Monday, January 16, 2012

Potty Talk

This is the most uncomfortable post I've ever written, but I feel it needs to be addressed. BE FOREWARNED: the picture below has gotten me many weird looks at work when people pass by. If this happens to you, smile and nod.

Why is the line going to his feet and not the toilet?
Everyone poops; did you know that? No one tells you this, but everyone poops. Jesus pooped.  Dumbledore pooped* (see bottom of the page).  The Queen poops. The Dalai Lama poops. The Pope poops (his name is also close to the word “poop”). And the thing is, it’s actually not being able to poop that is the problem. I’m not sure if it’s because of its unappealing nature or the certain area involved, but it is uncanny how offensive people find the subject of poop. You can make any number of sexual innuendos, say the f word like it’s some sort of intelligent conversation filler, but there is something inherently off-putting about the contents of your bowel. It doesn’t matter that we use the toilet on average 1-3 times a day for just this reason, it doesn’t matter that it is a huge part of our lives and crucial to a properly working body. We absolutely adore talking about food but politely abstain from talking about the fact of life that what goes in must come out. It's science, people. It can’t just stay in there forever. But as much as people don’t want to talk about a functioning bowel, they 126.59% don’t want to talk about what happens when the system quits working (findings taken from Faith'sbook Study on the Colon). Such things are so shameful we either cringe from even the allusion of it or point and laugh at it like adolescent teenage boys.

In grade 11 I got C-Diff, clostridium difficile (yes, it is true that C-Diff usually only happens to babies, the immune-deficient or the elderly, but in many ways I am all three). It’s a long story actually, starting with getting my wisdom teeth out, taking antibiotics that wiped out the good, law-abiding bacteria and left the criminal bacteria to murder my bowels with relish (not the condiment, the emotion). I was in the hospital for nine days and spent three months recovering. You know it’s bad when you have to talk a surgeon into waiting just one more day before cutting out your colon. I mean, yeah I get it, you're a surgeon so you're ancy to cut stuff. You grew up thinking cutting stuff out was the solution to all your life's problems, but goodness, it's my colon on the line. I managed to ward off the surgeons one more day and thank God the next day I started getting better. So after coming inches away from living the rest of my life with a colostomy bag, you bet I was singing praises to my colon (and God, obviously) when I left the hospital colon intact (seriously, my parents and I sang things like, “Thank God for my colon” and “Colon, you are so beautiful to me” on the ride home. We actually did that). I learnt that “stool” was not just a luxury for your feet but also a fancy term for “poop” and had never had so many people constantly referring to my stool in all my life. The question “How is your stool today?” was such a part of my life that I forgot it would not be heard in every household. Needless to say, I learnt to appreciate my colon.

Senator Kelly from X-Men
And just recently I had some serious intestinal issues that ended with me fainting, throwing up and getting my first ride in an ambulance. Two male paramedics were asking me questions I didn’t want to answer, “What were your symptoms?” Pain in my abdomen was easy to say; pain in my rectum? Rectum doesn't often come up very naturally in conversation. When the hospital diagnosed it extreme constipation, I was flabbergasted (you shouldn’t be that constipated biking to work every day, eating Fibre One every morning, being a vegetarian with lots of fruit and veggies in your diet and drinking water so often you have become a new species of human that is 99% water). But could I then go out and tell the world I ended up in the hospital with extreme constipation? Well, yes, I could. But other people would rather die. Some of my family members told people it was a kidney infection, others just said I was sick. Finally, for a lack of any other explanation, my doctor half-heartedly diagnosed me with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). My doctor does a lot of things halfheartedly... But I didn't understand. I was so good to my bowel. Why was it so irritable? Was it depressed? Because when I get depressed I get really irritable. IBS can go either way, an overachieving bowel or an underachieving bowel. Naturally, like my personality, my bowel is an underachiever. I talked to a dietitian and I'm pretty much doing everything I can possibly do already. She had a couple suggestions that I could use: flax seed, dried fruit, more water (what? That's impossible. I'll drown. Or turn into water like Senator Kelly from X-Men) and giving probiotics a second chance.

The moral of the story kids, is this: constipation is no joke.** When no one is willing to ask the question, "How is your stool today?" just think of how the stool feels, when nobody asks how it is doing? It's stool, so it's already pretty depressed. Then think how the person with the inability to go to the washroom feels (owie) and give them the sympathy and help they deserve without the humiliation. Learn to respect your bowel and sing to it "Colon, you are so beautiful to me" as often as possible, because when it stops working, people, you die. It's science.

*Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 4 when Dumbledore goes to the loo, “ “Oh, there you are, Albus," he said. "You've been a very long time. Upset stomach?" "No, I was merely reading the Muggle magazines," said Dumbledore. "I do love knitting patterns.” ” We all know this means he was going #2. Come on. You’re not fooling us.

**Chapter 6, “The right-hand window was covered with a gigantic poster, purple like those of the Ministry, but emblazoned with flashing yellow letters: WHY ARE YOU WORRYING ABOUT YOU-KNOW-WHO. YOU SHOULD BE WORRYING ABOUT U-NO-POO – THE CONSTIPATION SENSATION THAT'S GRIPPING THE NATION! Harry started to laugh. He heard a weak sort of moan beside him and looked around to see Mrs. Weasley gazing, dumbfounded, at the poster. Her lips moved silently, mouthing the name “U-No-Poo.” ”


  1. Faith, this made me laugh out loud several times. The last line was a perfect closer. Great work!