Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All Bound Up

After much holiday nostalgia, a silly, absurd, self-deprecating story.

Recently at work, I got myself into serious trouble. I mean big time. Trouble with a capitol "T". Trouble that almost made me a patient in our ER.

On that fateful day, I arrived for my 7 a.m. shift. After taking patient sign-outs from the overnight ER doc, while I was getting my computer workstation ready, I noticed a pink emesis basin sitting in the station. These bins double well as serving bowls, so I was eager to see what the overnight snack was. I peered inside to find that it contained about fifty pieces of banana- flavored Laffy Taffy. Supposedly, the night shift had snacked on a full bin of Laffy Taffy, leaving only the yellow-wrapped ones behind.

What? Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind doesn't go for the banana-flavored taffy first? Is apple or cherry or grape really that much better than banana? I don't think so, my friend.

Well, banana taffy and I, we're like an old married couple. I guiltily unwrapped what I swore would be my one and only piece at about 7:15 a.m., thinking that the rest could wait until at least after lunch. After proclaiming my undying love to the yellow gooey stuff, I plopped it in my mouth. Do you think I could savor it, roll it around on my tongue a little bit, enjoy it? Oh no, not moi. I chomped into it three times and swallowed it whole. Okay, just one more piece. I'll savor this one, I told myself.

That was wishful thinking. By 11 a.m., the bin was empty, my fingers were stained yellow (despite multiple washings), and my stomach was lurching at anyone who approached me. How do you possibly tell your stomach to remember its manners? Mine was blatantly rude, speaking out at every opportunity. I know I ate most of the candy, but I swear I didn't eat all of it. Did I?

One glance around the ER and I found my answer. At the far end of the nurses' station, sitting on a small stool in front of her computer, sat one of the new nurses. She wore a grimaced look and was rubbing her belly as she tried to concentrate on her screen. My partner in crime. I wanted to go up to her and tease her, but I am not a stupid man. Those nurses stick together and I knew that whatever I threw at her would come back tenfold to me. So, hard as it was, I let the moment pass and just shrugged off our conjoined misery.

Well, the following week was a long one. And not just for me, but for those around me. I was miserable. Completely and utterly unbearable. From my end (pun intended), the misery stemmed from the intermittent cramping, the spasms, and the constant rumbling that I could not conquer. For those around me, I'm sure, their misery was mostly from their pained ears--ears that bore the brunt of my constant complaining. I swear, after the third day, I didn't have one friend willing to say more than "Hello" to me before turning around and high-tailing it out of there. I couldn't blame them--I'd be the same way.

After a few more days, my wife got involved. "What's wrong with you?" she teased. "Take care of this already. You are a doctor, you know."

Yeah, yeah, I know. I also know that I should not have eaten forty to fifty pieces of Laffy Taffy (did I mention that it was banana-flavored?) in one sitting, but I did anyway. I refused to let the words "Fleets Enema" be mentioned in my presence.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the kind, elderly woman, a complete stranger, who heard me out in the cereal aisle at Wegman's while I searched for some Rice Chex. "Um," I confessed to her bewildered face, "my name is Jim, and well, I haven't had a BM for almost a week."

Of course that didn't really happen, despite my wild imagination willing it to. I really did walk up and down the cereal aisle three times, though, begging for an angel of mercy to come and put me out of my misery. If not an angel of mercy, at least someone wearing a Depends diaper who could point out the best fiber cereal for me.

Despite lots of water, prune juice, mineral oil, fiber cereal, and fiber drinks, I still had no success. I decided to be really aggressive. It was time for (drum roll, please) magnesium citrate.

For those of you not familiar with this miracle drink, it comes in a ten-ounce bottle and looks like Sprite or 7-Up. Unfortunately, it sure doesn't taste like it. Trust me, drink it fast and drink it cold. And only one bottle. After drinking it, it passes through your intestinal system, pulling water into your colon. This increases peristalsis and provides relief within one to four hours.

I called our charge nurse, Julie, in the ER and asked her to place a bottle in a brown bag for me to pick up. "And please, Julie, don't tell anybody that it's for me." Yeah, right. I should have known better.

I drove to the ER and walked in. Before locating Julie, she had found me. I heard her before I saw her.

"Dr. Jim," I heard her loud, familiar voice yell, "here I am." I turned to find Julie wearing a big grin, standing in the middle of the crowded nurses' station. Don't do it, Julie, please.

She continued. "Here's the bottle of "mag citrate" you called in for yourself. I sure hope it works for you." Ugh. She gently held my brown bag above her shoulders and did a slow 360', showcasing the temporary trophy that was in her possession. Bad girl, Julie, bad girl.

I had forgotten that magnesium citrate can be purchased over-the-counter for a dollar. A stinking lousy dollar--the cost of saving me my dignity. But at that moment, I had no pride.

