Sharing details about bowel problems is generally considered to be crude or at the least, TMI. However, I want to share it as it is funny in retrospect.
I was having indigestion troubles back in my thirties and was sent for X-rays of my upper and lower Gastrointestinal (GI) tracts. I had them done at the Alexandria Hospital in Northern Virginia. Now days, the Upper and Lower GI Series tests are done sequentially in one visit. Mine were scheduled on separate days. Perhaps the protocol was different back then, or it was done to maximize the billing.
For the upper GI, I skipped breakfast and drank a barium “milkshake.” Standing X-rays were taken of my chest from the front, back, and side. It was an easy and unremarkable procedure.
The same was not the case for my lower GI series. It was mostly uncomfortable, but I did have periodic, thankfully, short-lived bursts of pain. The intestines need to be empty prior to the procedure, which is done via fasting and drinking laxatives the day before. My test was scheduled for 9:00 AM. For those who have not had this procedure, it is done by lying prone. The technician inserts a flexible plastic hose in your rectum and fills up your lower intestines with barium. My test included the optional double-contrast, which means that air is pumped in along with the barium to fully inflate the intestines.
The technician used a foot pedal to pump the air in. My belly literally expanded like a balloon. That is when I started getting tweaks of pain. Fortunately, the X-ray technician was experienced and completed the procedure swiftly.
It was funny when the technician released the air valve and the pent-up air was released from the tube. It sounded like an exceptionally long fart. My belly shrunk back to normal size. He then pulled the tube out of my ass. He told me to get up and move swiftly to the adjacent bathroom. It was about eight feet from the table. I sincerely doubted that I would make it cleanly to the toilet, so I took a moment to gather my wits and then made a mad dash.
Thank goodness I made without incident. A few seconds after I sat, I had an explosive, diarrhea-like bowel movement, complete with field artillery sounding percussive blasts. It went on and on. It was wild. My clothes had been left in the bathroom. I dressed quickly and exited the second doorway to the hallway. That’s when it hit the fan, so to speak. There were more than a dozen people seated and standing in the hallway right outside the door. There was no sound masking vent fan in the bathroom and these folks had heard it all. They were staring at me like I was a freak and likely contagious…
I looked around, groaned, and squeaked out a timid, “excuse me.” I quickly made a stage left exit. It is fair to say that I was mortified. I didn’t tell my family or friends about the hallway incident until many years later. LOL