Posts Tagged ‘Stool culture’

Nurse: The jar need not be full!

September 29, 2015


Here is a good Governmental initiative. Never let it be known that positivity is not absent from me on Mondays. I made the appointment last week for a one and half hour of a thorough assessment for any future home-care. A triumphant government must have announced it some time ago, but I never heard about it. It is for those that turn seventy-five. They must keep a tab on all of us. No birthday cake though. Just the possibility of subsidised grab rails in the bathroom or electronic ejection elevated toilet seat. Can you imagine the feeling of elation being lifted and ejected from the toilet seat? What next?

The appointment was for 2pm on Monday. After duly showering,  some sprucing and copious anti deodorant H and I arrived. I was curious and was given a synopses of the procedure. My state of health, both mental and physical would now be taken under the loupe.  I was at fever pitch and alertness. A squirrel taking command of his booty of hazelnuts could not be a better example. Finally a reward for all those years of Kipfler spuds, herrings, sardines, numerous curry dishes, the occasional pork sausage and butter-milk would be brought to fruition as proven by this extensive investigation and following rapport. It would all come out now.

I was met by a friendly nurse with a Latvian or Estonian look. Blue eyes and blond with a mid-fifties age as indicated by the creases around her friendly mouth and alert eyes. Someone who had gone through some living, carrying the evidence with aplomb and courage.  “Do you think you could do a pee or would you first like a coffee or glass of water,” she asked looking at me all blue-eyed and with some ease? She knew some man might get a bit ruffled by that, and clamp up their urinary tract. She was generous and professional, giving me a way out in case of embarrassment, related to shrinking man when anything is mentioned to their impedimenta of an organ that has other function as well as for manically going up and down.  Not me though. “I’ll do my best”,  I’ll do it now, if you don’t mind.”   “Where is the toilet”? I took the initiative. Very often a ploy of the somewhat insecure. Especially some men.

I had noticed she had snapped on some plastic gloves and gave me a little clear plastic jar with a yellow lid, a plastic envelope and showed me the toilet. “You don’t have to fill it right up”, she said. As if I could not!  I dribbled a bit in the jar and perused the level as if on a scientific journey. I judged it not enough, and put a bit more in, surprised at my agility above the narrow bottle and also the ability to stop and start at will. It isn’t always like that getting up in the middle of the night when the procedure seems not always as spontaneous as it once was… I came back as soon as I could. I did not want to give the impression I was struggling in that section and lose points on my rapport.  One never knows with urine and stools. I noticed she was testing it with some little strip afterwards above the sink. I suppose the PH. I used to do the same on our farm swimming pool water.

She explained all the other things we would go through and held up the first part of the test in the form of a large lettered  laminated sign ‘close your eyes’. I duly closed my eyes. “Very good”, nurse said. I was beaming. “Can you tell me the day, month and year?” Again, 10/10. And so it went on. “I will say three words and please repeat”. “Apple, table and chair.” I duly repeated. After a few minutes again, can you recall the three words? I thought deeply, but managed another faultless reply.

“Can you now fold a piece of paper, hold it in both hands and put it on the floor in front of your feet”. I did it in record time but hoped the fold length-wise instead of across would not be rated against me. I need not fear. “Excellent she said. You have no trouble following instructions”.

When talking to the doctor afterwards he asked for Helvi to be present. What would we do if I ever got an accident or physical affliction and quality of life would be almost non- existent ? I was given a rather cheerless list of option of procedures just to keep me alive. What would I choose? A pipe in my chest to breath and food through my nose.?

No thank you. No keeping alive just for the sake of it. If I am no longer aware of being alive, don’t inflict life when it is not really there anymore.

He said also, and that is what I really loved hearing. You do not even have a hint of Alzheimer. Full marks, he added.

A great afternoon. It will be H’s turn in a couple of months.

I hope your culture is normal.

March 28, 2015


I thought I knew culture, or at least the average ‘normal’ person’s understanding of its meaning. But nothing surprised me more than when I got acquainted with a different, totally new form of culture, never experienced before. I also know that many people take rests on chairs, chaise lounges, settees, fauteuils or even the simple piano stool. There is nothing odd about man’s need for the occasional rest, even on a stool. But.., I am getting ahead of myself; This tale of surprise and  discovery of a new kind of culture needs time to ripen and mature. Ecoutez svp and get a little closer to your screen.

