Dear Dr. Roach: I am in my early 90s and have read your column and those before yours, and have not seen this topic covered.
Long ago, my primary doctor told me that many people suffering from constipation are not aware that they are ignoring the natural urge for a bowel movement that comes within 15 to 30 minutes after every meal, often because its not convenient or they are rushing off to work, school, etc. He said that his wife had this problem, being a schoolteacher and having to return to the classroom soon after lunch. It was the same for the students. He said that when the urge is ignored, the stool retreats in the colon, and gets firmer each time as more moisture is drawn out. In older people it can be less intense and not noticeable. For this reason, I have never gone on a bus tour, assuming after stopping for a meal, that the driver is not going to wait for all of the passengers to go. Now in these days when many of us try to increase and balance the amount of fiber we eat, to make the stool more predictable, I can schedule my appointments accordingly–and that works well for me. Yes, after every meal. M.H.