Saturday, September 24, 2011

TMI - Colonoscopy**

**You were warned!

At least 20 years ago, my oldest son had an emergency appendectomy.  They used the latest technology which allowed them to hand me a video of the whole procedure, as they wheeled my poor baby into recovery.  It showed the entire 15 minute laproscopic surgery, which included a highly dramatic appendix explosion just seconds after it was contained in the bag attached to one of the camera's appendages.  I was strangely fascinated with watching my young son's innards swim past the lens.  That's just not something you see every day!  So when it came time for me to schedule my dreaded colonoscopy, I actually found myself hoping that there would be an opportunity to get a video of my innards too - how fun would that be?  The prep, however, took a lot of the fun out of the situation.

My instructions were clear, if not a little unnerving - "Two days before your colonoscopy, you must start on the prep regimen, and follow a low fiber diet. One day before, a no fiber/clear liquid diet..." 

Wait just a doggone minute!  I've always been under the impression that if you want to "clean yourself out" you need to eat things that are high in fiber.  

Well, that's true if you're trying to maintain an equilibrium in your colon.  To achieve the total clean out in the shortest amount of time, what they actually mean by low fiber is what leaves the least residue.  After having gone through this clean out, I'm sorry to tell you that high fiber foods lead to what I can only call sediment, what flushes out last, in the wake of the prescription drink that empties you prior to the procedure.  What you're aiming for is ease of, and lowest acidic content, for the evacuation.

**Seriously, I warned you. 

This prescription drink I speak of is ironically named Golytely.  When I first looked at the label I would have thought it was pronounced Go-lee-tell-ee.  I would have been wrong.  When the Endoscopy nurse called me to go over the instructions, she pronounced it Go-lightly. Which is perhaps the most misleading name ever.  The Go part is accurate, the lightly part?  Not so much.   

The instructions are really specific about the timing of the prep phase, based on the time of your scheduled procedure.  Mine was at 8am the next morning, so I was supposed to start drinking one half gallon of the Golytely at a rate of 8 oz every ten minutes, at 4pm, then the second half gallon at 2am.

I poured the whole manila envelope full of powder into an empty gallon jug, filled the jug with water, then proceeded to drink half of it, 8 ounces at a time.  I was almost pleasantly surprised at the taste which, initially, was similar to a combination of Gatorade and a very dirty martini.  About a quarter of the way through the drinking process I was able to imagine I was chugging three martinis.  However, very soon into the next 8 ounces, the glitter had started to rub off of that fantasy.  

The instructions were clear, you must drink the prescribed amount at the prescribed rate.  Why?  Because, as they ominously forewarned, after drinking the solution, a loose watery bowel movement should result in approximately one hour.  They are not kidding.  I won't go into great detail, since Dave Barry has already done so, much more hilariously than I ever could in his own colonoscopy story.

Suffice it to say that I got through the first half gallon, and it had the anticipated outcome.  Pun intended. I was supposed to drink the other half gallon of Golytely at 1am, so I set my alarm.  Turns out there was no need for an additional alarm, the urgent need to run to the bathroom every 5 minutes kept me from sleeping at all.  I seriously wondered what was left to evacuate once I finished my second round of guzzling dirty martinis.  Turns out there wasn't much, except the aforementioned sediment, 
and a few fingernails, oh and the bubble gum I swallowed in 7th grade.

8am arrived pretty quickly after that.  I still hadn't slept much, so I looked forward, perhaps a little too eagerly to the sedation drugs.  It wasn't that I was worried so much about any pain, it was the paralyzing fear of being well, you know, ...invaded!  I know I must have asked way too many times to make sure they got enough drugs in me.  Even more so when they flipped on the viewer, and I got a lovely close up view of the doctor's smock pocket, which then reminded me that I needed to ask for a copy of the video.  

This is where the sedation drugs took hold.  The next thing I remember was waking up, not feeling violated, and actually feeling pretty high, in a good way.  I don't recall actually getting dressed, but amazingly, the next thing I clearly remember is wearing my regular clothes, sitting in a room with Downtown Dad and someone who was telling me that they had found and removed one polyp, and that I would have some gas, but to be sure to fart.  I wanted to laugh at the word polyp and the fact that he said fart, and I wanted to remember to ask for the video.  I apparently did none of the above.  

