Thank you as always for all of your unfailing support for my recent health weirdnesses. I still don't have a complete diagnosis; we have to wait for bits of my body to be analyzed in some top secret scientific double blind laboratory study for that, but at least the worst part, (For overly-sensitive folks like me), is over, and now that I know what it's like I can get on the other side of this and be helpful to other people who are afraid of having cameras directed up their bums and down their throats and into their tummys and beyond. That's how I was in Mexico, wandering the corridors of my tiny hospital, looking for people to comfort and cheer. "It's no big deal. Hey, if I can do it you can."
You were right. You were all right. You win, hands down. You're the wieners. It wasn't anything like I thought it would be. And as always, (I say this a lot, As always, As always, As always -- it works for me, what are ya gonna do?), Franklin D. Roosevelt was once again proved right by me for having so wisely said, "That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself..." This tenet has rarely failed me but has unfortunately done only a little to alleviate the fear that precedes medical procedures. Especially ones that tie into childhood fears.
The worst part of all of it was the prep the day before, and the waiting, wondering, and worrying. I HATE the prep part of any diagnostic or surgical procedure! I'm not good at fasting, which makes me feel like such a wuss. I mean children are literally starving to death all over the world, STARVING TO DEATH, and I get upset about having to fast on Jello and clear liquids. Oh, poor me. And this doesn't make me feel too heroic. Then there's the tale that every time the Virgin Mary appears in any vision or special place around the world she tells people to fast at least once a week. The Holy Mother is all about fasting and I suck at it. What does that say about me, plus I never say the rosary, and I'm not really sure if we're supposed to be praying for peace between the United States and Russia any more, maybe that's been handled by all the prayer and fasting.
So, there's the fasting, and then, mother of all discomforts, The Fleet Phospho Whatever-It's-Called "soda", which is basically the most horrible tasting thing you've ever been forced to drink mixed with more salt than you've ever accidentally swallowed while swimming in the ocean, and...as soon as you hold your nose and chug it down, you can't exactly pretend that you don't know what you're drinking it for; the worst case of diarrhea you've ever had, times ten. Finally, after hours of bathroom reading, you get to limp to your bed where you will try to sleep, while running back and forth to the bathroom all night, then just as you fall asleep it's time to get up and do it all over again. You arrive at your destination exhausted, frightened, grumpy and embarrassed. Well acquainted with the rigours of this particular procedure the bathrooms all have signs above the toilets that say, "Please flush twice."
Scott kindly came and picked me up and then put up with my grumpy extra-sensitive self. Considering that we are both about as sensitive emotionally as a couple of sea anemones, it doesn't always work so well when one of us is off. He'll upset me, then I'll tell him he's upset me, then he gets upset with me that he upset me and so on. Finally I just had to lay it out for him, "Look Scott, I haven't eaten since the day before yesterday, I've been shitting all night, I'm worried that I might just shit in your car, I only got about one hour of sleep, I'm afraid that I'm going to get ass raped by a bunch of strangers who just might tell me I have cancer so I'm not in the best of moods. BE NICE TO ME!" And then I think he got it, but this certainly isn't the kind of thing that is going to lead to any late night erotic encounters, at least not that night.
When we arrived at the center I became part of a vast testing machine, a kind of assembly line of internal probing that goes on day after day and just as in any workplace some of the people are wonderful and gentle and some of the people are not. So, sign in, present insurance cards and forms of payment, then clothing off, check, jewelry off, check, fake teeth out, check, medical history, check, IV in, check, booties on and wait. I was left on a narrow gurney in a tiny curtained off room, if you could call it that, next to many other curtained off narrow rooms. Hurry up and wait. But of course with my bladder I had to get up disconnect my IV fluid bag and walk bare-assed back and forth to the bathroom several times. And then I swear I heard the distinct sound of a long low humdinger of a fart, followed by a relieved sigh. Will this be me in a couple of hours I thought?
The nurse who set up my IV and helped me into my bed spent some time talking with me about teenagers. She has three and it was a relief to hear that she had recently read a medical journal that our prefrontal lobes, (Can that be right?) don't fully develop until we are twenty-five, which may account for the poor decision making and ass backwards logic that most anyone familiar with teenagers is more than well acquainted with. Hey, I'm just happy for anything that points a finger away from everything always being my fault and if some of the insanity that comes out of my dearly loved son's mouth is because his brain is still developing, if my lack of ability to reason with or reach him is possibly due to something like this, well, then all the better for humanity, and thank you Nurse Sally for sharing this with me. Which reminds me, if you can get your hands on a copy of Nora Ephron's, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, and read the chapter entitled Adolescents we'll all be around, about, or on the same page as regards parenting teens.
My anesthesiologist and the surgical nurse wereboth super kind and so of course was Dr. Frankel, which must account for why he is so tremendously popular and busy. Great medical skill is so important but enough cannot be said for a kind bedside manner. Doctor Murad, the female, yeay, anesthesiologist was keeping my mind off of everything with plenty of humor. She told me to plan on farting a lot after the procedure and not to be embarrassed about it because they're all used to it.
As I lay there on my side feeling scared and helpless in this very sterile looking room waiting for I didn't really know what except that people I hardly knew were going to be putting cameras into tender and very private parts of my body, looking at things that even I would never be intimate enough with myself to see, she told me that she was going to be preparing me for my "Spa day" by offering various concoctions from her "Oxygen bar". Oh thank God for humor.
She also told me that she was going to give me the full body massage with hot stones and a facial, which kept me busy thinking about anything other than my butt for about five minutes. The doctor was held up on a phone call and I could tell they were feeling sorry for my having to wait so long to be knocked out. She told me that normally she would have given me something but that she can't start until the doctor comes into the room. They kind of tried to talk around it in code but there's no getting around my swift sense of communication.
