Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another post about my intestines

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am suffering from antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Warning: If long, wordy "passages" about bodily functions unsettle you, then you should probably stop reading now. Those who know me in real life know that occasionally, I just have to "dump" about this issue.

Today is such a day. After yesterday's half-hour shit-out at the public library on my way back from the therapist's, I started the probiotic regimen I should have begun when I started taking the medication. Last night was fairly calm but for a few otherworldly rumblings in my lower intestine when was eating my ultra-healthy dinner (at 9:30 p.m.) of pastrami and swiss with brown mustard on pumpernickel rye and two Larry's® Cheddar and Sour Cream Mashed Potato boats (made with REAL potatoes!). So today I began the day with some confidence.

It was dashed about half an hour ago, approximately 20 minutes after my lunch. Now when you hear this next part, you're going to think I'm just plain stupid, but you have to realize I was starving, I was in a low-blood-sugar daze and all I could think of was getting calories quick. So I ducked into my favorite vegetarian Indian place and decided hey, I'm feeling okay, I'm sure the Indian buffet won't cause any problems! It was delicious.

On the way back to the bus, I knew it was a mistake. There were a few moments at the stop when I had to let out some of my buffer and I momentarily panicked that perhaps it was more than just air, you know what I mean? I was imagining the conversation I would have to have with J. ("Um, I need you to drop whatever you are doing and come get me and bring me home right now because I'm having an incontinence issue...") By the time the bus got there I was already fantasizing about getting to the relatively safe turf of my building, and by the end of the bus ride, I was doing some strategic planning. 'I'll take off my coat and scarf in the elevator, that way I won't have to mess with it in the stall and I can go straight to unbuttoning my pants.'

I managed to walk into the building without shitting my pants, and luckily my winter coat disguised the clenched-butt walk that was required. I made it to the bathroom without problems and my coat/scarf/pants plan worked perfectly. As I did the stall scan I realized there was one other person in there, but at this point it wasn't going to be an issue for me.

This brings me to the oft-discussed issue of bathroom etiquette. I've read the emails, I know all about the safe haven and employ it to my advantage whenever possible. Still, even then sometimes you have a visitor. And even if I don't know the person, I really don't want to have explosive, exceptionally foul diarrhea within ear- and nose-shot.

I was thinking about this in between the cramp waves, and decided the perfect solution would be a shit-stall specifically designed to tackle the myriad issues required for those times when someone has to take an exceptionally nasty shit in a public restroom. It would be an entirely self-contained, sound-proof facility, designed using the same advanced technology employed by those working with highly-infectious organisms, similar to a Biosafety Level 3 facility. Consider the following passage, which I've based on the CDC web site referenced in the previous sentence, edited liberally, of course, to give you an idea of my thoughts for a ShitStall 3 facility.

ShitStall 3 is suitable for shits producing agents which may cause serious or potentially lethal consequences as a result of exposure by the inhalation route. ShitStall 3 facilities should be located away from high-traffic areas.

There is a door that can be closed to keep visitors out of the ShitStall 3 while work with the agents is in progress. The door to the ShitStall 3 is kept closed to minimize unnecessary access by casual visitors, vendors, or persons not needing to be in the facility. Hazard warning signs may be posted on the door indicating any hazards that may be present, including radioactive materials, lazar lights, high noise emitting equipment, or toxic chemicals. There is a hand-washing sink available, preferably near the door. Waste materials are segregated according to hazard type, and there is an appropriate chemical decon tray for collecting contaminated implements. Work is done on the open bench, and plastic-backed absorbent pads can be placed on the work surface to collect splatter or droplets associated with the work. The bench tops should be impervious to acid and all furniture should be sturdy. If there are openable windows in the facility, they should be fitted with screens...additional protective equipment may include working behind a splatter shield or wearing eye or face protection. Depending on the nature of the work being done in the ShitStall 3, additional personnel protective devices may be worn, such as respirators.

There are some specific secondary barriers needed at ShitStall 3 facilities. These facilities are characterized by having a double-door entry. Because the agents released at ShitStall 3 facilities are transmissible by the aerosol route, particular attention is given to air movement in these facilities. Air moves from areas of lesser contamination to areas of higher contamination, such as from the corridor into the laboratory. Air movement is also single pass; exhaust air is not recirculated to other rooms. Exhaust air does not have to be HEPA filtered, unless local conditions are such that reentrainment into building air supply systems is unavoidable.

All work that may create aerosols or splatter is done inside a biological safety cabinet. Wall, ceiling and floor penetrations are sealed to keep aerosols in and to keep gaseous decontaminants in. The floor is monolithic, and there are continuous cove moldings that extend at least 4" up the wall. Ceilings should be waterproof for ease of cleaning. Vacuum lines are protected with HEPA filters so that maintenance personnel are not exposed to infectious aerosols.

I really don't think it would be any more embarrassing to enter a ShitStall 3 than it is to sit in an open-air restroom and let it fly. Plus, my idea would incorporate a separate entrance and exit so one wouldn't have to face the person next in line and vice versa.

And finally, one more thing. The courtesy flush. Am I the only one out there who resists the courtesy flush because the idea of a million aerosolized particles of diarrhea flying up into my vagina is troubling? When I've been forced to employ the courtesy flush due to an extra-heinous expulsion, I try to lift myself up off the pot a bit to try to minimize the risk of e.coli-nizing my cooter, but if you're mid-poop with the runs that maneuver can get dicey.

Finally, I leave you with this: the fruit of my Internet journey today to bring you the must up-to-date information on the topic. This is great.


Anonymous said...

from my experience with all kinds of smells in the OR. I would highly suggest ppe ( personal protection equipment),this is a real term.Eye shields, face mask,double gloving, even could go for the self contained air handling units. Positive air pressure in stall 3 to allow shitter person fresh air and kept clothing free from clinging odors. Laminar air flow would also the contaminats to be sucked away from V region. But don't ask my advice because a walmart bag and toliet paper will do in a pinch. Lots of luck to you and your intestines. Pioneer girl

Nicole said...

I have the same issue when I go off my mood regulating drugs. And somehow, doing the deed in a stall next to one of my professors is not all that encouraging. It's hard to me medicated.

Melissa said...

I hate public restrooms! Especially where you work. Who wants to hear your co-workers taking a crap, and who wants to take one while someone else is inches away from you? I love your idea of a special stall. Failing that, I love the idea of the noisemakers they have in some Japanese bathrooms so you can get some damn privacy.

LilCherie said...

absolutely hilarious. I really like the idea of a shit stall 3. There have been several occasions this week when I would have found that to be incredibly useful. And I like the "aerosol" shit heading for your cooter after the "courtesy" flush..good stuff...keep up the work.

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