After months of completely neglecting this blog I suddenly feel compelled to write about stools!
You know you’ve hit a truly marvellous stage of life when you have to be concerned about what’s coming out the other end. Couldn’t I just skip this part? (At my own peril, I suppose) It now seems that the annual physical at the doctor will require a sample. Oh, for the blissful bygone days of anonymous movements!
The last time I had to care about anyone’s bm was when one of my children, as a toddler, swallowed a penny. The doctor wanted proof that it had passed. It was my job to forensically find the buried treasure. I did, but I’ve never been the same.
Naturally, nobody wants to dwell on doo-doo. Once it’s out we want it gone..as soon as possible. No toilet flush is strong enough. No outhouse drop is deep enough.
If you haven’t faced the prospect of this most daunting harvest let me tell you how simple it’s become. In fact, I’d like to nominate the individual or laboratory team that has pared down the process for a Nobel prize.
When you go to a lab they give you the ‘kit’. This consists of your data sheet, a piece of biodegradable paper and a small vial containing a little plastic sample stick. The lab technician explains how it works…which has to be one of the most awkward seminars in history. Basically, they want the tiniest scintilla of stool. Just a little dab’ll do ya. The people who have to test this stuff as part of their job must have had a big party when they saw how little they now had to deal with. I can’t imagine what it was like before. Like a scene out of Borat, I guess. Technology has truly saved the day.
Despite the fact that you get a stool lecture and a complete instruction sheet (featuring anthropomorphic, cartoon-like humanoid figures who are sampling their stools) you just know that there are many people who will screw this up. Too much. Too little. It get’s contaminated if it hits the water in the toilet bowl. I wonder what the world record is for negating a stool sample. Do they cut you off after the 5th ill-fated attempt? If you can’t handle an allen wrench this might be a challenge.
It is possible for your sample to expire. You have to get it back to the lab within a week…but, don’t worry, they recommend keeping it in the fridge to preserve its…what? Goodness? Stoolability? What section of the fridge would be most appropriate? The cheese drawer?
The best part of the kit, for me, is the list of Frequently Asked Questions. I’m sure, people who work in medical labs sit around at cocktail parties and regale each other with what they heard this week. The FAQ’s generally centre around quantity and quality but there is one that is my true favourite : Can the test be mailed back by Canada Post?
Not unless you’re trying to make a statement.