Home and the “Poo Perimeter”

We are home and I am STILL not feeling the effects of yesterday’s chemo. Maybe, I’ll be one of the lucky ones that doesn’t get sick, or maybe I’ll be puking my guts out tomorrow. Either way, we are happy to be home! A little surprised to see the cat hung around for two and a half weeks, but I suspect it got some attention from the neighbors. How else would Steve know there was a dead rat on the floor??? We left a house guest behind and an open invitation to the other Mt. Hermonites to use our video equipment (just purchased the Farleys when they left in June). We look forward to food, fellowship and flicks again.

Observations from the train: The Poo Perimeter

Riding home on the train is always a reminder of the presence of the poo perimeter. This is the distance you must travel from private property into public or abandoned space before you poo. Train tracks are outside the poo perimeter. Passing behind communities or shanty towns that lack plumbing, and leaving any train station early in the morning, one sees the men going about their daily duty outside the poo perimeter. Please remember this when thinking “Oh, there’s a nice place to take a walk…” The decision that must be made by each doo-er, is, which way to face? Towards the train full of annonymous faces staring out the window (one with a camera), or towards the community from whence they came to find a bit of privacy beyond the poo perimeter. I guess it goes both ways. I never did get a good photo, the train was moving to fast. While my use of the term poo perimeter is (I hope) somewhat humorous, in actual fact, a study done in Mumbai stated that “20,000 commuters died on railway tracks the last five years. A significant number of those killed or injured are slum dwellers that lack community toilets and hence use railway tracks to relieve themselves.” (http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_mumbai-women-commuters-more-prone-to-uti-says-study_1391539)

I have never seen a woman involved in the same activity. For women who essentially live or work on the street or in shantys without facilities, this is actually a big enough problem to have attracted attention. These women hold it all day and end up with stress, pain, and serious infections, as a result. Going in the dark has its own hazards of encountering snakes and scorpions. One option used by some, is to limit their meals to one a day and only at a time that will not lead to a need to go when privacy is not available. Another option in dense populations areas, is a “flying toilet” – using a plastic bag in your home and throwing it out the window, shades of “garde a l’eau!”.” Not only poor women who lack facilities, but also middle and upper class women who deliberately eat and drink less in order to avoid the need to urinate while shopping or traveling, are suffering health effects. Fortunately, Indian women are beginning to revolt. A 2-year old initiative, “No toilet, no Bride”, is bringing results in Haryana state with 1.4 million toilets being built since it’s initiation by anxious bachelors who know they have no chance of a bride without one. Way to go, women! Check out the stories in the links at the end of this essay.

Speaking of poo, as we were… One day I told my doctor, Dr. Geeta K., that I would be very happy to come out of all this with an intact colon. There is cancer stuff on the outside, but the inside was still clean (I’ve got pictures to prove it). Being able to go to the bathroom normally is a quality of life issue. My father had fairly serious colon cancer and came out of surgery with the normal equipment intact, but probably should have had a colostomy instead. For the rest of his life, he had increasing difficulties with diarrhea. My mom got so fed up, she made him hand wash his own “unterbuxe”. Sorry, that’s Plautdietsch (Low German) for underpants and this is the best I could do with Google’s help. So, I did clarify with the doctor that I’d rather have a colostomy than a non-functional bum.

Oh, the small joys of life: being able to use a toilet!



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4 Responses to Home and the “Poo Perimeter”

  1. Trina Miller says:

    Hi, Cookie… I saw a special about bringing toilets to the world on Hulu… it was called the Toilet Crisis or something similar… the film was quite informative… and disgusting. How interesting about women holding it all day… come to think of it, I saw not a single squatting female throughout the entire documentary.

  2. cookie says:

    Did I say there is no such thing as a “pee perimeter” for men? There is only the small matter of turning one’s back to public view. It happens anytime, anywhere.


  3. Cousin Leslie says:

    I love to read your writings! You have always been so good at that.

    Cooks (as uncle Larry always called you) I am so sad that you are dealing with the awful “c” word, I was quite taken back when I got word late last week. It made me feel physically ill for you. The memories of climbing out of your bedroom window to sit on the roof, the hours we spent playing “authors”, trips to the Phillips 66 station to get bubble gum and the smell of noxema in your bathroom all came flooding back to me. Those are such precious memories and we will have to make more memories over the years to come! I pray that God wrap His healing arms around you! I pray that you will feel His presence and give both you, Abra and Dave the strength and courage that you need as you make this journey. Just for the record….I still believe in miracles!! Lots of Love and hugs!

  4. cookie says:

    I hope people think what I wrote is both funny – and informative… Of course, the bit about mom making dad wash out his drawers was probably a bit much… They were two old people doing the best that they could, neither one healthy. Covering up for all of dad’s health issues was getting to be too much for mom. Ending up in the emergency room two weekends in a row was the tipping point that sent them into the nursing home. -Cookie

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