Can’t Eat, Can’t Breathe, Can’t Make

I finally found something worse than shitting five times a day: not shitting five times a day.

If you read my Vertex Study Report, you might remember that the Vertex pills have caused me some digestive distress (and if you didn’t read it, well, now you know). To alleviate this, I steadily increased my digestive enzyme dose until I got as close to a happy median as I was going to get.

Enzyme power is counted in lipase units. When I started the Vertex study, I was taking 8 25,000 unit pills (200,000 total units) per meal. Once I started the study, I creeped up to 12 25,000 unit pills (300,000 total units) per meal. That’s a lot of fucking pills.

There’s actual math involved in figuring out how many pills to take, but on my end, I keep adding pills until my poops start sinking, which indicates that I have successfully absorbed all of their nutrients/souls.

Having increased the number of “just in case I need to eat” pills I carry by 50% really put a damper on my pocket space, so when my nutritionist said there was a 36,000 unit pill available, I jumped at it. The nutritionist’s math worked out that I would only need 6-8 pills per meal (216,000-288,000 total units), but eating something that requires less than the maximum amount of enzymes is just a waste of my time. Still, 8 pills sounds easier on the pocket than 12.

Until I saw the pills.

The old pill is in the middle, new pill on the right. I also eat a 2013 penny with each meal.

The old pill is in the middle, new pill on the right. I also eat a 2013 penny with each meal.

I don’t know why, but I thought there would be some magic engineering involved to shove more lipase units in the same sized pill. I was wrong. These were just Apache Chief’d versions of the pills I was already taking. Still, only 8 of them. Hooray!

Pictured: Apache Chief, about to pee on a bear.

Pictured: Apache Chief, about to pee on a bear.

Last week did not start out well for my digestive system, so by Wednesday, the idea of taking 9 pills for a meal seemed brilliant. So I did it. 9 pills is no big deal, right? Of course, 9 of these big pills is roughly equivalent to 13 of my previous pills, but the more I shit, the worse I get at math.

At some point after that, I took a large poop that I was very proud of. I mean, I wasn’t so proud that I took a picture of it—I took the picture because it looked interesting. It looked like two turds—one green and clay-like, another brown and healthy—smashed together in the Fun Factory that is my digestive system. “It’s calico!” I proclaimed and had a hearty laugh.

I’m a fucking idiot.

The next day my poop was light green. The day after, it was stuck.

Now, it wasn’t a complete obstruction, as some things still moved through, but there was a palpable mass in my upper abdomen that was building up enough gas to make me look like I was in my third trimester. I was super uncomfortable, but I still made the drive out to Long Island to see Bekka.

Unfortunately, once I got there, I was as useless as my digestive system. Any dreams we had of using a Groupon at a local Korean restaurant were dashed as I contorted myself in a number of positions to move my bowels. Bekka, knowing that Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup has never once failed to fly out of me like popcorn butter, made me a family size can. I ate it and waited. Nothing happened (unless you count me feeling worse as something, in which case something happened).

Bekka had originally suggested an enema, which I vehemently opposed, but that was before I got a family size can of Chicken Noodle soup stuck in my stomach. The Chicken Noodle soup made it seem like a great idea. It felt so nice, I tried it twice. Though I did make a small fart, apparently the enemas were just for fun.

That fart took a lot out of me, so I fell asleep soon after. I woke up about two hours later, groggy, but convinced that I was in the throes of dehydration. Bekka was sleeping and I didn’t want to disturb her, so I mustered all my strength to walk downstairs and drink two glasses of water (or, more accurately, 1 and 7/8ths glasses of water). I made it back upstairs, but didn’t quite have the strength to fully answer Bekka when she asked what was wrong. Instead, I quickly walked to the bathroom and my stomach sent the chicken soup back from whence it came: my mouth. Unfortunately, my mouth cannot hold an entire can of family size chicken noodle soup, so it ended up all over the bathroom wall.

Throwing up made me feel a little better, even if it almost gave Bekka the sympathy pukes. But since I wanted my bowels to move down and not up, I decided it was time to get a stool softener.

I pinned all of my hopes on this move (it was, after all, my last resort before hospitalization), so I insisted on going to CVS with Bekka. I waddled into that CVS and spent a few minutes pretending that I was an expert in stool softeners (“Oooo, this one is an advanced formula!”) before deciding that the 100 mg CVS brand was the best match for both my situation and the $8 in my pocket. I also picked up a PowerAde to replace all the fluids I threw up.

Once we got back to Bekka’s, she spent a few minutes encouraging moderation in both Powerade and softener. So I took little sips of blue drink and two out of the three pills the package said I was allowed in a 24 hour period. Then, tuckered out from all the big decisions I made, I went back to sleep.

I don’t know how much later I woke up, but I know I made a poop that felt like a long lost enema, then—proud of my determination— I coughed so hard I threw up again. At least the Powerade added some color to the proceedings.

Throughout the night, I discovered the stool softener had worked, even if I did push the needle a little too far in the other direction. Later that day, at Bekka’s son’s birthday party, I discovered that barely contained ass vomit can’t keep me from jumping at a trampoline park (even if I did have to make a quick run to the bathroom to answer the age old question: sweaty fart or containment failure? Answer: sweaty fart). Jumping, while fun, used a lot of my muscles and I’m no longer a young buck, making me pretty sore the next day. And that’s how I learned that the superior region of my upper trapezius gets quite a workout when I’m on the can.

See, you really do learn from your mistakes.


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