Last week, as part of my annual check-up, I had routine bloodwork done. I was also given “homework” in the form of a stool-sample kit, which tests for blood in your feces. If they find blood, it could mean you have colon cancer, which is highly treatable in its early stages, but frightfully deadly later on.
The stool-sample kit is ingenious. You lay a piece of thin paper on the surface of the water in your commode to create a temporary floating platform, “make your deposit” on it, then jab the top of the floating waste with a tool resembling a spiky plastic toothpick – twisting to ensure full coverage. Then you snap the befouled toothpick into a sterile plastic carrying case, wrap the case in a sliver of bubble wrap, and slide the whole thing into a padded, postage prepaid envelope addressed to the testing lab. Dump the envelope into the nearest mailbox, and it’s done.
Are we having fun yet? Surely not half as much fun as the lab technician whose job it is to unwrap and test those spiky sticks all day long.
Anyway, I dutifully completed the test, mailed it off, and totally forgot about the blood work and stool sample – until I went home after four days away and listened to the accumulated phone messages. There were four: one wrong number, and the next three, ominously, from my doctor’s office. All three merely recited that it was Dr. Gold’s office calling for Robert W. Smith, and asked that I give them a call. I’m not technically savvy, so I couldn’t figure out whether the messages had been left over three days, or three hours. Nonetheless, I was a bit alarmed that the doctor’s office was so anxious to reach me.