Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Too Much Scoop

There are responsibilities that I take seriously.  And giving all of you the scoop on poop is one of them.

But this week there is just too much.  Too much scoop on poop, even for me.

Still, I can’t hold it all in.  I must let it go.  Besides, as I explained in Trifecta! all good comedy bits come in threes.  So I had to, ummm, unload.

Number One:  The first story is one that will, perhaps, ease your mind about all that  downtime you spend at work in the bathroom.  Because someone has invented a calculator to, well, calculate, how much money you make while on the pot.

Paid to poo

Please don’t anyone tell my boss about this calculator.  This image from the “Paid To Poo Calculator/Plumbworld”.  I did not make that up.

***

Number Two:  This one is toilet-focused as well.  And really as suggested in this article, it could really save all of our asses, worldwide.  I’m not just shitting you!

The article says that a British University (too embarrassed to own up to its research and identify itself) has developed:

A toilet that does not need water, a sewage system or external power but instead uses nanotechnology to treat human waste, produce clean water and keep smells at bay.

You won’t need that Brita Filter for long!

Brita

No need for this!  Wikimedia Image

Seriously, though, a waterless toilet that could be developed and mass produced cheaply, and that would produce potable water, well, that would be truly wonderful for the world.

Science is pretty damn cool sometimes.

***

Number Three:

As a kid, a “Number Three” meant a fart.  Usually an SBD — a “silent but deadly” one.  But this number three? Far less benign.

Now as a person with serious bowel disease, I will confess that I worry that some day I will “go” the way of many famous people.  That I will die literally on the loo.  Those people include Elvis (who did not leave the building),  Judy Garland (who did not make this list), and Catherine the Great of Russia (who may or may not have died on the toilet but her descendants have preferred the version to the one that says she died-while-having-sex-with-a-horse).

Still, if I die by poop, I’d always expected it would come from below the belt.  Not above.  And certainly not far above.

Shit!  Now I have something new to worry about.  Just what I need.  Death via blue ice falling from the sky.

Wanna guess what blue ice is?

Apparently, blue ice is frozen shit falling from the sky.  And pee too.  Raining down from airplanes.  And it is landing on and injuring unsuspecting people.

As the article states:

The Times of India reports that Rajrani Gaud from Madhya Pradesh suffered a severe shoulder injury when she was hit by a football-sized chunk of ice last month.

[…]

The newspaper claims that aviation scientists believe she may well have had the misfortune to become one of an incredibly rare group: people who have been hit by what the airline industry coyly calls “blue ice”.

That’s its euphemism for the frozen human waste that very occasionally forms around the overflow outlets for aeroplane toilets, and then falls to earth. “Blue” because of the chemicals added to the toilets in planes to reduce odour and break down the waste.

Oh shit (from above).  Hurting people.

Judy Garland.  Who was  happy before blue ice hit.

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Guns: A “Right” or an “Addiction”?

Who do I think I’m kidding.  You already know, without anything to back it up, which side of the title question I come out on.

About a month ago, I came across an editorial in an online medical journal that has been on my mind ever since.

Is American Gun Ownership a Form of Addiction?

In it, George D. Lundberg, MD, persuasively argued that maybe the vehemence of gun owners protecting their so-called “right to bear arms” isn’t so much an intellectual argument as one fueled by addiction.  And I think that Dr. Lundberg may be on to something.
He first listed the nine symptoms of substance addiction:
  • Availability of the agent for experimentation;
  • Initial use producing pleasure followed by subsequent pleasant episodes of use and positive secondary reinforcement;
  • Psychological dependence or habituation;
  • Tolerance, with need to use more to get the same effect;
  • Chemical physical dependence;
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the agent is taken away;
  • Drug-seeking behavior;
  • Continued use even when obvious harm has been experienced; and
  • Rationalization and denial.

Then, Dr. Lundberg states that, like addictions to gambling and sex, with an addiction to guns, there is no physical/chemical addiction.  But the other symptoms?  Check, check, check.  Check-mate.

