Friday, May 16, 2008

What it means when you are 40 (or older)

I fall into the category of 40 and older. Today, I had my annual gyno exam. Things have changed now that I am in this age bracket. Mammograms. I have had two already and honestly, they don't bother me. I don't think they hurt and I don't mind standing there with my boobies hanging out (hell, I breastfed for three years of my child raising life, who HASN'T seen my boobies?). Now comes the other part of being 40+ and testing - colon cancer. I have had a colonoscopy and that is NASTY. Way worse than any mammogram, spinal tap, EMG's or any other painful and/or disgusting test I've had. Thankfully, I am not to routine colonsocopies, yet. Instead, I get to take a shit and then swish a brush around in it and paint it onto a card. TWICE. Two different shits. Then I mail it off to a lab to get it inspected for blood or other unwanted cells. The test kit says to "protect from heat (>99F/37C)" which can only mean I need to shit twice and get this in the mail before summer gets here and we are sweltering in 100+ degree weather. And for anyone who knows my bowel habits, shitting twice before summer could present a real challenge. I have done a similar test like this in the past, and this one is actually easier. However, the past test was because I was having abdominal issues, but now, IT'S ROUTINE testing, done analy, oops, I mean ANNUALLY.

For those who are really intersted, here are the instructions.

SAMPLE 1 - Your first bowel movement
STEP 1: Take these instructions, brush kit and test card into the bathroom.Flush Toilet BEFORE your bowel movement.
STEP 2: After your bowel movement, DO NOT PLACE USED TOILET PAPER IN THE TOILET BOWL. Instead, use one of the waste bags provided.Do NOT FLUSH the toilet.(Unfortunately, what I can't put in here is the picture of a faceless cartoon looking person very carefully, with only two fingers being used, as if to say "YUCK" with his non-verbal communication, placing the waste bag in the toilet.)
STEP 3: Lift the flap marked "LIFT HERE FOR SAMPLE 1" on the test card to uncover the small white square marked, "SAMPLE 1".
STEP 4: Using one of the blue brushes, gently brush the surface of the stool for about five seconds.If the stool is loose, simply stir the water around the stool.Remove brush from the water and gently shake it once to remove excess water and any clumps of stool.
STEP 5: Gently dab the bristles of the brush onto the small white square on the test card for about five seconds (some staining of the square may occur).Put the used brush into the kit wastebag and throw it away in your waste basket.STEP 6:Peel off on of the two removable labels from the Reply Form and use it to re-seal the flap marked "Sample 1".See diagrams above for correct way to position the label when sealing each flap on the test card. Print your name on each label.

SAMPLE 2 - your second bowel movement (Since bleeding may not occur all of the time, a second bowel movement is sampled to increase the chance of detecting blood.)
Use the second blue brush, waste bag and the test card sample flap makred "SAMPLE 2", repeat steps 1 to 6 above. Use the other label to re-seal the sample flap. Continue with instructions on the back of this sheet.


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