Sunday, December 7, 2008

Warning: this is probably too much information.

Dr Crippen at has a post about people inspecting their poo and how toilets in Germany are designed with an 'inspection shelf' so that people can take a look at their poo before they flush it. One of the links he has in the article goes to a discussion forum ( which starts with the difference between British, American and German toilets and goes downhill pretty quickly, ending up as a debate about whether it's better to wipe your bum standing as opposed to remaining seated on the throne.

The issue is so bizarre, so unusual...that I simply can't leave it alone. So, gentle readers, I'm writing an article that I never thought I'd write. An article about poo, toilets, and butt wiping in general. If you have a delicate constitution, you may want to exit now, because it's only going to get shittier (bwahahaha! I crack myself up sometimes!) as the article progresses.

Let me begin with the original question: do you look at your poo? My answer is yes, I DO look at my poo. I don't dig around in the bowl or put my face a couple of inches away from the turds, but I do glance at it...mainly to make sure there's nothing nefarious in there. I had a gastric bleed once, many many years ago. Had I not become accustomed to taking a rudimentary glance at my work, so to speak, I'd never have seen it's alarming black color and wouldn't have known that I was bleeding somewhere in my gut. I can also judge how well my gut is working and how long it takes me to digest food...some foods don't get digested well and come out looking remarkably similar to the way they went it. I know when I ate (corn is a good example), so looking in the bowl and seeing kernels tells me how long it's taken that food to get through my digestive tract. Taking a quick glance at your poo before you flush it is a good thing, I think. It can alert you to many potential health problems.

Next: toilet designs. Having lived in England for half my life and having been fortunate enough to spend time in both France and Germany, I have some experience with different toilet designs AND flushing systems. English loos have a lot less water in them than American loos do, and they flush differently. In the US, all the water drains out of the loo when the matter is flushed. In England, the water rises dramatically and then goes back to it's original level, but at no time does all the water drain out of the bowl.
German toilets have a waterless shelf in the bowl - the inspection shelf. I believe that causes more of an odor in the bathroom; poo that's under water doesn't smell nearly as bad as poo that's exposed to the air. From what I recall, German loos flush much the same way as English ones.
French toilets are very similar to English ones - the ones in homes do, anyway. Public loos in France are basically holes in the tiled floor with a couple of heel rests located a short distance away. The first time we went to France on vacation I was 8. I acquired the nickname 'Camel' on that trip; my mother took me into a public loo when we were at Nice for the day. Apparently I was complaining that I really had to pee before we went in there, but once I saw the holes in the floor I decided I didn't need to go anymore - and I held it for the rest of the day. Toilets in restaurants and cafes in France tend to be unisex - and when you're a shy 8 year old English girl, unisex loos are just as bad as holes in the floor. So, I went all day without peeing. God knows what would have happened had I needed to go number 2.

Now onto wiping: the concept of standing up to wipe is a totally alien and very strange one to me. I've always remained seated to wipe. If, for instance, you had residual poo on your ringpiece (English slang for butt hole), wouldn't standing up cause your butt cheeks to come together, thereby smushing the poo and generally making more of a mess? It would seem to me that it would. So, I remain seated...and yes, I look at the paper after I've wiped. I also use flushable moist wipes; paper alone doesn't leave me feeling clean enough, if you know what I mean. There are many, many different kinds of toilet paper available, but I prefer Charmin Basic: it's strong and it doesn't leave lint like Cottonelle does. I made the mistake of buying toilet paper with some kind of lotion in it once and felt like I had a greasy ass crack all day long. It was gross. I do miss colored paper, though. In England, you can get peach or pink or green or blue colored loo rolls, but here in the US you can only get white. Why is that?

I also don't understand people who only give themselves one perfunctory wipe and then pull their pants up regardless of whether they're clean or not. First of all, they HAVE to be leaving skid marks in their undies (which are difficult to get out - I know from having small boys who were too interested in playing with their friends to make sure their wee little bums were properly cleaned); secondly, it can't be comfortable to walk around with poo clinging to your sphincter (doesn't it itch and make your crack sore? Babies who don't get their bottoms cleaned properly end up with a diaper rash, so there has to be a similar consequence for adults) and lastly there has to be an odor involved, which could be potentially embarrassing. Our mothers told us to make sure we were wearing clean drawers before we went out for a reason - and having responded to trauma calls as an EMT, I know that we medics notice things like dirty underwear and stinky bottoms/bodies. People like to think that we don't, but we do. I do, anyway, and so do most of the medics I've worked with. In fact, one of the medics who helped teach my EMT class had what he called a 'Hall Of Shame' - a list of people (not names, HIPAA and all that jazz forbids names) who were the dirtiest, stinkiest, nastiest patients he'd ever dealt with. Bear in mind that there's a big difference between being incontinent because of an injury you've received and having shit-stained underwear that you haven't changed for days and a body that hasn't seen soap and water for weeks if not months. Personally, I can't leave the bathroom until I'm sure I'm clean down there, so I really don't understand how folks can walk around with dirty assholes and stinky nether regions and be okay with that.

Ok, enough of the toilet tales. I've probably given most of you too much information already and it's time to find a different subject. I do have one more question, though, and if any of you have an answer please leave me a comment and enlighten me:

How do blind people know when they're done wiping their butts?


Chris said...

Love it! I've got a toilet related post coming up now.

I'll link over to this too!

(Hope FTS is feeling better)

Epijunky said...

*looks around*

I thought this was Ninja's place, how come it's resembling AD's blog? :)

What a brilliant post today, girlie. And for the record, I can't blame 8-year-old Little Ninja for not being all that excited about using the restroom in France, I had no idea their toilets were on the floor.

Tony said...

In 26 years of being blind 've answered a lot of "how do you..." questions. I'm fairly certain you're the first one I've answered this for. And, on the off chance it was a rhetorical question, well... oops

When you're whiping you can feel if you're removing any matter or not. I don't mean by touching the front side of the paper either, you can just tell. Once you don't feel that you're removing anything you quit.

Maybe not a very good explanation there... Not something I've ever thought about how I do it.

icemanof92 said...

Great post. Its the first one I've read from your blog. I know a blind person has already answered this but I'll post my previous hypothesis about your question anyway- I THOUGHT blind people just kept wiping and wiping and wiping until there was NOT A CHANCE that there could be any poop left back there! But aparantly I was wrong.