Poos had always been a problem for Lou Conran. And then she found colonic irrigation and never looked back, which is probably just as well when you’re lying on a table with a tube up your bum.
Illustration by Louise Boulter
Lou’s first experience of colonic irrigation was the humiliation that just kept on giving.
When I was 10, my mum thought I had appendicitis. The doctor was called, and said he was just going to shake around my tail end. As I was laying there thinking “why is he going to tickle my feet?”, a hand went up my arse.
Safe to say I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
I’ve always had problematic poos. I either don’t go or I can’t stop, there’s no happy medium. Oh how I long to be like my mate Becky who can shit properly up to three times a day. Total show off.
When I was about 28, I went on the Weight Watchers diet and stuck to it religiously. I completely cut out fat – opting to cook my food in orange juice, and fry my eggs in water. Delicious.
After a few months I noticed I hadn’t been for a poo, a proper non-malteseresque rabbit dropping poo, for three weeks.
Sitting in the disabled loo at work, I was crying in pain. All I wanted to do was have a shit, and I couldn’t.
I’d always had a massive phobia of going to the loo in public, and here I was, but a few feet from my colleagues, squatting on the seat because I’d heard it would help shift something.
And shift something it did… the entire bowl broke away from the wall and was no good to anyone for three weeks. And I still hadn’t had a shit.
Desperation led me to the (back) door of colonic irrigation.
I was terrified. Having suffered a phobia of crapping in public conveniences, I was now about to let a woman I didn’t know shove a tube up my arse and suck out whatever was up there. I didn’t care though. I would have done anything.
A caesarean section crossed my mind at one point as a way of helping to birth what was surely an 11-pounder, but I figured I’d give the colonic a try first.
At the clinic, a very stern German lady explained what was to happen before inserting a tube and starting the flush. The feeling of the water – usually around 60 litres worth – working its way around inside was good, but not as good as the knowledge I was finally going to have a poo.
Twenty minutes – and a lot of massaging – later, nothing had budged.
She was mystified, until I outlined the strength of my commitment to Weight Watchers. Then she was horrified.
‘How on ze earth are ze going to have a movement if ze has no lubricant to help ze motion slide from ze hole?’
As I worried she was about to produce a can of WD40, she started massaging my stomach. Hard. It was very painful, but that was no surprise, given the backlog of, well logs, which were lingering in my dry, stuffed up bowel.
I visualised filling a hoover pipe with concrete and then trying to squeeze it out the end as it slowly sets.
Still nothing was happening, and then I started feeling damp.
What happened next offered me a chart-topping experience on the humiliation scale, which I like to call Top of the Plops.
“Um, excuse me; I can feel… I think it’s leaking…”
“Don’t be ridiculous, it can’t leak, it’s ze fool proof system.” Oh yeah?
Two seconds later, the tube shot out my arse, like an angry vomiting snake and covered her, me and the entire treatment room in my very own shit.
I’ll never forget the look of horror on that poor woman’s face as she grabbed a load of paper towels and shoved them up my bum before shoving me towards the shower.
And as I waddled off in my hospital gown, looking like I’d shat a train of blue tissue paper, the remainder of what she’d pumped inside me fell out like my waters had broken.
I don’t think you’ll judge me when I say by this time I was at capacity for trauma and embarrassment.* (see footnote)
When I had cleansed myself – physically at least – I returned to the scene of my humiliation and it was like it never happened. Both she and the room were spotless. Although she couldn’t look at me, she told me as she took my 80 quid, that I was the worst case she’d seen and would need a minimum of eight sessions for starters.
I made another appointment, left in shock, and went home, vowing silently never to go back while setting a reminder on my phone to cancel.
The next day, my colleagues were really eager for me to explain the flashing ‘Cancel bum gush’ alarm which went off while I was away from my desk.
Apparently this was the humiliation which just didn’t stop giving.
I did eventually pluck up the courage to return, but not for a long time, and not to that woman.
Eleven years on and I’m so pleased I did. I now regularly see a great practitioner called Gaynor who – for reasons only known to her – loves her job.
Of course the process isn’t dignified and shitting yourself in front of someone takes some getting used to, but the light and cleansed feeling you get after all your doings have been sucked out makes any uneasiness worth it.
People have suggested I can get too reliant on colonics, but when you have such a sluggish digestive system, you need all the help you can get. Laxatives make things go the other way. More fibre gives me stomach cramps. Increasing my water intake helps a bit, but not enough.
There are poo-pooers who believe you shouldn’t mess with your natural doings. To them I say, come back and say that when you’ve gone weeks without a back-end clear out.
There are also those who would put my inability to shit down to an ‘emotional build up’. I think that’s what you might call a ‘shittin’ and egg’ situation. Of course I’m emotional. None of my internal organs can move for crap.
As far as I’m concerned – and I’ve done my research – as long as you’re not having colonics on a weekly basis then you’re safe to apply the everything-in-moderation principle, and get flushed. So every eight weeks, that’s exactly what I do.
* You might think that once you’ve experienced humiliation on the scale outlined above, you’d be safe from a repeat performance. Apparently not.
Gaynor, I’m sorry my arse broke your new, shiny shit-sucking machine because I thought changing from Weight Watchers to Slimming World would be a dramatic enough diet shift to keep everything lubed on the bowel front. On the bright side, at least you didn’t get a Lou-crap marinade. See you in eight weeks, if you’ll have me.
Lou is a comedian, writer, actor, lover of curry and cheese, and is also a giant simple child.