People often come to the ER if they see, or think they see, blood in their stool after a bowel movement.
They are most afraid they have cancer or some other terrible disease. So, it's not uncommon to have to do a rectal exam on people almost every shift I work. I'm always amazed when people start acting all weird about this exam. "Oh my! This is embarrassing! I wish I didn't have to have this done!" All the while I'm thinking to myself, "You know, when I woke up this morning I was hoping I was going to get to stick my finger in someone's butt-hole!" This isn't exactly the high-light of my day either, I assure you.
It's late morning. I go see a middle-aged professional man dressed in a nice blue business suit.
"How can I help you today?", I said.
"Well, I went to use the bathroom this morning and I noticed blood in the stool." , he said.
He proceeds to describe to me in much too much detail the caliber of the stool, the amount of blood, the color of the blood, etc. What happened next was the big surprise. He opens his briefcase and pulls out a Zip-lok plastic bag which appeared to contain a rather decent sized turd! I could not believe this. All I could think to myself was that this man was at a business meeting this morning with a plastic bag of shit in his briefcase! I wonder if he would have sealed-the-deal or acquired the new account, if those in the meeting with him new what a little treat he had in his suitcase. They probably thought to themselves, "Does this contract smell a little funny?" or "There seems to be a brown smudge on your draft proposal. Must be something wrong with your copier. Maybe it needs a new toner cartridge."
So he hands me his bag of excrement for me to examine. I obviously did not want to do this, but he seemed eager and proud, so I obliged his request. As I began to take a closer look at his goodie bag, I noticed he appeared to be getting plenty of fiber! I also noticed what looked like several watermelon seeds along with streaks of red. The red appeared to be the pulp of the watermelon. I also noticed many kernels of corn. "You must have been at a picnic or a cookout?" "I was. How did you know that?", he asked. I described how I came to the conclusion by the contents of his plastic bag. Now I'm a forensic stool examiner I think to myself. I did a chemical test on the stool called hemoccult which tests for blood. The test was negative, no blood. As it turned out, the red he was noticing was the undigested pulp of all the watermelon he had recently eaten.
He was very relieved to hear the good news that he didn't have cancer or some other terrible illness. I think maybe he was a little embarrassed, as well.
And for me..... It was just another day in the ER!