Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This Week's Adventure: Getting A Colonoscopy!

Sometimes people turn 50 and need to get colonoscopies.  Other times people turn 25 and have such horrendous digestive issues that they need to have them too.  I fall into the latter category.  Too much information?  I’m not too worried about it.

Coming from the family that I have, I possess a very casual relationship with my poop.  Poop is no big deal.  Poop is funny.  Poop and I are friends.  But it is uncomfortable, even for me, to speak to a compete stranger about my B.M.

The doctor’s straight face and matter-of-fact questioning about my regularity was pretty entertaining.  I tried to match her comfort, and it turned into a comfort contest.  Subconciously she challenged me- and beat me shamelessly- at being the most awkward person in the exam room.  

The verdict: blood work and a colonoscopy.

STEP TWO : Blood Work
I am a wimp. I don’t like needles or blood.
But I had to get blood drawn.  Like a true champ, I took my mommy with me to hold my hand.  The fast-talking, no nonsense phlebotomist seemed a little annoyed with me at first when I insisted on laying down for the procedure.

I don’t remember everything that I said, but it was, essentially, one long, fast, high-pitched run-on sentence that went something like, “I don’t understand whose idea this was and it’s not normal or natural because blood belongs on the inside and if it’s meant to to come out it can come out in a normal way like when I get a cut on my hand then you can collect it with your weird little bottle and keep it around your neck like Angelina Jolie...” etc. etc.

The phlebotomist asked why I was being such a wuss.  “Haven’t you ever thought about getting a tattoo?”, she asked.  To which I replied, “I HAVE TWO!!!”  My mommy didn’t know this little fact about me.  My mommy was taken aback.  My mommy’s head increased in size by five, and she asked sweetly “you have how many?”  My bad.

The journey begins with a liquid diet.  I ate jello, soup broth, and 2-32oz bottles of Gatorade.  A liquid diet, as you can imagine, causes one to urinate frequently.  I peed every 30 minutes for 10 hours straight.  Hour 8 I was instructed to ingest 4 laxatives.  Hour 10 I rushed to the toilet to evacuate my bowels, which continued until hour 12.

At some point in the 2 day liquid festival, I had to begin drinking a concoction of Gatorade and Miralax.  64 ounces of this cocktail down my gullet within 6 hours.  I probably only got about 32 ounces down, and cried about 20 ounces of it out, and then peed the rest out of my butthole.

STEP FOUR : The Procedure
I arrived there.  I arrived at the place.  I arrived starving.  I arrived scared.  I arrived sweaty.  They took me away immediately and made me put on one of those backless gowns.  The man who sticks needles into patients arms came in and he stuck it in my arm and it didn’t hurt.  I didn’t feel it at all!  He was nice.  He could tell I was nervous so he gave me something to make my eyes less darty.

Then they wheeled my bed through the doors, and then through some other doors, and there was the lady who asked me all of the horribly awkward questions!  A different lady was there too and she stuck some pads all over my chest and then she put in the milky liquid in the needle and I took a nap for a while.

ASIDE : I’m getting really lightheaded recounting all of these needle-related stories.

I woke up a little while later.  I’m not sure how I woke up, but I did and I felt AMAZING.  They had given me the drug Michael Jackson liked before bed every night.  Now I know why.  Sweet Lord that stuff is good.

All in all, the colonoscopy adventure was pretty bad, but not the worst ever.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Trips, Not Unlike Giraffes, Have Legs

Everyone who's anyone has seen the legendary film Planes, Train and Automobiles, which stars my favorite actor/writer/banjoer, Steve Martin.  In this film you will remember Neal (Steve Martin) needs to get home for Thanksgiving.  His trip takes him on a crazy tour of the midwest, which causes him to nearly go insane.

I didn't see this film until recently, after my very own Planes, Trains and Automobiles sort of adventure.

I decided to go to Mammoth Lakes, California. Here's a picture of where that is.

Mammoth Lakes = A
It is a place that I do not understand ever visiting.  It is a remote ski town in the Sierra Mountains about which I strain to find a redeeming quality.  But that could be bitterness talking...

I don't know how long the trip took, and with time zones and the winter solstice and I think it was a full moon...I don't think I could begin to calculate the hours spent in transportation.

The trip was meant to go:
Philly to Nashville, and after a short layover, from Nashville to Los Angeles.  A few hours in LA and I'd be off to Mammoth Lakes.  How simple!  How easy!  How enjoyable!


That is NOT how traveling happens.

Traveling goes, after 2 hours sitting on the plane at the gate in Philly, the Cap'in coming on the radio and saying "There's something wrong with the wing.  It might stop working mid-air, but after weighing options we decided it'll probably be fine, so we're going to get going in a few minutes."

Once in Nashville the Flight Attendant with the luxuriously long ponytail says "For those of you who missed your connecting flight to LA, you will stay on this plane all day eating nothing but overly salted peanuts and Nilla Wafers!  We'll get you to LA by the end of the day!"

So then you're stuck.  All day.  In the same seat.  Eating the same snacks.  Stopping in Austin and Houston and swapping out one group of germ-ridden cretans for the next.  Finally in LA.  Oh, what a relief.  


Only one airline flies to Mammoth Lakes, and it's not the airline that held you captive for the last 97 hours.  So you have to exit the airport and schlep from Terminal B to Terminal Q, or some crazy crap like that.  You go through security AGAIN.  You're so starved from yummy snacks with no actual nutritional content that you desperately spend $15 on a chicken salad sandwich and a bottle of water.

So you get on the plane to go to Mammoth.  The kind of plane that goes to Mammoth is the size of a school bus and has the propeller engines that spin and are loud, and the Flight Attendants seat passengers based on body weight so that the plane's overall weight will be balanced enough to not plunge into a mountainside.

Confidence and team building.

An hour into the flight to Mammoth, and you can see the sparkling lights of the town below and everyone sighs a collective sigh of relief.  We are here.

Almost, mutha suckas.

The man comes on the microphone and says "The winds on the ground are too strong and if we attempt to land we will most certainly crash.  We're going to fly back to LA, where you can make other arrangements."

Desperation and fatigue set in.  I hitched a ride with a guy named Evan, who seemed nice and thank heavens I was right.  He took me to the town right below Mammoth, and I found another ride from that town the rest of the way.

And was it worth it?  All of that, was it worth it when I got to Mammoth?  No.  But experiences are what travel is about, and this is an experience that I can certainly say I've experienced.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chicago Is The Biggest Noise In Illinois

When the child of a parent goes on a trip, naturally that parent worries.  The phone ringing is almost more dreadful than no call at all.  As the saying goes “No news is good news”.  There are certain phone calls that parent dreads receiving while their child is on a road trip.

Call One: “Mom, I ran out of money.”
I belong to a really great bank that has a really great fraud department.  If they detect any odd transactions on the account they freeze it, so no more damage can be done.  I was appreciative of this last year when a bartender stole my card information and attempted to use it while on vacation in France.
I was less appreciative when I was out of gas and cash, somewhere in Indiana, on a Sunday, when the bank was closed.
It was ok, though, because Catherine’s bank was less hasty in the fraud department and she was able to spot us cash until we got back to Philly.
It was not ok, however, for Mom.  She spent the entire day, and the next, trying to think of a way to wire money to me.  Apparently forgot to tell her that Catherine was rolling in it.

Call Two: “Mom, I locked my keys in the car.”
This one really kills me, because on my way out of the house I saw the spare key to my car and I thought, “I should bring this spare key and give it to Catherine, just in case...”  But then I thought that was a silly thing to do and left without it.
On the way home we were stopped at a McDonald’s on the Ohio Turnpike.  Mile 197.  Brady’s Leap.  You know the place.
Catherine stepped out of the car for a quick smoke, and I lounged back in my seat in the warmth of the car to wait.  She finished her cigarette and we went inside.  We pooped, we had McDonald’s, we pooped again (naturally).  We were walking out to the car and I realized I didn’t have my keys.  I immediately knew where they were.  On my seat. Right next to where my idiot butt sat, waiting for Catherine to finish her smoke.
Luckily, I have AAA.
Unluckily, it was in my purse, which was locked in the car.
I called my mom once again.  “Mom, I locked my keys in the car. Can you tell me the number for AAA and the account number?”
Frantic sounds came from my mother’s end of the phone.  “What?? What?? AAA??  I have that!! Umm!! How did-?? Here! Are you ready?? Write this!”  And she proceeded to read off the numbers to reach AAA and the account number on her card.
Long story short, the AAA Rescue Man came and fished the keys out of the car and we were on our way again.
An hour later I realized I hadn’t told my mom we were safe.  I gave her a call and told her we were ok and nearly in Pennsylvania again.  Relieved sighs and audible tears greeted me back through the phone.

Call Three:  “Mom, I’ve been in an accident.”
This isn’t a call my mom received.  But it’s a sight she was greeted with the morning after I came home and she went outside to go to work.  
I think “accident” is a harsh term for the slight hiccup that we experienced while driving my car.  We were driving down the road like people normally do.  Suddenly the police car in front of us was like “CRIME IS HAPPENING! ABORT VEHICLE!”, so they slammed on the breaks and leapt from their car gallantly.
We decided it was probably a good idea to get out of the area, so we turned down an alley.  We made it down one block.  On block two there was a car coming toward us, with which we excitedly decided to play “chicken”.  This being the Mid-West and its residents far less aggressive than expected, the opposing vehicle pulled over immediately.  But it didn’t pull over far enough and I was faced with a choice.
I could plow through to my left and scrape the car that had so kindly moved from my path.  Or I could lean slightly to my right and spank some trashcans.  I chose to spank some trash.  It didn’t turn out as I expected and rather than just dragging the trashcan along with us, as the physics in my mind projected would happen, the trashcan stayed firmly in place and snapped the mirror off the passenger side of my car.
It’s ok, though, because no insurance claim needs to be filed and clear packaging tape is working wonderfully at holding the mirror in place until I can afford a new one.

Really, parents.  When your kid is on a road trip, just turn the phone off, go to a spa, and forget you ever had kids.