25 Aug Poop!
AKA: poo, sh$t, the steamy heapy, rocky road, pellets, the Gatling Gun, the burning brigade to name but a few of the slang terms for the brown stuff that oozes from our rear end, hopefully on a daily basis. Its more correct term is faeces, though it doesn’t sound half as good as the others.
Why on earth would I be writing a blog about this? A well known and loved radio personality has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer. It would have been picked up earlier had he completed the free Bowel Cancer test he received after he turned fifty. Instead he, like many of us, and I will put my hand up as one of those, sling the test kit away in the bathroom cupboard, and think no more about it until something like this hits home.
I’m nearly sixty, and have NEVER done one, and I’ve had a few kits delivered to me. Even my Partner-in-Crime completed his samples a couple of months ago, after a prompt from his doctor. And I agreed to do it, even putting the kit in plain view in our en-suite toilet, until I was doing a spring clean and it was returned to its hiding place at the back of the cupboard.
On Friday morning, while at work, I received a text from the P-i-C saying “Honey, do your bowel test. Captain Paul has colon cancer; he had the Bowel kit but threw it away. Please Honey, I don’t want to lose you, do your Bowel Test.” That spurred me into action.
Arriving home at 4pm I unearthed the test kit, which I’d actually opened at one stage, re-read the instructions, informed my P-i-C I needed privacy, and started the first test. O M G! If something could go wrong it did. You are required to wee first, flush the toilet and then place the flushable paper collection sheet into the toilet bowl. Tick. I can do this, I thought. OOOOPS. Apparently, I hadn’t ‘fully voided’ my bladder and I did some wee on the collection paper. Well, you can image what I said … along the lines of what I was supposed to collect. So, I wiped and flushed again. Now the collection paper was down the pipes to wherever the collection point of what goes into the toilet goes. Time to problem solve, then a light bulb moment. I would use the second collection paper, as you have to do two samples, and contemplate what to use for the second collection over the next twenty-four hours. Another tick for me. By this time both my P-i-C and youngest granddaughter were asking if everything was ok. Just what I didn’t need … an audience.
Collection paper in place, I resumed the position on the ‘throne’, adjusted my position to be more comfortable … and waited. And waited some more, with a good push to help things along. Five minutes earlier I was ready to go, and panicked as I thought the train was going to leave the station early, before everything was ready and in place. It then appeared as if the train was on strike because had been held up. Our minds certainly control all body functions, and defecating is obviously right up at the top of the list, or certainly is with me. I know when you want to wee, and can’t, you run water to help trick the mind. I just wasn’t quite sure what trick helped when elimination of the more solid bodily wastes was required. Personally, I hate being in a public toilet and hearing someone else do their #2s. To this day I’m still unable to ‘flush out my system’ anywhere but in my own toilet. If staying with friends, it tends to be a middle of the night, secret thing! I even make sure I’m nowhere near the toilet when P-i-C needs to go. It was a ‘Margie’ neurosis, passed down to my generation. I counted to one hundred, and tried to remember numbers to ten in Italian, French and even German. Then I wondered how long the collection paper would ‘float’ before it got water-logged and dived to the bottom of the bowl. And some time while my mind was contemplating this conundrum, the sphincter seemed to loosen its tight stance and we were good to go. Success, another well deserved tick, then the realisation of how to actually collect the sample. Do you just stand up, bottom not wiped, (I really have trouble with that part) turn around, pants still around the ankles, and wiggle the little needle like collection device around and around in the eliminated waste to collect a piece the size of a rice grain (cooked or raw?) before putting it into the cap, and then placing that into the tube, and that into the zip-lock plastic bag, and that into the padded post bag, and that into the fridge for storage until you post both sample off? A poo sample in the fridge? Really? I don’t care if it is in all those sealed containers! Really? Thank goodness for a bar fridge … and not being a drinker. There is some justice after all!
And then I had to fill out the paper work. The address was our old one, and we moved over 14 months ago. I crossed it out and wrote the new address next to it, before seeing there was a section where you were supposed to put that. Then wrote out the doctor’s name in full, before reading that you were required to list given and surname in different boxes. And I’m a teacher, and always say “Read the instructions fully first, then fill in the form”! It was Friday, I was stressed and I’m going with that explanation. Then I filled out the stickers to tape onto the collection tubes … and saw the use before date was Oct 2018! Really? These kits have use by dates? By that time, I’m at my office desk, laughing hysterically, and decide that I’ll just send it off anyway. I’m sure I’ll receive a letter if the test is not satisfactory. Next decision … go out for a Thai meal. That will clean out the pipes for the next day’s sample.
And second time around should be easy, one would think. Oh. How. Wrong! Without the second collection paper I thought I’d use one of their glossy ‘How To” papers. It seemed appropriate to my warped mind!
This time I fully voided my bladder. Sticker with a smiley face coming my way. Wipe and flush. A second sticker will be mine. Glossy sheet in; not as large as the other sheet but think it will do. Assume the position; don’t have to wait this time, as the chilli has worked wonders, and all over quickly. Grit my teeth at not being able to wipe before rising, and turned around to fossick in the … OMG! The glossy paper does not float, as I thought it would. It and my brown deposits had sunk to the bottom, like buried treasure from a galleon. This time I said more than SH$T, stuck the collection needle into the mass, twirled it around like a ballerina in her final pirouette, and even though the sample was the size of a rice bowl rather than a grain, shoved it into the tube, where it proceeded to seep out everywhere. I madly grabbed for a wet wipe, for my hands rather than the tube, which I sealed, still a little messy, in the other tube, and once I was finished with my ‘clean-up, and boy did I scrub like a surgeon, I added sample two to sample one in the plastic bag inside the padded mail bag and sealed the mail bag. Then I realised I hadn’t added the date on the sample sticker, but wasn’t going to touch that sample again! Then, while ticking off the boxes on the front of the mail bag, realised I hadn’t included the form I had completed, and which I’d made a real dog’s dinner of. It was still sitting on my desk.
Those mail bags are very difficult to get back into, and probably for a very good reason! We are dealing with faeces after all. One wouldn’t want the bags to open up in the mailbox or the post office sorting space. So, I then had to heavily tape it down to seal it again. I was so pleased to close the flap of the mailbox and drive away. I did wonder, however, since the box wasn’t going to be emptied for at least another twenty-four hours, and it was sitting in the sun without refrigeration, and it is Australia Post after all, in what condition will the lucky person who has to open and test my samples actually find them in? They’d better be paid ‘danger money’ for that work!
Now I await a letter in the mail, along with a new test kit, informing me my samples have been contaminated and I’m required to do the test again. Oh, be still my beating heart!