In my last post, I said I was going to do some exposures that I would write about.
In that same post, I also wrote about some physical health issues I’ve been having.
This post is about an exposure, but not one I was planning when I wrote that post on Sunday.
And it involves those health issues.
I wasn’t going to write about this. It was too personal, I thought, and my readers might not like it.
But this blog is about my life with OCD and the accompanying issues. I decided to share this exposure because it was about real life issues.
When I saw my family doctor last Friday, she ordered blood tests, a urinalysis, and a stool sample.
That last one got me. I could feel my mouth draw up a bit. I thought, doesn’t she remember that I have OCD? I just told her I was having anxiety from starting cognitive behavioral therapy. And she asks for a stool sample?
The doctor, of course, was interested in finding out what was causing my stomach pain and problems that have been ongoing for a while. So she went on talking to me, continuing to tell me what the course of action would be. She said that the nurse would give me what I needed to take a stool sample to the lab.
After my appointment, I walked out to my car and sat there while I talked with my husband on the phone. Then I realized that the nurse hadn’t given me the stool sample kit.
I admit, I wanted to just forget it. I wanted to take that as a sign that I really didn’t need to do it. Obviously, it wasn’t that important if the nurse forgot to give it to me, right?
But my husband said I needed to go back and get it. He was right. And I did.
Back inside, as the nurse told me what to do, I again could feel my mouth turning up.
“I think I’ll just wait until after all the blood work results come in,” I said.
The doctor had told me it would take about two weeks, so I thought that was a safe reprieve. And—this was my really, really good reason for waiting—the blood work results might reveal something that could be taken care of and I wouldn’t even have to do the stool sample.
The nurse gave me a look. She was probably thinking that I was a very weird woman.
“OK,” she said. “But you need to call me and let me know when you’re going to do it so I can fax the orders to the lab.”
All weekend, I ate very carefully, wanting to get better quickly so, again, maybe the stool sample wouldn’t be needed.
The nurse called me yesterday and said my white cell count was elevated.
“When are you going to do the stool sample?” she asked.
I guess she had forgotten my “wait until all the blood work comes back” excuse. I decided that I would try to make myself look a little more compliant.
“I’ll wait until after the urinalysis comes back,” I said.
It was going to be another couple of days, so I could continue to avoid the problem. Avoidance can be so sweet.
The nurse called me today. The urinalysis was negative.
“Then what’s wrong with me?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “That’s why we want to test your stool.”
I asked her to fax the orders to the lab.
Then I agonized about what to do. With my bathroom and contamination issues, I knew it would be a nightmare.
And there was the logistics matter. I had to get the sample to the lab within the hour of producing it. The lab was a good 45 minutes away.
I just wanted to forget all about it.
But I went to the doctor in the first place to get help. If I wanted help, I needed to follow through. Was I going to let OCD stop me?
I decided very quickly that I had to do it. I wouldn’t think about it anymore. I finished up some work and then went home.
It was not easy. I pretty much freaked out at one point. I wanted to clean the bathroom from top to bottom. I wanted to take a shower.
I didn’t have time, though. I had to get the sample to the lab, or—horrors—I’d have to do it again.
I made it out of the house after washing my hands only twice. I was feeling anxiety at a scale of about 9 all the way to the lab.
I kept glancing at my car clock, calculating how much time I had left. I worried about possible detours, or doing something that would cause a state trooper to pull me over. That would delay me. Then I figured I would just wave the biohazard bag at him, and he’d let me go.
I finally arrived at the lab, in time, and hurried inside, eager to get rid of that bag.
Ah, but there was a problem.
The woman at the front desk looked through the paperwork and said they hadn’t received the orders. Then she didn’t say anything.
I internally freaked out again, thinking I’d have to do all of this again and come back.
“Can I still leave it?”
“Yes,” she said. “But make sure your name and date of birth are on the cup.”
“It is,” I said, pointing to the label on top.
“It has to be on the side of the cup,” she said, and handed me a marker.
So I had to take the cup out of the biohazard bag and write the required information on the side of the cup.
I doubt if the outside of the cup was contaminated, but I did not want to touch it again.
I followed her instructions and then used the hand sanitizer at the door to the lab. I hoped that since it was in a lab, it would be extra sanitizing.
I thought later that I should have just asked where the bathroom was so I could wash my hands there. Anxiety makes you forget vital things.
Back in my car, I could feel my anxiety going down. I had done it. The worst was over. I didn’t have to do anything else but wait for the results.
I’m very tired, but I’m glad I did it.