Saturday, July 25, 2009

Culture Club

At the end of my appointment on Friday in Kaiser's Infectious Disease clinic, the nurse slipped me a small package. I gave her a quizzical look and she said, "Just follow the instructions inside."

I've never gotten a homework assignment from my nurse before. Her tone had me a little spooked so I waited till I was in my car before peeking in the package.

Inside was a slim tube with my name on it, a sheet of paper, a plastic bag with a Biohazard label on it, a sturdy envelope addressed to my doctor's office, and the sheet of instructions that the nurse mentioned.

The heading on the page —"Package Insert for Personal Use Kit"— didn't reveal much but once I started to read the instructions, I caught the gist of the assignment. Kaiser wants me to float the paper in my toilet bowl, poop, collect some of the poop in the tube and then mail it back to them so they can do a stool culture.

The envelope is stamped "Business Reply Mail." Well, I guess you can call it that.

You might think that any average guy handed this assignment would find it simple enough. My first reaction, however, was to panic.

What if the paper sinks in the toilet water? What if I can't get the poop in the tube? What if I drop everything into the bowl? What if my mailman refuses to pick up smelly outgoing mail?

I wrote my concerns on a sheet of paper and marched right back to the clinic to tell them what was on my mind. They attempted to calm me down by giving me a plastic tub, about the size of the "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" container, to add to my personal use kit.

The alternate strategy is to poop into the tub instead of the toilet bowl. They didn't provide a lid, so I guess I would still need to collect some of my business and stuff it into the tube.

So I have an option No. 1 and an option No. 2. The assignment needs to be postmarked by Monday, so there's time to sort this all out. The task is top priority on my to-do list this weekend —I mean, my to doo-doo list.

I'm not always able to predict or control when nature calls, so to be sure I don't miss the opportunity, I'm toting my poop kit wherever I go this weekend.

Come Sunday night, I know I'll be tempted to mail the sample back to Kaiser in an actual "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" container. But I really don't have any way of knowing that the Kaiser employee who opens the mail has a sense of humor. Or maybe he or she would have too much of a sense of humor, and stick the sample in the fridge in the break room.

Best not to do anything I'll want to deny later. After all, that poop sample will have my name on it.

Just like this blog post.

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