That-which-must-not-be-named

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Sir Smiley gave me the idea for the title of this blog. When I asked him what I should title this blog, he told me it should not be mentioned in the first place…and in popped the Harry Potter reference. This post is about poop. If you dislike poop or any mention of poop, then you should stop reading now. If you find nothing humorous in “potty jokes” then that’s a good indicator that you also should stop reading now. In fact, if you are squeamish in any way…go find a blog about ponies or unicorns because this may scar you for life. Consider yourself warned, and I bear no responsibility for any offense or vomit that may ensue after this sentence is complete.

I needed to write this post as sort of a cleansing…a cathartic exercise. My family has had some stomach issues in our home for weeks. The kids struggled with it for a couple weeks and now seem fine. Sir Smiley and I have been struggling with this since Christmas (literally Christmas Day…as some of you may have read about in this post) but it never actually got better. We would have a day or two where we thought we were finally over it and then either Sir Smiley or myself would get sick again.

The last straw was this past Thursday. It got so bad that I could barely leave bed except to go pass enormous amounts of liquid from the wrong hole and then crawl back into bed. I didn’t eat anything solid for well over a day and a half…closer to two days actually. I lost six pounds in a one day period. So I finally caved, called the doctor, and got a last minute appointment to find out what was going on.

Why did it take me close to six weeks to finally go in? Well, because this is a GI issue. There’s really only one way to truly check and see what’s going on and that’s through a…STOOL SAMPLE. I have never had to give one but it sounded fairly ominous. But in I go, and meet with a complete stranger (my regular doc was already booked up…although to be honest I’ve only met her once too) and then start having to graphically describe my symptoms. No, not a runny nose…a runny butt. I feel gassy, gross burps and such. Yes, that includes flatulence and lots of it. Yes, it does have a distinct odor. How frequently do I need to use the bathroom? How best to describe that one….too frequently? As often as a student checks the clock at the end of class? As often as a pregnant woman in her third trimester? I got the third degree and by the end I felt a bizarre mixture of relief and mortification. Mortification at all the embarrassing information I just had to relate in only a few minutes, and relief that this doctor actually cared about figuring out what was going on and was going to run the full gamut of tests to figure it out. If it wasn’t a virus, she was going to find out what it was.

So I headed to the lab to have blood drawn. Simple enough. I still did not know what would be required of me to give a stool sample. I had a vague idea that I would have some kind of container I would have to poop in and then I would turn it in. I was mainly concerned about the size of the receptacle I would need to take a dump in.

After I finished giving blood, they brought over a big bag. The tech asks me if I have ever given a stool sample before. I can only imagine the look of apprehension as I shook my head no…staring only at that huge bag. So she proceeds to then describe to me the process…and my mortification only grew with each step. First, she shows me these hard, clear, plastic tubes…about two or three inches wide. It had some unknown (and shall remain unknown) liquid in it. She shows them to me closely and points to a line across it (I also see on the label in huge letters…”Do Not Drink!” and could only think, “Dear Lord, did someone actually drink their sample and now they include a warning label?!). Apparently I am supposed to put exactly enough poop in these tubes to fill it up to the line and not above. I was seriously praying that the bag contained some other tools to help in this, as I doubted I could poop into something so small and still be so precise. She informs me that these must be stored at room temperature. Mmmkay. Then the tech pulls out some clear, coffee mug sized jar (Why, oh why are they all clear?!) and then tells me to fill this one at least a quarter full and adds that it needs to be refrigerated. Say what?! I am supposed to store this…in the fridge? With my food? I was appalled.

Moving on from storage, we now enter the procedural part of our tutorial. The tech pulls out something she calls “the hat”. What an unfortunate name. Why they call it this is beyond me. it vaguely has the shape of a hat I suppose, but you wouldn’t want this anywhere near your head. This has a lip to hold the bucket part in place on a toilet…right under your butt. Then you poop in it. I thought “Sh** pit” or “Crap Trap” were more appropriate names for this device. I did experience temporary relief at the size of the hat…at least it was large and I didn’t have to worry about aiming or precision. But that relief was short lived as the tech hands me gloves and a plastic spoon. A. Plastic. Spoon. Apparently this was to help me “ladle” the poop into the tubes. The hat (or shat hat as I took to referring to it) had a nice little spout on one end to aid in pouring…so it would in theory help you get your poop into the larger jar. I just stared at the tech in horror as she asked me if I understood what I was supposed to do. I answered to the affirmative and walked in a daze out the door.

I was successful in collecting my….specimens. I will not traumatize you with details, but I honestly think I would rather have diarrhea the rest of my life then go through that ever again. It was emotionally scarring…and I will be haunted by the memories for the rest of my life. Hopefully in the next week we’ll have nailed down what’s wrong though, and my life can finally start to have some semblance of normalcy after months of health issues.

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“The Hat” in all its glory…

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