Here, in fact, is Dr. Lundberg’s gun addiction checklist:
  • Availability? Check;
  • Positive reinforcement? Check;
  • Habituation? Check;
  • Tolerance? Big check. Once someone becomes a gun owner, adding guns is usual; one is not enough. The average American gun-owning household includes 8.1 firearms, up from 4.1 in 1994. The NRA goes bonkers about any suggestion of limits;
  • Chemical dependence? No;
  • Withdrawal? I have not personally seen a convulsion in a gun-owning doctor when confronted with the possibility of losing his or her guns, but pretty damn close. I mean….;
  • Weapon-seeking behavior? Check;
  • Continued use despite harmful results? Check; and
  • Rationalization and denial? Check.

I think that Dr. Lundberg is on to something.

I think the issue of gun addiction deserves some attention today, as President Obama unveils the measures he can take towards sane gun control laws because Congress won’t.

Obama and gun control

President Obama hugged Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, before announcing his executive action on gun control in the East Room of the White House.  Photo Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Thanks, Mr. President.  Because 90% of Americans believe in stronger gun laws.  And because 100% of us remember this:

Sandy Hook Elementary

Sandy Hook Elementary School, 2012.  Wikimedia Image

The Medscape article, with the video of Dr. Lundberg delivering his editorial, is free, but by subscription.

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A-Sick – Abroad

When you move to another country where you don’t speak the language, you expect things to be challenging.  But I think that there are scientific studies that estimate that the odds of your expectations equaling reality is precisely 5,392,487 to 1.

When we moved to Geneva in 1997, we, like all other expats, knew that there would be culture shock.  We didn’t speak the language.  We didn’t know our way around.  We were babes in the woods and there were wild boar in them thar hills.  Oh, and in those woods.

In fact, we hadn’t been in Switzerland long before John came down with a cold.  NBD, right?  Off to the pharmacy we went.

But of course, we couldn’t speak the language, which made it a bit of a challenge.

Nevertheless, I took my responsibility as family french speaker seriously.  I went to the pharmacy with my husband with my English-French/French-English dictionary in hand.

My husband has a cold (mon mari a un rhume).  He has a stuffy nose (il a un nez bouché).
Sadly, my french was not really good. And I learned again that day that if you are foolish enough to speak to a french speaker in French, the asshole will respond to you in french!  WTF??????  Why do they DO that?

Anyway, in pidgeon french, I told the pharmacist that we wanted a decongestant.  And really, it didn’t seem like such a big deal.

“Vous avez besoin d’un lavage de nez,” said the pharmacist.

John and I looked at each other.

“She’s recommending a nose washer,” I said.  “I guess that makes sense.  I guess a decongestant will “wash you nose.”

We were handed a box and the pharmacist allowed us to open it to look at the instructions.  The illustrated instructions.  Color illustrations. of a man leaning over the sink with a ‘lavage de nez’ in one nostril and a stream of green snot pouring out of the other.

Lavage de nez 1

I am not just using this picture because my husband is a big baby when he gets sick.  Really.  Google Image

Ewwww.

Upon our return to the US, we learned that netti pots had become popular remedies for stuffy noses.

Ewwww.

They also spread infection because they are difficult to clean.  And then there is the goo that goes into the sink….

Ewwww.

Tonight while spending money I don’t have on gifts for folks, I saw a commercial for a Navage.

So I needed to share my story.  Because that’s what we bloggers do.

 

Ewwww.

I just felt it necessary to prove that I don’t only think about poop when I think about weird medical treatments.

But of course, everything I discuss would interest any 12 year old.  Like me.

You’re welcome.

 

 

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I’ll Take That as a Compliment

Dr. C wiped a tear from her eye, hugged me and laughed as she walked me out of the examination room after my semi-annual tune up the other day.

“I have never had this much fun during a consultation, Elyse,” she said.

I love this doctor, my gastroenterologist.  She is bright, listens, figures out the best treatment for me, and incredibly importantly for me, she has a fabulous sense of humor.  That’s incredibly rare for a gastroenterologist as I’ve mentioned before.

