Browsing Tag


Guest Posts


March 14, 2015


By Peter Selgin.


“What is toilet training if not the first attempt to turn

a child into a civilized member of society?”

—Rose George, The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable

World of Human Waste and Why It Matters


Tube: a hollow elongated cylinder: especially one to convey fluids. People are tubes. This is about the human gut and what passes through it.

Twenty-five years ago I was diagnosed with a supposedly incurable condition known as ulcerative colitis. About five out of every thousand people have it. The disease causes inflammation and ulceration of the large intestine, resulting in bouts of severe bloody diarrhea. Left untreated, UC can be extremely debilitating. But even the best treatments often fail, leaving no choice for victims other than surgical removal of all or part of the big gut and the unglamorous prospect of a colostomy bag.

Until recently for the better part of those twenty-five years I’ve been in remission, with relatively minor digestive complains and no flare-ups. All that changed, or seemed to, not long ago after a routine colonoscopy, at a follow-up visit with a nurse practitioner (the doctor who’d done the exam was on vacation). She told me my disease was not only as chronic as ever, but—despite few symptoms—active. What I’d chalked up to bad digestion was the resurgence of an incurable and potentially devastating disease.

The nurse practitioner’s verdict left me distressed and depressed, contemplating a return to the regimen of draconian (and mostly useless) diets and drugs whose side effects were as considerable as their efficacy, and that offered only some relief, but no cure.

So I did what many do these days when confronted with a nasty diagnosis: I went online. For two nights running, I stayed up searching for the latest treatments for ulcerative colitis. Since my last flare-ups, a couple of new drugs had come on the market, each with a laundry list of dastardly side effects, none offering more than the possibility of remission.

Then, after hours of nocturnal research, I came across something that not only caught my eye, but that made me wonder if I’d fallen asleep and was dreaming, something so bizarre, so outrageous, it would have been right at home with the most transgressive works of surrealist cinema and literature, with Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou and Bataille’s “Story of the Eye.” A procedure known as an FMT—a “Fecal Microbiota Transplantation.” A shit transplant.


Treating diseases with fecal matter isn’t new. It dates all the way back to the 4th century, when, according to Chinese medicine doctor Ge Hong, patients were fed a yellowish broth (“yellow soup”) of fecal matter to cure them of food poisoning and severe diarrhea. Among the many “cures” for the Black Death was one that called for lancing the buboes of the afflicted and applying to them a poultice of tree resin, roots of white lilies, and dried human shit. In the early days of steam-powered vessels, when boilers and pipes exploded routinely, human shit was used as a salve and applied to the burns of Irish trawler crews.

Shit transplants, on the other hand, are a recent innovation. Just over fifty years ago, in 1958, Dr. Ben Eiseman of the University of Colorado published a report in which he described having cured four patients of their life-threatening intestinal disorders using enema solutions of donated “healthy” feces. Since then, similar procedures have resulted not only in complete remissions, but in actual cures for people suffering from supposedly “incurable” bowel disorders, in particular Clostridium or C. difficile, a disease attributed to the destruction of necessary intestinal flora resulting from overuse of antibiotics. The procedure has also been used to treat those suffering from other autoimmune diseases, including asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment bears quick, if not instantaneous, results, costs little, can be done on an outpatient basis, and poses minimal risks.

All this I learned propped up in my bed long after midnight, my iPad glowing in the dark. Imagine, I thought, walking into a doctor’s office with a nasty “incurable” disease, only to walk out a few hours later with someone else’s shit inside you, cured. It seemed too good to be true.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

Sugar Spots: On Being Bulimic.

January 15, 2015


Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her second Manifestation Retreat this year. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Sep 26-Oct 3, 2015

By Kit Rempala.

“So, this is rock bottom,” I find myself thinking again.  “How does it feel?”  Just seconds before I had been bounding up the stairs into the darkness, calling to my family that I’d be back in a few minutes, smiling. Always smiling.  But once that light clicks on, that door slides closed, the lock turns over with that slow, grinding sound that reminds me of stiff, cracking joints – the world goes silent.  On the other side of that door the rest of the house vanishes, as if I’ve been scooped up and deposited into the back pocket of the world.  My entire universe is reduced to a bathroom.   And once that lock turns over, I’ve got nothing left.

To me, rock bottom looks an awful lot like the bottom of a toilet bowl.  With one hand around my skinny ankle and a toothbrush down my throat, I deposit the last shreds of my dignity into the water below.  I stand to make it easier, though I tell myself it’s because I refuse to kneel before this disease.  It’s a sad way of reassuring myself that there’s still some fight left in me.

The lining of my stomach blisters with the presence of food.  The slightest crumb is too heavy for it to bear.  It rejects each meal like a cancer, stretching bigger and bigger as though it would rather rip than absorb the toxin I’ve planted at its core.  Nerve endings are peppered with the gunfire of pain.  My abdomen swells like the belly of a pregnant woman, preceding me wherever I go.  A dull ache spreads from my midsection to my mind, begging me to make it stop.

I never believed in sin before anorexia and bulimia.  And yet now I feel the burden of sin inside me, not as something I carry but as something I am, a piece within me, an inseparable devil and parasite.  It whispers to me and I believe what it says.  Food angers it; I writhe in its fury – and I find myself craving a salvation that has nothing to do with God.  I crave relief from the heaviness in my guts as much as anyone else craves the food itself.


Continue Reading…

death, Guest Posts, motherhood

Dancing in Circles.

November 8, 2014

By Jacqueline Doyle.


“Where are these from?” my mother asks, reaching for another cookie. She’s had her silver-gray hair permed in honor of our visit, and she’s wearing brown polyester slacks and a coordinating gold and orange blouse. I suspect she rarely wears anything but dingy cotton housedresses when we’re not here. Even though she has two walk-in closets crammed with clothes, she prefers to save them for special occasions. She’s been sleeping a lot since my father died, complaining of colds and headaches, too tired to bother to get dressed.

“They’re from Panini’s. You know, the place where we had lunch?” I try again. “You know, the place where we had lunch today?” After a pause, “You know. The sandwich place. By Walgreen’s. Today.”

My mother stares at me. Wide-eyed. Blank.

“They’re good, aren’t they,” I say nervously, wondering whether my husband Steve and son Ben have noticed. Mom isn’t reacting to her lapse at all. But then she has always shifted quickly into denial when something uncomfortable comes up. I wonder how she’s managing to take her medications, pay her bills, how long she can get by like this.

Continue Reading…