seconds laughing to himself.

Bowels are without a doubt one of the uneasiest subjects to talk about after sex and if you are British!

It is said that ‘you are what you eat’ and, more recently, ‘You are what you don’t absorb!’ But I say a more accurate description would be ‘You are what you don’t excrete’. Flashback to the Gillian McKeith days when she was scraping around in Tupperware boxes full of poo, shouting at mortified, overweight souls who probably wished they’d read the contract small print as their poo became household viewing. 

Until Gillian McKeith came along, poo was a subject as taboo as sex, especially in the UK. Just as sex is certainly never easy to discuss, your bowels and their regularity take much of the same awkward tone. To help me with my patients, I have two charts – the Bristol Stool Chart and the other from Paul Chek’s book Eat, Move and Be Healthy – which gives names and faces to all the potential states of the bowel and consistency of stools in outfits. It is called the Poopy Policeman line up. 

A lot of people do not know what their bowels look like, or how often they go. Being regular by whose standards? I remember a lady once, proudly tell me of her regularity of bowel movements; it was only when I asked what her regular was that we discovered that she was chronically constipated. Twice a week is regular if that’s what you do every week, but it’s not normal. The bowel should move roughly 30 centimetres of faeces a day, preferably three times a day, an hour or so after every meal. That’s optimum regularity and what we should be striving for! So if you are moving your bowels once every three days and you’ve been told this is normal – it isn’t. This scenario is becoming more and more common, but in fact a frequency this low indicates severe faecal impaction and can lead to chronic constipation and slow transit disorders and it is these conditions that will precede diverticular disease, polyposis, haemorroids and colorectal cancer.   

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Weekly Homework: 

·     Make a not of how often / many bowel movements you have a week

And ask yourself these questions?

  1. ·     Are they runny or more like rabbit droppings ?

  2. ·     Do they smell ?

  3. ·     Do you see blood ?

  4. ·     Can you see mucus ?

  5. Do you have undigested food in your stool?

 So if you have any of the above symptoms or indeed all of them it may be time for you to do some testing and get to the route cause of your bowel movements or not , once and for all!