Bodily Functions are Disgusting

There comes a time in a young veterinarian’s education when he (or she) realizes that his idea of normal conversation has become somewhat deranged.  When you’re in class six days a week, from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM, and in the library until 11:00 or so, and everybody you see is a fellow veterinary student or an instructor, you begin to think that everyone in the world talks about disease and injury and blood and poop all day long.  Everyone in your world is talking about those things.  Hey, must be normal.  Then you go out for dinner with family over the holidays.  You begin regaling them with some of your better stories and you notice people putting down their forks, pushing their plates away and making uncomfortable faces.  That is, you notice that if you’re not so fascinated with hearing yourself talk that you’re unaware of anything outside that sublime pleasure.

I find that even people who are very interested in caring for their very own pet’s medical problem generally don’t want to be "grossed out".  Most people really would rather not deal with the nitty-gritty (or poopy-scoopy) details of bodily functions.  It would really suit them fine if they had a Walt Disney dog whose tail lifts to reveal a smooth and sparkling white behind.   [The exception to that would, of course, be eleven-year-old boys.  I find that young Scouts feel bodily functions are the most humorous subjects in the world.]  This is apparently why people can’t just say they’ve brought a stool sample (much less "fecal specimen").  It’s always a "surprise" or a "present" or "his job", or (my personal favorite) "his homework".

On the other hand, if we’re going to deal with medical issues, then we’re going to have to deal with bodily functions.  This usually goes okay, although there are definitely times with reproductive issues when the discussion can go south in a hurry. 

In the early days of "Your Pet’s Best Friend" on radio,  the late great Mr. Rudy Pylant was in charge of my account.  He told me "I hate your show. It’s disgusting. It’s on at breakfast time and I can’t listen to that!"   I mentioned this to Jeff Wheeler, the station manager, and he put someone else on my account. [Lest you think there are any hard feelings, scroll down to the bottom of the Sons of the Western Bootheel page for a video of our musical tribute to Mr.Rudy.]

I try to be conscious of the sensibilities of normal people now.  It’s similar to my hand-washing concerns.  After thirty-something years of this stuff, I’ve more or less lost the capacity to feel dirty.  I get disgusting stuff on my hands and I know that I need to wash them, but if I didn’t think about it, I could probably just wipe them on my pants and go on.  I do wash them, though (a LOT).  In the same way, I try to speak of disgusting bodily functions in terms that aren’t so disgusting.  That is, unless I’m dealing with Boy Scouts.

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