Not “a trial space to sit at the bar”

WARNING: This post contains reference to poop. Read no further without acknowledging the suffering and dedication of she who made it possible to blog about such things, the mighty Dooce. Continue at your peril!

For the past week I’ve been extremely nauseous, hence the lack of content here and in other parts of my life. I finally made it in to the doctor yesterday to see what was wrong. It doesn’t take too long for any clinical analysis of gut trouble to include words that aren’t welcome at the dinner table, and often it involves going on at length about the size, color, and consistency of poop. Yongi was there as moral support and also as a memory prompt.

As the doctor probed my abdomen, eagerly pressing all of the tender bits in different ways to see if there was a different reaction—no, it all hurts, thank you—she sugested a number of different causes for my ailment. The only way to figure out which way was best involved a stool sample.

That would be the cue to stop reading if you’re squeamish
. It only gets worse.

We went over to the lab to get the “collection kit”. There’s a vial, what looks like a margerine tub, a sheet of instructions, and a popsicle stick. These are in a plastic baggie labeled POISON and BIOHAZARD.

I’d done stool samples before as a result of a bit of colitis a few years ago, so I wasn’t horrified. Call it more a shade of displeasure, really. The lab assistant explained that I had to fill the vial all the way and that the sample had to immediately be placed on ice and brought back as soon as possible. Everything got put in a nondescript brown bag and we were sent on our merry way.

Yes, you read that right. I was asked to bring back poop on ice.

My body refused to cooperate with providing the poop. I went in to work the next day, and of course this is when I feel that I am ready to give a sample. I excuse myself by telling my boss “I have to leave for some lab work” and race home to seize the moment.

Poop collection is a delicate art involving cling film, the collection vial, a not-so-helpful popsicle stick and (apparently in some cases) an ice-filled container, all juggled while you have to go to the bathroom. The poop cannot come into contact with urine, so unlike the gag of covering the whole toilet with cling film, you should leave an area where the urine can bypass the whole “collection area”. Most likely, it will still pool on the film and then you’ll have to clean it up and replace the film (all while doing the bathroom dance). I’m not sure what the margerine tub is for, but it sat as a silent witness to the entire debacle.

Finally, the big moment. The sample is prepared, labeled with date and time of manufacture, and put in the identifying plastic baggie with a few ice cubes. All this is all put in another container (the only disposable thing I could find, from takeout Chinese soup) with more ice. I clean up the bathroom, grab my stool sample, and head back to the lab.

There are few travel companions that make one wish to avoid any contact with others as much as a stool sample. I drove along casting wary glaces its way, in case it should slip off the seat and onto the floor. Poop on ice, in a car!

Once back at the clinic, I took the plastic container all the way through to the lab area in back. I figured that everyone had to know that my ice-filled plastic container was really poop, and that I would be shunned by anyone who saw me.

The lab receptionist asked, “May I help you?”
“Yes,” I replied, as if I were some kind of perverse Fed Ex deliveryperson, “where shall I leave my stool sample?”
The receptionist pointed to the furthest corner of the desk. I set my soup container there, and walked back out.

Once back to the car I called Yongi in triumph.

In any case, I should have results tomorrow. No matter what they tell me, they cannot diminish the pride of having to deliver poop on ice.

  1. #1 by kablooey on November 17, 2006 - 10:16 am

    oh my, quite an adventure! hope you’re feeling better soon. :)

  2. #2 by yongi on November 17, 2006 - 12:02 pm

    what? you can’t call it a “poosicle” stick? I mean, “poop on ice” + “stick normally called ‘popsicle stick’” clearly must equal “poopsicle stick.”

    I know, there was far too much unavoidable stress to be funny on that juvenille level. That’s what you married me for! We’ll make it though this episode and go out for anything other than Chinese take-out. :)

  3. #3 by patita on November 17, 2006 - 12:30 pm

    I just hope it’s not part of a continuing series of adventures with poo! :)

    It would be a pretty miserable poopsicle given the size of the sample vial. Also, you were less than thrilled at the idea of it sitting in the fridge, sealed in plastic and hidden in the nondescript paper bag.

  4. #4 by flygrrl on November 17, 2006 - 5:21 pm

    Oh, my. Bodies can be such fun. Having owned a dog for six years, my own bodily fluid (and solid, as the case may be) tolerance was already pretty high, but once you have a child, all bets are off.

  5. #5 by patita on November 20, 2006 - 11:21 am

    Kids are probably the ultimate effluvia-producers, it’s true. I’ve just never been asked to deliver effluvia on ice before.

    The good news is that there was no trace of any horrible infection, so it’s just my gut being its cranky old self. At some point I imagine I should do an entry on farting, but I’ll save that for a very special occasion.

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