Is it poop or is it plastic?
October 15, 2019
Good evening. I needed to write a light-hearted post tonight. The reality is that bad diagnoses always come in threes. As physicians, our hearts are often like teflon. Bad things happen to good people, and if you feel too deeply, there is no way to make it in medicine. It breaks my heart to see my patients ill and suffering. Since I’ve been on this plastic picking journey, I find myself more emotionally open to them but it makes me feel their anguish more. I had three patients recently with three different serious diagnoses. I will think about them and worry about them and cry for them tonight. But I will write this silly post and it will help me get through the next day.
Seriously, can you tell if the above is plastic or poop? From 5 feet above ground, it can be hard to tell.
I am particularly curious about seagull poop, because drplasticpicker distinctly remembers in the 7th grade in Junior High having the the warm sensation of seagull poop on my head! It was PE class and it had just rained in Southern California which is always a joyful event! The rain had stopped and we were suited up in our grey PE uniforms. Seagulls were flying overhead and also waddling around the asphalt still wet from the rain. When suddenly I felt a nice warm sensation on top of head. It was pleasantly warm, and I thought – I wonder if the sun is coming out? I reached to the top of my scalp and discovered seagull poop. I was not grossed out but strangely curious. I never had time to research bird poop until tonight!
Indeed, the above picture is seagull poop and not plastic! Having done a scientific review with google, the white part of the seagull extrement is urate which is secreted by the the avian kidney. Urate is actually acidic and that is why bird poop can damage statues.
I always use an old sandwhich bag, bread bag or actual gloves when I pick up plastic. I have a good eye now and can differentiate seagull poop from plastic. If I’m not sure, I use my shoe to gently smear the whitish area to see if its plastic or poop.
Is this plastic-like bird poop dangerous? Indeed, accordingly to the amazing internet wild birds can transmit diseases including histoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and intermal parasites. Dear reader, do not worry. Drplasticpicker uses gloves and showers well after my plastic picking adventures.
Usually the plastic is more obvious and brightly colored. Indeed, it is these brightly colored ones that birds try to eat! I preferentially pick these to save the marine birds.
I leave you with this image. The plastic is more subtle? Can you find it?
Thank you dear reader for wondering with me, is it poop or plastic? Seeing patients is often the same decision making process, is the patient well or ill? Sometimes patients get sick, no matter how good our care. Sometimes seagulls poop on my head. But drplasticpicker will continue to go the beach and refuse to be scared of the seagulls. I refuse to be scared to practice, because children have serious diagnoses. I’m still needed.