So the other day I was reading this article about poop and thongs (it’s my way) when a line of text reached out and grabbed me:
Wipe thoroughly but gently. Too much friction may cause microtears, which are more prone to infection if fecal matter gets inside them.
If you’re anything like me (and you’re probably not) your first reaction might be, “Hey, motherfucker! That’s some goddamned useful information.”
My lot in life is to be behind the times and bring up the rear.
Now I understand as well as the next person that in our fear-based taboo-driven culture we’re supposed to figure out most valuable life knowledge via “self-exploration.” But where do we draw the line? Perchance maybe this nugget of wisdom should have risen to the level of being lore that might have been passed on?
Young people have to rely on adults to share the true mysteries of life. We simply aren’t born with the ability to glean it all on our own.
Where adults fail, education is supposed to finish the job. Yet, somehow, none of my classes ever got around to a topic like this. Not health class. Not home economics. Not wood shop. Not even my favorite class, Septics 201.
Now, in my twilight hours, I’m forced to rely on a snarky internet post to finally explain the facts of life when, really, it’s information that should have been brought to my attention yesterday. Only now, at the end, do I finally understand.
I can’t help but wonder what else I don’t know.
I was flushed with excitement when I made the team. I almost flipped my lid. Not one to fly off the handle, I was resolute and went about the business of doing my job. This consisted mainly of navigating a dinghy about a very small body of water. I’d sing as I tackled the task. “I sail the ocean blue and my saucy shit’s a beauty. I’m a sober man and true, and attentive to my doody. Ahoy! Ahoy!”
For I had set my sights high. I was the man lucky enough to know his own destiny. One day, if I worked hard enough, my teammates and I, as members of the Pack Ten conference, would play in The Toilet Bowl. Perhaps not the bowl sponsored by Tostitos but at least the one that had Ex-Lax, Preparation H and Beano.
And we made it, too, quite literally by the seat of our pants.
[/end of dream sequence]
Blob “Constas” Pation here, and today we take a look at the storied career of Tom B. Taker, a man so dedicated to his
crap craft that he has worked the last 11 years within spitting distance of toilets. It’s a story ripped from the anals of history. We caught up with the man as he set out to maintain this blistering pace and go for the world record of twelve years in a row.
Continue reading →
As one of the foremost “poop correspondents” on the internet it falls on me (no pun intended) to bring you this explosive story. Here’s my report filed from the trenches…
Recently, Brea thoughtfully tipped me off regarding some interesting news in the medical world. News that was right up my alley (so to speak).
To put this succinctly, poop transplants are now being performed as “last-ditch treatments” in the fight against an illness known as clostridium difficile or more commonly as “CDF/cdf” or “c. diff.”
According to Wikipedia, c. diff “is a species of Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Clostridium that causes diarrhea and other intestinal disease when competing bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics.”
The disease can be remarkably hard to treat and can be fatal. According to a story in the Associated Press, C. diff is “a germ that so ravages some people’s intestines that repeated tries of the strongest, most expensive antibiotic can’t conquer their disabling diarrhea.”
In dire cases, a new treatment consisting of a “transplant” of fecal matter from a healthy person is performed. A doctor in the story claims, “[fecal matter] is the ultimate probiotic.” (Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism.)
I can only imagine how that doctor/patient consultation goes down. “Your problem, as you well know, is diarrhea. Our plan is to take poop from someone healthy and put it inside you. Poop will be the solution to your diarrhea.”
Sounds ass backwards to me.
It’s a little more complicated than that. The transplant procedure involves relocation of an “entire bacterial neighborhood” from the healthy donor.
Here’s the fun part. C. diff is thought to commonly be a “nosocomial infection.” That’s just a fancy way of saying the C. diff infection is often the “result of treatment in a hospital or a healthcare service unit.”
You go in for health care and come away with a little unplanned bonus. Interesting how that works, eh?
According to Wikipedia, a stay in the hospital up to two weeks represents a 13% chance to pick up the C. diff infection. A stay of four-weeks or more and that rate jumps to a whopping 50 percent!
I wish I was making this stuff up. All I can say is, “I’m not shitting you!”
As a poop correspondent, I’ve often sat around spending my free time daydreaming about things like hand washing rates. (Hand washing represents a substantial chunk of my “Poop Manifesto” I’m hoping to release someday.) We’ve all heard the stories about public handrails with more than 500 different sources of fecal matter on them. Or how people in public restrooms tend to wash their hands more often when they are being watched.
As a civilization we are apparently not big on the whole concept of hand washing and cleanliness. Even though science has told us about the dangers for a long time now.
Imagine a place where you think hand washing would reign supreme. Imagine people who you think would be best at it. It isn’t too hard to surmise that a place like an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) within a hospital might be such a place, right? And that people like doctors might be experts at washing hands, right? We’ve all seen the surgeons at Mash 4077 like Hawkeye, Trapper John and B.J. Hunnicutt “scrub” before working on patients. For them it was a big deal.