“I’ve been keeping up with all the research on poop transplants,” I told her.

Yes!  It’s fascinating, isn’t it?”

Even though they aren’t currently being used for IBDs like mine, well, I do keep up with the research.  Obviously, you do too.  Why else would you be reading this post about poop?

Canadian Poop

How could I resist this image?  I know it’s Canadian and they have single-payer health care and I don’t, but you will admit, it’s funny.  Thanks, Google Images. You’re the bomb.  Errr…

Did I lose you there?

Our discussion continued down that same hole …

“I read that you have to be very careful who you get one from,” I said, proud of the depth of my knowledge.  “I read that if you get one from a grumpy person, or a depressed one, you can take on these traits.  Or fat people (thanks, Carrie!)”

“I actually have a patient who had a poop transplant.  She had c difficile,  and the transplant came from a heavy person.  She’s actually gained a lot of weight!”

“I used to think I’d get one from my husband.  But he’s kind of a curmudgeon, and he has risks of a couple of other diseases that I don’t want to get.* But mostly it’s the curmudgeon thing.  I don’t want to become a crank.  Besides, he refuses to laugh at my jokes.  Since I’m often the only one laughing, taking his shit might make my career as a humor blogger short-lived.”

“You’ll have to just tell him to keep his shit to himself!” Dr. C said, roaring with laughter.  Suddenly she realized, oh shit!  I’m talking to a patient!

“‘My doctor says you have to keep your shit to yourself!’ — That’s what I’ll tell him!  –Maybe then, he’ll stop leaving his crap all over the kitchen counter!”

Poop!

Google Image.

“Maybe you have to get your poop transplant from a model — a smart and beautiful one.  You don’t want to get your poop transfer from somebody stupid, because we don’t yet know if it can impact your IQ.  So you should choose somebody really smart — a scientist might be good.”

I looked over at her.  She’s healthy.  She’s slender.  She’s smart.  She has curly hair like mine.

“I want a poop transfer from you!” I announced.

She quieted her laugh for a moment.

Uh-oh, I though.  I’ve gone too far.

“You know, that may be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

We both roared with laughter.

“Great. Lemme know when they figure out that poop transplants really do work on Crohn’s.  I’ll bring the sterile cup.”

Poop 4

Where do you think I found this?

 

* Nobody can say I don’t protect my husband’s privacy.  Ammirite?

***

While this blog was awaiting publication, I found this article in my inbox:

Gut Bugs Affect Cockroach Poop-ularity

By Jef Akst

Commensal bacterial living in the gastrointestinal tracts of cockroaches lace the insects’ feces with chemical cues that mediate social behavior, according to a study.

Lord, why me?

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The NY Times — Right on Target

On the front page of today’s New York Times is an editorial I could easily have written. If I could write that well.  If I worked for the NYTimes.  If I had millions of readers who’d nod and say “Right On!”

Silence on Guns - Eiko Ojala NYT

Image credit:  Eiko Ojala – for the New York Times, 12/4/15

Actually I’m mixing this image from an editorial published yesterday in the NY Times.  Because like me, the NY Times believes that we need sensible gun laws.  And so they, like me, keep beating that dead horse.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here’s today’s front page editorial reproduced in full:

End the Gun Epidemic in America

Half staff - Doug Mills - The NYTimes

Doug Mills for the New York Times

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Because You Need To Know

Every day of my life, I thank my lucky stars when I get up, go into my clean bathroom, and take care of business.

Some days of my life, I’m less thankful when I am somewhere where the only “facilities” have no running water.  No handle to push.  No way to wash my hands.

Of course, with my potty problems, I guess I’m more in tune to toilet issues than most people.

Why am I telling you this?  You see, Thursday, November 19, is World Toilet Day. And of course, I’m (1) telling you about it; and (2) celebrating it.

The Wider Image: Around the world in 45 toilets

A toilet stands outside the Llamocca family home at Villa Lourdes in Villa Maria del Triunfo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

The point of World Toilet Day is actually pretty important.  People without access to hygienic facilities risk illness, many women are preyed upon and attacked as they seek out a place to go.  Diseases are transmitted, including infections, cholera, well, here’s a picture.

