Sometimes we have to make sacrifices for science. One brave student speaks out about their personal journey.
For the past three months, extended periods of time spent outside the vicinity of a (crucially, regularly cleaned) toilet have proved a challenge to my continence. What started out as a pleasant, even relaxing procrastination habit has continued and progressed, and I now fear the hours in the upper Rad Cam, when a dash to the bog if poorly-timed can cost you your underwear. Or your desk space.
Yep – I cannot stop shitting.
It began with tri-daily trips to deposit happy type 4’s on my throne in staircase 4 (everyone has a favourite College crapper right?!). For those of you unfamiliar with the Bristol Stool Chart, the Richter scale of defecation, 4 is smooth and perfect, every scat-lover’s dream, while 1 is like rabbit droppings, and 7 is entirely liquid. Like a seismometer on a Space Shuttle, I left 4 behind long ago and have oscillated between the two extremes for most of Hilary.
“Do you have irritable bowel syndrome?” asked the advert looking for participants for some endoscope-laden study. I bloody well could have, but before agreeing to prostitute my large intestine for modern science, I headed for the GP. Returning home with three pots to poo in, I struggled to get my head round the practicalities of the task with which I was presented. How do you get the poo in the pot? Do you piss before or after, or even risk going during the act of privy-mounted acrobatics? The plastic jars were simply too small to aim directly into, but the faecal sample couldn’t touch the ceramics of the toilet. Crisis.
There was only one solution. After urinating, and having opened the pots in preparation, I unfolded this week’s OxStu onto the toilet, attempted to squat, and shat on Carolina Bax’s article Collections, what’s the point? (sorry Carolina). Scoop, screw, wipe, finished. In transparent path lab bags in front of me were three pots of fresh faeces.
Only once they were quadruple-bagged and camouflaged behind a Sainsbury’s logo did I dare leave the safe confines of College and head to the GP, jumping red lights and pedestrian crossings to minimise all chances of bumping into my tutor or estranged ex. Safely at the surgery, my bundles of joy joined the other samples to head up to the John Radcliffe, where some poor soul will spend a morning staring down a microscope at them. I hope it’s worth it.