Man lost feeling in his leg and could have died due to incredibly severe constipation
By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have a fairly good grasp on how to control and deal with our basic bodily functions. We know when we need to eat or drink, when we need to sleep, whether or not we're too hot or too cold, and - one of the most basic things - when it's time to use the bathroom.
However, sometimes certain health conditions will impede our ability to control those functions, and that can lead to some very dire consequences.
One man from Australia knows this all too well, as he had a near-fatal encounter with a bout of constipation.
Last week, the BMJ published a report about an unnamed 53-year-old man whose constipation was so severe it nearly killed him.
At first, nobody could tell what was wrong with him. He had checked himself in at the emergency room complaining of abdominal pains that had persisted for three days, plus terrible nausea and swelling around his stomach. Most worryingly, though, was an extreme pain in his right leg. He'd been unable to move it for 24 hours, he explained, and, when doctors examined it, they found it to be cold to the touch.
Bizarrely, though, when he was given a background check, he had no history of drug use or vascular disease, nor did he have any known underlying conditions that could possibly have caused his symptoms.
But then he was given a rectal examination, at which point doctors discovered a lot. Like, a lot a lot.
A further scan of the man's abdomen revealed that he had a huge fecal compaction (in layman's terms: he was full of poop), and that had caused abdominal compartment syndrome. All the excess fecal matter had distended his large intestine and put pressure on his right iliac artery - thus causing the pain and paralysis in his leg.
The 53-year-old was also exhibiting signs of "renal impairment and metabolic acidosis" - a state in which the kidneys stop functioning properly, causing a build-up of acid in the body.
It was essential for doctors to operate immediately, otherwise his condition could have proven to be fatal.
In the case report, the medical team wrote that "Significant faecal disimpaction was performed manually under general anaesthesia with approximately 2 Litres of faeces removed." Basically: a team of medical professionals had to go into this guy's body and take out TWO LITRES (half a gallon) of poop.
Thankfully, the unnamed patient survived the ordeal, but still had to be kept in intensive care for four days following the procedure. Even after that, it still took almost two weeks for him to regain enough sensation in his leg for him to be able to walk again - but he eventually went on to make a full recovery.
Strangely enough, the doctors were never quite sure of what had caused such an excessive build-up. Still, this weird incident is a good reminder to always get a medical condition checked out as soon as possible, no matter how embarrassing it may seem to be.