Note: This is my first attempt at writing a purposefully longer post (1,000+ words).
I was so excited to see Shots, the NPR Health blog, post about toilet posture yesterday.
On the one hand, I’m interested in hearing the expert professionals’ learned viewpoints and advice, as I’ve been conditioned by fear mongering women’s magazines to wonder, “Have I maybe been doing this wrong for most of my life? What irreversible damage have I unknowingly done to myself and my loved ones? What can you sell me to make me temporarily feel better? TELL ME!”
On the other hand, I’m endlessly amused by the number of synonyms for poop and toilet that the professional author will be forced to churn out.
Luckily, “churn out” was not one of the synonyms used in this piece.
I can’t remember how it started, but I did some research on poop stools a few months ago. (Yes, I recognize that “poop stool” sounds redundant, but I never saw a more compelling alternative, so that’s what I call it.)
I’m generally into personal health experimentation, and while I don’t suffer from any of the conditions mentioned in the squat-or-sit piece, I was curious about how squatting might shed new light something I’ve been doing the Unthinking Standard American Way my whole life.
Also, after finding this quotation on a message board,
I don’t want just a basic boring plastic stool though… I’d like more of a ladder,
I felt like the gauntlet had been thrown down. The gloves were off. The experiment was begun.
Ready-made Poop Stools
The Squatty Potty came up first in my searches as one of the few options available in the US.
It comes in a couple of different heights and materials, but was still a little pricey (read: astronomically out of range) for an experiment that might last a week or two. I was also disappointed that they had passed up the opportunity to use the motto “We Want To Be Number 1 For Your Number 2!”
Nature’s Platform was bigger but also stronger and foldable. That’s a plus, since everyone might not be ready to correct their anorectal angle when visiting my facilities, but it was well over $100 and back-ordered indefinitely.
There’s also the Welles Step. Its simple appearance disguised a piece of technology so advanced that it could provide the “precise geometric angle necessary for complete bowel evacuation with the application of the laws of anatomy and physics.” Their motto should be “The Einstein of Evacuation” or “No Poop Left Behind.”
What else was out there? Not much in the US. There were several international options, but they were all costly, and by the time you added in shipping, were WAY too expensive.
The Lillipad looked cool, and for the budget-conscious, they were kind enough to sell you plans to build your own serviceable but much-less-svelte platform. But I’m neither a woodworker or a millionaire, so out of luck. As looks go, though, this was the best designed of the bunch.
Then there was the Sandun-Evaco Toilet Convertor, which claimed to be “Only Patented, Foldable, Factory-Built Stainless Steel Toilet Converter in The World Today,” and I believe them.
The ladder-style looked good for balance and stability. The advertised “loading capacity” of 120 kg, however, did not make me feel particularly feminine, or even human.
Since I was working without a doctor’s prescription or a generous grant, my mind turned to consider the possibilities. What might be repurposed? What would provide enough stability that I would not tip over and be found dead and semi-nude in the bathroom? I’m not nearly famous enough for that yet.
It’s possible, of course, to build a stool or platform out of wood or PVC pipe, but I didn’t want to make the investment. I also did not completely trust my construction skills enough to avoid accidents (of any kind).
I considered modding out a commode chair. I see them all the time at the thrifts, and they are designed to hold adult body weight. (The catcher basin slides out so you can place them over a regular potty.) They’re generally lightweight and non-slip. Easy to clean (god forbid).
So when I saw one at Goodwill a few days later, I climbed on to see how well it might work. Luckily, the employees did not call the police, because I am a regular at that store, and this time, I remembered to keep my pants on.
The $8 price tag was totally reasonable, but not being a deluxe imperial drop arm like the model in the picture, the arm rests got in the way, and I couldn’t quite get over the sickroom look of the thing.
And that’s when I saw it. An unassuming wooden box, strong yet lightweight, with nonslip feet and a handsome maple stain. It looked like it used to hold trays or tiny drawers, but they’d been removed, leaving just the case.
I grabbed the measuring tape out of my purse and checked the dimensions. At 10 inches high, it’s an inch taller (and better!) than the tallest available Squatty Potty, but still lower than a 15-inch-tall toilet — perfect for beginners. And at 18.5 inches across, there was enough room for a stable stance, but not so much that it would interfere with the general traffic flow of my minuscule bath.
Price tag? $3.53. Permission to proceed!
But the icing on the cake — the cherry on top — was the engraved name plate/provenance of the piece:
THE GENIUS OF AMERICA, indeed, with a side of Franklin Mint kitsch? I couldn’t get it in my buggy fast enough.
Results (don’t worry, no more photos)
Well, it’s…different. But I can’t say it has radically changed anything.
Maybe the process, which never took very long to begin with, goes a little faster?
Maybe my anorectal angle has been precisely and geometrically improved to be more compliant with the laws of anatomy and physics?
Definitely I enjoy contemplating THE GENIUS OF AMERICA in those quiet moments alone, and so leave the bathroom smiling more often than the dark and humorless days before the poop stool.
And if that alone is not enough reason to call the experiment a success, I don’t know what would be. Seriously – are they any actual metrics for this kind of thing?
Have you ever tried a poop stool? If not, why not?