wings and things

Taboo topic: poo!

on March 17, 2014

We all do it but, after the age of around 4 or 5, it becomes a bit taboo to talk about poo. It is an intrinsic part of everyday life but is clothed in secrecy. In nursing homes and hospitals, however, the activity of the bowels is all-important: “Have you used your bowels today, Mr Smith?”

Years ago, when I worked in a hostel for multihandicapped (I don’t know if that is the politically correct term any more; suffice it to say that all of the residents were people with both intellectual and physical disabilities), we had a chart in the shared bathroom in which we had to record daily poo production in cups. Don’t get me wrong – we didn’t use cups, but we had to look at what each person produced and imagine how many cups it might equal.

As a nurse and/or care-giver, you get so used to poo that cleaning it up becomes more of a tedious than a revolting job. At least now there are plastic gloves and pull-up adult nappies which makes things a lot easier on the carer and the sufferer.

I don’t want to personalize this into an Anthony-and-Julie situation here; I just want to speak generally in a way that kind of (hopefully) demystifies this particular type of incontinence and makes it easier to cope with.

The first time it happens it is, of course, humiliating and ghastly for the poo-victim and quite frightening for the carer. Above all, do NOT make the person feel worse than they already do. The next thing you need to do is to remain extremely calm and pragmatic. Just do what you have to do as quickly as possible and try to remember your 5-year-old poo jokes. The ability to hold your breath, and the invention of room deodorizer, are good additions to the situation.

My point: being able to use your bowels means you are still a living, breathing, eating, functioning person, so pooing is a very good thing. So rejoice in the poo! Don’t be afraid of it! It is normal!

It can also be a great conversation starter: “Remember the time when you ….?” Raucous laughter may sometimes accompany these conversations, which is a hell of a lot better than misery.

Just saying…. it might be you one day.

69 responses to “Taboo topic: poo!

  1. Plenty of poo talk here, and rejoicing, with an IBD’er in the house 😉

  2. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    Great post, Julie.
    Thanks of sharing your thoughts on this subject and it’s associated Taboo.

    You are so right – its easy to curl your mouth down and your nose up – but the reality is, that any one of us could be in that same situation.

  3. bulldog says:

    What do you mean it might have happened inadvertently to some of us already… you know those wet farts??? lol

  4. Excellent and helpful post Jules.

  5. Great advice Julie, that last line should be a stopper for everyone.

  6. FlaHam says:

    Julie, You know I love you, even after the poo lecture I still love you. Hell I haven’t told a poo joke in 5 or 6 weeks. But everything you shared is the truth, and it is necessary, and you really need to help the poo’ee keep their dignity. The duties you described sometimes fell on my sister and one of my brothers as Mom succumbed to her illness. They did it with as much dignity as can be mustered at the time. Fortunately for me, I lived to far away to be much help. This is a very good post, a needed post. Thanks, Bill

  7. Ann Koplow says:

    LOVE this poo post. Thank you, so much.

  8. It’s something that a lot of us will experience but we don’t want to think about it until then…a reality though…. Diane

  9. Rhonda says:

    you know me jules…there’s always poo on the table for conversation. good post, good reminder, and good advice. 🙂

  10. Denise says:

    Reminds me of the “Everyone Poops” book I used to read to my kids…


  11. lensgirl53 says:

    You are a jewel, Julie. I love your sensitivity and your writing style…it all translates into good reading…even if it is about “poo.” And in saying that, Brandon worked for a rehabilitation center that had many elderly people and he was extremely sensitive to the way his patients might be embarrassed. It is one of those things I remember us talking about when he took the job. It did my heart good to know that he was that kind of a person….and so are you, dear lady. God bless you for all the wonderful ways you inspire the world around you. xoxo dale

  12. Oh, lemme tell you it was me one day. When I had a hysterectomy the doctors accidentialy perforated my bowel which resulted in a bowel resection and sewing together the unpoked parts.I My limited hospital stay turned critical and extended, needless to say they wouldn’t let me out until I pooped (aka: poo). I never wished for anything harder. When it came, you couldn’t shut me up about it. Luckily those who love me rejoiced with me. Raising my proverbial cup to this post. All digressions to moi aside, it’s an important point you’re making and one that adds to caregiver burn out in the home. Your kind loving words could very well help sumbunny. xoxo

  13. What a good topic to bring up. I must admit it frightens me, having never had to manage this type of situation.
    Diana xo

  14. Judy says:

    I was also thinking of some puns around this – but didn’t want to make an “ass” of myself in order to “crack” you up. It would be a “crappy” thing to do. Now I’m all “flushed” with embarrassment!

  15. Not exactly bumper sticker material, though. 🙂

  16. Terry says:

    I know for Al he always tells me he didn’t mean to do it. I just say the same thing each time, of course you didn’t. You would never do this on purpose

  17. My Heartsong says:

    I had a patient that was obsessed with laxatives-took a lot and staff were always trying to find them first. judy is hilarious with her comments. Don’t worry folks, it happens to all of us and we use humour as a way to cope. Now, are you going to talk about 9 year olds and farting?

  18. tersiaburger says:

    you are so precious

  19. My daughters have a habit of talking about poo at the dinner table and as you know they are not little kids but still they talk about poo all the time

  20. Lynda says:

    “As a nurse and/or care-giver, you get so used to poo that cleaning it up becomes more of a tedious than a revolting job.”

    Julie, I remember, when I first began teaching preschool, how shocked I was when my director gave me my first written work review. In the part about how dedicated I was to the profession, she went on about how hard working I was, and how good with the kids I was, and summed it up with:

    “She even cleans up POO!”

    I was stunned as we sat together going over the categories, because when she got to that part she said it with such a flourish, like it was the most wonderful thing, ever! :mrgreen:

  21. Quick glance at the title – I read “Taboo Topic: POOL.” I thought wow Julie always has an interesting perspective on things, wonder what this is about… Ahhahah!

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