I have had terrible constipation for 15 years, along with dry eyes, dry mouth and lips, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, stomach pains, fatty liver (I have never drunk more than a couple of glasses of champagne at Christmas), dry and scaly hands and feet, joint swelling and pain, saliva gland swelling and jaw pain, and was told it was just 'part of getting older and the menopause'! Last week they told me it was Sjogren's and that because it hadn't shown up on the blood test, they had ignored that as a diagnosis.
Anyway, enough of that. Constipation - at one point it was so bad it blocked my bladder and that was just unbelievable. So, I now manage it and also manage - ha - to have at least one good bowel movement a day. Every day, wherever I am, first thing in the morning I have three teaspoons of Lactulose, one Fybrogel sachet in some fruit juice, a bowl of All-Bran with a sliced banana and semi-skimmed milk. During the day I never let myself get thirsty - I drink tea or water regularly. I also walk as much as I can with my joint pain, but I make a point of it. I get one hour's gentle exercise twice a week and I eat lots of fruit. I never take pain killers. (One time I broke my hand and elbow when I fell over at church and refused to take the pain killers because the constipation was much worse than anything else. Codeine especially is a nightmare.)
It seems that it is up to us to manage this syndrome symptom by symptom. The fatty liver is new and I am off to the doctor tomorrow to insist on being referred to a hepatologist as I now know that Sjogren's can cause liver problems. He gave me penicillin for my infected salivary glands, which are now less painful.
For my dry lips I use lip salve, all day long. I have about six of them and keep them in various coats and one in my bra so they are at hand! For dry eyes, which wake me a couple of times in the night, I use a lot of Viscotears, at least two packets a week. I never put my hands in water with detergent and use a good hand cream a lot. For my feet I use a thick cocoa butter cream before putting on socks. I always wear socks and flat shoes. I wear good slippers indoors, over my socks, and rarely wear sandals - the worse thing for dry skin on feet I find. I take thyroxine 100mg a day, sleep every afternoon for about an hour, have a good 8 hours sleep a night, try to eat as little wheat as possible but not be crazy about it and avoid fried food.
Have I told you I never take pain killers? Well, when my joints are bad I do use Ibuprofene gel, which is excellent, ok not as good as co-codamol but doesn't give you constipation - where I came in, or hopefully out!
We have to keep on keeping on. It beats the alternative!