Sometimes Life is Funny – Just Laugh at It

It is important to just laugh at the situation and move on.

This is a story about poop, Parkinson’s disease and mental confusion so if that happens to disgust you gentle reader, read no further.

A couple years ago when when my wife of fifty plus years realized that her disease was worsening became very interested in doing anything that was possible to help with finding a cure or at least helping with research that could mitigate others’ suffering. Rather than give in and give up, she started her own support group in our church to provide a forum for information exchange. She volunteered to be a part of a research program conducted by her team of doctors at UC Health. She wants me to figure out how to send her brain to UC for research and analysis when she dies. She has thrown her confused self headlong into the Sunflower Rev It Up for Parkinson’s annual fund raiser for UC research into causes and cures for Parkinson’s disease.

Team Smile – Whoopadiddee

Her attitude generally is – prayer is a wonderful thing but God helps those who help themselves. Get out of your chair and do something! I love her.

Poop is part of this story. The research study is mental, physical and medical. Each session involves the trump mental agility test otherwise known as the MoCA. (The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) — a widely used screening assessment for detecting cognitive impairment. It was created in 1996 by Ziad Nasreddine in Montreal, Quebec. It was validated in the setting of mild cognitive impairment, and has subsequently been adopted in numerous other settings clinically.) In addition to the MoCA there is a long series of questions and the clinician interviews her about her current symptoms. Everything is recorded in a database.

Physically motion sensors are strapped to her wrists, feet, chest and hips. The research clinician has her do several specific motions. The time of her last dose of medication is recorded. Walks up and down a long hallway and a computer captures her motions. She is given a smartphone with a special App to record her motions for twenty-four hours. Cynthia, the clinician, instructs me on how to start the special sleep mode app for recording her while sleeping.

Medically; blood, urine and fecal samples are collected. There is a growing body of research that connects PD to activity in the gut. During the walk around testing Cheryl needed to use the ladies room, so the urine sample was collected at that time. Cheryl finished up with the interviewing and testing and walking. The clinician asked if we (she directed this at me) were able to do the fecal sample. I replied, “Sure” with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. Cheryl had her smartphone collecting data in her pocket and her smartwatch on her wrist sending the data. We headed downstairs to draw blood. After the blood was drawn we headed home with our bag of stuff that we would return in the next couple days after the poop presented itself.

About poop; constipation is, in addition to a problem with those who do not eat enough plant material and soluble fiber, a common dilemma with Parkinson’s patients. Once a PD sufferer has a completely backed up system other problems arise. The most common is nausea for severe constipation. Simply being uninterested in food and eating very little is also common. Many cannot discuss poop without giggling. Go ahead, we do.

A week previous to this I traveled to California to visit with my sister and see my nephew get wedded to his girl friend and fiance of four years. During this trip my daughter stayed with her mom and on the second night Cheryl had a severe bought of nausea that caused my daughter and son to take Cheryl to the hospital to find a solution. Zofran did the trick and in the meantime the hospital did a CT scan of Cheryl’s abdomen. The report itself is a marvel of information that boils down to — my spouse was full of crap. Much more crap than should have been there. (Stop laughing.)

Sadly the hospital did not give this information to either my wife or daughter. No recommendation for a laxative was given. Cheryl was given a script for 4mg of Zofran ODT. Her neurologist has a word he uses for situations like this – odd. She had a prescription for 8mg of Zofran already. It was not for the oral dissolving tablet.

I convinced Cheryl that she should start with a laxative the day following my return and after I had read all the information from the late night hospital trip. After the second day the laxative was working. Never in my wildest dream as a new husband did I ever think I would be concerned with my wife’s poop fifty years later.

I wanted to go ride my bike the day following the research study trip. I had been hanging out waiting for the laxative to work and collect the poop for the betterment of mankind when I asked my wife if she thought that was going to happen. She said, “No. Probably not for a while.” I had explained that if poop came just don’t flush I will get to it when I get home.

I decided to go ride my my bike for a little exercise. So I did and poop came.

Confusion and excitement ensued when I was not there to consult about what to do with the poop. I think Cheryl became confused and remembered that I had said, “Don’t flush.” Sometimes, however, she sees small children and she was worried that they would steal the poop or flush the poop or just simply mess with it somehow. She did not call me but she did call our daughter who quickly assessed that Cheryl was confused. Cheryl wondered if she should call the hospital to find out what needed to be done with the poop. Our daughter assured her mother that it would be okay. She should close the toilet lid and put something on top so that the kids could not get in and the poop could not get out. When Cheryl seemed okay with that Anna called me and told me all about the poop emergency.

We laughed a bit over the phone about the situation and she hung up so that I could call Cheryl. That took two or three tries before the cellphone connected to my car and we chatted about poop for a while. Ten minutes later I collected the fecal sample in the kit. Cheryl stood nearby because she wanted to know what to do with it next time. It being the poop.

We had a good laugh afterward. I have laughed with my daughter about it also.

In the end all was well. The poop was collected and sampled not messed with or stolen. Mankind will be saved.

Crisis averted.