Toilet Talk

Human beings are really strange creatures. 

We are the only species on the planet who feel the need to hide in tiny, walled-up cubicles, preferably soundproof and well-ventilated, to do our business. 

Depending on gender, likes, dislikes or OCD’s we position ourselves on, over or in front of a toilet which is usually a large, ceramic-type bowl for urinating or defecating into, typically plumbed into a sewage system, with a flushing mechanism. 

We take care to aim carefully so as not to make a noise.  Some even go to the extent of layering toilet paper over the water in the bowl to muffle the sound of the pee-stream or preventing the inevitable poo-splash.  Heaven forbid that anybody else may hear what we are doing in there, despite knowing that all people do exactly the same things behind that closed door. 

If we dare make a smell, which other people may find offensive, we get all stressed out and frantically start opening windows or spraying some vile-smelling-lavender-toilet-spray into the atmosphere to try to hide the stink, fooling ourselves into believing that nobody will notice.

Like everybody else, I have had all of this branded into the motherboard of my being.  I like my privacy in the loo but, I will never get it back.  Ever.  Again.

For me, not being able to use my arms and legs has become the easiest part of being a quadriplegic.  It’s everything else that goes with being paralysed that is difficult to deal with.  Ask anybody living with a spinal cord injury what their biggest challenge is.  If they were to be honest, I’ll bet that there answer would be dealing with bowel and bladder issues.

My entire life is ruled by my pee and poo routines.  My bowel and bladder need to be physically and manually emptied, by my care assistant, at specific times – something I am still not used to and probably will never entirely be able to make peace with.

To this day, so many years later, I still feel embarrassment and a deep humiliation every time I have to go.  The sense of shame is overwhelming.  I resent my loss of privacy, my loss of independence and my loss of dignity.

Dear God, will these feelings ever go away?

I didn’t ever think that I would miss sitting on a toilet.  I do.

Even more than that, I miss being able to wipe my own butt.

There are days I wish I was an elephant or any other animal, for that matter. 

I love how they just empty their bladders in a torrential downpour and simply lift their tails to drop their load, leaving behind a steaming-mini-mine-dump while continuing to feed, surrounded by their herd-buddies, without a care about who’s watching or what they’re thinking.  If we humans are watching we gasp in mock-shock or make fun of them, giggling our stupid heads off. 

Animals truly know how to live out the mantra, “what others think of you is their business”.

Dear God, please may I be an elephant in my next life, if there is one?  But, please don’t give me any tusks because I don’t want some selfish human being shooting me for them.

About Tracy Todd (Brave Lotus Flower)

Author of Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon – an intimate and inspiring memoir of a quadriplegic. Inspirational Speaker. Teacher. Counsellor. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly not what defines me.
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18 Responses to Toilet Talk

  1. Rolf says:

    Tracy, I love how open and frank you are about this admittedly not so easy subject many choose to avoid talking about. I cannot even begin to imagine how the loss of that privacy must feel like. Yet is is indeed intriguing that mankind, unlike all other species, treats this business in such a private way.
    I had to laugh when reading how some people try to muffle the sound. Where I live (Japan) there is a technological solution for that: There is a small gadget that mimics the sound of the toilet flush while you’re sitting on the throne, to mask the sound you’re making yourself when peeing. Quite brilliant, huh?
    Interestingly, though, while they exist in most public ladies’ toilets, they can rarely be found in the men’s. Not sure what that is telling us about the human species…

  2. souldipper says:

    Tracy,because of my respect for all you accomplish through your writings and knowing how it serves others, I have given you a Candle Lighter Award. If you are willing to accept it, you may read about it on my blog at:

    I hope the Christmas Season put you in the arms of Love.

  3. Pingback: Awards: Accepted with Gratitude – Passed On with Love « Soul Dipper

  4. Hey Tracy im a young quadriplegic and I just started my own blog I hope you dont mind that im adding you to my blog list. I truly love your blog, it was a big inspiration and it gives a different perspective than my own. Let me know if it’s not alright!

  5. When it comes to this kind of topic there are really lots of negative connotation about it for talking about it is really disgusting that is why this not being talked about most of the time.

