The Peachfuzz Chronicles

June 7, 2011

The Great Poo-Poo Caper

Filed under: Uncategorized — by thepluckygastronome @ 12:03 pm
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I had to schlep down to Philly for my first post-op visit. It was a rough ride.  Although it was too soon to get my surgery staples out, I had another problem that was plaguing me: diarrhea.

For those of you with sensitive leanings, you want to skip over today’s blog post.

If you’re still reading, permit me to put on my Jamie Lee Curtis hat and talk about colon health.

Our colons are like a world in and of itself. It has its own little eco system that requires the perfect balance of good germs and bad germs in order to… shall we say… keep things moving along. After the hysterectomy, the first thing they look for after urine output is for successful “tootage” which means that your colon has awakened and wants to start working again.

I’ll be frank with you, I begged to be discharged from the hospital. I was coming up on a Friday night in the hospital and I hadn’t yet tooted. Night time there is a no man’s land. Last year’s six-week experience with my Dad in the SICU taught me that day shift nurses are fabulous. (Loved my day nurse Tiffany!) Night shift, iffy.  Weekend night shift?–you might as well punch up the soundtrack for High Plains Drifter. It can be lonesome, desperate country at nights… in the hospital… on the weekend. The doc let me go home on a Friday afternoon. (YES!!!)

According to the doc, there is this condition called C. difficile that happens to folks who have been flooded with antibiotics prior to surgery. It wipes out all the bad (and good) germs that are necessary for good colon health. So not only are you dealing with the after effects of your surgery, you also have major visits to the porcelain throne. Treatment?  Get this… take another kind of antibiotic (Flagyl), which is the most nasty-tasting pill I’ve ever been asked to ingest. On top of that, you need to take probiotics, such as Acidophilus and eat lots of yogurt with active cultures.

Now hold the phone!  You want me to take ANTIbiotics along with PRObiotics?  Don’t they just cancel each other out? Go figure…

On my way out of the doctor’s office, I was given a specimin cup and a “hat” which is a plastic insert that fits inside your toilet rim to collect stuff. “Oh look honey, I have a new hat.” The scheduling staff tittered. I took my parting gifts and huffed and puffed all the way home.

After successfully producing the poo in the aformentioned cup, my charge was to deliver it to a local lab for processing. Sounds easy, right?  NOT!

It took eight phone calls just to locate a lab that looked promising. Remember, I have a wicked case of the runs and I have to leave the house.  I did something I’d NEVER done before.  For the first time in my life, I slapped on a pair of Depends. Better safe than messy. Hey, if it worked for that NASA astronaut who wore them to drive 12 hours from Texas to Florida to knock off her lover’s wife; it was good enough for me.

My daughter loads me back into the car and drives over with the cup and the paperwork. We huff and puff again into the office at Quest Labs. I run through the same story I’ve told on the phone eight times earlier that morning and things look promising. Then I was asked for my insurance card.  I whip it out and BAM!  “I’m sorry, we don’t take your insurance. You have to go to Lab Corp.”

Are you kidding me??!!!  Now pray, where do I find Lab Corp? I was ready to pass out right there on the spot, but as luck would have it, blessed Lab Corp was located in the same office complex.  So with my precious cup and fist-full of lab orders, I waddle back to the car and my daughter drives around to the other side of the parking lot.

Like the other place, Lab Corp has all the charm of a municipal court. Sign in. Sit down. Wait until your case is heard. I waddle over to a chair and wait. When I am called up, I start my story all over again. Yes, they take my insurance, yes they can do my lab work for upcoming chemo treatments and yes, they can test the poo.  I place the cup on the counter with the lab orders. My helper flinched. You would have thought I put poo on her desk.

Now this is where things get interesting. “We can’t take that,” she said. “You need to deliver it to us in ‘approved’ containers.”  She whips out two pill bottles, known as Para-Pak vials. One with a white top, the other with an orange top.

“So I have to get this into that?” I ask, gesturing at my specimen cup.

“Yes, and I’m afraid that you’ll have to make the transfer outside of this office. I can’t permit you to use our bathroom facilities,” she said. I could tell by then that she was bound by the rules and felt bad that she had to send me out in the hot and humid hinterlands to do the deed. “Don’t forget to write your name and date on both vials,” she said as we headed for the door.

So off we go. Back to the car. We had a dirty job ahead but I was steely-eyed and determined to succeed.

Once settled in the car, my daughter and I look at each other. We burst out laughing. It hurts. I clutch the pillow I brought to use as a splint against my healing abdomen. We decided that she would hold the cup and I would perform the “scoopage.” We are all ready to begin when a car pulls into the empty spot next to us. “Abort!  Abort!”  she says.  “Just try to act natural.”  I start shaking with laughter.

It’s 95 degrees. The car is hot. The relative humidity is hovering around 87 percent. We have the A/C blasting. The smell is ungodly. We are laughing too hard. Each vial has a tiny little spoon attached inside the screw cap and the dividing of the specimen is taking way too long. Compounding the issue is my unsteady aim. I am laughing so hard that I am barely making the mark.

“I’ve taken just about enough crap off of you,” said my daughter.

“Stop making me laugh!”

“You can’t make this $h*t up,” she quipped.

And that was it. Never in my life had I needed the Depends before. But I did now. I was laughing so hard I had to pee. I was not stopping this “great poo-poo caper” to find a bathroom. I was on a mission. There was little chance I could make it anyway. So I made a decision. I did something my mother and grandmother had never done.  I took a pair of Depends for a test drive, which only made me laugh even harder.

What have I come to?  I can’t believe I did this!! Nobody told me this was part of cancer!

I have every confidence that that will be the last Depends I’ll need for a very long time.  Tomorrow, I can put on my real “big girl panties” and deal with it.



  1. All I can think to say, my darling friend, is um, thanks for sharing?

    Hahaha! You two are hilarious!

    Comment by Marti — June 16, 2011 @ 11:27 pm |Reply

  2. Hilarious, Echo! Life can be so degrading. All you can do is laugh. You HAVE to laugh.

    Comment by Kimberly Wentz Campbell — June 17, 2011 @ 11:40 pm |Reply

  3. Echo,

    You are an amazing lady. We know you will hang tough through this and all will be good.

    Bob & Rosie Ratcliffe

    Comment by Bob R. — June 18, 2011 @ 7:24 am |Reply

  4. Hello Echo, I was surprised and disheartened about this news, but must say, your approach is uplifting! This blog was the best. So true and so well written. Your daughter is hilarious. I have laughed out loud and hope that you can find the same humor every day as you battle the big C. You’re in my thoughts and prayers!

    Comment by Lana Green Hale — July 17, 2011 @ 3:58 am |Reply

  5. Echo, your blog is absolutely tragicomic- what a great sense of humor you have! I wish you the best and am so glad to have discovered this treasure trove of writing. I just forwarded this to a friend whose mom has cancer. So glad you can be an inspiration to others!

    Emma Budwig (Stuart Country Day School)

    Comment by Emma Budwig — July 19, 2011 @ 10:15 am |Reply

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