My gut issues used to be horrendous and I once found myself in a situation I never thought I would; digging through my poo with a very tiny plastic ‘spork’, while it was laying inside a cardboard container. The whole image is now burned into my skull for all eternity so it’s only fair if I share it with the world.
Before you click away thinking I’m a bizarre sexual deviant, let me explain how I got into this thrilling situation.
I’ve had gut issues since starting Lyme disease treatment, it got really bad and I had to stop treatment and this happened. For a long time doctors didn’t take it seriously. ‘Take more pro biotics’ they said, ‘here are some IBS meds’ they said. Despite the fact it improves on anti fungals my doc wouldn’t prescribe anti fungals or have any more investigations other than to check I wasn’t about to die from C Diff. Spoiler: I wasn’t.
Like with most things Lyme related, I’ve been left to my own devices and taken matters into my own hands. I never quite realised this would mean literally taking my excrement into my hands but life has a funny way of working out like that.
So I ordered a ‘comprehensive stool analysis’ test from the first UK clinic I was a patient at. I used to be a patient of theirs, and because I’m incredibly grown up and wise, (ha!) I didn’t send them a letter detailing exactly what I thought of them and how they can shove their immunotherapy and autonomic testing up their arses when I absconded and went elsewhere. To their knowledge, I’m still a happy customer who just hasn’t come by in a while.So this meant I could just ring up and ask for the test. Win!
I received the test (eventually, the first one didn’t turn up…) and to my absolute HORROR, not only did it say I couldn’t take pro biotics, anti biotics or enzymes (this means you lovely Candex, anti fungal supps from the Gods), but it said I couldn’t take ibuprofen/aspirin. This is my drug of choice. I take it most days. It’s what keeps me from turning into a pain ridden rabid dog who chews on it’s own leg, foams at the mouth and runs into trees. These drugs couldn’t be taken 3 days before or during stool collection. And get this, there are THREE stool collections on THREE different days. So we’re talking a MINIMUM of 6 days painkiller free. MONKEYBALLS I think was my expression when I realised this.
Problem number 2. Due to aforementioned gut issues, I’m chronically constipated. Having a poop is something to be celebrated in my world, and often is. My long suffering partner will testify that I can come out of the bathroom with a massive grin on my face and say ‘The donkey has left the building!” and then do an airpump with as much gusto as football players when they score. So I was thinking that this ‘3 day’ collection, is actually going to take a week and a half. All without ibuprofen….! MONKEYBALLS
I did my research. I filled my belly with as much food as possible including lentils and an entire half tin of prunes. I had gut spasms that felt like I was brewing a tornado laden with cows and heavy machinary. I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to excrete poo, or one of those double decker bus sized ‘fatburgs’ that clog London sewers.
Collection day 1 rolled around. I’d been 3 days without painkillers and on schedule I performed. So far so good. I caught the specimen in the provided cardboard container (it’s like a shallow popcorn box – forever ruining my cinematic experience) and put the 1 glove on. Yes, it comes with one glove. I couldn’t really work out which hand the glove was meant to go on. The hand holding the vial lid with attached spindly plastic ‘spork’ or the one holding the preservative vial marked WILL CAUSE CANCER. Next the instructions say ‘take samples from different parts of the stool’. Ok I thought, I’m going in. Except I’m chronically constipated, my stools have the consistency of London clay. They use smegging specialist JCBs to get through the clay here, I didn’t have a JCB, I had a spindly spork that looked like it was going to snap when I pushed it into the poo. What I needed was a knife! A tiny ‘borrower’ sized knife to match the spork. But it was too late, I’d opened the cancer causing vial, I’d put on the single glove and my T shirt was already covering my nose and mouth from my own vile stench. I couldn’t call for cutting reinforcements, I’d just have to make do. Eventually I managed it, I shook the vile ‘vigorously for 30 seconds’ as instructed and realised that my concrete like poo was stuck to the bottom when it was meant to be mixed into the solution. “Bugger, sod it. I’m traumatised enough. I’ll do better on day 2. ”
Day 2. I’d eaten my prunes with gusto. I wasn’t optimistic about producing anything, but I woke up and there it was. The glorious urge to take a dump. I excitedly bounded off to the bathroom. Day 2 promised to be more exciting as there were TWO vials to fill. One like before but one had to be frozen. I collected the poop and realised that all the prunes had indeed taken it’s toll. The poo started off like my usual brand of dark clay, and quickly turned into something that had clearly passed through me very quickly. Lighter, less dense, and much easier to cut into with the minuscule spork contraption. I was now a poo collecting ninja and filled the vials with ease. And yes. I had a vial of poo in my freezer. Other people have ice for their mojitos, I have vials of poo, it’s how I roll.
Now, I’d been in pain the whole time I’d been denied painkillers but it was manageable with lots of comfort eating, swearing and distraction techniques. My favourite was the swearing though. But this was the day of the migraine. It’s like having an atomic bomb go off in your brain, in fact I’m always surprised bits of brain don’t come dribbling out of my ears. By the time I was under the duvet and not able to open my eyes properly I gave in and scrambled for the ibuprofen. Normally I’d take it with some Migraine meds (codeine, sedating anti histamine) but codeine makes me more constipated.
The third collection was fairly uneventful, by then collecting my poop and digging through it was worryingly becoming almost ‘normal’. I got the results back a while later which were pretty much as expected, too much bad stuff, not enough good and a festival of yeast. I still have no idea which hand the glove is meant to go on, and I’m very annoyed they don’t provide a gas mask or tiny plastic knife to complete the set. The other good news is that my new doc is taking my gut more seriously and I’m happily back to POOING IN PEACE.