Thursday, February 28, 2008

In 'n Out

If you checked this blog title and thought about a tasty double-double with a shake and want to keep that image in your mind, stop reading now. Come back, like, some other day, dude.

Really, I warn you now that this entry is let it all hang out TMI about bodily functions, relating what goes in to what comes out. I warned you a while back that I was planning a blog about poop. You might not have noticed, you might have thought I was kidding. You might have been living on the edge and coming back anyway, you might have wondered what I was about. The wait is over. Let's see if I can make this poop talk both entertaining and educational. Don't say you haven't been warned.

Despite my huge warning, I don't think people talk enough about pee and poop (except at our family dinners). There's important health information there and when people don't talk about it, interpretive knowledge is not passed along. Apparently doctors used to ask if you were regular, but I don't know if I've ever had any physician ask me about my poop even that much. I've also never had one define "regular". The one time I brought something up they said it was no problem but didn't say why they thought so. I've given urine samples, but the doctors only see the resulting numbers. My acupuncturists tend to ask about all sorts of excretions, and I find those assessments more comprehensive than my western medical exams.

I got to thinking about blogging this when I saw an episode of "House" where a vegan girlfriend brought her boyfriend to the doctor because his poop was floating. Diagnosis? He'd "cheated on her" with an extra fatty cheeseburger. While I generally check whatever lands in the loo, I hadn't really paid attention to whether or not I had floaters or sinkers. And it hadn't occurred to me that fat in the diet would be the difference; I figured it was probably fiber because wood floats. I wondered why it never came up in my previous 35 years. I had heard some time ago that when King George had his fits of madness, his urine turned purple. (Modern medicine knows what causes this but I don't remember.) Anyway, either his bath handlers and physicians didn't pay attention or thought it was beneath their notice. It makes me think that had they paid attention, his life might have gone a little easier and England been a little more predictably ruled. Purple you'd think would be noticeable.

Back in the early days of the internet, along with the fractured history in which Drake circumcises the world in a clipper ship, one of the most oft received net humor pieces was the shit list with various mutations. It always seems to contain a few unmodified regulars like the clean shit, the ghost shit, and the corn shit. And years later I think of that list when I have one of the identified shits. Most distressing recently was when I got the 'pebbles shit' at Disneyland and my friends had to wait for me and I couldn't make progress and couldn't risk leaving. My brother had a sympathetic nervous system or something though because he claimed one that week as well. They don't have on the list the "half moon shit" that looks like it's been through a moon shaped extruder.

Somehow another friend and I got talking on this as well, and about how poop relates to health. She'd read that an "S" shape is the most healthy, indicating a good food balance. I usually get "C" shapes. We discussed whether Cs were short Ss or not, but didn't resolve the issue. I had a perfect S the other day and it was different enough to be memorable and make me think of her. It also made me wonder again how my nutrition gets interpreted on the back side. I have one data point that eating a whole plate of stir fried "new bamboo shoots" (looks like pop beads) results in a cow patty. Which makes sense because it's mostly indigestible fiber which is something cows are fond of. On the nutrition front, I tend to eat a big lunch then lot of salad or veggie stir fry for dinner. A little meat usually happens if I eat out or get some sliced ham. I don't eat much fish. And I sporadically take supplements.

Anyone who takes vitamins knows that B makes your P a glowing bright yellow. Anyone who's been to Burning Man (or like me, has friends who talk about it) knows that pee with color means you're not drinking enough water and you'd better start chugging so you don't dehydrate. If you eat asparagus, urine comes out with an intense, somewhat savory, smell. (If your's doesn't, investigations have shown it's your sniffer at fault.) One of my supplements (Juvenon- a mix of acetyl L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid to repair damage to mitochondria which provide cellular energy) makes my urine smell with the same asparagus intensity and presence, but a slightly different odor. I asked their online doc and he said it's sign that my body is consuming the supplement and giving off the scented breakdown product. Ok, fine, but sometimes it takes me by surprise.

Recently, though, I started taking grapefruitseed extract on the advice of my podiatrist. She says it clears up fungus and yeast but doesn't destroy kidneys like Lamisil. (She also said to start with small doses as it "helps release toxins" and can make you feel flu like symptoms if one goes overboard with it, in case you're tempted to try.) Since I'm generally extremely healthy but for not being able to fight off yeast and fungus, I thought it might be a good idea. So far so good, I'll let you know about the toenail in a couple months, but the weird thing is that it makes my pee smell like I've just eaten fish. So like I do with most things excretory, I called my little brother. And he mentioned that his pee doesn't smell like an old fish dinner the day after indulging. I think I asked someone else and theirs doesn't either (that they know of).

I mentioned that I don't eat much fish. Partly it's because I'm not used to preparing it. Also, I tend to be a hoarder and buy food to use "sometime later" rather than right away, which isn't compatible with fish. But mostly it's because my pee stinks to high heaven the next day as if I'd just left the meal on the counter overnight. Does this happen to anyone else? I put up with it for lobster, but I get tired of day old shrimp, salmon, crab, or whatever stinking me out the next day even if it didn't have a smell when it went in. It doesn't come out through my skin at all, like raw garlic does for 3 days, but it's still unpleasant. And now I'm getting that same phenomenon from the grapefruitseed which has additives C,E, and Zinc but no fish, not even calcium from shells. And now that I've taken it for a couple weeks, the fishy exit smell has become intermittent.

