Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mystery Meat

When the infectious disease docs come into our office grinning and holding a jar we know we are in for a treat.

One of my favorite ID guys came down a few days ago with a small mayonnaise jar that his patient had handed him with the comment: "I picked this out of my husband's poop". Now that's a good wife.

Inside the jar was a long white stringy thing, about 20 centimeters, that looked as if it had - how to put this - been living in someone's colon for a few days. It was sort of semi-digested and had a few tidbits attached. And, no, I didn't see any kernels of corn.

Poop is a funny thing. We are, by nature, a curious species. Come on. Admit it. We have all have 'looked back' to see what's there after an epic battle. I, myself, have had to call in friends to witness some inhuman turds after a night at the Sizzler. Some gems (not mine) can be found at

I strongly recommend that you do not link to this site if you plan on eating for the next few days.

Now, doctors deal with feces all the time. I mean, it comes from the human body so it's beautiful, right? Uh... wrong. Shit is gross. That's why it's called shit. Now, thanks to wife / turd-diver, I've gotta figure out what's been up this guy's ass. Thanks alot.

Worms DO come out of people's asses. Pinworm is fairly common, but it's small. For a spaghetti-length thing like this you've gotta consider Ascaris (see photo above - no that's not pasta).

The thing was pretty digested so it was hard to tell what it was grossly, so we put through a few sections to look at under the microscope.

The sections that came out showed no internal structure to indicate a parasite. But there was some (partially digested) skeletal muscle attached to the outside. A diagnosis was rendered.

I wonder what the conversation will be like?

ID doc: Ma'am, your husband likely ate a 22 oz porterhouse and you plucked a cow's tendon from his stool. I recommend a vegan diet and a hobby aside from playing with his shit.

Wife: Thank you doctor! May I have it back for my collection?

ID doc: Please leave before I vomit.


  1. This really is a great site I'm going to be visiting often. Also I've added you to my blog list.
    Please add me to your blog list. Thanks alot
    New Conservative

  2. Nice E. Too funny. I'm always scared my kids will pick up worms from being dirty outside, but so far no butt scratching. And I'm not digging through their poop.

    Dude, I totally knew those were ascaris. We had to dissect one in my vert/invert anatomy class back in my college days. They were stored in formaldehyde but they had us double glove in nitrol gloves anyway just in case. Apparently those metacircariae can survive just about anything.

    So do ya have any cool entomological stories? No bott flies, blow flies, or anything? Not interested in pubic lice or head lice. How bout chagus, or filariasis? Did you know they have chagus bugs in the US, they just haven't found the trypanasome in any of them yet...

    My brother in law pulled a bott or blow fly larvae from his friend's arm after a trip to either mexico or belieze. He also caught Strep pyogenes while in Mexico traveling with a Mexican circus. He was staying at our house and the doc he saw a couple of states over called my house in a total panic insisting that he be sure to take his antibiotics. Meanwhile, we scrubbed down the casa with bleach.

  3. (see photo above - no that's not pasta).
    THAT is just fucking gross. I give up all aspirations of being a doc. I'm firing my main characters in my book. They will now be sideshow carny's and smoke tarragon cigarettes.

  4. I just read this post to my new husband, as we're on our way to the airport in Seatle. He assures me that I will never be asked to look at his poop. I was terrified that I'd made a horrifying lip reading mistake and missed this part of the wedding vows.

  5. amy: sift through past posts... plenty of gross bug stories and more to come. have had a few botfly larva. filariasis and chagas too. wait for future posts...

    Lynn: do you kiss you mother with that mouth? Just imagine it with a marinara sauce. Problem solved.

  6. This is really gross and now I can't wait to read the rest of the blog.

  7. Sorry, I realized I spelled "chagas" as "chagus" silly me. I really need some sleep.

  8. well I thought " how cute, a bowl of noodles. " surprise... it was real! Gross.
    Enjoyed the well written blog again.

  9. Hehe.. ascaris lumbricoides disguised as pasta. Sheer evil. Great work!

    I came across your blog a few days back and I absolutely loved it!

    If you thought this post was good.. you're gonna absolutely LOVE this one!

    Aptly titled.. Invasion of the Bodysnatchers!

  10. the ponderings of poop, I love it! One of the funniest posts of any blog I've read for a long time. Shit is not only gross it's hilarious.

  11. congratulations for being selected in blog of note

  12. Blast!! You're stealing the thunder from my Upcoming "Mad Shitter" post. But I'm confused, You said its NOT a parasite. Even at Western Sizzlin we ground up the tendons and used them for the chopped steak.

