wings and things


It’s been a busy week, punctuated by strange occurrences. For example, as I rode my bicycle home the other day (from my incredibly long 2 kilometre challenge), I took a short-cut across the front lawn and saw this:


I assumed that it was a cowpat (you know, the stuff that comes out of a cow’s bottom, ordinarily called cowshit but I am being polite), but none of our neighbours’ cattle usually visit, so then I thought maybe the alpacas, Okami and Uluru, had had a pooing competition, but the pile of whatever-it-was was too big to fit either of these possible scenarios, and, even though geese and ducks produce a lot of this kind of thing, they tend to do it all over the place and not in one spot.

Later in the day I told Ming about it:

Me: There’s this huge pile of shxx on the front lawn – have you seen it?
Ming: No, it’s probably your stupid birds.
Me: No this is massive and it looks really weird, like a UFO or something.
Ming: Don’t worry about it!
Me: Would you mind coming out and having a look?
Ming: Grrr – okay.

So I showed Ming and he started to laugh hysterically.

Me: What’s so funny?
Ming: Remember that pea soup you made and forgot to put in the frig and asked me to throw out?
Me: Oh.


Taboo topic: poo!

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.