As soon as I sensed their discomfort I went into comfort-them mode and that took some of the pressure off. Turns out my anesthesiologist is from Lebanon and was raised in a Catholic convent by Italian, British, and French nuns, which accounted for her unusual accent. She also has four children who also went to Marymount Junior School, (My beloved school), and they were all there during that awful transition period when The Sisters were forced to sell the school, which left a lot of panicked parents trying to find room for their children in private schools in an area where every single place is taken and then wait listed times twenty. Luckily she had an in with some at St. Martin of Tours and they were able to take all four of her children.
By the time she finished telling me all of this the doc had come in and sweetly told me not to worry. They put the same kind of piece of plastic in my mouth that they had put in my mouth in Mexico and before I knew it I was drifiting off. I was in the middle of a pretty good dream when I could feel something sliding out of me and realized that I was waking up and that the procedure was over. Then they wheeled me to a recovery area where I spent a good amount of time listening to the sound of people farting and moaning and nurses offering recovering patients juice and graham crackers.
Colonoscopies and endosopies involve blowing gas up your ass and down into your stomach and that gas is going to have to expel itself somehow. So naturally there was the recovery period with the accompanying embarrassment of having to fart quite a lot in a room full of doctors, nurses, other recovering patients, their family and friends. For someone who loves to walk around nude, who has taken her son to nude beaches and stayed at naturist resorts, who belongs to the American Naturist Society and encourages parents to take their children to Burning Man, you'd think I'd be fairly comfortable with my body and it's common workings, but I'm not. It might be helpful to remind you that I was raised by people who were old enough to be my Great Grandparents and who for whom the word prude is a source of pride.
My Mother was raised by her Grandmother on her Father's side who was a Quaker. They turned all of their paintings and photographs around to face the walls on Sundays. (I know I've told some of these stories before and I'll probably tell them again and again; Just chalk it up to ADD and the fact that I had a Grandmother who never stopped asking me if I remembered her lovely house in Beverly Hills whenever we drove by it, poor thing.) My Dad was adored by his Mother who deferred to his Father who was a disciplinarian par excellance. They loved him very much but they definitely believed in good behavior and consequently he was sent to a military school just as my Mom was sent to a Catholic boarding school for "finishing".
To pass gas in front of each other, a guest, the help, or in public was an unforgivable sin in our family, something to be held in until one politely excused oneself and went to the restroom. Good control of one's bowel habits was something to be mastered and supposedly could be acchieved with discipline, tennis, and the occasional glass of prune juice. Sexuality was akin to sinfulness and rarely if ever discussed except in the most distant and clinical terms. Apparently only the poor and uneducated, or as my Mother liked to say, "Gypsies," burped, farted or spat in public, and on those few occasions when my Dad "passed wind" in front of us my Mother loudly shamed him to the most newly discovered planet and back.
So you can see why, beyond all of the extreme weirdness with my governess that I've already written about, I have a love hate relationship with my body and it's very basic workings. Sometimes farting is funny to me and sometimes it is just plain foul. I'm obviously messed up about this, but whatever it is, it is definitely the opposite of romantic for me, and if one can afford it, hey, separate bathrooms work for me. In the meantime I've worked all of this out for myself by coming up with my own personal code of farting, so to speak. I won't share it with you now because I've gone on far enough about all of this but suffice it to say that there are ways to fart more discreetly than others. Letting one blast out of you in public while heaving a great sigh of relief wouldn't be one of them, neither would farting alone in an elevator and then leaving it behind for someone to become aquainted with on their travels up or down some tall building, but I digress; This was a hospital setting after all, and people are in discomfort and pain. I did however make use of the spread your butt cheeks manually method which makes for a much quieter fart, and refrained from making any "Oh Lord that felt good to get out of my poor aching body," kind of sounds. Luckily most of this was over before Scott showed up and I was spared most of the mortification but I'm still having to burp with the regularity of say Howard Stern.
After I got dressed Dr. Frankel came in and told me that everything had gone well, the bleeding had stopped, but I have a tight ring of smooth tissue around my esophagus that probably accounts for those few occasions when pills come flying back up out of my mouth after I've swallowed them, and there is an unusual thickening of the lining of my stomach which could be an H Pylori bacterial infection covering the gastritis, or something like that. He took several biopsies and like I said he'll get back to me with findings next week. Colonoscopy-wise he removed some polyps and hemmorhoids and sent those off as well. But all in all he said it was good news and he was relieved since he often has to come out and tell people really upsetting things.
And of course as we picked up our things and walked towards the exit I heard one of the patients in one of the small curtained off areas next to us let one rip and heave a great sigh of relief, poor guy.
Even though things are still a bit weird and tender internally I'm just so glad to be able to eat again and to have this procedure be one more thing I can put behind me and there is this great relief that I now know I could handle this easily if I ever had to go through it again, and definitely without having to go through so much fear before hand. Thank you everyone for being so understanding and kind about my apprehension about something so small compared to some of the really big deal kinds of things people have to go through. Having a colonoscopy was up there with say the fear of having someone stick a needle in my eye so to be sitting here on the back side of this alive and well and typing about it feels, well, like I've matured a bit more and am stronger for it.
So that's it for tonight, just my thanks and hope for your health and happiness.
Oh and PS: I've met President Jimmy Carter twice in my life; once when I was a young girl on an organized school trip across the country and wore a dancing peanut costume for him at the Deomocratic National Convention in New York, and again at a book signing in Century City. His statements today have only added to the girlish crush I have had on him since eighth grade. But don't tell my Iranian friends because they don't dig him too much.