Specimen time…again

One of my foster daughters came to me with GI problems. From constipation to stomach aches, the poor little one has always manifested stress through her GI tract and is constantly saying, “My tummy hurts.” She tested positive for H. pylori, the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers, and we did the massive rounds of meds that supposedly killed it all.

Lately, however, she has complained of stomach aches around the clock and also has had bad breath, so I wanted the pediatrician to rule out anything new or obvious. We have tried dairy free with not much change, so today the dr. decided to order a second H. pylori test just to be on the safe side.

Since a stool specimen can’t fall into the water, I did the Saran Wrap under the toilet seat thing so we could catch it. She told me she needed to go on the same day we got the doctor’s order, and I was thrilled because last time it took us about a week before we could get a specimen. Problem is, I got distracted by a two year old who needed a diaper change so I left the bathroom. Next thing I knew, one of my kids was hollering, “Mom, she got the poop sample herself!! With her bare hands!!”

Sure enough, she brought it to me proudly in the specimen container. When I asked her how she got it, she said, “I just picked it up!” Horrified, I ran her back to the bathroom to scrub her hands, all while wishing that autoclaving hands was an option!

Next problem was that stool samples for H. pylori have to be frozen. The pediatrician never told me that. I discovered it the hard way last year when they rejected her first sample. So, not wanting to be rejected again, I promptly put it in the freezer until we could leave in an hour for the lab. Yes, if you truly cannot believe your eyes, that indeed is a photo of my foster daughter’s specimen. Right there next to the frozen carrots! I spared you the graphic details of what it really looked like because the cup frosted over! You can thank me for the blurriness of my cell phone camera later.

Time to head to the lab so I dutifully packed the specimen bag on ice. Grandiose thoughts of being a flight nurse transporting a life-saving heart transplant crossed my mind, but then I remembered that what was packed inside that ice was one of the reasons I didn’t stay in the nursing field longer. Buckled all the little ones into their car seats and drove out to the lab only to find that it closed at 4 p.m. It was now 4:15.

So, time to head back home and put it back into my freezer for the night until we could get it to the lab the next day. Don’t say you haven’t had fair warning should you ever come to my house and look for a snack in my fridge or freezer. Honey, that ain’t no Häagen Daz.

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