The "F-diagram" (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing. Source Wikipedia

The “F-diagram” (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing.
Source Wikipedia

Hope you’re not eating.

World Toilet Day is to help the fortunate ones of us around the world realize that:

2.4 billion people around the world don’t have access to decent sanitation and more than a billion are forced to defecate in the open, risking disease and other dangers, according to the United Nations

We in the West are rather spoiled.  And the reality of what some folks, many folks must deal with can be eye-opening.

About 25 years ago, my friend Ed got a grant and went to Africa to study something or other.  It was his first experience visiting the Third World.  When he came back, he talked only about poop.

It seemed that the city he had visited ran with raw sewage.  Poop was in the gutters. Children played in those gutters. The sewage ran into the river that was used to irrigate crops.

Piles of poop were everywhere.  In the street.  Under trees.  In the corners of buildings; everywhere, he said.  Even inside.  Ed described a memorable elevator in the middle of a hotel lobby, that he had seen. The decorative ironwork around the elevator shaft was delicate and beautiful. But the elevator didn’t run — in fact, the elevator itself had been removed.  But people would stand with their backs to the elevator shaft, pull down their pants/up their skirts, hang their butts over the open elevator shaft.  And they’d poop.

“I realized something incredibly important, “ said my horrified friend:

“Civilization all comes down to what you do with your poo”

So when you’re thinking about the craziness in today’s world, maybe we all need to realize that part of our problem is that so very many people just don’t have a pot to piss in.

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Hey Doc? Do I Have To?

You know, there may be a good reason why the GOP hates science.

Sometimes it is just plain gross.

As a dog lover, my “gross-me-out-the-door” threshold is actually quite high — I can stand some pretty gross things.  Only today my dog Duncan did the following:

  • Drank from the toilet
  • Licked his genitals with relish*
  • Ate poop

Let’s face it.  Dogs are gross.

But we humans?  We are gonna give these pups a run for their, ummm, money.  Their kibble.  Actually, I’d like to give Duncan a run for that pair of shoes he’s always stealing, but that’s another story for another day.

Today’s story involves poop.

Remember last January when I told you guys all about how you can make big bucks with your butts?  Really!  I did! With this post:

Need Extra Cash?

Are you so rich that you’ve forgotten this already?  Forgotten that I told you that you can clean up by donating your poop so that it can be transplanted into

Poor suckers infected with c difficile, particularly nasty bacteria that is really hard to get rid of.

I even provide a chart by which you can measure just how useful you’re being:

Credit (if you want to call it that) Washington Post

Credit (if you want to call it that) Washington Post

The idea behind poop transplants, in case you’ve forgotten, is that scientists believe that we’ve made our guts too clean — we have too few of the good bacteria that lead to healthy poop left inside our guts.

Today I have an update!  Wait, wait!  Keep your pants on!

Unfortunately, this update will not increase your revenue making opportunities.  Still, scientific advances are awesome.

Because now, thanks to scientific advancements, those same poor suckers can now eat shit! 

Really! I read it in the New York Times:

Fecal Transplants Made (Somewhat) More Palatable

There is a  non-profit organization called OpenBiome that is dedicated to providing poop transplants to needy patients with c difficile.  And they came up with a poop pill.  These poop pills will go a long way towards flushing out the bacteria.

Wait!  Wait!   No they don’t!  They flush in good bacteria.  I mean you eat poop pills with good bacteria in them.  And probably some of the nasty stuff too.  Like poop.

And some day, poop pills may be available for folks like me with Crohn’s Disease and other crappy GI diseases.  They are testing poop transplants in folks even as we speak.

 

Photo: Erik Jacobs for the New York Times

Photo: Erik Jacobs for the New York Times

Personally, I’m keeping a close eye out on this treatment option.  Because with my Crohn’s Disease, some day I might just have to say, “Hey Doc, do I have to?”

* For the record, I do not put relish on my dog’s genitals.  Duncan is not a dachshund.

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