A Healthy Dump Might Un-Pinch Your Face

“There are just some things you aren’t supposed to talk about,” Zoe said. “Rude topics that make people feel uncomfortable, you know? No one cares about what happens when someone else goes to the bathroom.”

“No shit,” Myrtle’s best friend said to his fingernails, before assuming a serious expression and refocusing on Zoe.

Myrtle burst into laughter. Then she had to take a few quick breaths to settle down. Her stomach harbored a time bomb that could turn Roman’s hilarity into dangerous business.

Zoe glared at Myrtle. “See? That’s what I’m talking about. You and Roman are incapable of having a conversation without bodily functions in it. People don’t like that. They just don’t. Your behavior comes with consequences. Have you thought about how I feel when someone who knows we’re friends laughs at you? It hurts me, Myrtle. It does.”

Roman must’ve felt the heat rising in Myrtle’s temper, because he took a few steps forward and stood between his best friend and Zoe.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Zoe said to Roman, when he suggested that she should leave. “Myrtle hasn’t completely lost her mind. I’m sure an upset stomach doesn’t make anyone crazy.”

“It’s okay, Roman.” Myrtle’s voice came out soft and cool, and she was grateful for that. “Zoe’s right.” She nudged him aside, until she was able to get face to face with the other girl.

Zoe smiled. “I knew you had sense, Myrtle. I knew you would see things the way—”

“Shut up.” Myrtle’s words spread, red and tight, over Zoe’s face. “Stop saying my name. Stop jabbering about things you don’t understand. Stop telling me to be ashamed.”

“I didn’t say that. I just meant that there are other ways.” Zoe crossed her arms. “You used to be normal, Myrtle. And now, now you are always trying to get attention in the wrong way. Other people have stomach troubles. I’m sure yours aren’t…”

Myrtle grinned, showing her teeth until the other girl lost the end of her sentence. Zoe was an insensitive piece of human garbage, but she was neither stupid nor blind. “Walk away.” Her hands were trembling, yearning for the sharp song of a slap.

“You’re crazy,” Zoe said, backing away.

The slap-craving hand grabbed the front of Zoe’s t-shirt. “Not crazy,” Myrtle said. “I’m suffocating in the little box of your expectations. I can’t go another day pretending that being human, that being sick, that being me is a disgusting secret I must keep from your sensibilities. If me being me makes you feel uncomfortable, then you walk away.” Letting go of Zoe’s t-shirt, Myrtle added, “By the way, a healthy dump might un-pinch your face. It always leaves me feeling a deep sense of cleansing.”

Roman began to laugh. Myrtle joined him with a series of controlled giggles.

for she who came bearing a giant pine cone and a twisted stick…

Process Note: Last year, while I was trying to learn about Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), I came across a blog written by a young woman who lived with a severe form of IBD. I can’t remember the exact name of the blog, but the title included “Poo”. All her entries were about the adventures of a person with a very limited diet, and who had to use the bathroom dozens of times a day. She filled her posts with hilarities… even the sad ones.

A reader, who called herself “Just a Friend”, left a comment suggesting that what the blogger shared was shaming family and friends; that although Just a Friend “felt sorry” for the blogger, the latter had no right to do what she was doing. I read the words over and over, asking myself, Is this self-centered heap of dung serious?

Living with acute stomach and intestinal issues is a fulltime job. In fact, going through life with any illness that reshapes one’s entire lifestyle is hard, hard, hard and harder. Humor helps the brain deal with the terrible things it cannot control… Empathy can be soothing… Pity rots… Acknowledging that illness as a natural thing that happens to people keeps everyone’s guts from getting ripped out.

IBS Art CompetitionI found this powerful image here, but believe it might be part of an exposition titled “Experience of Illness”. I have not been able to find the artist. If the piece belongs to you, please let me know and I’ll give you credit (or remove it, if that’s your desire).

33 thoughts on “A Healthy Dump Might Un-Pinch Your Face

  1. Haha! In my writing session this morning I wrote a lot about poop, calling it shit, and , well, I didn’t mean to be funny, but my writing friend Jenn said POST IT. So in response to this, maybe I shall. Just o mention one highlight–it talks about trying to live near a big urban center like Philadelphia and NYC when the sanitation systems like plumbing cease to function. Gross, right? Who knows how to compost?
    WHen the pain for the day depends on the bowel movements of the last ten hours, it’s impossible to remain silent. Good grief.

    • I shall keep an eye open for your poop post (had to say it, lol). Sometimes, things get lost and loose their importance when we don’t speak about them. So let’s do a bit of yelling!