Well, I am happy to report that I am a magnesium citrate success story. I am a survivor of acute constipation. Starting next month, I will be the new spokesman for magnesium citrate (I said no to the prune juice company), so look for my commercial on a Japanese television station near you. Soon, I hope to have brown wrist bands finished to bond all of us who have braved similar success stories. I hope others will step forward to share their courageous stories and inspire you as I know I have.

Okay, enough. Thanks for bearing through my obscene level of silliness. I am proud to say, however, that I have not had one piece, nada one, of Laffy Taffy since that 7 a.m. shift. Whenever I get the urge, I just slap on another Chex patch and I'm fine.

As always, thanks for reading. The next post will be Friday, January 1. Please take this fluffy post as intended...I hope you smiled. Feel free to comment if you are a banana taffy fan! LOL


green ink said...

Is it wrong I giggled nearly the whole way through this, especially the Julie 360 bag display bit?! :P Absolutely hilarious!! Glad you survived to tell the tale!

I'm sure I had banana taffy in the box of mixed flavours I bought in Boston a few years ago - but honestly, I ate so much candy while I was there, who knows :P I know there were Twizzlers on a regular basis.

Leslie said...

In a word, hillarious! Thanks!

911RN said...

I laughed about the pink emesis basins being used as "serving bowls." We use the green bath basins, which double as "our" puke buckets to serve popcorn and the like in the ER. Having a cast iron stomach-have only one similar tale. After a hard,long 12 hour shift- decided to eat cheese puffs (I was HUNGRY-to tired to cook)and drink Cold Duck Champagne on empty stomach- for a virtual teetotaler, nondrinker. WARNING: bad combo! What was I thinking?? HORRIBLE-returned an orange and purple potporri to the porcelain God. Have only ever suffered one episode of acute constipation after birth of second child. My sympathies, doc! I had to resort to the Fleets AND Oil retention enema amongst other treatments as I was in pain up to my milk-laden chest! BTW, call Magnesim Citrate "Dynamite in a bottle." Works (not tastes) great and less filling-ha! Stay away from the Banana Laffy Taffy or better yet, prescribe it those presenting to ER for diarrhea! Thanks for the laughs!

J-Quell'n said...

Man, you really gummed up the works! I was wondering why you didn't just go to the pharmacy and get some mag citrate until I got to the end. That stuff totally dad had to chug 2 bottles before his colonoscopy. But...banana taffy? Ew! So not worth it.

rlbates said...


WrightStuff said...

Ha, that will teach you (speaks the woman who has eaten her way through a chocolate mountain in the past week). I have no idea what banana taffy is. In the UK a Taffy is someone from Wales so frankly I'm not surprised you got a bit bunged up if you ate 40 banana flavoured Taffs - you Americans do have some strange ideas...
Happy New Year Doctor and keep taking your medicine.

t. said...

Co-workers can be so cruel...

I've always wanted to have a Halloween dinner party using yellow plastic bedpans & pink plastic emesis basins as serving dishes, with the white plastic urinals for the beverages.

Twisted and disgusting, I know, but hey! you can't NOT have a twisted sense of humor and work in medicine.

Katie Axelson said...

Not going to lie, when I started reading this I wanted to go rummage up a banana Laffy Taffy because those are the only good ones! Now that I've finished reading it might be awhile before enjoy one again. :-) However, since my dad just had his colonscopy we've had our share of poop jokes lately, but this is the opposite problem. Better in the basement than the attic, right?

Anonymous said...

"Well, I am happy to report that I am a magnesium citrate success story. I am a survivor of acute constipation. Starting next month, I will be the new spokesman for magnesium citrate (I said no to the prune juice company), so look for my commercial on a Japanese television station near you."

OMFG- "No, Julie, Nooooo!"

Thanks for the laugh(s)!~

Maha said...

Sounds like your laffy taffy is my gummy cokes, fuzzy peaches and hazelnut chocolate. The staff decided to have a potluck on Christmas day and by the time my shift was over, I was begging for gravol and lactulose! Glad you found a side job as a mag citrate spokesperson, albeit in Japan :P

A great post as always. I hope you have a wonderful new year, free from any GI distress!

terri c said...

I knew there was a good reason I don't like Laffy Taffy... Reminds me of a time when I had the same problem, different cause, and was prescribed 4 dulcolax tabs, a stack of reading material, and uninterrupted bathroom time.

Anonymous said...

my dad sent me out on christmas day to buy him enemas.

should've seen the looks the pharmacist gave me when i lumbered up to the register with an armload of fleet enemas and a single york peppermint patty.

Katie Axelson said...

I have to confess, this has been bothering me all day:
"By 11 a.m., the bin was empty, my fingers were stained yellow (despite multiple washings), and my stomach was lurching at anyone who approached me."

