The Burden of Lab Work and Stool Samples

As a Crohn's patient on medications like Remicade and Azathioprine, my doctor asks that I get routine lab work done, usually every three months. I am an incredibly hard stick (I actually have a port to receive my Remicade infusions) and it often takes several tries and a lot of bleeding and then bruising for the nurse to fill one or two tubes.

Constant lab work with Crohn's or colitis

Listen. I understand the reasons we need to do this. It's the only way for our doctors to check on our levels, to see if our medication are working and our bodies are stable. But to me, it's still a burden, a difficult reminder of living with IBD.

Then there are the times that I don't feel well. I'll message my doctor with my latest symptoms, and I'll get the dreaded response – the doctor would like you to get lab work and stool testing and will get back to you upon return of results.

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I can never poop "on demand," which means I have to take the tubes, sample kit, and hat home with me in order to collect my specimen.

A stool test during Crohn's flare symptoms

This week, I had a new experience with a new doctor and a new laboratory. My doctor electronically sent in the orders for the blood work and the tests that needed to be done on the stools, and the lab had such a hard time finding everything, as if these tests were super uncommon. Then, they told me that they would not do the blood tests until I returned the stool tests.

... What?

I am an IBD patient showing flare-like symptoms, enough that my doctor is concerned enough to order tests, and you are specifically delaying the results of these tests? Not cool.

Stool tests are the worst lab work

I've written before about stool samples, and about how no matter where or how or when you collect them, to me it's one of the universally most mortifying moments of all time.

Again, I understand why my doctor is asking for them, especially since I've only seen him once before and I've been having liquid diarrhea multiple times a day.

Stool tests when you have liquid poop

What I wish, was that there was a way to poop directly into the tube. Or to have poop scooped out of you.

Both of those things would eliminate the mortifying moment of pooping into a plastic hat, and then using a popsicle stick to scoop up however much stool you can (this one is really tricky when it's all liquid) and place pieces of that poop in usually 2 or 3 different tubes, label the tubes, close the tubes as tight as possible, place them in a ziplock bag, close it, and then place that bag in a larger ziplock bag or Target bag and close that before placing your poop in the fridge for the several hours or a day or two and that it must be a visitor in the same place you store food.

Managing lab work with Crohn's and colitis

As I wait for my new lab to open so I can drop off last nights stool sample and finally get blood drawn, I'm sitting here thinking about all of you, my IBD pals. Does lab work and/or stool samples feel painful, burdensome, or mortifying to you?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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