Warning: This post is largely about poop. If that’s a problem for you — if you’re someone who doesn’t want to read anything about poop, ever — just stop reading now. And if you and I are personal friends, and you keep reading anyway, please don’t email and say, “What were you thinking?!?” Here’s what I’m thinking: someone made an emoji of poop. And then lots of other someones made key chains and thumb drives and coin carriers out of that emoji. There’s plenty of people who can have an above-board relationship with poop. Those are the people I’m talking to.
Earlier this week I came down with a relatively mild stomach virus. Mostly, I just had a low-grade fever and a headache. But my stomach felt “off” and I lost my appetite, so I haven’t eaten much in the past few days. Oatmeal with almond butter. Oatmeal without almond butter. Egg drop soup and fried rice. And two California Rolls.
This morning, my poop was pale.
This concerned me for a few reasons. One: I’m a hypochondriac. Two: In the spring, I was Skyping with an old friend and he shared that he was about to have an operation. He held a Sharpie Marker up to the camera to show me the color of the bowel movement he’d had that alerted him that something was wrong. He pointed to the gray half. “Somehow I knew that if your poop is gray, that’s very bad,” he confided. So he went to the doctor, and it was bad. I can’t remember what exactly he had, but it was some perfect storm of intestinal issues that required a multi-hour surgery (from which, I”m happy to report, he has recovered).
So after my pale poop, I googled something like, “what if my poop is light brown?”
I know that googling things like this is not a good idea for me, but that rarely stops me. I have doctors that have made me swear I wouldn’t ever google symptoms of anything, or watch “House,” or reruns of “ER” (which I loved), and most of the time I abide. But today I did not.
I will summarize my findings. Stools that are black and tar-like are not good at all. And red streaks are not good either unless you’ve had beets (which, for me, is never).
And the other “problem color” for poop is “clay.”
Who describes poop as “clay colored”?
Apparently clay is a big red-flag for liver and/or pancreas issues and since my father died of pancreatic cancer I quickly decided that the moment I stopped dodging that bullet was today.
What exact color is clay? Is it terra-cotta pot colored? Is it Sculpey before you put it in the oven colored? I was just at Jerry’s Art Supply store and even if you keep to the neutral tones, I assure you there is clay to be had in 40 different shades.
I’ve owned clay the color of this morning’s poop. I probably still have some in the art supplies cabinet from when my kids were young, along with the pipe cleaners and felt and 400,000 Crayola crayons that come in every color of the rainbow.
Would anyone say: Get to the doctor if your poop is the color of a pipe cleaner?
Here’s an idea: Pantone colors. Give the Problem Poop a name and number that is not subject to interpretation. You can use Benjamin Moore colors if that’s more accessible.
I was feeling so much better today until I started obsessing about Clay Poop. Since then, I’ve lost my appetite completely and my headache is coming back.
If you stuck with me to the end...thanks. I just really needed to get that out.