The middle schooler Melissa is laughing out loud just typing the title of this post. I have debated whether I would actually blog about my most recent laboratory specimen collection experience. Ultimately and against my better judgement, here goes.
*Once again, I would like to tell you that this post is going to contain too much information about bodily fluids and functions. I would also like to note that I have loaded this blog full of GIFs because they make me happy. It may be overload, but like I said… it makes me happy. Reader discretion is advised.
Yesterday, I had an appointment with my primary physician to follow-up from Monday’s ER visit. (You can read up on that if you need to: Emergency Room Frequent Flyer)
If you don’t feel like reading the blog post, I can sum it up like this:
First this happened for several days:
Then, a bit of this happened, but there was no glitter. Thank GOD. I hate glitter.
Then this happened on Monday night:
And now you are all caught up to yesterday. The two liters of fluids in the emergency room perked me up a bit, but the stomach cramping and diarrhea persisted throughout the evening and right into Tuesday morning.
Now, I should mention that I thought about taking some of the pain medications to not only help the cramping, but to help me sleep. I’m no rocket scientist, but sedation and diarrhea are a lethal combination. It was nothing short of a miracle I was able to get six full hours of sleep. It was beautiful, but I had a dream I was babysitting for the ugliest, most gangly little toddler and he had blue hair and I called him Thing 1. That’s off topic, though.
The appointment with my doctor wasn’t until the afternoon, so I sat on the couch. Made attempts to blog and journal, but mostly I just sat on the couch.
One can only sit around and do nothing for so long before they go crazy. This crazy decided to take her intestinal tantrum for a ride. We ended up vacuuming out the car and then went for an oil change. (I have a clean pair of pants in the back of my car now for emergency purposes. Sad, I know. Just wanted to make sure you know I don’t leave the house without protection.)
I returned to the sofa until it was time to go in. For two hours I tried to take a nap and right as I was about to fall asleep, it was time to go in.
When I checked in, the moment I sat down in the waiting room I doubled over. As soon as I could make it to an upright position, I found the nearest bathroom and lost what felt like ten pounds.
Returned to the waiting room and couldn’t help but notice the gentleman across from me sleeping. Lucky bastard, I thought. Then, gave myself an internal lecture about cutting back on the foul language. I scanned the room and another elderly man by the window was sleeping so soundly that he was snoring.
I was so fixated on the thought of a good nap that the buzz of my pager nearly caused me to shit myself. Luckily, I was already drained for the time being.
The medical assistant was walking too fast for me to keep up with her. When we reached the exam room, I was panting like a Saint Bernard on a 100 degree day. She asked, “Are you in any pain today?” I answered that indeed I was and her response was, “I noticed you’re moving a little slow.”
The MA asked the questions she needed to, took the vitals, and left. My doctor came right in and got down to business.
We discussed all of my symptoms, reviewed the massive list of labs I’ve had done, and talked about…
That’s right. Poop. Feces. Dung. Stool. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what we talked about. I’ve had similar “issues” with the digestive system, but nothing to this extent and for this long. She ordered more labs to rule out some things. She might have mentioned what those things are, but I quit paying attention after she said the most dreaded words in the English language: We’ll need to collect a stool sample.
This was my first thought:
I proceeded down to the second level of the clinic to the lab. It’s under construction, so I navigated through a drywall maze to the check-in. The patient liaison didn’t seem very friendly. I guess I wouldn’t be very friendly if my new check-in area was the corner of a hallway with chairs from 1970 and a 12″ television that was probably made the year I started kindergarten.
The lab draw went as smoothly as a lab draw can go. My vision only went out for a second or two and the ringing in my ears did eventually stop. The technician gave me a white plastic Gundersen Health bag full of goodies. There was actually nothing good in that bag.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of collecting a stool sample before, let me tell you about it.
First, I have had to do two separate 24 hour urine collection tests and I thought those were nasty. My definition of nasty has been permanently modified.
The contents of the bag:
– Two vials for the Parasite test
– One glass vial with a gel-like substance in it for the stool culture
– One plastic specimen cup for C-diff
– One cotton swab/long Q-tip
– One oversized popsicle stick
– 4 biohazard bags
– One specimen collection container, also known as a “Potty Hat” (I have comments on that, but have decided to keep them to myself.)
The first part of this entire process is elimination. No problem, right? Of course not. I could probably fill a swimming pool with everything that ran through me since this started.
But, Crap on Command is not one of my special skills. I know and have worked with people who can do this and it has always baffled me. I have been on the opposite end and have gone over two weeks without passing even a pebble. You can imagine my loathing when one of my clients I’d work with could just poop her pants when someone made her mad. Not because I’d have to help clean it up, but because it was something I could never do. (That was way back in the day when I worked in group homes, by the way.)
Apparently, the last of my innards fell out on the fourth floor of the clinic before my appointment. So, the waiting game began.
The entire afternoon and evening I was cramping with no results. It was like the braxton hicks contractions I hear pregnant women talk about. They have fake contractions and I have fake diarrhea. Just like a pregnant woman way past her due date, I wanted this over and done with. And I wanted an epidural. But no baby because I also wanted sleep.
Finally, I was able to go. After ten minutes of cramping, sweating, and a few “shoot me now” thoughts, I expected to have a party going on in the potty hat. Nope.
I figured the stool culture would be the easiest and least nasty, so I started with that one. You take the swab out of the wrapper and, per the directions, you twirl it in whatever just fell out of your butt. You then proceed to put the entire swab/Q-tip into the vial and seal it. Per the directions, I sealed it tightly in a biohazard bag and stuck it in the fridge.
One down. Three to go.
I tackled the two vials next. Each tube/vial had a cap. The cap had a small plastic spoon attached to it. The instruction sheet said it was a spoon, but when I was in elementary school, we called what was on the end of that cap a spork. You know what you have to do with a spoon/fork/spork?
Yep. I had to transfer what was in the potty hat to the vial using the mini spork. I pretended I was a child playing in mud to make it feel less disgusting, but that didn’t work.
The two vials needed to be filled to a red line and the hat was empty by the time I finished with that. After scrubbing everything, including myself, down with Clorox wipes, I gave up and went to bed.
Three down. One to go.
When I woke up this morning, I started getting ready for work like I always do. My stomach was not cramping, but I still didn’t feel well. I took a shower, dressed myself, and brushed my teeth. As I was brushing my teeth, I once again doubled over and knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.
And it wasn’t.
They say to save the best for last, but this last cup to fill was the worst. I peeled the wrapper off of the gigantic popsicle stick. (I think professionals call them tongue depressors, but I’m not a professional, so they are big popsicle sticks.)
Then, I had to take the stick and use it to fill the cup.
This is how that went for me:
With all the specimen samples carefully wrapped up in their biohazard bags, then wrapped again in another plastic bag, and then put back into the plastic Gundersen bag, I left for work.
There is nothing more disgusting than walking through the hallways carrying concealed dung. All I could think about was passing out. Being sick for so long, I’ve been seeing floaters and have worried that this would happen. I had nothing else to think about, so I thought about how perfect it would be to pass out with four samples of my own feces on my person.
Thankfully, I made it to the lab without passing out or dying. No one even knew what I had in my possession. I thought about telling everyone on the elevator, but I didn’t.
I made it through six hours of the shift today and couldn’t take the stomach ache anymore. I caught up on some sleep this afternoon. Tonight, I’m resting comfortably with Gatorade and lots of blankets.
If this is just a virus, we should be at the end of it. If these tests come back negative and this doesn’t get better, well… there will then probably be a blog post about my first colonoscopy.