Bowel Movement. Stool. Pootie. Crap. Shit. Poop. Brown trout. Turd. Number two. Feces. Caca. A rose by any name smells just as sweet and a BM just as foul. But poop is part of life. Poop is life. As the children’s book says, “Everybody Poops.”
When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about poop and I’m pretty sure my mother still doesn’t. In fact, I’ve spent a lifetime imagining that my mother has trained her body to rid itself of waste by osmosis. Surely, my mother doesn’t poop, because poop is disgusting. My mother doesn’t do disgusting, but much to her chagrin, I do. She was disgusted when I bought the book, “Everybody Poops” and more disgusted when I read it to my kids. Bless her heart, since bathroom humor is my raison d’etre, I disgust my mother a LOT, but she loves me anyway.
Poop took on a new level of importance when we became parents. Input and output were monitored with infants, so following the advice of our pediatrician, we created a poop record, which is tucked into our offspring’s baby books. I know some day their spousal units will look fondly upon these records, knowing that their beloved had healthy and regular baby poops. My future sons and or daughters-in-law will also appreciate that I kept their spouses’ belly buttons. Right there on page 3.
Apparently, even into adulthood, monitoring one’s health means monitoring one’s poop. I began working with a functional nutritionist earlier this year and one of the first things she did was recommend my keeping a Food/Mood/Poop journal. Along with the Food/Mood/Poop journal, she introduced me to the Bristol Stool Chart. Luckily, our sessions are via telephone, so she couldn’t see my face when she introduced this concept. I am, in my heart and soul, a nine-year-old boy.
OMG. This is rich. Really? There’s a CHART!?!?! A GRAPH!!?! The nine-year-old boy in me was losing it. I have rated belches for nearly my entire life, and our family is proud of our Native American and Latin fart names (i.e. Coughs in Pants and Expelsior), but never have I ever realized that I could quantify my crap.
Poor Amber-the-functional-nutritionist. She just wanted to help me get healthy. She didn’t realize that her Bristol Stool Chart was becoming part of our family lexicon. Man Child printed it, framed it and hung it over his toilet in his collegiate home. Girl Child texts from her college to tell me she had cafeteria sushi and we discuss whether the result would be a six or a seven. I tell Spousal Unit that my tummy isn’t feeling quite right. He asks, “Five?”
“No,” I moan. “Seven.”
In the old days, prior to the Bristol Stool Chart, when my beloved word wizard didn’t feel well, he would emerge from the throne room, declaring he could “shit through pantyhose.” Now, a simple number will do.
We also monitor our pets’ health by their poops. One of the scariest things for a horse owner is if the animal colics and let me tell you, when that beast finally poops, you can hear the champagne corks popping across the fields and meadows.
This week, our golden retriever, Thor, hasn’t been on his game. He threw up on Saturday, quickly reconsumed it so that I couldn’t see what he’d barfed and two days later threw up again. This time I scooted him away before he could eat it and perused the contents. Even the nine-year-old boy in me gags at puke and dog barf is the worst. Still, this is my job. I grabbed paper towels and a plastic Big Lots bag and began my crime scene unit work. I wiped some of the liquid up and dry heave. Stood up. Worked on meditative breathing. Called in my spirit animal, who looked at me and said, “I ain’t cleaning that up.” I grabbed some more paper towels and squatted back down. I love this dog more than this bothers me, I chanted as a mantra. I wiped some more liquid and turned over a chunk. Burped. Told myself that I had given birth twice and that this was nothing. Tried to analyze what the big chunk was and made an inhuman noise. Thor was on the other side of the screen door watching me. I know he was offering to clean it up for me, but I declined.
There was a piece of cloth, about three inches long resting within the muddy puddle. The trim from a pillow, or perhaps a toy? The stuffed Trump doll a friend gave us is still intact, so it’s not that. What did this dog eat? There was some fluffy stuffing lying around. I gagged again and gave up, using about 30 paper towels to finish cleaning it up and Windex to sanitize. I’ll get a flamethrower on it later and will be kind to the environment the next time.
