I was reading your column recently and noticed the letter from Dodging Bullets, the woman who has a colostomy bag and an inconsiderate boyfriend. I am not qualified to give advice on her sex life, but I may be able to help her lose the colostomy bag. I work for American Medical Systems in Minnetonka, Minnesota. AMS is a medical-device manufacturer that is currently recruiting candidates for implementation of a new artificial bowel sphincter (ABS). This device is a permanent implant that closes the lower intestine until the patient pumps it open to allow waste to pass through. The ABS is currently sold in Europe and Asia. It is under clinical evaluation in the United States and will be put before the FDA for regulatory approval later this year.
Dodging Bullets can call AMS at 800-328-3881 and request to speak with someone regarding ABS clinical trial enrollment.
–Jeffrey Lechner-Riehle, operations engineer, American Medical Systems
My first thought reading Jeff’s letter was this: “Oh, brave new world that has artificial bowel sphincters in it!” My second thought: How exactly do faux bungholios work? “A ring-shaped balloon called a cuff is placed around the lower part of the bowel, just a little bit higher than the natural sphincter,” said Jeff when I called him at his office. “Another balloon is placed in the abdominal cavity, and the two balloons are connected to a pump. When the patient pumps the pump, fluid is drawn out of the cuff and up into the balloon in the abdomen. The cuff opens, and waste can pass out of the bowel. Then fluid flows back down into the cuff automatically, closing off the bowel.”
And where’s the pump? “For males, it’s placed in the scrotum, and for females, in the labia.” How big is it? “It’s the size of a small matchbox. It’s flat, about an inch long, half an inch wide, and a quarter of an inch thick.”
OK, let’s say you’re a woman, you’re having sex, and your guy grinds up against the pump implanted in your labia. Will your artificial bowel sphincter pop open, causing you to crap all over the bed? “It wouldn’t be very easy to accidentally open your cuff. It’s theoretically possible, but even if you did squeeze the pump accidentally, it takes several pumps to deflate the cuff. If you don’t keep pumping, the cuff refills.”
Now, I know what you pervs out there are thinking: can the faux-sphinctered engage in anal sex? “I don’t see why not,” said Jeff. “If any pressure is put directly on the cuff, the fluid flows into the other balloon. So I don’t think you would damage the apparatus” during entry. What about during the fucking? “The cuff won’t shut, but it will refill as much as it can.” Then the cuff grips the penis? “Well, um, yes.” So, what you’re telling us, Jeff old buddy, is that the artificial bowel sphincter may actually enhance the anal-sex experience? “Well, no. Or maybe. Look, there probably wouldn’t be enough pressure that you could actually feel it, but you might. The ABS can be stronger than the natural sphincter muscle. Some people with the implant don’t even pass wind unless they pump themselves open.” So they’re pretty tight, those artificial bowel sphincters? “Yes.” Well, when I heard that I thought to myself, hey, it’s only May and my Christmas shopping is done! But before I could get Jeff off the phone and call the boyfriend to tell him what Santa was bringing him this Christmas, Jeff burst my bubble. “No sane person is going to get this done for no good reason. It is a surgical procedure. The ABS is for someone who’s paralyzed or has nerve damage,” not for someone who happens to be my perfectly healthy boyfriend. “If you have a colostomy bag, or you leak and have to wear diapers, it can be hard to hold a job–you might smell bad–and it can cause problems in relationships. The ABS is for these people. It restores them so they don’t have to leak.” And not leaking, as Martha Stewart might say, is a good thing.
Listen, asshole, you didn’t get any letters on the sexual class issues in Titanic because there were none. Maybe nothing is meant by Billy Zane’s plucked eyebrows. It is a fucking movie. Who are you to criticize James Cameron’s screenplay? Young women around the world are not the only ones who love this movie. And who gives a fuck what you think, anyway? –John Conklin
Who gives a fuck what I think? You do, apparently. Why else would you send an angry letter, “John”? And don’t think for a minute you’re fooling anyone. Who else but the thin-skinned “King of the World” himself would attempt to defend the indefensible–Billy Zane’s conspicuously plucked eyebrows? If you’re going to send angry letters, Mr. Cameron, have the cojones to sign your own name. You’ve signed your name to worse. Much worse.
You did your readers a service when you got some not-so-pointless bullshit off your chest about bacon bagels. As a society, we’ve forgotten the purpose of eating: to nourish our bodies. Eating has become entertainment; we tax and pollute our bodies without the slightest consideration for our health. In the interest of taste, color, texture, shelf life, fast, easy, and cheap, we bombard our systems with pesticides, preservatives, hormones, synthetic fats and sweeteners, stabilizers, texturizers, and coloring agents. Then the media bombards our minds until we’re convinced we need chemical remedies for the lethargy, bad breath, asthma, indigestion, headaches, gas, depression, constipation, heart attacks, strokes, body odor, acne, muscle pain, obesity, and allergies that stem from our diets. You spoke of God’s intentions for our diet. God placed us in a garden and said, “(This is the food) ye shall eat thereof.” Since that beginning, we’ve become so perverse! We’re the only creature that consumes milk past weaning–let alone that of another species–and the only creature that cooks its food!
Your line about turning “good-for-you foods into heart-attack snacks” was right on. Good for you!
–Louise Brotman, founder, Raw Living Foods restaurant, San Francisco
If you came away from that column with the impression that I’m some sorta pasty-faced vegan birdseed-eater, well, disabuse yourself. I believe that God intended for us to eat veal sausage, to take one gruesome example. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have put herds of veal on the planet or made ’em so friggin’ tasty. Same goes for foie gras, pickled herring, my boyfriend’s butt, and yes, bacon. My problem wasn’t with bacon, but bacon bagels. My objection was to putting something observant Jews cannot eat (bacon) on a Jewish foodstuff (bagels). I would feel the same way about matzo balls in oyster stew. For the record: I eat bacon, I drink milk, I cook my food. Furthermore, I intend to continue abusing my system until my innards are so rotten that I have no choice but to have an artificial bowel sphincter implanted in my aged, leaking tush. After all, if God had not intended for us to have our sphincters replaced, he wouldn’t have left room in our scrots and labs for implanting little matchbook-size pumps. For your thoughtfulness, God, I thank you! You’re the King of the World!
Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.