Yellow-stained fingers? Who really touches Laffy Taffys enroute to the mouth? However, I do appriciate the multiple washings. :-)
<>< Katie

SeaSpray said...

You're so FUNNY!!! :)

I didn't know taffy would do that, ?? Too bad they weren't banana jelly beans and then you wouldn't have needed the little brown bag. :)

Banana taffy was always my favorite or else with Jersey Shore salt water taffy ..I like the root beer.

I've had that stuff pre procedure and didn't know you are supposed to chill it. It may've helped... a little. The doc said I had a certain amount of time to drink it but it was so bad tasting that I decided to chug-a-lug the stuff ..except it tasted so bad ..that wasn't possible either.. but I think I did it within 5 minutes by absolutely forcing myself ..hitting the table to distract me and making lots of faces and shuddering after each swallow. UGH!

Then the next awful part is when it hits your stomach like a big brick. UGH!

On occasion with a ureteral stent..I've had to take milk of magnesia which very much reminds me of the mag citrate but not as strong. It causes nausea and inner oral cheeks to get all salty watery. Not pleasant. I wish I thought of the mag citrate with one early stent placement. Would've saved 3 days of bladder spasms.

Well ..regarding the playful nurse back can be a .... in fun of course. ;)
I have a serious question that I have pondered before and I hope you or someone can please explain.

It's about the patients who present to the ER staff with a FB in the nether region:Well know what ..I won't ask .. but suffice it to know that I am baffled that if big objects can go up (which I just don't see how possible in the 1st place) puzzles me that they can't come back down? Including overdue bms since obviously the region is *accommodating*?

Thanks for the laughs. :)

Blessed said...

Well, I was with you about banana laffy taffy being the best--however, I must say I will not be regarding them with the same, uh, relish from this moment on.

So, thanks, Doc.

; )

Cal said...

This was a great read. Your very human side keeps coming through in all your posts, either serious or hilarious like this one. I loved the self deprecating tone, makes you come across a very likable person. I have no idea about the taffy though, but I remember the night of agony my husband went through after drinking magnesium citrate, when preparing for a procedure. He must have used the bathroom over 20 times and was exhausted by the whole ordeal. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will never have to use the nasty stuff.

SeaSpray said...

I am fascinated that the stuff draws water in from your system. I don't know why. just interesting.
I also think of taffy as being oily/slippery when melting and so turning to cement surprises me.

I am ***always and forever more going to be reminded of you and this delightful (at your expense :) story when ever I buy salt water taffy at the shore.*** As a matter of fact .. when I see the banana flavor ..I may just bust out loud laughing! :)

At the very least ..I will no doubt giggle when perusing the taffy assortments in the store.

Not unlike my memories of a former ER blogging doc, Trench Doc. It's been a few years now and to this day, I can not walk down the cake aisle in the grocery store without smiling every time I see a box of Red Velvet Cake. Nor can I or my girlfriend approach a salad bar without *giggling like school girls and giving each other *the look* because of his Germaphobia post and subsequent comments of them being the Throckmorton Salad bar Test. :)

He gave me permission to put his Germaphobia post up and is in my favorites section on my sidebar. I hope you don't mind I mentioned these things, but want you to know..your writing has impact. LOL! Impact ..impaction ..ha ha pun intended! :)

Thanks for the entertainment. :)

NYCRN said...

I absolutely love two things about this post. "Those nurses stick together" and your physiology report on the colon and mg citrate.

EDNurseasauras said...

Funny! But..

Anonymous said...

Memory sure is becoming cheaper these days. I wonder when we will finally reach the rate of $0.01 to 1 GB.

I can't wait for the day when I will finally be able to afford a 20 terabyte hard drive, haha. But for now I will be satisfied with having a 16 gigabyte Micro SD in my R4i.

(Submitted by WhatPost for R4i Nintendo DS.)

Janet said...

Omg, I am literally reading this as I sit on the toilet straining after eating too much banana Laffy Taffy. I wish my laughterbof your story could make me poop ��

Esther Paris said...

Which works better for colitis: lomotil or banana laffy taffy?

Anonymous said...

I must admit, I came across your story after googling "can eating too much laffy taffy make you constipated?" (Remind me to delete that cringeworthy question from my search history)..Needless to say, I've got my answer and managed to laugh through the excruciating pain caused by my purchase and subsequent gluttonous overindulgence of two 24 count 1.5oz individually wrapped bars of sparkle cherry/grape/watermelon laffy taffy. I knew I'd regret that Amazon purchase but definitely don't regret finding this blog post, even if it is over 10 years old.

Anonymous said...

Well, this makes it less embarrassing! Looks like I’m not the only one googling about too much laffy taffy! I made the mistake of eating 15 -20 pieces of saltwater and laffy taffy today and my stomach is pissed off at me. And yes banana taffy is the best ! I will cherish the memory of the flavor, but probably won’t ever eat the stuff again after my own experience.