Health Stories

Mum’s warning after bungled colonic causes agonising injuries

'I thought I was dying'
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Pamela Kilah, 65, Springwood, Qld

‘Mum, you have to  try it!’ my girl, Brooke, 36, enthused. On a health kick, she’d overhauled her lifestyle and had her first colonic irrigation.

‘I feel fantastic,’ Brooke said about the procedure, which involves flushing out the large intestine. I wasn’t sure, but as Brooke recounted her experience, my doubts were eased. After thoroughly checking her medical history, the technician had spent 30 minutes explaining the procedure. Then, she’d helped Brooke onto the machine.

‘She kept an eye on me the entire time,’ my daughter said.

‘That doesn’t sound so scary,’ I thought, and went online to do some research.

I read that a processed diet can cause the colon to become clogged, and the average person has between 4-12 kilos of dried up poop in their colon. A colonic could get rid of those built up toxins and improve your health. Sold, we booked in for the next week.

Arriving at the clinic, I was excited.

‘You’re my first client for the day,’ the technician said, as Brooke took a seat in the waiting room. But as she lead me to the treatment room, doubts began to set in again. Flustered, she kept holding her head as if in agony.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked.

‘I have a migraine,’ she said.

‘Maybe you should go home,’ I suggested.

‘I’ve back-to-back clients today, I can’t,’ she said, wincing in pain.

Picking up my medical notes, she began to read. Realising she had the wrong file, I told her so.

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‘Look, I don’t have time to find yours,’ she retorted. Quickly, she told me how to use the equipment.

‘There’s a cotton bud with Vaseline over there,’ she said, pointing to the desk.

‘Put the petroleum jelly on the tube and then insert it into your bottom,’ she added, like it was nothing.

‘I’ll check on you in a little while,’ she said, walking out.

Our consultation had taken just five minutes.

Undressing from the waist down, I propped myself up onto the machine and turned it on. As it whirred, I tried to relax. But within minutes, a sharp pain exploded in my abdomen. What went wrong? I fretted, as another excruciating cramp racked my body. Dirty water was also leaking from inside me. Switching the machine off, I pressed the help buzzer.

‘Are you okay?’ the technician asked, poking her head into the room.

‘I’m in a lot of pain,’ I replied, gritting my teeth.

‘Do you want to keep going?’ she said.

‘No, I want to stop,’ I cried, so she told me to clean the machine and get dressed. But I could only manage to put on my undies.

‘Come and sit on the toilet – there might just be some water stuck,’ she said. Unrelenting, the cramps only got worse.

‘Please, I need an ambulance,’ I begged, but she didn’t make the call. Taking me to another room, she told me to climb onto the bed. Doubled over, I tried to clamber up as she watched.

‘Take nice, deep breaths,’ she said. Now, I was curled up into a ball, sobbing.

‘Please, I need an ambulance,’ I choked again.

‘I’ll get you a drink,’ she said, returning with Hydralyte.

Taking a sip, I instantly threw it back up. Only then did she leave to find my daughter.

‘You’ll be alright, Mum,’ Brooke soothed, as the technician dialled Triple-0.

Rushing me to hospital, the paramedics quickly worked out what was wrong.

‘Your colon has perforated,’ one explained. ‘All the waste that was supposed to be extinguished during the procedure has leaked into your body.’

My internal organs were swimming in faecal matter.

At hospital, a section of my colon was removed and I was fitted with a stoma and colostomy bag to collect waste. Waking up, I learned that my lungs had also collapsed.

‘We thought you were going to die,’ Brooke cried.

Two days later, I struggled to breathe.

‘I need air,’ I gasped, as I was rushed to intensive care.

Diagnosed with congestive heart failure due to a build up of fluid in my body, I felt crushed.After nearly two weeks in hospital, finally I was allowed to go home. But my battle hadn’t ended. Embarrassingly, each time my bowels moved, my stoma leaked. It was mortifying.

Thankfully I had the procedure reversed this February and didn’t need a stoma anymore, helping me feel human again.

Still, a year on from the incident, my life has changed beyond belief. Before, I loved yoga, swimming and gardening. But now, tiring easily, I’ve had to sell my house as it’s too much for me to manage.

I’ll never wear a two-piece swimsuit again, I’ll think, looking at my tummy scarring.

Now, I’ve hired Shine Lawyers to help me recoup some of the $120,000 I’ve spent on medical bills. But most importantly, I want to make sure no-one else has to go through what I have. If you’re considering a colonic, I’d say don’t do it!

Have you had a health treatment that’s gone drastically wrong? Share your story with us at [email protected]

As told to Beth Young.

What is colonic irrigation?

  • Colonic irrigation, or colonic hydrotherapy or cleansing, is where waste material is flushed out of the bowel using up to 60 litres of warm water inserted via a tube in the rectum.
  • Among the benefits claimed are weight loss and toxin removal.
  • Princess Diana and Jennifer Aniston are said to have championed the procedure, along with other celebrities.
  • Possible side effects include nausea, diarrhoea, dehydration, dizziness or, in more serious cases, kidney problems, heart failure or even death. 

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