Ask Dr. Dumb: Should I Worry About Tearing My Colon?

 istockphoto.com

istockphoto.com

Readers, we want to warn you that today's post contains strong language and adult situations involving the colon, up to and including the phrase "tearing someone a new asshole."

Still here? Great. 

We're addressing this important subject today because of Paula Radcliffe. Radcliffe, of course, is the British legend who ran a world record 2:17:18 at the 2002 Chicago Marathon—and then turned around and beat that time with a staggering 2:15:25 at the 2003 London Marathon. That record still stands.

Radcliffe still stands, too, but all that crazy-intense training and racing has taken a toll. In a recent interview, she said that her foot "is buggered basically" and that she tore her colon en route to her 2002 Chicago Marathon win. (Emphasis ours, because she tore her colon.)

From London's Telegraph:

Speaking about the Chicago race, Radcliffe told BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘At Home with Colin Murray’ podcast: “I, basically – and it’s pretty gross – had taken off the lining of the last part of my colon.

“Because of the bouncing up and down, and the running, the running hard, the blood supply isn’t going as much to there. The minute you stop, the blood supply does come back. So that didn’t feel very nice.”

How is this even possible? Should you be worried about the integrity of your own colon? And isn't buggered a great word?

To answer these questions and more, we turned to our resident expert on bouncing up an down, Dr. Dumb.

Dumb Runner: Wait a minute. Is that you in the photo up there? 
Dr. Dumb: I wish! That's my younger, more attractive brother, Stewart. Makes quite a nice living as a stock photo model. With a face like that, it's easy to see why.

How's his colon?
Stewart's colon is also very attractive. As is mine. Runs in the family.

Speaking of running: As a middle-of-the-pack runner, how worried should I be that I'll tear my colon?
Very.

What steps should I be taking to keep my colon healthy and intact?
Short, gentle ones.

I mean, what things should I be doing?
Ah. Well, there are exercises you can do. You can find them all, with color illustrations, in my new book, Colon-Awesomey: Your Guide to a Bigger, Stronger Gastrointestinal Tract ($25, Penguin Classics). Of course, if you're running and you feel or hear your colon being torn, you should stop immediately. And then purchase my book.

What does a tearing colon sound like?
When the colon tears, it sounds exactly like a large Velcro strap being undone. 

Let's back up a moment. What is the colon, anyway?
Merriam-Webster defines colon as "the part of the large intestine that extends from the cecum to the rectum." Wikipedia, however, redirects colon to its page on the large intestine, explaining that "(t)he large intestine, also known as the large bowel or colon, is the last part of the gastrointestinal tract and of the digestive system in vertebrates." 

So Wikipedia says the colon and large intestine are the same thing?
Sure seems that way.

But the colon isn't the same thing as the rectum, right?
Right. 

So tearing a colon and tearing someone a new asshole... those are two different things?
Medically speaking, yes.

On a related note: Is it your expert opinion that "anal canal" is simultaneously the funniest and most disgusting of all anatomical phrases?
Absolutely. Calling to mind, as it does, the world's most unpleasant gondola ride.

If I ask my doctor to examine my colon, he won't touch it with a ballpoint pen like the one in the photo, will he?
Of course not. In a clinical setting, your doctor will touch your colon only with a sterilized #2 pencil.

Could I examine my colon myself, at home?
You could, but most doctors frown on such D.I.Y. probing. Even with LED flashlights and mirrors, it's just too difficult.

Would a discussion of this subject be complete without a reference to Colon Blow cereal?
No, it would not.

Doctor, as always, thank you for your time.
You're welcome. Good luck to you and your colon.