I drifted in and out of the rest of that day, and I seriously have to agree with everyone who'd had one before, and told me it was a "piece of cake."  It was literally painless, with the added benefit of a rapid cleanse, and a whole day of relaxation. Some people pay good money at a spa for the same thing, and it's not covered by insurance.  Nor, do I expect that there would be any polyp removals at a spa.  I couldn't help wishing though, that I'd actually asked for a video.

A few days later, a 5 page report came in the mail from the Endoscopy department.  They'd received the pathology back on the removed polyp, and they were glad to inform me it was benign.  Whew.  I flipped the page over and there was the procedure report... complete with pictures of my colon! Everything was pink and shiny, and healthy looking, even that dern little polyp. Now that's something you don't see every day!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Begin With The End in Mind - Part 1

I decided at my last doctor's appointment to agree to a barrage of tests.  Not only the normal ones that occur annually, but also the ones you dread   invasive  ones that are necessary  for old people  as one ages.  Sure, the ultimate reason for this is to assure I'm not carrying any life threatening, or communicable diseases.  But as the list grew longer, I started to see the potential humor in experiencing some of this first hand.

I had just started with a new doctor, who, I began to notice, had a healthy, if not unnervingly gleeful curiosity about  human medical experimentation  fixing what ailed me. And as I got to the end of my list (yes, I made a list) I realized there is plenty that ails me.  She made a few concerned doctor noises, scribbled some notes, looked some things up in a much-dogeared manual, scrutinized me over the top of her glasses, made some more concerned doctor noises, and scribbled some more notes.

Ultimately, she told me that 7 vials of blood needed to be drawn to test for everything from adrenal fatigue, to rickets.  4 vials of saliva needed to be collected in order to renew my hormone replacement therapy.  I'd need a full physical, a mammogram, oh, and a colonoscopy. All of which came with varying degrees of what I could and couldn't  shoot up  smoke  eat, or drink, and when.

Great.  We all know what happens when I modify my diet in any way... my whole office, concerned for my well being of course, demands to know the reason why.  So, I figured since I'd be sharing the intimate details about my bodily fluid collection, and the exploration of my inner recesses with them, I might as well share those details here with the whole world!

Now, despite a couple of large bruises that formed on my inner arms where the blood was drawn, I really had little to talk about for the first couple weeks in September. And really, you can complain about inconvenience, or pain all you want, but there's no one that actually wants to talk about spitting into a tube, or getting your boobs squished.  It's not sexy, and it's not funny.

But, (pun intended) then the time drew near for the dreaded colonoscopy.  You'd be surprised at what a bonding opportunity that turned out to be.  It's like childbirth, every one who's had one has a story. Even relative strangers, once they know you're going to become "one of the club," feel like they can share the details of their personal experience.

And, when you think about it, I mean if you're healthy, there's nothing that's NOT funny about a colonoscopy.  Seriously, first, there's the fourth grade butt and poop humor that just never stops coming... it just cracks me up... I started to write them all down, but I got a little behind... don't worry, I'm not offended if you don't laugh, I'll just turn the other cheek...


OK, enough jokes, that's the end.  OK, since I mentioned end, one more thing... the whole department that performs these tests - it's name... Endoscopy?! Sure, they put the emphasis on the the do, instead of end, but you've gotta admit, even though the word is derived from the Greek "endon" meaning "within"... I mean, c'mon... End?  


As I was writing this, knowing I would be talking about personal things, I got out my thesaurus to look up alternate options for the word intimate, since it seemed to be popping up frequently.  Even that list of words started to make me giggle... 

Main Entry:     intimate
Part of Speech:     adjective
Definition:     private, personal

Synonyms:     confidential, deep, deep-seated, detailed, elemental, essential, exhaustive, experienced, firsthand, guarded, gut, immediate, in-depth, inborn, inbred, indwelling, ingrained, inherent, inmost, innate, innermost, interior, internal, intrinsic, penetrating, privy, profound, secret, special, thorough, trusted, uptight, visceral, viscerous.


OK, enough.  So, a few days before my appointment, I got a packet in the mail from the Endoscopy Department.  I opened it, eagerly expecting some hilarious potty humor.  Inside were instructions, a packet of the powdered "prep" called Golytely, and a full color brochure titled "Understanding Colonoscopy." 

