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Reviews Personal views

Bodily functions

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 25 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:461
  1. Sue Chowdhury, works with an international development and relief agency
  1. Oxford

    I was recently admitted to a trauma ward in a major teaching hospital with mixed sex, four bedded bays. The nature of my injury meant that, for several days, I could not move or be wheeled to the lavatory, so bedpans were the only option. I blessed my constipation, refused the daily offers of Fybogel or senna, and lied to the nurses about my bowels.

    For someone unable to escape, it can be purgatory

    It seemed bizarre, incidentally, that we were questioned routinely on what came out, when nobody showed much interest in our intake. Neither the caterers nor the nursing staff commented when my trays remained almost untouched for four days.

    There was no restriction on visiting hours. This is wonderful when it is you who are visited and no problem if you are mobile enough to get away to the lavatory. But for someone unable to escape, it can be purgatory. Our bay was not much larger than the …

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