This past week has been full of excitement. It started off with a long weekend in Las Vegas for Chris’ birthday. Vegas is Chris’ most favorite place, so, natch, we had to go there to celebrate. While in Vegas, we scored pretty respectably on the Michael Jackson slot machine. As is true with any casino, we had a wide variety of colorful, stupid, loud, seizure-inducing slots to choose from. Michael Jackson is the best because it plays all of Michael’s classic hits as you spin the wheel and watch your money quickly drain away, and Michael comes out and dances for you when you hit a bonus. There isn’t much else better in life. Gambling aside, we had the pleasure of sleeping in, ordering room service, eating, shopping, seeing shows, and people-watching. People-watching in Las Vegas is a-maz-ing, especially when you’re there with your spouse and have absolutely no interest in wearing hoochie clothes and getting groped at the club. It’s all just entertainment.
After returning from Vegas, I had my first appointment with my gynecologist to discuss next steps for determining if we have any fertility issues. I love my doctor so much. She sat and talked to me for a while, had me tell her all about my cycle and everything we had tried so far, and just listened very intently like she truly cared about everything I said. She walked me through the tests we’d do and what to expect and sent me off for blood work. She also ordered a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to see if we could get a good picture of my uterus so she would know how severe my septum is and whether or not there was any sort of obstruction in my fallopian tubes. I was able to get in for the HSG the next day. That was a horrible experience. My doctor told me it would be uncomfortable, so I’m glad I at least had that warning. The imaging place where I went for the test was actually very nice and new, and the staff was friendly. That was the extent of my positive experience. When I went into the testing room, the technician came in to explain how the test would be done. A doctor would come in, insert a speculum to get to my cervix, and then insert a catheter through my cervix and into the uterus to inject the dye that would show how everything looked inside. She said I could expect some cramping similar to menstrual cramps. Okay. The doctor came in, and it all went down exactly the way she said it would. And it hurt like hell. And I was beyond emotional. I could see the screen with my little boomerang-shaped uterus (it’s supposed to look like an inverted pear) and just knew something wasn’t right. The technician was very encouraging in saying that my fallopian tubes were open, and the doctor mumbled something about my uterus being bicornuate (which I pretty much knew based on what I was seeing on the screen and what I’ve researched up until this point). So, between not being able to move while in terrible pain and seeing the reality of my abnormally shaped uterus in black and white, I just started crying on the table. Both the technician and doctor were visibly alarmed and kept asking me if I was okay, which of course just made me cry harder. After the doctor was assured that he didn’t puncture anything and I’d live, he left the room and went about his day. I then made the mistake of asking the technician what my uterus was supposed to look like (I knew the answer, so I’m not sure why I did this). She proceeded to speculate that getting pregnant might be dangerous for me because of where the egg might implant, IVF might not be an option though they could possibly decide were to place the egg, and made several other comments that were completely out of her field of expertise, much less totally inappropriate. I cried for at least the next hour. (The bright side of this is that my doctor called me today to confirm that my tubes are open and that I am bicornuate, but that there were no major concerns with that particular test. We still have a few other tests to do before we can determine what happens next.)
Last, but certainly not least, I had the good fortune of preparing stool samples for my general physician. Since the middle of Vegas, I was having pretty severe pain in my lower left abdomen. This happened to me once before, about 6 months ago. I went in to see my gynecologist then because it happened just following my period and I was having a second round of mild bleeding, so I thought it was related to my ovaries or something. She did a sonogram and didn’t find any cysts or anything unusual, so she attributed it to something GI-related (not surprising considering my history). I mentioned it to my gynecologist again at this visit, and she continued to think it was something to do with my digestive tract. Since it didn’t seem to be getting any better, I made an appointment with my GP to get it checked out. She thought that I should go see a GI specialist in this area (I haven’t been to one in over 2 years because I was doing relatively well) and gave me a referral for that. She also gave me orders for stool testing and sent me home with a stool collection kit that consisted of a “collection cup” and 4 test tubes containing various colored liquids that looked like a science experiment.
This is where things get interesting.
Obvs, I had to wait for my next poop to conduct my experiment. In preparation, I laid out all my materials and read through the instructions very carefully (these come in a little booklet that is translated into about 6 different languages for my convenience). The instructions were very specific, right down to the best way to “collect the specimen for sampling.” This included options such as the use of a bedpan (I did not have one of these) and lining a trash can with a clean trash bag. I wasn’t really jiving with the idea of pooping directly into the trash can, so I got crafty. I put the trash bag over the toilet seat and left enough slack to sit comfortably while making my “deposit,” while avoiding what my sister smartly called a “poop trampoline.” It worked like a charm. After I got over my poop anxiety of getting this all down correctly and made my deposit, I set about the task of dissecting my sample into the proper test tubes, a process that involved the use of a spork (conveniently attached to the inside of each tube lid in order to get just the right amount of poo in and up to the red line) and “shaking each tube vigorously to thoroughly mix the contents.” Science! I was a pro. I then promptly stashed my samples in a Whole Foods bag (the irony) and delivered them to the lab directly.
In summary, we learned some very important things in this post today. Michael Jackson is the only acceptable slot machine to play when in Vegas. Imaging technicians need to keep their mouths shut. And trash bag pooping is optimal for obtaining the perfect stool sample. You’re welcome for all of this knowledge.