Over the last week or so I have been busy with domestic things, paying bills, emptying the dish-washer, putting bins on the street and even doing a thorough vacuum with the hand held one instead of the robovac. As readers might remember,  some weeks ago I gave in, relented,  bought an  automatic vacuum cleaner that roams the rooms and ferrets around corners and underneath book shelves in between beds and saucepans.  I find it fascinating to watch, seeing how it sends signals out to avoid obstacles and dead corners. The Robovac does a fair job but with rough coated Milo one needs to do a hand-held in between. On top of that I had to prepare myself for working this Saturday handing out ‘how to vote cards’ for the Green party of which I have been a member for just a few months. The state of NSW is having an election with everyone at fever pitch. The dogs are howling and swallows are flying erratically. They know it too. I also fitted in a quick visit to the Moss Vale medical centre  to check on a persistent pesky stomach bug.

Here it comes!

The good doctor from Indian background, whom I had not met before, did a good job, asking me all the relevant questions. History if any, of stomach problems, family background, dodgy genes, fainting spells, giddiness, what job I did, smoke, drink etc.? He finally prodded around my stomach a bit, but nothing painful or abnormal, and suggested I do some kind of what I understood a ‘culture test’. I agreed and thought any culture in Australia will do me, even if it is just the usual blood test. He wrote out the pathology note and as the pathologist outfit is next to the medical centre he suggested I do it straight away. The sooner the better, he smiled and shook my hand.

Helvi and I always go together to doctors as we do to shops or just walking around with Milo. In fact, we are probably noticed on our walks as a couple who are inseparable. Helvi glanced over to the lady behind the pathology counter and smiled. I too smiled and handed over the pathology request form. She read the doctor’s  note and smiled encouragingly. “Have you done a ‘stool culture’ before, she asked”? The penny dropped. I knew this culture were no ordinary culture, let alone a B’s ninth symphony or viewing of the pyramids of Cheops. Of all of life’s foibles, how did it come to this? I used to play in a sandpit and dreamt of castles.

h464B99F8 stool sample

No, I haven’t done ‘that’ before I answered.”I’ll get you the necessary kit”, still smiling by nurse! I wasn’t smiling. The horror of what was to now come became clear. I looked back and Helvi was smiling broadly. For some reason women seem to find this a really amusing procedure for men to undergo. Nurse said: “There are ‘just’ two small containers you need to fill with a small scoop fitted on the back of each lid”, ” you fill the two small ones from the ‘big’ container, she added. I sunk below vision, and meekly said something like ‘far-out’ or ‘can’t wait. Nurse’s eyes met mine and a moment of some embarrassment  was acknowledged and with a smile she winked. It helped.  She had seen all this before and she understood.

By now, nurse was really being encouraged by Helvi having to keep her mouth covered hiding her mirth and smile, and yet nurse had the nous to further explain; “the large bowel is for putting it in the toilet bowl to catch your stool”. This last remark should have reached its zenith of  relevant stool culture information. It did not.  More was yet to come.  “You can use the scoop on the back of the smaller containers’ lids to fill each of them them”, she said. “You must also give details of date and time of each time of your ‘stool production’ on the label, and number them as a 1 or  a 2”. “Don’t forget to wash the big container or use a new one each time. “AN ICE- CREAM container will do”, she said. By this time nurse was openly smiling and I was beyond caring. It would have been far worse if it had all been done in all seriousness. I mean, how could this possibly be a serious issue?

Even so, I hope that the future doesn’t hold anymore  medical cultural events like this one. I would much prefer to see Wagner’s ‘ring cycle’.

Ps. I played along  wanting to be seen as suffering the ultimate crestfallen male with his fragile ego, hitting the very lows of the absurdity of his idea of masculinity. The very idea of a ‘real’ man scooping his own faeces is unlimited material for comedy and laughter.  It was very funny and a bit of a show for the other patients sitting in chairs waiting their turn while listening in.

Life gets complicated but you have to face up to it, even when it includes strange cultures.