Attentive readers may recall that some weeks (ok, months) ago I made mention of the fact that my nation's government had done its best to cheer me up after my fiftieth birthday by sending me a bowel cancer testing kit. Initially I treated it the same way as I treat all unsolicited correspondence from helpful flyers from my local real estate agent informing me how much my property might be worth if I would only stop living there to court summonses. I ignored it.
However I recently played a game of soccer at lunch time and the sheer pain and physical incapacity that resulted from twenty five odd minutes (and some of them were very odd) ambling about a soccer field were an unpleasant reminder of my own mortality and general level of decrepitude. I fumbled about in the piles of dust choked paper that I'm pleased to call a filing system (and others are pleased to call a fire hazard) and dug out the testing kit to see if it might help me eke out a few more miserable years of existence.
I'm not entirely sure what I expected but possibly something akin to a do it yourself proctology kit. I had vague visions of extendable probes, mirrors on sticks and possibly a jar of lubricating jelly. This is the first time I've had such visions in a medical context. The reality was slightly disappointing (and much less fun). I was provided with a sort of mesh net (think of it as a sort of turd trampoline), a couple of sample bottles and an invitation to crap my heart out. Two separate samples are required, the instructions assured me more than once that they only had to be tiny, and then you pop them in the envelope attached and drop them in the post.
The emphasis placed on the fact that the sample only needed to be small gave the distinct impression that they were used to receiving bags containing the entire contents of the testers bowels. I'm prepared to bet that opening the mail is a job they give to the work experience kid. I must admit that I was a little surprised at the post component. The last time I mailed my faeces anywhere I got a visit from the police and a restraining order. There was certainly no medical diagnosis (psychiatric evaluations don't count).
Still I have my instructions and all I have to do now is comply with them and diagnosis will apparently be on its way. Or will it? I can't help wondering if they're really going to inform you that you have cancer by mail. Would they really be that blunt? I suspect I'll get a letter if everything is all right. If not there will probably be a discreet invitation to visit my doctor for "further tests". He'll love that. Although I could be wrong, possibly I'll come home one day to find the government's "Prepare your own funeral" kit sitting on my doorstep. Which just leaves me with the question of what I'm going to do with this extendable probe and lubricating jelly.