  13. I grew up with two sisters studying zoology and bio-sciences and dinner table conversations often revolved around parasites and organ meat. As in: "This turkey would not have lived anyway - look at that liver!" and then they fork it out of the broth pot with a pickle fork and eat it.

    I am going to put you in my blog list - feel free to reciprocate if you would like:

  14. Well there you have it. Poop is always a good topic. Like many others have commented, I look forward to reading your blog from now on.

  15. Lynn: do you kiss you mother with that mouth? Just imagine it with a marinara sauce. Problem solved.

    Etotheipi, why do insist on tormenting me like this? You know you'd win any gross-out contest. But I can have the last revenge and make you a character in my book. Lessee...should you be a med student who's intent on digging out bot fly larvae? Or a shaman? Yes! By golly, a shaman!

  16. Now there was a cow that truly gave its all! I wonder it there was a surcharge on the price of the steak...

  17. THIS WAS HILARIOUS!!! I will definitely check this blog out more often. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us..LOL! :)

  18. Nice!!! Ya'll are a blog of note :) That's gonna do way more for your count than Deborah Peel and NPR combined!

  19. Hey Old Fart, I just read your update on the top. Still praying for you. Give 'em hell. When you stop fighting we start worrying.

  20. i love this blog! the whole thing is like a horrible accident where if u look on you'll be scarred for life but you just cant help it! im definitely clicking on more often! =)

  21. I'm addicted to your blog. I can't help it.


    Dr, please prescribe more...more...more....

  22. I really did think that was pasta. I saw it and thought "oh, that looks good". :D

    Really funny post. Everybody loves reading about poop.

  23. Yeah, vegetarianism would solve that problem. My husband says, though, that he only eats cows that died of natural causes, and that the cow lives on through him, sort of like a liver transplant. Right.

  24. Ah but Devorrah, you can actually get parasitic infections from improperly cleaned produce.

    No one is safe.

  25. I love it when they bring in a jar of some bodily fluid or excrement. It's just like Christmas, you never know what you are going to get when you open it up. It amazes me that they think I can get it to the lab to let Sam analyze it.

  26. sam was the brains of that operation.

  27. I liked reading this one. Just because i work in a vet hospital, and i see this all the time, not from humans of course. You do point out some very obvious and rather interesting points, as to the fact that we are curious creatures. Its always very strange and uncomfortable for someone else to point out the quite obvious; but like i said you do it in a very humerous way. i enjoyed it.

  28. Ascaris.... Just fucking awesome... Doesn't get much gnarlier than that, I don't think. Unless you come upon trachina - that's almost as bad....

  29. OMG tht woman realy does need a hobby. Very funny do you guys handle such overeager patients?

  30. This was completely hilarious! I am a nurse, so I get the joy of overanxious patients, parents and family members. I could relate to this. But the day an ID doc comes to me with a mayonaise jar I am running. LOL

  31. Oh shit ... did I say "shit" ... when I got to the part when you said "no that's not pasta", I felt a little bile in my throat. Oh yeah, docs probably deal with that, too :)

    Man oh man, your blog is abso-fucking-lutely fascinating, to coin the imitable Mr. Big.

    Torn between laughing my ass off and feeling a little sick :)

  32. Dr Etotheipi,

    I sent this in via e-mail a week or so ago, and 911doc said to post the question in the form of a comment (Blog Jeopardy, anyone?), so here goes:

    I have a perhaps odd, perhaps not, question. Back in October 2007 my father in law died. He was a 76 year old rather overweight white male. He died at home, in bed, while sleeping next to my mother in law. An autopsy was not performed (I presume - the "autopsy authorized by" entry on the death certificate has the "no" box checked). The certificate lists myocardial infarction as the cause, with hypertension and chronic renal failure as other significant conditions. Absent an autopsy, how certain is it that MI was the cause of death? I'm just curious (perhaps morbidly so) if this is one of those situations where you can look at a person's weight, general physical condition, and medical history and say with reasonable certainty "Yep, it's an MI, dollars to donuts."

  33. Bob -
    there is no ABSOLUTE way to know if it was an MI without an autopgy showing heart muscle damage... that said, if he had blood work with an elevated troponin, or a strong history of coronary disease then MI is a very good bet. without ANY history they are still probably right but can't be sure (an MI in a guy with hypertension / renal disease is probably at the top of the list for sudden death). Could he have had an intracranial bleed or pulmonary embolus? Sure...

    If curious you can probably get hospital records and see if he had blood drawn.
    best, etothepi