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Good Grief: Are You Shitting Me?

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lucky shit

Damn… I’m … We’re … Lucky.

No shit!

Today, in 2019, we don’t die from diabetes (immediately) or childbirth or smallpox as much.

Diphtheria, TB, cholera, syphilis? Not a whole lot.

A whole pile of diseases and conditions to which we had little choice in the matter (Type 2 diabetes aside) don’t typically ravage families and communities they way they once did.

Who gets scurvy anymore? Rickets? Plumber’s butt?

Sure, we’re lucky. But I’m still scared you know. I’m not resting on Easy Street.

There are a million diseases that can ruin our lives today; we have a long list of conditions that continue to stymie our ability to diagnose and treat effectively. Which brings us to….

*drumroll*

Medical scientists and researchers are starting to put other people’s shit inside of us to make us feel better.

Stool transplants.

Dumpster diving in reverse. Shit surrogacy?

stool syringes

The medical community is dressing it all up in formal evening wear by relabelling fecal transplantation as bacteriotherapy or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT).

What moron thought up this idea? A bunch of pre-med frat boys on an overnight bender? Hey Pete, instead of smoking the hell out of these doobies, why don’t we hook up a tube between our assholes and exchange some real shit?

Nope, it began long before stoned college dudes.

Fecal transplants originated in ancient Chinese medicine more than 1,700 years ago. In those good ole days, this involved drinking a liquid suspension of another person’s feces — umm, no thanks? I’ll stick with chocolate ice cream milkshakes please.

The consumption of “fresh, warm camel feces” has also been recommended by Bedouins as a remedy for bacterial dysentery. Umm… did I mention NO THANKS?

The first use of faecal transplants in western medicine was published in 1958 by a team of surgeons from Colorado, who treated four critically ill people with severe pseudomembranous colitis (before C. difficile was the known cause) using faecal enemas, which resulted in a rapid return to health.

……………..

But why would I want your shit? Isn’t that what sewage treatment plants are for?

According to the Wikipedia gods:

Stool transplant, is the process of transplantation of fecal bacteria from a healthy individual into a recipient; it involves restoration of the colonic microflora by introducing healthy bacterial flora through infusion of stool, e.g. via colonoscopy, enema, orogastric tube or by mouth in the form of a capsule containing freeze-dried material, obtained from a healthy donor.

The effectiveness of stool transplantation has been seen in clinical trials for the treatment of Clostridium difficile (CDI) infection, whose effects can range from diarrhea to pseudomembranous colitis.

Due to an epidemic of Clostridium difficile in North America and Europe, faecal transplant has gained increasing prominence, with some experts calling for it to become first-line therapy for CDI.

In 2013 a randomized, controlled trial of stool transplant from healthy donors showed it to be highly effective in treating recurrent C. difficile in adults, and more effective than vancomycin alone.

Faecal transplant has been used experimentally to treat other gastrointestinal diseases, including colitis, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

In the United States, human feces has been regulated as an experimental drug since 2013.

poop transplant

The authors of a 2016 review suggested that fecal transplants may eventually treat additional conditions such as:

  • diabetes
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • fibromyalgia
  • obesity
  • mood disorders, such as depression
  • nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • hay fever
  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • eczema

Nice … I’m ?happy? … but you can’t just shove someone else’s faeces inside of me and expect me to smile and say thank you very much.

Faecal transplants are NOT on my Flavour of the Month list.

OK, maybe if I transplant the faecal matter of someone handsome and charismatic, it could make a beautiful difference in my life. I could be Tom Cruise or Chris Hemsworth … but no, I don’t want to be a Scientologist or speak with an Australian accent.

I’ll happily take your heart or lungs or kidney (but only if you decide you don’t need them anymore), but keep your own damn poop, OK?

In my lab career, I poked around in thousands and thousands of others’ multi-hued, multi-textured night soil… I could write a fabulous Dr. Seuss book called Oh, The Doo-Doo I’ve Seen. 

I’ve carried my own shit around for … well … a lot of years.

But, if you think – all of a sudden – that I want to carry yours around inside of me for the foreseeable future…

well…

YOU are full of ………….

 

dog poop

I Get to Run a Half Marathon, and I’m A Lucky Guy

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It’s easy to get complacent and lose sight of the luster, the shine.

I’m joining the (13) Mile-High Club again next week.

I’ll be running the Vancouver Half-Marathon (21 k) in 7 days and I’m worrying about:

  • my fitness levels – have I put in enough sweaty training miles to pass under the finishers’ banner in less than 2 hours (probably not)?
  • a nagging knee injury that has prevented me from doing the training I would like to do.
  • I’m waking up at night sometimes envisioning a nasty, sticky plaque in my arteries waiting to dislodge and take me down mid-race (there are far worse places to perish than in the middle of Vancouver’s Stanley Park on a sunny day).
After the 2013 Vancouver Half-Marathon (me in Red)

After the 2013 Vancouver Half-Marathon (me in red… my youngest, Emma in blue)

I don’t want to think about any of these bastard stray thoughts, but I can only control the voices so much. At least the voices aren’t telling me to kill anyone, or streak naked through my local McDonalds.

