Merigian Studios


How About You?

How About You?

Some of the fondest memories of my adult life is related to the rearing of my children. However, there's one memory that I remember so vividly, but it was not a memory about either of my two children, it was one related to the second child of my ex-sister-in-law. While I was sitting at a kitchen island in my ex-mother-in-law's home, her grandchild came up to me an announced, "I pooped in the toilet!" He was just short of three years-old. Then the big request, "Can you come and wipe my butt?" At the time, I had no idea about what to do. No one had ever asked me to wipe their butt after taking a bowel movement, much less a child learning to use the toilet. My ex-mother-in-law started clapping and singing and praising her grandson for doing such a good job. It felt like I was in the twilight zone, celebrating a little child's adventures in hitting his milestones of defecation.

Finally his grandmother left the room, as the little boy led her to the toilet that he had defecated in. I did not follow them. Then a large roar erupted, "It's a big one!" I just laughed out loud, wondering if I would have to go through the same process if I became a dad. When I eventually became a dad, I went through the same celebratory process and rewards after each of my two children graduated from diapers to using the toilet in some form or fashion.

After a few years of child rearing myself, I found out that discussing poop with my kids in their early years was more common than not. It seemed that almost every discussion with them about life in all of its grandeur ended with some sort of reference to poop or pooping and peeing. Perhaps properly discharging their bodily wastes were the sum total of what they knew: they had proudly accomplished something at an early age that adults routinely did. I suspect that every parent knows the day when their child first pooped in the toilet signaling a rite of passage to independent childhood. Freud referred to this episode in self development as the Anal Stage.

Why would I be writing about defecation? Because on a daily basis I talk about bowel habits and all sorts of details about fecal material. I could probably write a very interesting book on the bowel habits of the patients in my practice. It would include chapters on what to expect in poop if you eat certain foods, the proper caliber and length of an appropriate stool, the virtues and detriments of fiber in a diet, the necessary ingestion of roughage and its effects on stool in general, diarrhea: episodic intermittent kind or chronic unrelenting loose stools, constipation: episodic intermittent kind or chronic unrelenting constipation, should stool float or not float in the toilet water, how many bowel movements is necessary per day to be healthy, the use of colon cleaning as a therapeutic exercise, stress and its effect on bowel movements, colonics and the use of coffee enemas and fecal transplants.

There would be a few chapters on the types of toilets and flush mechanisms, the pros and cons of septic systems verses sewer systems, bathroom design including appropriate ventilation, proper flooring for great posture on the commode, spacing within the newer water closets, as well as butt wiping techniques which vary from person to person, types of toilet paper and the appropriate use of butt wipes before and/or after dry wiping process. We cannot forget chapters on cloth and/or paper diapers for the youngsters and the elderly, underwear liners for inadequate bladder control, and pull ups for the child in transition between diapers and hygienically solid toilet habits. Portapotties and out houses including air fresheners emitting fragrances designed to convert the foul odor of stool to the hyper odors of cinnamon or berries. It is no secret that berry scents emit large amounts of phenols in the air which can cause panic reactions, cinnamon does not. The proper storage of air fresheners in luggage for travel when two or more people are going to have share a bathroom on a boat or a hotel. There should be a chapter or two on primitive camping and defecation's effect on Mother Nature and the green house gases methane and hydrogen, and human emissions related to global warming.

Probably the last chapter of the book would define the specific terminology for stool in an effort to standardize vocabulary used to describe the anatomy and physiology of the lower gastrointestinal tract, including the sigmoid colon, rectum and anus. We must begin the difficult task of making sure all of us know the proper classification of stool for its consistency: solid, mucousy, loose or hard.

And most important, we must start a social movement to stop abusing the slang terms of fecal material to characterize someone's poor or unlucky situation in life (oh shit!), someone's inability to grasp a concept (shit for brains!), or disturbing actions by someone we know and trust (that's shitty of them to do that!), or commenting on inappropriate appearances (that looks shitty!).

A recent discussion with a patient of mine who had just returned to Memphis from a trip to France was so enlightening. She was upset that in many of the French restaurants, she had to pay for the use of the restrooms. She said that when she got into the room, there was no toilet or commode, just a hole in the floor with rough concrete on either side of the hole to place your feet. She was upset that her aim was off on several attempts. Her graphic descriptions of her experiences made me realize that we are not created equal, especially related to our own personal understandings of what is normal or abnormal when it comes to defecating.

Low carbohydrate, high protein, moderate to high fat food plans (Paleo) allow for small caliber stools that tend to be consistent and regular. I suspect the hunter-gatherer defecated downwind of his or her prey and realized that they were most vulnerable to a predator while taking a moment to defecate in the squatting position. Smaller caliber, daily bowel movements probably reduced the risk of being attacked while pooping. Right? Possible?

How about you?


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:52 AM
Share |