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All Backed Up

April 15, 2019

News from the bathroom…specifically, the kinds of horrific things that can happen when a person doesn’t go to the bathroom for a while. 


In February 2018, a man (his name was unsurprisingly not released in news reports) sought treatment at The Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Japan for an injury he sustained while going about his bathroom business. He’d been suffering from a severe bout of constipation, and settled into the bathroom in his home to try to get things moving. For more than half an hour, he just sat there, playing games on his smartphone, hoping his bowels would move. They did, but not in the way the man had hoped. A baseball size mass exited the man…along with a piece of his large intestine. (That’s called a rectal prolapse.) The poor man had suffered this indignity on previous occasions. “The patient has had rectal prolapse since he was four years old, but the bulge was able to retract in the past,” Dr. Su Dan said. “But he did not have the condition treated, so the situation got worse.” And how. 


Also in 2018, an Australian man visited an emergency room, complaining of abdominal pain, along with nausea, and, mysteriously, a paralyzed right leg. After running through the man’s spotless medical history and ruling out drug use, emergency doctors figured out the problem: severe constipation. Exams and scans revealed extremely impacted stools, which led to a case of abdominal compartment syndrome, which is a potentially fatal overabundance of pressure on the abdomen. That, in turn, resulted in a distended large intestine, which put pressure on a major artery, leading to leg pain and paralysis. Doctors rushed the man into surgery, where they removed approximately 2.25 pounds of solid waste. After 13 days, he could walk again. 


A 50-year-old man in China suffered from an especially uncomfortable two-day bout of constipation in 2018, which got so bad that it left him nauseated. So, he took matters into his own hands, literally. He found the longest eggplant he could find, and tried to, um, get things moving. It didn’t work…and the eggplant got stuck. Amazingly, the man lived with that for another two days (with more constipation, nausea, and vomiting, too) before he sought professional treatment. Doctors removed it, finding that in the process, the man had also ruptured his intestine and somehow inflamed a lung.  

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