Yesterday during my shift in the local ER I saw a man who recently udnerwent a partial colectomy (removal of his colon) because of colon cancer. He had been doing well until he got home and realized that not only could he not pass fecal contents into his new colostomy but that he was also not passing gas and was starting to develop belly pain. Naturally he came to the ER to get help.
I assessed and X-ray'd him and diagnosed him with a post-surgical bowel obstruction, then I referred him to surgery. The surgeons came, saw and admitted but as the Canadian medical system is chronically short on hospital beds he was still in the ER today when I came back to work.
Fortunately (or maybe not so fortunately) he began to improve today. The first stuff to move was the gas trapped in his belly which began to fill his colostomy bag. At some point he must have become concerned that there was too much in there and removed the bag to deflate it... into the surrounding atmosphere.
It wouldn't have been so bad... if it had only been once but the bag kept refilling and he kept re-emptying it until the methane content of the ER's air became nearly suffocating.
Fortunately our isolation room was empty and we were able to transfer him into it before the asthmatic in the next bed asphyxiated.