As it often turns out, it’s no big surprise (at least to me) when reality turns out to be just a wee bit different.
When doing my research, one thing I noticed was that the ICU industry (for lack of a better term) seemed to be bragging about hand washing rates of 97%. My reaction: How the hell is that something to brag about in a frickin’ hospital???
But it’s worse than that. Much worse. Studies have found that hand washing rates in ICUs are appalling low. Even after “awaresness campaigns,” specialized training, and even when employees are told that their hand washing will be monitored. And these are the people that take care of the sick?
One study found that within an ICU setting, there was a hand washing rate of 72.8%. Nurses were best with a rate of 97.5%. Technicians came in second with a rate of 47.7%. Are you ready to guess who came in last place? Yep, doctors, with a rate of 37.6%.
37.6%? Holy shit!
The study also found that an “educational program” about hand washing improved the hand washing rate among nurses and technicians, but not doctors. Said the study, “No statistically significant changes in the handwashing behaviour among doctors was observed during the study period.” Is this the “God complex” at work? Apparently doctors don’t like to be told what to do, about anything, from anyone. Oh, put your hands on me, doctor! And some people actually want to date doctors?
Side story: My wife worked in a doctor’s office. It was a small office where people sat a few feet away from the restroom. When someone did their business you could hear every “plop,” if you know what I mean. More importantly, however, you could hear if running water was turned on. Running water that would imply that hand washing was taking place. And guess who used the restroom and didn’t turn on the water before coming back out? Yep! The doctor! One of my favorite expressions used to be, “The doctor will fee you now.” But I think that’s old and busted. From now on, I’m updating my phrase to “The doctor will pee you now.” It think that’s a lot more apropos.
So, it seems to me, we just might have identified at least one culprit when it comes to nosocomial infections, eh? Do a serious internet search regarding the problem of simply getting health care workers to wash their hands and you begin to get an idea about the magnitude of the problem we’re facing.
The good news is that, since getting it’s humble start in hospitals and such, C. diff now seems to be making headway in the “outpatient setting,” also known as the general community outside of hospitals. You know, where people like you and me live our daily lives.
Humans! Is there anything they can’t do?
Thanks, Brea, for getting me started! 🙂
By now you’ve no doubt heard the latest. If not, please allow me this opportunity to start spreading the news…
Accept no substitutes.
The headline reads: STUDY: Nearly half of soda fountains contaminated with fecal matter
Excellent. Now we’re getting somewhere.
It is important to note that the study did not measure the tactile surfaces of soda fountains, like the buttons that must be pushed to dispense beverages. Due to the hand washing habits of your average human, positive results there would have hardly have raised an eyebrow. Nay, these researchers tested the beverages themselves. Yumm-o!
I’ve heard two theories regarding how this happens. One is that employees and customers may introduce the bacteria via inadvertent touching of surface areas on beverage dispensers. Another is that it could be coming from water lines. The press release below seems to rule out ice as the source.
Kudos to Hollins University for this fascinating discovery.
Here’s the press release:
Hollins Researchers Find Bacteria in Soda Fountain Beverages
Nov. 12, 2009
Roanoke, Va. – A team of faculty and student scientists at Hollins University has discovered that beverages from soda fountain machines can harbor microorganisms that may contribute to episodic gastric distress in the general population and could potentially pose a more significant threat to people with compromised immune systems.
The research was completed this summer and is available online in the International Journal of Food Microbiology (6-NOV-2009 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2009.10.031).
The research team obtained 90 beverages of three types (sugar sodas, diet sodas, and water) from 20 self-service and 10 personnel-dispensed soda fountains, analyzed them for microbial contamination, and evaluated the results with respect to U.S. drinking water regulations. A follow-up study compared the concentration and composition of microbial populations in 27 beverages collected from nine soda fountains in the morning and the afternoon.
“We obtained soda fountain beverages from a wide variety of fast food establishments and found that a significant number of the drinks had levels of bacteria, including coliforms, which would not be allowed in municipal drinking water,” said Dr. Renee Godard, professor of biology and director of environmental studies at Hollins, and a co-author of the study. “To our knowledge, no one has looked at bacterial contamination from soda fountain machines before, and our results may have public health implications. They signal the need for regulations that enforce the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning regimens for these beverage dispensers.”
The research project also examined soda fountain-dispensed ice and none of the ice samples exceeded U.S. drinking water standards. Statistical analyses revealed no difference in levels of microbial contamination between beverage types, or between those dispensed from self-service and personnel-dispensed soda fountains.
Biology department faculty members Amy White and Rebecca Beach, and students Carolyn Belling and Vicki Kasza co-authored the study with Godard.
No word yet on the possible presence of amoebas. 🙂
Life is a sport. Drink it up! Mwuhahahahaha!