Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Poop to Live, Live to Poop

Recently in the hospital:

An older lady is admitted into the ICU. She is very sick, and the prognosis is grim. She is on life support and clinging to life. The following is the conversation with her sixty-ish son. His Mother apparently had an obsession that has been passed along as a genetic trait.

Son: “What happens if my Mom has to…uh…you know…needs to… go to the bathroom?”

I knew what he was referring to, but there is no fun in a direct answer.

Me: “Oh, it won’t be a problem. She has a tube going into her bladder. All of her urine will drain out into this bag.”

Son: “That’s good, but I am more concerned about her…going…the other…way.”

Me: “Do you mean what if she has a bowel movement?”

Son: “Yes, she goes at least three times a day, and if she doesn’t she gets very, very anxious.”

Me: “A lot of older people have a preoccupation with staying regular. Does she take anything at home to help her go?”

Son: “Yes, she takes two stool softeners twice a day, a glass of Metamucil every morning, a couple of ex-lax around lunch, and if she doesn’t have a third by bed time, she will give herself an enema.”

Me: “Goodness, she is a busy lady. Does she have any other hobbies?”

Son: “She had an obstruction about ten years ago, and has been pretty strict on three times a day since.”

Me: “At the moment it is not going to be our focus, but I will keep an eye on it.”

Son: “She would want me to make sure she still went three times a day.”

Me: “She is not eating right now, so she might not have to go so often.”

Son: “She doesn’t eat much anyway, but she still goes three times a day.”

Me: “She MAKES herself go three times a day.”

Son: “Can you make her go three times a day?”

Me: “We could make her go non-stop, but it won’t be necessary.”

Son: “I would really appreciate it if she could go three times a day.”

Me: “I’ll see what I can do.”

Son: “When she goes, do you just pick her up and put her on the toilet?”

Me: “At the current time you Mother can not really tell me when she has to go. She will probably be incontinent and then we will clean her up.”

Son: “You mean she will just go in the bed?”

Me: “Probably.”

Son: “I don’t think she will want to do that.”

Me: “Unfortunately, you Mother is not in a condition to notice that right now. I am going to be focused on getting her better so she can get up to the toilet on her own again.”

Son: “She might seem like she is not really paying attention, but I bet she is still thinking about having her next bowel movement.”

Me: “We will keep her comfortable and do everything in our power to help her get better.”

Son: “If she has…uh…a bowel move…in the bed…who cleans it up?”

Me: “I do.”

Son: “Isn’t that disgusting?”

Me: “You get used to it.”

Son: “I can’t imagine.”

Me: “It’s a job.”

Son: “It seems like it would be cleaner just to pick her up and put her on the toilet.”

Me: “It seems that way, but it wouldn’t be.”

Son: “Okay, just think about it, and see what you can do to keep her going three times a day.”

Me: “I will do my best.”

He called me the next morning around four A.M., and the first thing he asked was not, “How is she doing?” Or “Is she awake yet?” But instead, “Did she have a…um…bowel movement?”

Great disappointment was noticed when I said no.

I could not stop wondering if the son was calling me from his own toilet. Like Mother like Son.


Jester said...

And THAT ladies and gentlemen is how Killer became the number one search engine result for "poop stories" and "bowel movements."

Babybull40 said...

Is the son that stupid not to notice that his beloved Mother is practically comatose.. helloooooo... If he is so concerned ask him to clean up when she eventually poops...some people and their kids.. geesh..

Cathy said...

It never fails to amaze me how people can get focused on poop and not see the bigger picture. However, a similar version of this conversation takes place in most units on most days. Sometimes you just want to shake them and say right now we are more concerned with the machine that is breathing for her and the iv meds that are keeping her blood pressure high enough to support life!

Roadchick said...

Bowel babies.

Gotta love 'em.

Thanks, Dr. Spock.

Chris said...

Parents also get involved in their childrens poop. Often the parents will call the NICU, ask how their baby is doing, how much they weigh, & of COURSE have they pooped today. NEVER mind that the baby is not eating.

So it is an ugly cycle started by the parents.

Natalie said...

Wow, at least he loves his mom.

Mayren said...

Surely there is more to nursing than JUST poop?!?

fringes said...

It's taking his mind off other things, I'm sure. He's likely thinking: If she's pooping right, then everything is alright. Our brains do their best to distract us from trauma.

You are the best storyteller.

LC said...

Man. When I read what that lady took to make herself poop, I saw what my future might be like.

othurme said...

I'm sure Jester will appreciate what I'm about to say.

You should have started singing "Now let me get this straight...you put the lime in the coconut and shake it all up?"

chad said...

Me: ��Goodness, she is a busy lady. Does she have any other hobbies?��

hilarious--one of your best lines ever. second only, perhaps, to your description of your co-worker mimi's laugh. (i've been catching up, so i read that one just about an hour ago and it's still fresh in my mind)

Killer said...

I just want to be number one at being number two.

People focus on the weirdest things in the hospital.

I want to shake them all the time.

I think it is some Freudian complex.

It is the cycle of life, your parents clean your poop and then you clean theirs.

At least he loves her poop.

Yes, sometimes there is vomit, but nobody wants to hear about vomit.

Coming from you that means a lot.

After taking all that daily for ten years, she couldn't poop on her own if she wanted to.

Is everything a song to you? Sometimes poop is just poop, not a musical segue.

Thanks, I liked that one. I figured many people would not catch that; the son did not.

You can thank Jester for my responding to all the comments. He has it listed as one of his recommendations to improving reader happiness. He is like my PR rep.
Thank You, please come again.

laughingattheslut said...

Is Jester going to get you to do that advice column now?

othurme said...

I guess I watch too much Scrubs.

Barry Amenamah said...

She's hardcore! Even for me!