Sunday, December 05, 2004

Getting My Shit Together

Disclaimer: the title is literal. You may prefer not to read this if it is early morning and/or you are of squeamish bent.

Note: this was the other little 'item' that could have marred my day yesterday (see previous blog), but it didn't seem to fit well with the rest of that blog; so, it must stand on its own.

When one reaches a certain age, the medical establishment becomes inordinately interested in his bowels. Therefore, after my annual physical examination last week, I was sent home with a Hemoccult Test Kit. What this means in plainspeak, is that, after following various dietary prescriptions and proscriptions over the duration of several days, I am to port three samples of my shit to the medical lab.

I don't know about about you, but I am not predisposed to embrace such a daunting task with hearty enthusiasm. So, it is with some reluctance that I prepared to collect my first specimen last night.

I began to follow instruction one: "Using a ballpoint pen, write your name, age, address, phone number, and your physician [sic] name on the front of the slides in the spaces provided."

Sound easy to you? Me too. Problem one: the whole 'form' is about the size of a matchbook. In fact, the container is built much like a matchbook. You lift the cover, put your samples inside (two dabs from each of three stool collections), and close the cover. That doesn't amount to a huge amount of space in which to pen the vital statistics demanded by the laboratory authorities, not to mention the date and time, which they later appended in instruction two (to follow shortly). Generally, this would barely cause me pause as I have a reasonable facility for writing or printing small characters: to the extent that others frequently remark on this facility of mine as they ask me to pass the magnifying glass.

I do, however, find it difficult to write on glossy, highly-polished surfaces. Even my trusty space pen — the one that will write in space, over butter, underwater, and upside down — all at the same time! — was not up to the task. Neither was any other pen in the house. After much sticktoitiveness, accompanied by much colourful language, I managed to accomplish the task. A lot of blotching occurred, but with a good interpreter or five, they should be able to read my matchbook data.

On to instruction two: "Before bowl movement, fill in sample collection date and time on first slide. Flush toilet and allow it to refill. Let stool fall into clean, dry collection container, before it contacts toilet bowl water." Did you get that? Flush the toilet, and then shit into a dry container — a container, not the toilet! Does this cause you the same puzzlement that it caused me? Why are we to be so fastidious about flushing the toilet when we are not, directly, to use it?

Mercifully for you, I shall cease my narrative at this point. Might I point out, however, that at no point did I find this to be an amusing and fun-filled task? I am beginning to discover that getting old is not for the faint or heart. However, it beats the alternative.

But you know what? Yesterday was still a good day, regardless (read previous blog): a day well worth the living. And let it be said by no one that AC doesn't give a shit, for he most certainly does — for those who ask politely, at least.



Norma said...

Skip the FOBT. Just get a colonoscopy. It may not make as good a blog, but if the FOBT is positive, you'll have to have one anyway.

Vinni..."The Real Deal" said...

I have'nt had to have this procedure yet. My good friend has, due to medical history. It has been said to me that it really isn't that bad. Go figure the doctors giving these, have given hundreds of them. Imagine how he feels. You strike me as an interesting and knowledgable person, please dont leave us early because you didn't have your shit together.