The Joy of Aging

This morning, I pooped in a box and mailed it to Madison, Wisconsin.

If you’d like to know why, read on. If you’re thinking, Ew, she said poop, I suggest you click away now.

I felt pretty confident going into my physical last month. I knew I’d be referred for a mammogram, but I got my first one last year and learned it wasn’t as big a deal as I’d feared. The next unpleasant scan I’d have to face – the dreaded colonoscopy – wouldn’t be an issue until I hit 50. Or so I believed.

My doctor ran through the regular rigamarole while I sat on the table in a stiff paper gown, swinging my legs without a care in the world. Then, to my horror, I heard the words: “Colon screenings are now recommended beginning at age 45.”

Wah.

All was not lost, however, as she went on to describe a possible alternative to the traditional colonoscopy: independently collecting a stool sample and sending it to a lab. Since that sounded way better than giving myself a bunch of enemas, then having a camera shoved up my butt (that is what happens, right?), I asked her to sign me up for the stool sample option.

The box arrived at my home yesterday. Inside, I found a few pieces of equipment and a 30-page booklet that should have been titled: “Poop Collection For Dummies.” The instructions included helpful hints like: “If you cannot remove the stick from the tube, pull harder,” and: “Do not drink the preservative liquid.” One page featured this lovely drawing and reassuring tip:

As I read the endless instructions, all I could think of was the fact that actual people doing actual things had led to the creation of this booklet. Someone made the decision to drink a bottle of preservative fluid that arrived in a box from a medical lab. Someone looked at their poop and thought, What the hell just came out of me?? It’s obviously not poop! It looks nothing like that drawing!

Somehow, I managed to get through the complicated set of tasks, sealed up the box, and drove on over to UPS to send it on its way. Happily, I was not asked what was in the box when I dropped it off, although I had an answer at the ready: “It is literally full of crap.”

Getting older is a mixed bag. I appreciate the increased sense of calm, awareness, and understanding. I’m far less stoked about getting my boobs squished into a machine by a stranger and having to poop in a box. But I suppose I should count my lucky stars. At least I’m not employed as a box opener at that lab in Wisconsin.