On farting

You might have spent your whole life being polite. A little prudish even. Or you may have been a whole lot more earthy. But one thing you’re going to have to talk about and live with from now on are certain bodily functions that you might not be comfortable talking about.

You’re going to have to face up to answering endless questions about your stools, and you’re going to have to face up to the increased possibility of farting. And let’s be truthful: farting in a less than lady-like or gentleman-like fashion at inappropriate times.

These may not be dainty farts. So what’re you going to do?

Well you could innocently stare at the ceiling and pretend it isn’t you. Let some other poor sap take the blame. But in all honesty you’re only going to get away with that for so long. A better approach is to be upfront about it. Explain to people you’ve had colorectal cancer and that there can be certain side effects to that – one is urge incontinence and another is increased flatulence. Both of these are a small price to pay for being alive.

There is no cure for flatulence. It’s something that everyone does and you need to get over yourself. I find that if you warn people about your condition they are generally very nice about it. They’ll usually laugh. It breaks down barriers. It may help to have a few jokes up your sleeve to put people at their ease, as humour is essential for LifeAfterColin.

One I used recently was to warn someone that I was in recovery from colon cancer which meant my colon didn’t always behave itself. ‘I might fart most unexpectedly,’ I explained. ‘I’m very sorry but it’s a side effect of my shorter colon and things getting back to normal’. I saw the slightly tense, concerned look on my friend’s face so I followed up with: ‘Just to be clear, I might be farting, but I won’t be lighting them.’

She burst out laughing. I laughed. We felt like naughty schoolgirls.

Console yourself with the fact that farting shows your colon is working and that it’s actually good for you. It shows you’re getting a healthy colon microbiome and that you’re eating more ‘difficult’ foods such as vegetables. Well done you! It reduces bloating and stops the gas getting trapped in your small intestine or colon thereby causing discomfort.

If you’re farting too much, try and figure out what your trigger foods are. I know I still have to avoid carbonated drinks and if I eat too much fibre then this is how my body will respond. Digestive biscuits – that’s all I’ve got to say.

It’s a question of playing with your food and experimenting with quantities of foods. Don’t avoid individual food items altogether – vegetables may be hard to digest but you need to gradually reintroduce them – but if they cause excessive gas then cut back on them a little to give your colon chance to adjust. Gradually increase the amount you eat, as you can tolerate it.

My colorectal nurse also recommends peppermint tea, peppermint cordial and other minty products to calm the colon. I find that good quality green tea with matcha also seems to do the job.

Let us know if you found anything useful to help with your gaseous challenges. But remember it’s always better out than in. As a friend said to me when I gave her the fart warning: ‘There’s no shame in farting. Letting rip is liberating.’


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