After heart surgery, each new day seems like a precious gift; then you get constipated.
Constipation is the sick man's burden; a scatological limbo between light and dark stools; the evil magician's rock that must be abracadabra'd away from the secret cave's entrance before the treasures within can be revealed. If I sold prune juice by the bottle I would brand it 'Open Sesame.'
Laxatives, of course, are essential: bypass patients are not allowed to strain when sitting on the toilet, and so liquid plumber for the stomach must be employed. I prefer milk of magnesia, but only because it sounds like the sort of mythical elixir that Jason and the Argonauts might have sought. The embarrassing phrase "an enema," meanwhile, merely conjures unprepossessing mental pictures of an especially gelatinous jellyfish floating idly in a polluted ocean: not a very promising image when you really want a manic octopus stirring up the sea bed.
But personal comfort is not the only reason to encourage successful defecations. Like ancient Roman priests predicting the future by appraising the entrails of sacrificial beasts, modern doctors examine their patient's bowel movements for biological indicators. The shape, color, consistency and regularity of such human waste apparently reveals a great deal about the health of the humans responsible for evacuating these samples. Please feel free to Google the many possible grisly conclusions that can be drawn from such investigations in your time.
At any rate, it is amazing how smug and self-satisfied a patient feels when, after a lengthy spell of frustrating constipation, he at last regains the approval of his doctors by completing a successful bowel movement. His entire being is suffused with an almost impish glee - break out the toadstool wine, we'll celebrate. Anything is possible now, even that complete recuperation he's often heard the nurses talk about.