Along with the fact that raw onions make my guts disco, apples give me diarrhea (since about age 30), and my fish stink doesn't digest, it makes me wonder what gut bacteria I don't have and what enzymes I don't produce anymore. I've had antibiotics every so often and I usually have acidophilous and yogurt afterward, but my digestion is definitely strange. Am I getting good nutrients from my food? Or is it all coming out in the end?

I have at least 3 friends who have had their guts surgically shortened. It's major invasive surgery. When the bowels are stitched back together, the doctors monitor your Flatus Status to check your progress. When you fart, you can drink again. When you pee, you can eat solids again. When you finally poop, you can go home. What I found out from one friend is that different regions of the intestines absorb different food related things - fats, starches, etc. I'd had some notion that it was just a chemically enhanced diffusion process and that some things were just absorbed or consumed faster than others and the length of the guts just provided dwell time. But along with major surgery it means that stitched up guts might not work the same or absorb the necessary nutrients quite the same.

This isn't as good as sectioning a bowel to find out how it works, but... The week before I moved to CA, I gave myself food poisoning eating twice reheated shrimp pasta. I thought the movers would show up to find my dessicated body. When I thought I could keep something down, I did a little experiment. I'd purchased a bottle of activated charcoal, used for combating poisoning, when my friends started reproducing. I never had to use it and noticed it when I was throwing out old toiletries for the move. Apparently it has an expiration date, but I figured it wouldn't hurt the food poisoning, and at best would bind up some germs, so I mixed it with soda per the directions and drank it down. My tongue, lips, and teeth went totally black. Really freaky. What I learned about my digestive speed was this: within 4 hours, some of the carbon had gone completely through; the next day, there was all black, all the time; the black continued to come out for about 4 days. So my colon expresses some stuff right through, processes teh bulk of it in a day, day and a half, and takes it's own sweet time to completely cycle the whole batch.

Still here? Cool.

Everyone Poops. Please comment with your knowledge of how your body works in this regard or how you think it should, in the spirit of getting some interesting knowledge collected, entertaining, useful, or just odd. I'm really curious. (No, I haven't yet checked Wikipedia on the topic of poop.) Does coffee make you poop? (My brother's contribution.) Does beer stop you up? (It does me.) Do you ever get the moon poop? (Is it a bad sign?) Do you get the fish stink too? What is the worst supplement/vitamin combo you've ever noticed come out later? Is your poop "S" shaped? Do you use your poop to tell you when a food is bad or good for you? If you've done an elimination diet, did your poop change? (How?) Do you have foods you stopped or started digesting at some age or event? Enquiring minds need something to read in the bathroom.

Humorous Pictures

5 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

Childbirth is the worst.

Sent my insides from maybe to screwed up. I have to be careful with beer, dairy products and processed meats and a few other foods. Have pills for when I misbehave.

Also, it's the worst time to have to "go". Actually, after any surgery. Stool softeners don't work, may I recommend Peg Lyte or it's equivalent. Yes, I know it's the "clean out" med, but used in much lower amounts works perfectly. Just ask my boys :)

S.

Junior said...

Meowm says~

CO you crack me up! I don't know anyone else that would post about poop.

Coffee makes me poop...it is a natural laxative.

Being a bit lactose intolerant....too much milk, ice cream, etc. will make me poop, and you can guess how it comes out.

Too much of certain vegetables, of course, can give one diarrhea.....beware of too much broccoli.

I saw a gastroenterologist one time and he said that we should poop every time we go to the bathroom.....seems a bit extreme to me...but I suppose it is possible. Incidentally having a lower GI is kind of interesting. I found it cool to see my insides...jsut didn't enjoy how it had to be done.

Can't say that I have paid to much attention to the smell/what I eat correlation.

And mine are never floaters and I eat way to much junk food....so I can't imagine fat has anything to do with that. As for shape...pretty clueless there too. I wonder about size sometimes though. Is a long one good or a short one good?

I did a cleansing routine when I lived in Vegas...I believe it was called Ultraclear. It has been so long that I don't remember how things were on the exiting, but the stuff did make me feel better and my eyes were clearer.

Well, that is the total of my input about "output".

Alaskan Hellcat said...

FABULOUS post!!

When I take the time to go see a homeopath, she always asks about my poop. In general, she says that we should be pooping AT LEAST twice a day, and that the poops should consist of both floater and sinkers. That indicates a good balance of food. She also suggests looking for foods, that er, well, look the same coming out as they did going in. If you see any, it is a really good indication that your body isn't digesting that type of food (duh!) and that you might want to limit your intake of said food because it is probably playing havoc with your intestines.

With that said-- I have a great story to share. My best friend used to live in Boston, and worked at Harvard for awhile. She was in the public bathroom in one of the University buildings when an older lady came in and went into the stall right next to my friend. Well as my friend is finishing, she notices that the lady next to her is facing the toilet instead of away from the toilet. And then she hears...
"Corn??? When was the last time I had corn? I don't remember any corn!".

Junior said...

Meowm is ROFL...check out this post:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/2006/12/tanner_the_barb.html

CrankyOtter said...

Thanks so much for your inputs! I plan to skip the childbirth method of rearranging my insides. I'm pretty sure rice and corn aren't particularly good for me. Rice gets stuck in my throat (how, I don't know). Corn, well, it comes out the way it goes in. I've cut back on my wheat by eating only spelt toast in the morning - and I don't know if it helps but it doesn't make me feel worse and it's darn tasty. I've been having more dairy recently during my celebration of having a freezer again which consisted of buying a lot of ice cream to keep in said freezer.