  6. Dixie says:

    My C5 injured husband and I read this together and all he could do was nod in agreement with every word. Our lives seem to revolve around his bowel and bladder routines. He’s had nearly 29 years to get used to it all but he says you never get fully used to it. He’s comfortable around me but still the humiliation of me having to help him poop or pee is never fully gone. Our senses of humor is what gets us through it. May as well laugh, right?

  7. souldipper says:

    You are writing a manual on how the rest of us can rustle up some gratitude for things we take for granted. Or never think about.

    Thank you, Tracy.

  8. Tracy, you have such a gift for getting us to think and to expand our horizons and understanding. You always get your points across in moving and often even entertaining ways, but you hold us “captive” and make us open our eyes. We do indeed take so much for granted in life. When my late first husband became tri-palegic due to MS, I learned this. When our bodies work as they were designed to, we don’t realize at all how much effort and agony must be invested in accomplishing the basic things for some people. I remember how focused we were forced to become around his bladder and bowel needs. I remember how one family member expressed to us that she would not be visiting us, because this was “unpleasant” for her. I will probably not forget how people looked right past my brilliant husband and asked me a question about him, as though he were not even present. Some of the people we encountered could be educated and did change their perspectives and grow but others seemed to be hopeless causes.

    Thank you for your blog and for your courage and generosity in sharing your feelings and insights with us.

  9. Terry says:

    I have said to you before that I am so naive about what a quadriplegic deals with on a daily/ hourly/ minute basis and once again you have pointed this out to me and everyone else who reads your blog. I agree with Mieke’s comment – you have to write a book Tracy for all of us out there – please!

  10. Thank you for opening our eyes and make us realise that we should be thankful for so many taken for granted blessings each and every day.

  11. Your (as always) beautifully crafted post has led to me having the fantasy of playing recorded and *hugely* amplified toilet sounds back in some sort of busy public facility. Followed by the release of a classic, truly nasty schoolboy stink bomb. Attack designed to have all other users of the loos rush screaming into the street. That’ll larn ’em. 😉 Lots of love.

  12. Carl Muller says:

    I am very thankful for being blessed with a healthy body. I really appreciate it….

    Thank you for your nice reading…

  13. You are at least brave enough to talk about it publicly. More than I can say for myself.
    Have a fantastic week.
    🙂 Mandy

  14. I believe you can get used to it, Tracy. I believe you can do anything having to do with attitude adjustment. But I sure agree, it does initially seem daunting given our upbringings and reticence. It wasn’t really until last year when I was caring for incontinent, immobile adults that I got used to it myself. It’s achievable, I assure you. After only a few weeks of examining the orifices closely for cleanliness, focusing directly on everything that comes out to catalog it for quality and indicators of health, it just became more data, like taking pulse and temperature. I don’t even react negatively to the smells any more. It’s more like “this smell means…” It’s been a big help to me now that I have this puppy to raise. I’m picking up a lot of poo. Dogs and cats orally self-clean, after all. That still gives me a moment’s “pause”. (GACKKK)

    You live in your body, as well as in your mind, so it’s a challenge to learn to be temporarily outside your own flesh examining it with your intelligence and attention. But that’s how it is to your carers. It’s no more personal to assist in your eliminations and maintenance you than it is to clean floors or windows.

  15. Oh how I can image that. I don’t know if one will ever get used to it. I don’t think I would. Thing is that it would make life more pleasant if one could hey. So maybe a ‘who cares’ attitude is the way to go. I love your writing style, you really should write a book. You have as great sense of humour and you write openly about subjects where others stop. So you answer a lot of questions people don’t dare to ask and therefore there will be more understanding. Ps I do believe in reincarnation so I hope your wish will come true!

  16. Rene says:

    Guess where I’m sitting reading this.

    Men seem to have a lot less issues with anything toilet related.

  17. jacki says:

    love it Trace! So honest and true and yet another thing I take so for granted!! Did I tell you about Dean being worried about Leon going for the Colonoscopy? He said to me “Mom, is dads heart going to be alright?” I said – it’s going to be fine – they put a camera up daddies bum and have a squizz etc but why are you worried about dads heart? (remembering he had a triple bypass 3 yrs ago). Dean says — well mom you said dad was going to be shitting his heart out the day before after drinking funny muti!!

  18. Daleen Fourie says:

    And I thought having a lazy digestive system is a pain in the ass!(quite literally !)

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