I let Thor back inside and he crawled onto the sofa. Puppy didn’t feel well, and I was worried. Our previous dog had died when Man Child started college and I was having flashbacks. I need something big and hairy around when my nest gets empty, and Spousal Unit has to work. I called the vet and calmly explained the situation and she arranged for a 4 p.m. appointment. It was still morning. Because I was calm and not panicked, I said, “Isn’t this emergent?” When you say the word emergent, they think you’re calm, right?
Sure, she said with a question in her voice. You can come in now, but you might have to wait. I was there in fifteen, but because I had used the word emergent, everybody knew I was calm and not panicked.
Of course, the second we walked through the door of the animal clinic, Thor became the life of the party. He was pouring drinks, telling jokes and flirting with cocker spaniels. It was like taking my car in to the shop and telling skeptical mechanics that it was making some horrible noise that sounds like cats mating. The service technician drives it only to say, yeah, sounds like a cat because that engine is purring like a kitten.
Thor and I waited in the lobby. He was running for political office, “Hi, I’m Thor. Vote for me.” I was lamely explaining that he had been lifeless scant minutes before. I wondered if they’d notice if I led my apparently healthy dog out the side door and slithered home.
After a short wait – after all, we were emergent — we were directed to an examination room where 100 pounds of canine flopped onto the floor with a grunt. He looked at me with obvious distress in his eyes and I fell for it. Working the room had just been too much. This poor guy was sick. I scratched him behind the ears, poor baby.
The vet knocked on the door and that traitorous beast hopped up, trotted to him, rudely jumped up on him, then turned around and waited for his butt to get scratched. I felt like a Munchausen by Proxy mother. “I swear, he was barely moving this morning,” I whimpered. “I promise I’m not over reactive.” This man has been our vet for nearly three decades. He knows me.
So maybe some people call it over reactive.
Nonetheless, he gave Thor a thorough examination and pills and gave me instructions and an invoice. The pills were anti-nausea medication and the advice was to give him soft, bland foods and of course, monitor his poop.
He didn’t poop the rest of that day. Spousal Unit took him on his nightly constitutional and even permitted him to use the freshly sodded and newly irrigated yard of the new neighbors, but still no go.
This morning, I gave him a breakfast of chicken broth and rice. No poop. We played in the yard, on a cold wet gross day, hoping that the activity would get things moving. I threw balls so that he would fetch. He trotted over to them, sniffed and I prepared myself, but for naught. No poop.
Finally, I realized that he might want privacy. I stepped inside and watched him from the utility room window. Sure enough, hunched like a Porsche Panamera, I saw him prepare for action. Hidden behind brassieres hanging on the inside clothesline, I studied his form. There was action. Movement. As in bowel movement. A distinct line formed between his rear end and the ground. He took a step or two, proudly scuffed his back feet and trotted off.
I sauntered over to where I thought he had been. I didn’t see it. There is a cold front coming through, so there should be steam. Still, nothing. I looked and looked, like the woman in the Bible searching for lost coins and because I read the Bible and taught Sunday School, I invoked St. Joseph the patron saint of lost things. Or is he the saint of sell-my-house-please? St. Joe doesn’t help and I couldn’t find the poop, so I went the other direction and cussed. I scanned. I moved fallen leaves. Finally, I decided to make a grid, like a search party looking for a missing kid. Back and forth within about a 25 square foot area, I searched.
I looked at Thor. “Where is your poop?” I asked him. He just looked at me, tennis ball in his mouth. I looked at Daisy, “Where’s Thor’s poop?” I asked her. She replied, “Where are my finishing touches?” Smart alec trailer.
Maybe I hadn’t seen what I thought I saw. After all, I was peering between drying brassieres. Maybe he didn’t poop. Good thing I’ve gotten the vet involved, I think as I walked back toward the house, calling to Thor to come inside with me. This really is emergent. I looked back to him as I walked and my foot slipped a little. I looked down.
It’s a five.