"The only true way to prove that you have lost your inner child
is if you don't laugh when you hear the word poop."
Dad had an appointment with his GP this week. One of those F/U things that takes more time to prepare for and get to than the actual appointment. We were there to get the results of his swallowing test from a few weeks ago. The speech therapist that conducted the test had already informed us that Dad has a slight problem swallowing liquids. Slight as in he has to really concentrate on making stuff go down - from a kind of disconnect between the brain and the swallowing muscle - and so far nothing is going into his lungs which could cause pneumonia. Good news!
However, since we were there, Dad decided to throw out a few different complaints. Nothing new, just something to talk about. I guess when you are old the conversation can easily turn to a discussion of your ability, or lack of, to pee and poop. Remember how exciting it was when your brand new baby did things in its diaper that a few years later would gag you? With Dad it's the same sort of thing in reverse.
At the risk of giving out TMI here's how the conversation went:
Dad: I think I'm going to stop taking Senna as prescribed by hospice because I can't seem to control my pooping (my word). [BTW, the hospice nurse has given him permission to do/take whatever works best for him.]
Doctor: You could eat bran cereal for breakfast. It will help either way - if you are too loose or not loose enough.
Dad: I'm not going to give up eating what I like.
Doctor: Oh, I thought it was a problem.
Dad: Not that much of a problem. I just thought I'd use the time while I'm here to make it worth our while.
Two days later, the whole Hospice team was here - nurse, social worker and new doctor. In other words a grand audience! I left them alone at the kitchen table but listened closely from the other room. Invariably the discussion turned to his pee which is one of the ways to assess the condition of Dad's bladder.
Doctor: What color is it?
Dad: I don't know. Would you like to see it? It's got flakes in it. I can show you my pad.
Doctor, beginning to squirm and look for the nearest exit: No, that's okay, I'll take your word for it.
[ME: OMG. This is disgusting!]
[Nurse: Type. Type. Type on her computer.]
[SW: Blank stare.]
I know that elimination is a normal part of the human experience. I just wonder why it is that old people want to talk about it so much. I've always been pretty private about that subject. I have to wonder, though, as time moves along, will I also begin to work discussions of my bathroom habits into every day conversation? Will I bypass the make-up aisle in the drug store and go straight to the stool softeners and/or GasX? Will I stop weighing the pros and cons of tooth whitening toothpaste and contemplate instead the advantages of Depends over the store brand?
Sadly, I think I may have a genetic predilection for this to happen. My grandmother often told us about her intestinal discomfort, and now my dad is following in her footsteps. Is it only a matter of time before I join the conversation?
I'm afraid so because I have noticed along with hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and chin hairs I have developed a rather distressing habit of tooting without any warning. Sometimes I think I am the whole tuba section of my own one-woman marching band. I have no idea where this toot-ability came from. As a rule, I'd sooner slit my wrists then make a bathroom sound in public. Now I never know when I'm going to poot loud enough for people to think the dinner bell is ringing. My doctor was totally unsympathetic; he may even have suggested I eat more fiber. The joys and benefits of fiber eating must be a class they take in school!
There you have it. While other people are out in the world shoveling snow, trying to come up with a new health care plan or end world poverty, I spend my days discussing "P" words. I guess it could be worse, I could be up to my elbows in dirty diapers!
Wishing for conversation topics that do not start with the letter "P".