Friday, October 21, 2011

Georgia: A Story of Poo

When I thought of the things I'd be doing in Georgia, I thought of a lot of fun and interesting things.

Carrying a stool sample on a marshrutka, en route to the doctor's office, was not one of those things.

And yet there I was. 

A cold and rainy day. Plagued with diarrhea for the previous five days, now on the sixth.

On Wednesday, I finally went to the doctor's building to get things checked out.  

I often say there are no secrets in Georgia. This is especially true in Georgian medical facilities. Privacy? Confidentiality about medical matters in Georgia? [Insert laugh track here.]

No, two doctors share an office, their desks side-by-side. Patients describe their complaints simultaneously to their respective docs, while other patients sit on the examination table awaiting their turn.

So I did all that on Wednesday, describing my symptoms. The doctor eventually prescribed a bag o' drugs for me, and then asked if I wanted to bring in a stool sample the next day for testing. Yeah, I did, because I don't think I've ever been afflicted with diarrhea for so long, and I wanted to nail down the cause, if possible.

Nodding agreement, the doctor then gave me a specimen container.  Hahahahahaha! That's a complete lie! No, they don't have such things at this medical building. It would be up to me to figure something out.

I went home to my empathetic hostess, who, nevertheless, was confident that the nature of my problem was simply the "change in the weather." At this point, I was feeling a little exasperated with the firm beliefs, held by most Georgians, that the following cause illness:

  • Change in the weather
  • Drinking cold water in cold weather
  • Not wearing slippers in the house

I had a bit of a tantrum, pointing out the Missouri sometimes experiences HUGE swings in weather from one day to the next - FAR more volatile, in fact, than Georgian weather, thank you very much - and that, by God, Missourians could kick Georgians' asses any time of day from our hardiness, and that I have been around the block a few times, for Christ's sake, and I think ..... oh well, need I go on?

At any rate, Nely, who graciously remained unfazed, rooted around in her medical-supply drawer and pulled out a round-bottomed, unlidded, glass thingie. A pretty little thing. In the past, she used it for home-remedy "cupping" where you heat the glass then apply it to the sick one's back to create suction. She said this would make a good specimen container. I protested, saying it was really an antique and had value, but she shrugged and insisted that I use it. She boiled it in readiness for the big do the next morning.

[Note: Since we're talking about poo anyway .... When we were children, my siblings and I were taught to use the word "go-go" to indicate the need to use the toilet, as in, from parent: "Do you have to go-go?" Or from one of us, desperately: "I have to go-go!"  In Georgia, "gogo" means girl. Thank God my siblings are grown-ups now because if we weren't, we'd be giggling every time we heard the word. Though I think we brought one sibling to tears once when we called him "gogo-wicki" over and over and over again.]

So the next morning the specimen was captured and pretty well sealed and I carried it gingerly within my big festival bag and onto the marshrutka (with the plan to look meaningfully at a fellow passenger in the event an odor emanated in the van, hoping to deflect suspicion onto that innocent soul and away from me), then off the marshrutka and up to the doctor's office.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention that I'd forgotten that the container had that round bottom, so when I did the capture, I set it atop the toilet tank and .... oops. Fortunately circumstances were such that getting an additional specimen was not an issue.

Is all this TMI? Hell, don't blame me; you made the decision to read this far.  

So I carried my little specimen to the doctor and subsequently found myself, still carrying it, following a woman through the corridors of this building to the lab. Robust women populated the lab; none looked pleased at what I brought for their consideration and review. My escort, however, prevailed upon them to take it and do something with it. Based on the body language I observed, I'm guessing the conversation went something like this:

Lab woman: "What the hell are you bringing us here? We don't have time for this shit!"
My escort: "Yeah, I know, but this American woman, you know, we have to deal with her because she's part of that program the president has."
Lab woman: "I get so tired of this shit!"
My escort: "Yes, I know my darling, but you know what they say -- shit rolls downhill, so what can I do?"
Lab woman: "Goddammit! Give it to me, then, and get out of here. Jesus. Same old shit every day. My job is shit ... ."

So we left my specimen in the lab woman's capable (and ungloved) hands and returned to the doctor's office to await the results.

Word arrived that I had a lot of something or another in there. Next step - blood sample. Back to the lab. A woman (ungloved) pricked my finger, and then sucked up the rubber collection tube to allow more room for the blood to flow into it. She also smeared some blood on a glass slide, then put another atop it.

I went back to the doctor and she escorted me from one office to another, consulting with other doctors about my situation. Then we returned to her office, where she informed me that she wanted me to to the Infection Hospital for more testing. I'll cut through some of the attempted, aborted, language-barrier conversations to the point where Nana, my excellent TLG regional representative, arrived to translate and to escort me to the hospital.

We took a taxi, walked through mud to the rear entrance (hospital under renovation), wound through some corridors to an office with the infection expert, who asked me various questions, then palpated me, then ... ok I'm boring myself. Moving forward .... an employee delivered to me a sweet little glass jar with a glass stirrer, which she had poked through a hole in the paper-towel-like covering that was bound to the jar with sort of a blue ribbon. It was like a little gift package. In which I was to provide another specimen. Which I did.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon when results in. Anti-climactic. Everything normal.

Not sure what did the trick, but by Sunday, things were fine. It could have been any of the following: 
  • Time
  • Salt mixed with chacha (which does not taste good, btw)
  • The various "enzyme" drugs I took
Ah well, as long as things turned out in the end.

No comments: