Katie Couric and Me: Dick Survives His First Colonoscopy, and So Will You!

Dick’s maternal grandfather died of colon cancer at the age of 43. He was diagnosed about 18 months before that, and left behind a wife and three children. When I realized that Dick would be turning 33 next month, and that we have three children I cannot raise alone, I started asking about colonoscopies.

My dad is usually my first stop for medical advice (okay, after the internet), and he said that, coincidentally, he was scheduling a colonoscopy for my mom because she just turned 50, which is the age screenings should begin for those with average risk.

If you have a grandparent, parent, sibling, or child with colon cancer, you’ll want to have your first colonoscopy (or other screening) done 10 years before they were diagnosed. Which for Dick meant yesterday.

As others will attest, the preparation for a colonsocopy is much worse than the actual exam. It involves 24-plus hours of a clear liquid diet and nasty-tasting bowel cleansing medicine. But I’m afraid I wasn’t very sympathetic. I have borne Dick three children, after all, and frankly, bodily dignity is not worth forgoing children or a long, healthy life.

For the actual exam, Dick was knocked completely out. Some people don’t actually fall asleep, but if you are at all sleep-deprived or situationally narcoleptic (like Dick), you’ll be out before they have the camera turned on. In the recovery room, Dick was incredibly cheerful and loopy. I mean, more so than usual.

Dick now owes me his life, because they found a polyp in his lower colon. Probably not cancerous, not yet, but they removed it and will do a biopsy. Fewer than 20% of forty-year olds have polyps, and the doctor and nurses all congratulated Dick on having such a loving wife.

While Dick was at the hospital, I cleaned furiously, because:

1. I felt guilty for being mad about something he’d said even after he apologized quite nicely.

2. The house was a serious wreck and no one should have to come home to dishes in the sink after getting their keister probed.

3. I had to take my mind off the fact that if the doctor accidentally perforated his colon and had to perform emergengy surgery and if Dick died from a freak scalpel accident, the last post of mine he ever read would be one where I neglected to mention that, though I would not die for him (unless our children were already dead), if something ever happened to him, I would not be happy to still be alive.

If you or someone you love is at risk for colon cancer (and everyone over 50 is), please schedule a screening or talk to your doctor today. (Liz! This means you! Hie thee to the colonoscopist!).

I promised a Back-to-School Edition of Things That Must Go today (I know, you probably didn’t even notice, or miss it, or care, but just pretend, okay?). And now I’m all posted out. Saturdays weren’t doing much for me anyway, so I think I’ll try posting Things That Must Go on Sunday nights. I have some great (bad) ones stored up, and I hope you do too!

Could be worse

down-syndrom-hand.jpgI have a bum shoulder. It’s not my only unfortunate physical characteristic. I also have a Down Syndrome palm. Well, two of them if you’re counting. Dick likes to say Just think how smart you’d be if you didn’t have Down Syndrome. I think he wrote an “Ode Down Syndrome Girl” when he was courting me. Now that’s romance.

But I digress (and not very sensitively, either). Apparently I have loose ligaments. Those dang ligaments. You can ignore them for years (19) and take them for granted, and then, suddenly, when you’re playing tennis, snap, or, (imagine some sickening thwack-y, sticky scrunch sound) and they turn on you, letting your humerus bone (which should be connected to your thigh bone) slide out, just this far, from the shoulder socket. And you have to yank on it and twist it to and fro and it goes back in.

This happens every six months for a while. You have surgery. Your husband and your sister both see you in a state of semi-undress after the surgery and you realize that, of the three of you, you are the only one who could be naked in the room without it being really awkward. But it is kind of awkward anyway, or would be if you weren’t on those really nice painkillers. Nice painkillers, so-so surgery.

Time passes. You get used to only doing the side-stroke (left side) when swimming. You teach your best friend and your husband how to help get your arm back in. You’re cautious when you push the kids on the swing. You don’t play tennis or reach for things or sleep with your hand tucked beneath your head any more. You scream at friends who twirl your kids around like normal people, afraid they’ve inherited your ligaments.

Your arm goes out on September 11, 2001 while you’re doing your physical therapy and you feel really sorry for yourself until you get to work at in upper Manhattan and look at the TV.

could-be-worse.jpgYou think, could be worse. Could be a WHOLE HECK of a lot worse. At the YMCA I (this is about me) see a person with no legs getting ready to use the weight machines.

Still, even if it’s not a traumatic injury (not caused by trauma but by faulty parts), it is limiting, restrictive, painful. It makes me feel like I’m not quite right. And it hurts.

During pregnancy it’s worse. Everything’s loosening and softening for that baby. But even pregnancy comes to an end and things go back to normal. Until one day, in one ten-day stretch, it comes out four times.

And it’s not the pain or the inconvenience or the fear that it’ll come out when I’m holding the baby so I drop her on her head on the cement or when I’m driving so I roll the minivan and everyone dies. It’s that I can’t play ping-pong, the only sport where I have a chance of kicking Dick’s behind. And maybe a little about those fears.

So I’m having surgery. Again. Everything’s advanced, medically speaking, light-years ahead of where it was ten years ago. I said I would like a replacement fake shoulder, but we’re gonna try this poke and stitch and tighten thing first. I’ve often thought to myself that I’m glad to just have an arm, even if it is defective. It doesn’t look defective. I look normal. It’s only on the inside that things aren’t right.

I almost felt stupid asking about the surgery. Sitting in the doctor’s office with people using canes and walkers and wheelchairs. The doctor said Of course we should do it. You’re only, what, 30? And you can’t raise your arm up? I blush. It’s amazing what you can get used to. And it could be a lot worse.

Tickle-Me Tuesday: Random bits of absurdity

Thanks for reducing the pressure, Marie: ‘absurd’ seems more easily attainable than ‘humorous.’ And I love the new logo.

So, what strikes me as absurd today is the warning on the exercise bike at our apartment complex. It says to stop immediately if you feel pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, faint or ANY DISCOMFORT. Well, and I thought that was the whole point of exercise.

I’m training so hard lately because I want to hone my ping-pong game ’till I’m as good as these guys:

NOT because I want to get skinnier (well, you know, maybe a tiny bit). In case you had no idea that a size 2 is probably an unrealistic goal/ideal/image for most women, here’s a great picture I’m hanging on our fridge of the ‘ideal’ male body (from the New York Times):skinny-male-models.jpg

Hubba-hubba, huh?

My favorite muffins and fun with favicons (cooking! and blogging!) — Updated (I’ve always wanted to say that)

Don’t worry. I don’t use endearments like ‘muffin’ or ‘cupcake’ for the people I live with. Though it is pretty irresistible when Susan is kind enough to inform me, while I change Spot’s diaper for the second time in 10 minutes, that We don’t eat poop. We eat corn.

Or when Sally talks Susan into taking off her panties while they’re in a mutual time-out. Why? For the love of everything holy. For the love of ponies and princesses and pink, why would you do that? We were playing ‘jokes.’ Please, please tell me this isn’t something you learned at school.

So. Since it’s only 9 am, and not physically painful enough for a Vicodin, I need some chocolate.muffin-top-pan.jpg

You know oatmeal’s good for you. Oatmeal cookies, with chocolate chips? Not so much. Since I am uber-healthy, I compromise with Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins. And if you buy me this cool muffin-top pan, I’ll whip you up some.

They’ve got applesauce (fruit), semi-sweet chocolate chips (anti-oxidants), oats (fiber), sugar (energy) and butter (dairy). Basically, all the food groups. You can see the original recipe at that greatest of recipe websites, allrecipes.com, but, as usual, I made a few changes.

At least if I die, Dick can look back through this blog and make some of my favorite foods.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 c butter (you could use margarine, but, why?)
3/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
almost 1 c applesauce (unsweetened, because this is a health food here)
1 c wheat flour (white or red)
1 c quick-cook oats
1 1/4 t baking pwd
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (bittersweet and milk chocolate have their places, but they’re just not right for this recipe).

All the wet stuff in one bowl, all the dry in another. Whisk the dry and then whisk the wet. Mix the wet with the dry and add chips. Bake in a paper-lined muffin tin (unless you have the silicon muffin-top pan) and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Now that you’ve got heaven in the oven, let’s talk technology. You know you’re a really cool blogger or internet reader or just a geek if you know what a favicon is. Like I found out a couple days ago. Maybe you’ve always known what they are, in which case, Why didn’t you tell me? They’re those little doohickies to the left of the “http…” in your address bar. Look at mine, isn’t it cool? (or, like, descriptive? — Maybe I should get a diaper favicon and re-name my blog We don’t eat poop.)

Don’t Try This at Home‘s was the first favicon I noticed, and here’s a clever, yet potentially disturbing one from June’s new review blog, Chic-Critique. I can appreciate the blog name without having any burning desire to read more beauty product reviews. But June somehow makes even talk about foundation not make me want to poke my eye out, much.

Also check out Dick’s bold yet simple, and Sally’s cuddly yet trendy (in Japan) favicons. Once you know what to look for, favicons are everywhere. Learn how to add a favicon to your own site by googling “how to add a favicon to blogger/typepad/wordpress blog.” I know, you never would have guessed, right? I would link to Blogging Basics 101 for a tutorial, but they don’t have one. Crazy. You can make your own favicon, or choose from a collection.

So, eat, drink, make a favicon. It’s kind of like marking your territory, without the mess.

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Those smart women at BB101 DO have a post on favicon (Fave-Icon, long A, long I, though I think fahvicon rolls better) making and placing. Guess I mis-searched or made a mistake (don’t tell my kids; I’m trying to keep that possibility a secret for a few more years). If you’re interested in starting or expanding a blog, you can’t go wrong checking out BB101. They even have a podcast, which, besides great information, features cute Southern accents.