Monday, September 27, 2004

Warning: The following post is scatalogical in nature. In fact, it is almost entirely about shit. If you do not enjoy reading about fecal matter, please skip it.

Phew. Got that out of the way.

So today I had a meeting with my internist to discuss my ongoing nausea issues. Every time I meet with a doctor, I expect him or her (it's usually a her) to dismiss my health concerns, suggest I'm a hypochondriac, and recommend counseling. The internist didn't do that. She said that we need to figure out what's causing my nausea, and the first thing to rule out is an intestinal parasite. This seems like a pretty good possibility, what with all the raw meat I consumed and rural areas I travelled through in Japan. I'm going to do the parasite tests now, before I leave for my brother's wedding on Wednesday, and if they come back negative we'll procede to what sounds like it's going to be a whole bunch of other tests when I come back.

Sadly, the test for parasites involves stool samples. (Stool is the nice medical euphamism for shit. As I said, this post is all about feces.) I told my friend M. that I thought "stool sample" was the most dreaded word in the medical testing universe, and she very sensibly pointed out that there are several more dreaded words, such as "colonoscopy." She is without a doubt right, but trust me, stool samples are really nasty.

So I have to gather samples of my shit on three separate days, at home. The procedure goes something like this. I was given a plastic device called a "commode specimen gathering system." I'm very amused by the use of the word "commode". Apparently, I'm supposed to be perfectly comfortable digging around in my own shit with a spoon, but my delicate sensibilities might be offended by the word "toilet". Anyway, my commode specimen gathering system looks a bit like a margarine tub with wings which allow me to balance it over the toilet (I mean commode) bowl. After I have produced a specimen, I am supposed to scoop it into special sterile tubes, using a special tiny spoon. One of the tubes has some sort of liquid in it, and that one is supposed to be kept at room temperature. And here's the real kicker. The other tube has nothing in it, other than my feces, and it needs to be kept in the refrigerator.

I repeat: they want me to scoop my shit into a tube and then put it in my refrigerator, where I keep my food. Can you think of anything more revolting than that?

So I gathered up every plastic bag in the house, and my shit sample is now sitting, encased in layers of plastic bags, in my refrigerator. If I hadn't been nauseous at the start of this entire procedure, I sure as hell would be now.

Anyway, after all that, I certainly hope it turns out to be a parasite. Parasites are easily treatable, and I'm going to be seriously annoyed if I have gone through all of this for nothing.

Ugh. I hate stool samples. I refuse to put shit in my refrigerator, so I will only do them in the bathroom at my doctor's laboratory. The trouble with that is that I'm incapable of taking a shit if someone else comes into the bathroom. Or even if I suspect someone, somewhere, may be considering coming intot he bathroom. I just can't do it. I guess I'm just too uptight. So anyway, I was supposed to submit stool samples every day for a week a few months back, and I only squeaked out one. The doctor eventually rolled her eyes and gave up on me. Ugh.

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