Monday, June 15, 2015

The Subtleties of Poo Transfer

A few years back now I was diagnosed with an H. Pylori infection. For those fortunate enough not to be familiar with the microscopic bastards in question, they're bacteria that have found a way to live in stomach acid. As tiny parasites, alone they're irrelevant, but when they gather in large numbers they can cause discomfort and nausea. Much like the Tea Party.

Typically this is a simple infection to clear up with a shout of antibiotics.  Unfortunately, two things prohibit this for me -

1: I'm allergic to pretty much all of the effective antibiotics

2: I'd just as soon not have my throat swell shut and die.

I ended up having to spend three weeks taking seventeen lesser antibiotics every single friggin' day - by the end of which I was actively hoping to be killed by falling airplane waste.

So as you might imagine, I was less than thrilled to discover recently that chronic stomach issues might be a recurrence of the same thing.*

*The other options are Ulcer, Gall Bladder failure, and imminent Alien protrusion.  It's a crap shoot at this point.

First they sent me in for an ultrasound, which appears to have eliminated both gall bladder and Alien (although not definitively). To determine the presence of H. Pylori required some labwork. Which meant delivering unto them a sample.  Of poo.

Friends, there is no casual way to hand a stranger a small vile of your own poo.

It simply cannot be done.

Even amongst the closet of friends such an exchange can be difficult. For example, apparently such a thing is not an appropriate Christmas gift...

Here then, because I am super helpful, are some suggestions for making your poo handoff come out just a little more smoothly.

-The 'Drop and Run'.
A variation of 'Look, what's that on fire over there', followed by dropping your kids off at the pool and running for dear life - the most crucial part of successfully achieving this one is to have your sample clearly labelled.  Otherwise you don't get any credit for it and end up having to do the whole thing overt again.

-The 'High Five'
What clinic receptionist wouldn't be pleasantly surprised to get a perky morning High Five?  Sure, He (or she) might be a little disconcerted by discovering a sample of fecal matter left in their hand afterwards, but I bet they'd be so amused by the whole thing that they'd totally just laugh it off. 

For bonus points you could try the 'Up High. Down Low. Straight Through. Here's Poo'

-The 'Really Cool Bartender'
This requires that the receptionist has a really log (and relatively slick) counter and that they are sitting at one end of it.  Careful not to overshoot, or you'll again have to start over. The bonus part however is that if you pull it off correctly you never have to get particularly close to them, and how often can you say that about someone holding your feces?

-The 'Owning It'
 Walk in and calmly announce in a loud and confident voice, 'I am here to drop off a sample of my own feces. Which I have personally collected within the requested time frame and secured in the provided container. Take my feces, and do what tests you will. For I am comfortable with this, our interaction.'

That look she will give you?  That look is respect.

You're Welcome.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Suicide - 1 A.D.

I should stress at the outset - This is in no way a cry for help, I'm not particularly depressed*, and there's absolutely no reason for anyone to see this column as a cause for concern.  No, you may not have my record collection.  Just wanted to make that perfectly clear before we begin.

*Although I would not turn down a cookie. 

Almost exactly a year ago a good friend of mine killed himself.

It still feels weird typing that, although the whole thing has reached that curious level of simultaneously feeling like it only happened a day or so ago and no longer being able to remember a time before it happened.

I don't think, generally speaking, that any of our mutual friends were aware that we were particularly close. Most of our conversation was done through texting since we were rarely in the same place at the same time. That said, we chatted via text most days.  About a lot of serious stuff. At the time he died he probably knew more personal information about me than anyone else on the planet. I like to think that I'd had the same level of confidence from him, but I couldn't say for sure.

Something strange happened after he died. While he was alive I never gave a thought as to whether or not anyone else knew that we were as good of friends as we were. It just never crossed my mind. After he shot himself I realized I was developing a strange resentment of how no one knew. Our friendship had always been in Stealth Mode, and now that it was gone I became obsessed with the fact that no one had known about it. I had a recurring urge to try to force the fact into any conversation I could.  (I think I managed to resist the urge most of the time, although probably not as well as I'd like to tell myself.)

Without sugar-coating it, I had a strong drive to try to make his death about me.*

*I'm making a concerted effort to not delete that sentence, as it's not a comfortable thing to admit to myself. I suspect that it's probably a pretty normal response to the situation, psychologically speaking. Normally I would ask my friend Carol, who's a trained psychologist. Or psychiatrist. Now I think about it I'm not actually sure which. I'd like to be able to ask her that as well. Unfortunately, that's not possible.

Carol died of her cancer a few days ago.

As I posted to my Facebook wall (how did we do public grief before the internet? Does anyone even remember?) I had a similar feeling.  I posted something along the lines of 'My friend has passed away from cancer', and moments after posting it I thought to myself, 'What are you doing?  You're Facebook friends with her husband.  He'll see that.  This is his loss, don't try to make it about you.'

I think at the end of the day that the problem is just that we as a culture (generally) and I as a person (specifically) just don't handle death particularly well.  We lack the vocabulary to talk about it openly, and so it turns into a non stop game of 'Is it OK for me to be feeling this about that.'  Meanwhile, Reality TV has spawned an entire sub-culture of people who do take every situation and make it entirely about themselves, and for god sake we don't want to be like them.

So what is that? What do we do about it? Why can't we just say, 'Dave was my friend. Carol was my friend. And it super sucks for me that they're gone.'  Sure, It also sucks for other people. It sucks more for some other people. That doesn't make it suck less for me.

Maybe at the end of the day, all we really want is some sort of affirmation that even though our friend is gone, our friendship with them still mattered. Regardless of who did or didn't know about it at the time.

And here's a cute video of penguins who love each other having adventures, because Carol would have liked it and I could use such a thing right now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Too Hot for Science Friday

I was listening to public radio on my drive in to work the other day (Pretentious Dog Alert) and happened to catch a regular feature they do called 'Science Friday'*

*Because it's on Fridays.  And about science.  It's hosted by Ira Flatow, who once upon a time hosted the TV show Newton's Apple. This is mostly notable because it was given a shout out on an episode of Archer, which means that Ira is officially cooler than you or me.

There were a few stories being discussed on this particular day.  The first of them was a little piece about medical problems in the Koala population in Australia.  Specifically; research has determined that over 50% of the Koalas in Australia have Chlamydia.

Feel free to take a moment at this point to say to yourself, 'What the HELL is going on in Australia??'

Now, Ira went on the specify that this is not the same strain of Chlamydia that humans are capable of getting, but it does still reinforce the need to discuss past partners every time you want to get intimate with a koala.  It also explains the Australian folk saying, 'Hey, get your whore Koala off of my lawn!'

Tomorrow:  Science Friday Continues