Sunday, July 10, 2011


One of the things we all (well mostly all of us) grow up being taught is that passing gas, while natural, is kind of taboo. It's embarrassing, some consider it to be bad manners and we won't even get into how the smell of a bad toot can both clear a room and invoke hostility. If you are female, it's especially bad form-there have been many a TV episode plots based solely around the horrors of farting in front of one's significant other.

The average, everyday, healthy person produces about a half litre of gas a day and needs to pass gas around 14 times. Men seem to do it a little more and seem to care a little less. 

Most laproscopic abdominal surgeries require that the patient have their abdomens pumped up with gas. Carbon dioxide causes the abdomen to swell, which lifts the abdominal wall away from the internal organs. This gives the doctors more room to work. However after the surgery is over with, this will leave the patient with the gassiest stomach imaginable. Over time, the body will absorb some of the gas itself and will also expel it via good old fashioned tooting.

Early in the morning the day after my surgery I could feel my belly start to rumble. I was feeling incredibly bloated. For the ladies, imagine your most bloated point in your monthly cycle-the day where a baggy dress or track pants are the only thing you felt remotely comfortably in. You know how you can sometimes feel like you suddenly have a Homer Simpson gut? Well imagine looking down and you actually do-and it's all gas.

In the case of what we'll call "surgical gas", it can actually be quite painful and for some people can go on for days, weeks, even a month or so. You have strange sharp pains even in areas outside your belly, from your chest, to your shoulders to your collarbone area. It can make you feel nauseous, dizzy  and crampy. Some people have reported that the pain are so severe, they are certain they are having a heart attack. In my case it never got that bad, I think because I tried to move around as much as I could and do the breathing exercises (which to me seemed to help things get moving) as often as possible. I felt like a beached whale and was uncomfortable but not to the point of agony.

I knew that walking around would help so as soon as I was able to do it, I did as many laps of the floor as I could (taking breaks when required). I'd do a circuit, up the hall, past the nurse station and back down the other hall in a loop. The whole time I was walking I could fell my stomach tossing and turning as gas bubbles shifted. Usually after one lap, I had a feeling I could "produce" a little gas.  So I'd wander into my room and do a few extra paces. ROOT-A-TOOT-TOOT. HISSSS. KA-POW. BURRROP OP OP. POPPITY POP POP POP. 

The first few times I'm sure my face reddened as I looked around my empty room. Open farting like this went against every bit of etiquette I was raised with. "Excuse me" I said out loud. PFFFFFFFFTTTT. Another hissed its way out, almost in response. I giggled. This must be what it's like to be a 12 year old boy. Once the barrage of tooting would slow down and stop, I'd do another lap of the ward. Rinse and repeat. Every lap brought more farting, less discomfort (marginally) and more giggles. There is something liberating about medically required farting. I couldn't help it and I was SUPPOSED to do it. Whenever in my regular life would I ever get to be this way without it being bad manners and "not what a lady should do"?


For the next few days, every root-a-too-toot elicited an audible cheer from me. In my head, every one was getting me one step closer to feeling better and going home (passing gas was one of the four things I needed to have completely before I could be releases). If Charlie and Charlie Jr. were visiting and I had the urge to pass gas, I'd walk into the bathroom away from them but only after I announced matter-of-factly that I had to toot/fart/cut the cheese. 

And once in the bathroom I'd still giggle and cheer. 


  1. too cute, but too true. After kidney transplant surgery the nurses were in every hour asking if my son had passed was kinda funny...he thought it was too...LOL

  2. Thanks for the was pretty funny-and liberating!

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