In England, a 24-year-old man is currently refusing to poop, allegedly to dissimulate drugs that he had used. Or more precisely to prevent them from getting out. He would have spent 43 days without evacuating his intestines; an eternity in human abilities. But concretely, how does our body react to such stress?
What happens when you refuse to poop? According to Gastroenterologist Ian Lustbader from New York University, and as you would expect, there is really nothing good about it. As he says, “Birds must fly, fish must swim, and settlers must poop”. Generally, people with chronic constipation problems desperately want to defecate. You may have already experienced it. But deliberately delaying bowel movements for long periods of time is relatively rare.
If you eat normally, but do not discharge your bowel movements, the colon may become distorted – this is known as the megacolon syndrome. It could then become so large that it could extend to the ribcage. The feces themselves, will also compact and harden: the stool is indeed composed of 75% water and a kind of mixture of bacteria, protein, undigested food, non-food waste, dead cells, fat, salt and mucus. The large amount of water facilitates the mobilization of this mixture through the body and its output through the rectum. But if you do not defecate, your body will reabsorb all the water. This process is called fecal impaction, creating a hard mass that will have a lot more trouble passing through the anus.
Anyone affected by it, will be in excruciating abdominal pain and great irritability. In the case of our man, in England, “the fact of refusing to eat considerably delays his desire to defecate”, explains the doctor, “but this is only a temporary solution: malnutrition will eventually become a problem”.
The 24-year-old was arrested on Jan. 17 after the police saw him swallowing what appeared to be drugs. As reported by the BBC, he’s refusing to eat very much in order to prevent himself from pooping out the evidence. If it turns out that the man has actually swallowed packets of drugs, he says, the packaging within which the drugs are contained may also break and release the drug into his system. This could lead to an overdose. “On the other hand, if the amount of drugs is low, the body could potentially absorb everything, and the man could successfully hide the evidence — unless the authorities test his urine.”
The man was appearing for his seventh hearing on Friday, March 2nd. “We are going to see who wins,” notes the doctor, “the system or the colon”.