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Thread: Questions on self managing bowel care (digital stimulation)

  1. #1

    Questions on self managing bowel care (digital stimulation)

    Hi all,

    I have been doing my own digital stimulation for nearly 10 years now. I am wondering if there are resources on how to do this properly and advice/tips?

    I am seeking to speak to people who self-manage their bowel care, as well as nurses who are familiar with this. I have some random questions, concerns, and I am seeking advice from people who understand/experience what I have experienced. This won't be too organized, but it would mean a lot if you could read this and let me know what you all think about the various things I will talk about

    Here it goes:


    I am a very independent paraplegic. Thankfully, I have good hand/arm control, which allows me to do my own care. For the first few years my mother was doing this for me---she wasn't technically taught, she was only given the jist of it, and god bless her, she figured it out and did it for as long as she could.

    My mother eventually taught me how to do it after she got really sick. Anyway. This is what I do:

    Usually it takes me 1 hour + to complete the bowel program--- I go every third day, so a week would go (monday + thursday + sunday)

    I use about 10-14 (give or take) latex gloves throughout this session. I lube up my gloved index finger, and then I insert it into my butt and do it in a circular motion until some gas escapes, which pushes down the feces, until I can hook it and drag it out. I remove the glove, take a break, then do it again and again until an hour or so passes. Is it okay to do this so frequently? I have heard it's not wise to stimulate that many times?

    .......... If only I didn't have to do this bowel program I would be a happy person. I don't even mind catheterizing, but putting my finger in my butt has really taken a toll on me mentally. I hate doing it for emotional/mental reasons but also because it brings me extreme pain and I sweat a lot from my nipples down during my routine.

    --- Also, I have developed these bubbly things over the past 5 years that I have become accustomed too, I think they are hemherroids, but Im not sure. Is there such thing as permanent hemherroids? When I do my bowel program the kind of come out and feel like they're outside of my butt, but when I start, they are inside. When I finish and I hop onto my chair, I am often in pain for 1-3 hours, probably because I'm sitting on them until they retreat back into my butt. I often spend this time on my stomach, but sometimes I simply have no time and must get out and about (such as personal obligations & work)

    ---- Also, I have realized how important my diet is in relation to my bowel program. When my diet is bad and I only eat take out and avoid veggies/fruits, I notice my bowel program is very difficult, and sometimes down-right torturous! the worst feeling in life is when I am doing my bowel progam, and there is a stool I can feel, but it is kind of like a ball, and I am unable to bring it down or hook it. This usually results in my spasms going crazy, and my session becomes horrific. I sweat, I am in pain, my spasms are going crazy, and all I can do is keep stimulating and trying to strain and pray for the feces to come down and give me relief. Usually I can't even get back into my chair during this time because my spasms are literally as if I'm running; what's worse is that my spasms end up tightening my butt and just makes everything more difficult! Sometimes I succeed and quickly hop off my chair, sometimes I don't succeed and give up and hop off my chair---either way, when this happens, the next 2 hours are hell. My spasms go haywire, my body overheats, and I get dizzy. I am certain this is autonomic dysreflexia. During this time, I can't sleep, I can't lay down, and my body is just going crazy and all I can do is wait it out. Sometimes I smoke marijuana when I have it and it reduces the time it takes for my body to calm down, but this isn't always possible to get where I live currently, so more MOST of the time I have to suffer. Has anyone gone through this? I now make sure I get a lot of fiber, eat fruits, and especially banans and kiwi help, this has reduced the times this happens.


    I don't currently have a family doctor/physician. I haven't been to a doctor in at least 3 years. I know it is important to see a doctor and ask them all these questions but it's simply impossible for the time being due to some personal issues I won't get into. So that is why I am asking all of your advice in the meantime.

    I would appreciate any tips, advice, or simply anyone who can relate to me and tell me they understand what I'm going through and it has happened to them/or someone they know. I feel so alone and as if I am the only person on earth to go through all this.

    thank you for reading it feels good to type it all

  2. #2
    Senior Member djrolling's Avatar
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    I confess I did not read every word of the the whole post but think I got the gest of things. I know I am just lazy when it comes to reading. I am T7/8 I go about as often as you but the first thing I do is bend over grab my left ankle with my right hand and my right ankle with my left hand, I find this gives me more stability and push. This usually gets things moving and then I finish up with a little digital stem to make sure everything is out and it usually takes me 15 to 30 minutes. I wonder if you are doing too much digital stem and maybe that brings on some of the other problems you have when doing BP. Do you ever try and push first before doing DS? I am very active and hand cycle 20 to 30 miles most days so I do not know if maybe that helps things move through the system better. Sometimes if I am constipated a little digi stem first then push I know I do my program lest often than a lot of people and I still wish I did not have to do it. I know as BP's go mine is pretty easy. Have you ever tried a laxative? A lot of people seem to use them and have success with them. I know I do not have all the issues you have but maybe someone else will have better advice from a more common experience...

  3. #3
    I do a Bowel Program (BP) every other day. I was taught during rehab. I digi-stim until something comes out and keep doing it to keep my bowels moving. For some reason suppositories did not work to get anything moving, so I've always been doing the manual stim. I was taught that I need to keep stimulating until nothing comes out after 5 mins of active stimulation. I only pooped every 2-3 days prior to injury, so I don't always have something. I was told to quit if nothing comes out after the first 20mins of stim. Like you, I use a whole bunch of nitrile gloves and vaseline. Feel free to ask any clarifying questions.

  4. #4
    Do a search on this forum and you will get lots of info, but here's my opinion, FWIW. An hour+ is too long; you need more fiber, more exercise, more fluids. Hooking with finger is not good; you will injure the delicate tissue in your rectum, digistim is just to stimulate natural peristalsis and allow things to move on their own, if you have to dig, your sh*t is too hard. The "bubbly things" are probably hemorrhoids or the beginning of them; if you see blood, you know you are in the danger zone, ease up. Finally, you need to see a doctor and it'd be nice if you saw one that knows something about SCI. They can help you navigate the joy of bowels programs and keep you from getting too depressed about the whole f**king thing.

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