  2. This was funny and so true! Every place I go into, I check to see where the bathroom is. I wait, at least, an hour after eating before I leave the house. Eating out can be an exercise in anxiety, which makes the whole situation worse and less enjoyable. There was a past going around Fb some while ago about a little boy whose teacher was home sick. His homemade get well card admonished his beloved teacher to “just take a poop” because it always made his tummy feel better. We should all remember the honesty and no nonsense way that children look at bodily functions until they have someone like Zoe shows up! Just follow your “gut” feelings! (Get it? hahahahaha) <3

    • I love culture. I love many of society’s norms. But my goodness, how I dislike the shame society has place on being biological human. People whisper about periods, about orgasms! Where is the shame? Anyhoo, I agree with the boy… and super-agree with your philosophy of “honesty and no nonsense”.

      Whenever I have a “gut” feeling, I push! 😀

  3. I think that Myrtle & I would be the best of friends… We could sit & cackle about all sorts of “inappropriate” things.

  4. I find these type post comforting, It make life a little easier knowing that there are a lot of us suffering from similar issues out there, and that most of us can have a since of humor about it.

    Oh and this “Whenever I have a “gut” feeling, I push!” cracked me up 🙂

  5. Well, that was a crappy topic. but i shan’t pooh-pooh the ideas excreted, um, er, I mean Expressed here-in. i was feeling rather shitty before reading the article, but I feel much more relieved . . .

  6. Why would a person read a blog that felt was shaming anyone in anyway. Can’t decide if ‘pretentious’ or ‘self righteous’ is more appropriate for that reader. Take a leap Zoe!

    • I think these kind of individuals are very similar to the ones who have issues with same sex marriage or with other people’s choice of beliefs. They just don’t understand the concept of live and let live… or walk away.

  7. How timely this post is. I was just having a similar conversation today about privacy during solid waste disposal versus liquid waste disposal and when is it privacy you desire and when is it shame at the act? What an interesting topic and I do hope Zoe takes a flying leap into a portopotty.

  8. I will never get used to people thinking they have the right to tell others what they should and shouldn’t reveal about themselves, but then I love the fact that they set themselves up deliberately for a punch in the face from someone they ave designated “weaker” than they are. When did truth, honesty and openness become signs of weakness??? Surely you need to be stronger to share such personal information XXX

    • Like I said to Jonquil, some people seem not to understand that they can’t live or rule other people’s lives. It makes no sense to me, either. But like you said, a not-so-gentle bit of me giggles and shakes her head when they open themselves for this kind of criticism.

  9. Bwa-ha-ha! I think Zoe needs a copy of Everybody Poops. http://www.amazon.com/Everyone-Poops-My-Body-Science/dp/192913214X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433598096&sr=1-1&keywords=everybody+poops

    Man, that “Just a Friend” though – *sigh* I’d like to think their intentions weren’t self righteous and attention seeking (if they really felt like they wanted to help and not shame people, perhaps a private missive would have been the nicer thing) but sadly I doubt it.

  10. I do not understand why bodily functions are considered topic taboos. everyone poops, everyone pees, everyone has sex (or most everyone), everyone gets sick and throws up. and I really don’t understand why someone would comment on someone’s else’s blog about a certain topic and shames that person for the subject matter. don’t like it? don’t read it. end of story. and yes, a good dump does unpinch a face. I can always tell when I’ve had a good one that emptied my colon cause my whole core relaxes.

  11. remember that scene in Sula – read 30 years ago – where the mother has to grease up her finger with the very last of the fat used for cooking, to reach up her child’s bum and release that blockage, or the child would die? the ‘courage’ to write about that, and to do so artfully and with impact (but not impacted – heh) has stayed with me all the years since. ~

  12. A dear friend who is very, very young is battling with the possibility of having Crohn’s disease right now. It is so difficult for her as she has an incredibly limited diet right now and still doesn’t feel good! I enjoyed your piece of writing, it brought light to these bowel problems so many people face!

  13. IBS is vile. I have someone very close to me who suffers and there’s nothing funny about it at all except…for the Bristol Stool Scale. I have one pinned up on the inside of the cupboard door in the bathroom. I can recommend it. Just so you know, the ideal is a four.

    • Oh goodness, I remember when my GI doctor and I discussed the Bristol Stool Scale, I couldn’t stop grinning. Then I got home and read each of the descriptions aloud to my Piano Man. It took me a long time to finish, because I could not stop roaring. What a hoot, the BST is. But IBS? You’re right, it is not funny at all. Still, we should do our best to laugh about it, or hurt while we contemplate how terrible it is.

  14. I’m late to commenting on this post here, but I came back to read it again and am loving the comments people have written since I last read it! Talking about other illnesses is fine, people need to realize bowels are just like any other body part. And if someone uses “shit” or “crap” in regular conversation, you bet I’m going to jump on the opportunity to take the phrase literally and make a disgusting joke! 😉

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