I’ve planned my life to be about as stress-free in this western world of 2014 as you can possibly get:

  • I work a 3 day work week at a lab job I enjoy with people I enjoy being around.
  • I’ve saved and invested and can afford a couple of nice vacations each year that stimulate my mind and quell my ADHD.
  • I live in an amazingly beautiful area of Canada that has mild (by Canadian standards), almost snow-free winters and warm, dry summers.
  • I have a great family life.

And I sometimes forget that it’s not like that for everyone.

Forgetting that is not good.

I also forget that it hasn’t been this way everyday for me.

Forgetting that is not good either.

I also forget that it won’t be this way every day into the future.

That is the way it should be …

… dwelling on possible future negatives is no way to live each day.

I have friends and relatives with:

  • cancer
  • joint replacements
  • pneumonia
  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • elderly relatives with serious concerns
  • children with major illnesses
  • jobs they hate but feel they can’t leave

They all SUCK. Oops, let me clarify that … the concerns suck, not my friends and relatives (mostly!)

vulnerable cancer patient

I’ve rubbed shoulders with most, but not all of these worries at one point or another in my lifetime.

You might say I was paradoxically lucky because my parents died at relatively young ages. My Dad pulled through a heart attack at my age (he didn’t survive heart troubles 15 years later) and my Mom died of a heart attack just 3 years beyond my current age. This means that, like what so many of you are experiencing right now or will someday, I didn’t have to deal with care homes and dementia and all those nasty elder issues. That’s life-luck lived on a double-edged sword.

On the other hand, I wasn’t serendipitous enough to escape those same ravages with my in-laws. I spent many days, weeks, and years in a milieu of their chronic pain and dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

After I spent 10 years lifting my tiny little kids out of car seats, I spent the next 10 years lifting and pulling my not-so-tiny mother- and father-in law out of car seats because their poor bodies had seized up like the Grim Reaper’s rigor mortis had forgotten to wait until they consumed their last breath.

It was challenging for me, but it was a rat’s-hole hell for them.

My oldest sister died from a rapid and aggressive lung cancer a couple of years ago. At our summer family reunion in the mountains of Jasper, Alberta she was fine. In November, just 3 months later, we held handsful of damp Kleenex, dressed in black attire at her vigil.

I’ve said goodbye to a number of work colleagues who suffered death by cancer. For a few years my one arm was stretched longer than the other from pallbearer duties and carrying caskets too frequently. Yes, I’ve been a pallbearer more often than I’ve been a wedding usher or best man. Apparently, people trust me more after they’re gone than while they’re here.

The other day on my way to work, I met an old acquaintance, Lydia, coming in for blood tests at my lab. She has hemochromatosis (iron overload that saturates the liver and if left untended will kill). She looked pale and tired but was upbeat despite her chronic weakness.

My son had a life-threatening infectious illness at the age of 9 that struck me deeper than anything I had ever experienced. Most of my bodily energy went into producing tears through the fears. He spent the entire summer in a hospital bed on IV antibiotics before getting out just the day before school returned in September.

And then I remind myself of Leo at the gym, 90 years old this November. He looks like he could be 70, trim and fit enough that he should be running in the half marathon with me next Sunday while his wife of 65 years sits confused in a care home.

Woman in care home

If you have any of these worries hanging over you, I hope they pass soon and life doesn’t ooze melancholy into your head. It could.

Joining this party here on earth means that there will be hangovers to be suffered.

Every delicious, intoxicating drink of life that lifts our inner spirit will be met at some time by a visit to the washroom where we’ll retch and puke our guts out and wonder why we ever came to this festivity.

It strikes every one of us to varying degrees and the only difference in the long run is how we absorb, cope, and move on.

I smile inside to myself as I plan and prepare for the long morning run next Sunday alongside 10,000 others.

Surrounded by healthy, fit people, I’ll glance out across the Vancouver harbour towards the majestic white-shrouded North Shore mountains and the stunning, crystal blue sky. I’ll deeply inhale the cool, fresh, cedar-scented air rushing by while my feet swoosh-swoosh-swoosh over the long stretch of asphalt.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember.

  • I could have cancer or diabetes or another chronic illness.
  • I could have family members needing intensive daily care and attention.
  • I could have a son in jail for rape and a daughter in detention for prostitution.
  • I could have been born a Jew in Germany in 1935.
  • I could earn my livelihood pumping out putrid smelling offal from the backdoor of a slaughterhouse.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember.

My runner’s high can be supplemented by gratitude and knowledge of the good things that run like rushing rivers through our lives. The laughter, the smiles, the vistas, the sweet tastes and succulent smells.

In those times we need to stay awake and hydrate ourselves in the gush of refreshing water.

I’ll run. I’ll think. I’ll remember. 

I get to run a half marathon, and I’m a lucky guy.

Now there's a RUNNER's HIGH ...

Now there is a RUNNER’s HIGH …