Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tracking Bodily Functions: Important Or Too Much?

Ah, the information age.  But when is all just it too much?

The web provides endless information, especially as far as medical topics are concerned.  There are blogs that help patients create community, there are medical institution websites and the like. 

As I’ve mentioned before, with the advent of electronic medical records and e-prescribing, doctors and patients can connect in unprecedented ways, and patients have unparalleled access to their medical record and can interface with it. However, there are flaws with these systems.  They’re only as perfect as the people that create and utilize them.

Almost anything you can think of is available; from the ridiculous and absurd to the amazingly helpful.

But I warn you, this is a shitty subject…

In my post about Nurse Ratched, I talked about my difficulties with chronic constipation, and the fact that she was holding me back from getting the medication that my doctor felt would work for me. Well, as it turns out, and contrary to the cranky nurse’s opinion, my insurance very quickly approved the prior authorization for Amitiza.

And guess what? I started taking Amitiza, and I started pooping. Sorry if that’s TMI, but it’s the truth.

And what is a girl to do when she goes from “stopped up” to “moving smoothly”? 

Well, celebrate of course!  Give me a gold star for every BM! 

On a whim, I decided to see if there was some sort of App that would allow me to track my bowel movements.

Gross, maybe, but useful, yes.

The fact that an App even exists says that there are other people – at least one other person – on the planet that thinks this is important, too.

As I found, there are actually several Apps available for this purpose, and it depends on how technical you want to get about it (for example, also allowing you to track water and fiber intake). 

But I will warn you, when you are doing an ITunes search with terms such as stool, bowel, and poop, you will have to sift through a lot of random, weird crap (no pun intended). 

So getting back to the original question, when is it important to track your bodily functions and when is it just overkill? 

It’s one thing if a doctor specifically asks you to track your fat intake, calories, fiber, or even blood pressure.  But what about when you aren’t specifically asked or told to keep track of something? 

For me, I felt that it was important to keep track so that when I see my GI doc next month, I can very surely tell him that things have vastly improved.  They still aren’t perfect, but I’ll definitely take what I can get at this point.

In some ways, this whole process feels very obsessive to me. The second I’m out of the bathroom, I’m entering the information into my IPhone.  It gives new meaning to having your entire life on your phone.   

And is it sad that going to the bathroom has become the most exciting part of my day?  It’s sadder that I can tell you what day and at what time the dirty deed took place, and the quality of it, according to the Bristol Stool Scale. 

Yes, people, this is my life.


  1. I know what you're saying. I was keeping a health journal for quite awhile, but it started to feel obsessive. I was focusing way too much on how I felt, every little ache and twinge, and I started to feel as if it made me worse. So I gave myself a break from it, and never went back. I've experienced similar obsessive bouts when tracking things like Weight Watchers point, calories, etc.

    Having said that, I think it is definitely useful for you to track this stuff for the time being, just to show your doctor that the treatment is working. It can also be helpful to track when things aren't going well, so you can see how long it's been going on. But maybe not long-term? I can't imagine wanting to keep recording the quality of your poop forever!

    Too funny that there are poop apps! At least you know you're not alone! :-)

  2. Loved this post! I have an app called "GI Monitor." I'm also playing around with "Symple" symptom tracker to see if it is useful for me - with the free version, you can track something like 4 symptoms; with the version you have to pay for, you can track up to 20 symptoms along with various custom "tags" aka lifestyle factors (such as travel, exercise, whether you socialized, whatever). But ultimately, I might make myself a spreadsheet instead (for the non-GI tracking... I feel like I need to do the GI tacking in real-time otherwise I often forget and can't track accurately). Anyway, it can get complicated so I do want to make sure I keep it as simple as possible while still being effective, and the main goal is to get effective treatment so I can live my life to the fullest! Don't want to spend so much time tracking that I don't have a life!

    Which app did you settle on?

  3. The Bristol Stool Scale made my day! ;)

    I remember being in the hospital when I was about 12, slowly recovering after a JRA systemic flare almost killed me. Every time I had a BM, the nurses would inspect it and indicate on a board above my bed (visible to all) the quality and nature of the poop. When I started using the washroom instead of a bedpan, I always "forgot" to tell them I'd had a BM.

    Yay for pooping!

  4. OMG I am laughing so hard! Because I have such horrible poop problems my hubby is always telling me to document my bathroom habits. I cannot wait to tell him that there is an app for that!

  5. FUNNY! I also have lots of poop problems, and my hubby is always telling me to document my bathroom time. I cant wait to tell him that there is an app for that!