Bowel movements & other dinner party conversations

Sunday, December 14, 2014 Permalink

Disclaimer: Don’t worry… I’m not about to launch into great detail about bowel movements and the like. ūüėȬ†

I still remember as a kid, finding it strange my great-aunt used to go on and on (and on) about her bowels moving. Or not. (And mostly not, from memory!) I was appropriately¬†horrified – having grown up believing that one doesn’t discuss money, politics, sex or religion. And bowel movements. Well… except when they do of course.

My antipathy towards discussing bodily functions¬†changed drastically when I lived in Africa for a while in the mid 1990s. I was only in Mozambique a week or two when I got sick. I realised later I’d eaten hand-threaded beef* skewers when out. Rookie¬†mistake.

After seeing my body do things one can never unsee I pulled out my faithful travellers medical kit, which included a little booklet complete with flowchart.

If this; then that.  Sort of thing.

Horrified I found myself examining the fruits of my loins labour for things on the lists. Ah-ha! I thought and started taking the appropriate drug. And nothing happened. In fact, things got worse, so I switched to another. They were all pretty small doses Рbut powerful.

After several¬†days of being chained to the loo some people I’d met tracked me down (not in the loo, obviously, but where I was staying). “Was I okay?” they wondered.


Gah! I shyly explained my stomach issues. And that was when I became privy to¬†the well-versed-in-bowel-movements. They had all sorts of questions. They’d lived in Mozambique for ages and had crossed paths with all sorts of illnesses, from malaria to dengue to giardia and so forth.

Eventually I agreed to¬†seek medical assistance and trudged off to the international clinic. The money it would cost stressed me out – although my volunteer organisation would reimburse me – I’d be out-of-pocket for a while. Once there I explained my symptoms to some poor Russian doctor however we reached a language impasse, both of us only having snippets of Portuguese language in common.

He understood enough eventually to do some tests and it was discovered I had suffered salmonella poisoning (which was a relief at the time). As I’d been unwell for a couple of weeks¬†they were keen to put me on a drip but I knew my bill had already reached over USD200, so I took the exorbitantly expensive drugs they gave me and shuffled back home. #literally

That particular incident was the first of FOUR bouts of salmonella poisoning I suffered while in Mozambique over a 16mth period. None were pleasant and many far worse than the first, requiring not only IV fluids but painkillers as well.

Naturally any concern I may have had about the sort of blunt discussions I once eschewed went out of the window. Isolated and often desperate, my friends and I would go into intricate detail about all manner of embarrassing things.

I didn’t suffer as badly in subsequent overseas locations, and after being back in Australia for a dozen years I’ve regained my sense of propriety on the issue.

Of course,¬†being coeliac means I can’t completely stay away from the subject – however recently I’ve had some¬†other *ahem* digestive issues and had to again describe disturbing images to medical personnel. I mean I know that they’ve probably heard and seen worse, but still…

Do you shy away from certain topics? Are you queasy when it comes to discussing bodily functions? (Your own or others?)

* Supposedly beef but many of the butchers used donkey instead

Joining the #LaughLink gang again today.

  • @Kanga_Rue
    December 14, 2014

    Donkey hey… Remind me to fill you in on a local venue which has apparently been discovered* using a substitute for chicken, more than once… You know those pesky Ibis birds in all the parks…!!

    *purely based on the lowest forms of knowledge: rumour, opinion & here say of other people… Though I don’t think I’ll be rushing there any time soon.

    • Debbish
      December 14, 2014

      Ohhhh… Am intrigued. And a little horrified!

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    December 14, 2014

    No. I’d tell everything about everything to anyone. Just ask my colleagues.

  • Jess
    December 15, 2014

    Your aunt story made me laugh because I have 3 aunts who provide way too much info on such things. Always at family dinners. I even found them horrifying the twins with discussions of age spots (mild topic for them really). The girls refused to wear anything polka dot though for ages in fear they would cause age spots.

    4 bouts of salmonella sounds really really rough! Must have been an interesting post!

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2014

      Oh poor little things… age spots?!

  • Char
    December 15, 2014

    I have very few qualms about sharing and over-sharing nearly anything. As you already know from reading some of my blog posts. But strangely enough I hate having to hear my husband on the subject of his bowels. In fact I hate the word ‘bowels’ and the word ‘constipation’.

    • Debbish
      December 15, 2014

      Yes I know… you’ll notice I often use the words ‘digestive / digestion / stomach’ instead. Also I don’t think I ever knew how to saw bowel in Portuguese, so I’d say I had a sore stomach… ūüôā

  • bec @ The Plumbette
    December 16, 2014

    Wow Deb! Four bouts of salmonella? That’s intense! After having a food poisoning incident in London, I’ve seen my body produce things I’d never thought it would or could. After giving birth three times and seeing all sorts of effluent im not shy to explain when something I produce doesn’t look good…

    • Debbish
      December 16, 2014

      I think I was probably lucky it was just salmonella Bec. I later had dengue and it was not-as-bad in some ways but worse in others!

  • Suzie
    December 16, 2014

    Oh man, not content with getting one bout you have to get three more and late on dengue!

    You poor thing.

    • Debbish
      December 17, 2014

      Ah yes, I’m an over-achiever! ūüėČ

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