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As a child, whenever I got sick, my mother wanted to check my BM. For those of you who don’t know what BM stands for, it is, appropriately, a Bowel Movement.

I was never quite clear what my mother saw in these BMs – I guess it was like reading the tea leaves or something.

I asked my mother about this one day. Actually it was in the elevator of the Copley Hotel in Boston – probably not the most appropriate place to ask such a question. But I had been on painkillers and hadn’t had a Bowel Movement in over five days so it was on my mind.

My mother did not recall ever doing this. It was funny – it didn’t matter what we were sick with. It wasn’t just for stomachaches – cold, flu, broken arm. “Don’t flush that toilet – I need to check your BM!” she used to say.

I am happy to report that I did not follow the tradition and check my children’s BMs when they were sick. But I have to say that there were times when I couldn’t imagine what caused the vile discharge in the diaper of my sweet, innocent, baby boy.

A few months ago, I stopped at McDonalds and got a sausage burrito. These are my go-to snack and I’ve had them before. This one, however, was not hot. It wasn’t exactly cold, but it certainly wasn’t hot. I should have either thrown it away or taken it back. But I was hungry and I was in a hurry so I ate it.

That was the beginning of one of the worst two-month intestinal issues that I ever had. I waited it out for a week or two and then headed to the doctor.

I figured that would need a stool sample so I collected a nice size sample in a disposable plastic container and put it in a paper bag. When I got to the doctor, I asked if they wanted the stool sample and they said yes. I said that I would get it out of my car, but she said that they just needed a very small amount and gave me one of those containers with the little tiny spoon that goes inside. Kind of like the ones that you get at Baskin Robbins when you ask for a sample of ice cream.

So here I am in the parking lot, opening my container of poop and spooning a little tiny sample in plastic container. Not a pretty site.

Turns out that I did not have a parasite and they weren’t quite sure what it was but it took three heavy duty rounds of antibiotics to make it go away.

Occasionally, I have to bring in stool aka fecal samples of my dog to the vet. Once again they give you the tiny container with the spoon in it. So you have to follow the dog, wait for it to poop, and then spoon some of said poop into container. All the time, hoping that your neighbors hope that you haven’t lost your mind and that you are just having a snack.

Collecting the poop is easy. Urine samples for a dog – not so much. That requires following the dog, waiting for it to squat, then trying to get a cup underneath before it finishes and not getting it all over your hand. Not an easy feat.

Cat samples are pretty easy – I just scoop it out of the litter box. Haven’t tried to get a urine sample from a cat.

A few weeks ago, my husband was very worried. He said that his stool was red and that his urine was also red. I reminded him that we had beets for dinner the night before.

My mother recently turned 96 and is in amazingly good health. But I imagine that there may come a time when I need to check her BM.