Sunshine and Failures of Language

Lo! Dawn broke bright over Portland today, and it really chaps my ass that I have to sit in here and look out the window at it.

Huh. Reminiscent of prison. I never noticed that before.

Now in fairness, I’ve never been what you would call an outdoor person. I do like walks, though. At least 5 times a day I push myself back from my desk, stand, wait for the head rush to pass, and go out to walk around the block and listen to music and smoke a cigarette. It keeps me sane.

The past couple of days have been rainy, and I have no doubt the next couple of days will be rainy too, and then the seven months after that. My walks will be less pleasant as a consequence, so goddammit, it’s Friday and I’ll get in what I can today. The clock reads 10:57 AM as I type this out, and I’ve already gone out to walk around the block three times this morning. God only knows what the neighborhood folks must think of me, but I need to do it. The walks are usually the most exercise I get over the course of a given week, and doing them makes me feel better.

Physically, I feel like garbage a lot of the time. It’s my understanding that this is common among those of us who sit behind desks and eat fast food and don’t often see the sun and rarely exercise, but still. It’s frustrating, and I’d like it to stop.

To that end I’ve started keeping a Wellness Diary. This is an idea that was suggested to me years ago by some medical professional or other, and I’m sure at the time that I scoffed at it.

Wellness Diary. Sounds like so much new-age, healing vibe, hippy horseshit to me. If there’s something medically wrong with me, then I should be able to go to a doctor, have him poke me and prod me and lift skeptical eyebrows as I rattle of my list of ailments, and eventually send me home with a prescription for something I can’t pronounce. That’s how medicine is supposed to work.

And the Wellness Diary may well be hippy horseshit, but I’ve decided to do it anyway in the hopes that it will reveal something about my lifestyle to me which I am not already aware of. I have a spreadsheet now in which I am recording things like how many hours of sleep I got, how much water I drank, how much alcohol, whether I ate breakfast, and on like that. I only have a week’s worth of data, but by the end of the month I’ll be able to generate all kinds of neat graphs which don’t actually tell me anything whatsoever.

Oh. Okay. Good. I guess.

Or, who knows. Maybe something will become apparent, in time.

For right now, though, the only thing the Wellness Diary has shown me is how very, very difficult it is to describe poop.

I have what Yahtzee Croshaw describes as a “dicky tummy”. Every doctor I’ve ever seen has heard complaints about that, and to a man (and a woman) they have expressed complete disinterest in trying to treat it. I believe that as the words “my stomach is constantly upset” leave my mouth, their eyes drift down to my chart and the entry labeled GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER, at which point they just stop listening. Go see a shrink, they seem to imply. It is all in your head.

Some of it, anyway; the rest is in my colon.


So one of the things I’ve been recording in the Wellness Diary is bowel movements, and I have discovered that the English language (or at least, my own lexicon) is woefully unsuited to the practice of describing poop in terms that are of any medical use. This morning I stood over the toilet, frowning down, trying desperately to figure out how to translate what I was looking at into words.

I couldn’t do it. Like an H.P. Lovecraft monster, poop is more often alluded to than outright described. When I pull up my spreadsheet, I frown down at the keyboard and resort, eventually, to Seriously: go try and write a paragraph about the last crap you took. You don’t have to show it to anybody, just try and described all the relevant details that a, uh… poop doctor (?) would need to know. You’ll see what I mean.

I guess maybe that’s a utility thing. Like how Inuit languages supposedly contain a hundred words for snow, or Turkic nomad languages have some totally unreasonable number of words for “horse”, being that the speakers of those languages have to describe those things all the time. We just don’t talk about poop very much, so that kind of leaves us up a very particular creek (HAH!) when the task comes up.

And yes, I do know about the Bristol Stool Chart. I’m just trying to make myself write something.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s