In the brochure were lots of pictures of happy people, caring, white-coated doctors, latex gloved hands, a fleshy veined tunnel with an arrow pointing to a polyp which resembles a turkey wattle, and a lovely cartoon-like diagram of a colon, which actually looks more like a curvy lineup of those orange candy circus peanuts.  Cheesy, but not funny. The written part explained the ordeal    adventure   procedure in a reassuring but decidedly non-humourous way.... like "examine the  lining of your large intestine for abnormalities by inserting a thin flexible tube as thick as your finger into your anus"  OK, as thick as who's finger?  "slowly advancing it into the rectum and colon."   Really?  With so many words that can have double meaning at your disposal and the subject matter just begging for humor, they went with serious.  Really?  Really.

I will discuss Golytely, it's ironic pronunciation and purpose as well as the actual procedure in detail later. For now lets just say that the end was in sight, but the instructions on how to get there did not leave me feeling reassured, nor amused.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photographs and Memories

Call me sentimental, but one thing I love to do is look at old photos.  Old being the operative word here.  Old to me can be 50 or more years ago, or just a couple of weeks ago.  The point being I just enjoy that moment (however awkward or adorable) that was captured in time. 

One thing that had been nagging at me since I'd come home from California and the media storm that covered the opening of our elementary school's time capsule, was that I wanted to somehow gather and save all of the pictures and video that were taken that day.  

I finally created a Facebook page that did just that.  I'm hoping that this will serve as a digital representation of what the old scrap books of days gone by used to be. I hope that the others that were there, and some who couldn't be there can look at the pictures, and share their thoughts. 

Ah, the magic of the Internet!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Everybody Has A Story

I'm not very good at striking up a conversation. Downtown Dad on the other hand, well, he'll talk to anybody! Seriously, he's never met a stranger. I guess I should be thankful, after all, he struck up a conversation with me, and up to that point he'd probably never met anyone stranger than me!

I kid, I kid... sort of.
My point is, I want to have great conversations, but I tend to be pretty focused and driven, and sometimes I just forget to exchange even the barest pleasantries with those I come in contact with. I need to be less about getting things accomplished, and more about paying attention along the way. I should know better too, because I've always believed that everybody has a story, you just have to take the time to listen for it.

That's likely why I started blogging. Being in real estate, trapped in a car with perfect strangers was a great way to find those stories. For example, back in 2005, I met one couple so hilarious I had to write about them, and to this day, that's probably my favorite story! 

My goal (for this month anyway) is to slow down and connect more. Yesterday, I wrote and mailed a postcard to some friends who are not on Facebook and don't have email. Today, I am going to make an effort to talk to someone long enough to find their story.  You never know who you’re talking to or what they’re going to tell you. You just have to listen.    

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Greetings and Salutations!

I am getting pretty good at using social media both in business, and to keep in touch with friends and family, but ... call me crazy, call me old fashioned... sometimes, I think I lack some important etiquette skills... like writing friendly letters. 
Sure, some could argue that friendly letters aren't necessary anymore, since email and text messaging are the norm these days.  Yes, electronic messaging is quick, its convenient, and easy to use, and there is the added benefit of not having to use good grammar or paragraph formatting.
But still, I find myself missing the tactile feel, and ultimate surprise of finding a real letter delivered to the box attached to my house.  I think we've lost the personal touch that comes with writing and receiving a friendly letter from a friend, or relative.  I mean I'll admit, it's rough if you have to find a pen that works, find decent paper, sit down and remember how to actually form the cursive letters you learned in fourth grade - not to mention think about a main idea, details, an introduction, and a closure - without a backspace or delete key - in full words and sentences no less, and - with no helpful emoticons!  Whew!  And don't even get me started on finding home addresses!
I must say though, I'm thankful that as a family, we have had the opportunity to use our penmanship in the form of thank you notes quite recently, due to two successive graduations.  It has been an exercise in both creativity and discipline.

Mostly, I think Facebook has made me kind of lazy when in comes to staying in touch with old friends.  Sure, it's a great way to find them. However, once they're found and I've viewed their newest profile picture, or read what they've posted on their wall, I don't really feel I've reconnected with them on a personal level. To do that, I think, requires a bit more effort. Short of whetting a knife to sharpen a goose quill, and dipping that into india ink every three or four words, what better way to reconnect and catch-up with each other's lives than through an old fashioned hand written letter?
I've decided to grab the closest pen, marker or crayon, and start now to hand write some personalized notes, or in some cases an entire friendly letter to a few close friends and relatives who aren't on Facebook. 

Who's with me?