Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Bowels and Bladder


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The "bowels" consists of the digestive tract between the stomach and the anus.  This tract is further broken down into the small and large intestines.  The small intestine is approximately 20' long and is where the majority of digestion occurs and nearly all food is absorbed.  The large intestine (called large because of its larger diameter) is approximately 5' long and is responsible for removing water and excreting solid waste. 

The functions of both the bowels and the bladder are controlled by muscles.  Being that GBS affects muscle function it also wreaks havoc on these two things.  The bowels move "material" through them with a series of contracting and relaxing.  This process is called Peristalsis.  (For a complete walkthrough of the digestive systemIf the solid waste is not excreted it will sit in the intestines and continue to have the water removed until it is noting more than a hard lump.  For me it was initially removed through a very uncomfortable process called digital disimpacting. (the digital part being a finger!  The nurse who often had this task later suggested during my visit back on the MICU floor that I should get a tattoo near my crack of a miner with a pick and a lantern!  Thanks Ruth!)

After I regained control of my bladder I was started on a bowel program.  My Dr. explained to me that he would order the program done at the time of day I used to go before coming down with GBS.  Instead of using a bed pan I was to evacuate from a commode chair, sitting up right and the force of gravity would aid in the task.  Doing this after a meal was also beneficial in evacuation.  I was told this was a natural response of the body; it would make room for the food you just ate.  Each morning at the designated time I received a suppository and was then moved to a commode chair.  Two weeks later I stopped taking the suppository and was able to get the job done on my own.


 The Catheter was with me the entire time I was in the ICU and a few weeks after being moved to a rehab floor.  The process of putting one in is less than pleasant, but wasn't the worst thing that I had to endure.  Every couple of weeks, as I recall, it had to be changed as the signs of a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).  With me one sign that there was a UTI setting is was cloudy urine




This page was last modified: May 14, 2005