Friday, June 17, 2016

How to Get a Colonoscopy in 14 Anxiety-Ridden Steps


(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

It happens to almost everyone eventually. You're going along living your life, dreaming your dreams and merrily walking around without ever having a tube inserted in your personal regions, when all of a sudden . . .

BAM!

It's time for your first colonoscopy.

Yes, despite your best efforts to avoid such a situation, chances are you will one day find your brown eye staring down the business end of a colonoscope -- a long flexible tube with a small camera -- either due to your age or the fact that you're having GI problems. Here at the Center for Too Much Information (CTMI), we've put together a handy guide for women in the latter situation, as we, um, have a woman "friend" who had this experience. Read on:

  • Suffer painful symptoms for several weeks. Dread telling any doctors about it, because you think it will lead to medical staff poking around in your coal hole, although you will soon find out you're wrong about this. Be sure to begin worrying incessantly and imagining the worst.
  • Google your symptoms on WebMD, otherwise known as www.It'sProbablyFatal.com. Obtain lots of information, all of which basically boils down to "Could be nothing. Could be cancer." Proceed to have nervous breakdown.
  • A month later at your annual OB/GYN appointment, discuss problems with physician. Although he used to briefly examine your rear prison purse in addition to your front lady garden, he tells you insurance companies no longer allow him to open the back door until after age 50. "It's probably nothing. You'll be fine," he says, recommending fiber and water (which you already consume) and sending you on your way.
  • Two months later, head to family doctor and tell her about ongoing problems. "It's probably nothing. You'll be fine," she says, also prescribing water and fiber (which again, you already consume). She doesn't examine area either. You're finding out that oddly, no one wants to look inside your butt, even when you're paying them.
  • Symptoms continue for several more months, so you make an appointment with a specialist, who is concerned enough to prescribe a colonoscopy. You are relieved that someone will finally be looking at your balloon knot. You are horrified that someone will finally be looking at your balloon knot. And snaking a hose all the way up your Hershey Highway.
  • As colonoscopy approaches, begin dreaming of snakes -- in doctor's offices, in toilets, in your underpants. For good measure, make repeated visits to WebMD/It'sProbablyFatal.com and continue to scare yourself silly. Chant It's probably nothing. You'll be fine until you fall asleep.
  • On day before procedure, limit diet to such satisfying items as water, tea and lemonade. Obtain can of chicken broth. This is your lunch. Later that afternoon, open giant prescription bottle of MoviPrep, a.k.a. Colon Blow. This is your dinner.
  • Gather fully charged iPad, ten-pack of toilet paper and a change of underwear. Sprint to bathroom and strap yourself to toilet, for it will be your new home. Over the next eight hours, you will excrete digested food from as far back as the Carter administration exiting your rear at speeds approaching the sound barrier. At times you think you will be done with your terrifying mission. But lo -- you will be wrong.
  • Around midnight, attempt to sleep. Note the word "attempt" here, because thanks to the fact that you can't eat, drink, or take any of your usual fun array of sleeping pills, you will be wide awake, starving and riddled with worry. Your partner's snoring keeps you up, so you head to the couch, where your growling stomach keeps you up. Seriously contemplate eating throw pillows.
  • Arrive at hospital the next morning and check in. Thanks to anxiety and eight hours of tossing and turning, you're half asleep, yet still conscious enough to be scared, well, shit-less. (See what we did there?)
  • Allow medical staff to prep you for procedure, and smile weakly at their attempts to cheer you up with poo-related humor. You're desperately trying to forget the fact that they'll soon be doing things to you that are almost illegal in several states, so you ask for anesthesia. The nurse obliges, but you feel nothing at first and tell her, "I don't think you gave me enough. I'm-really-nervous-so-you'll-probably-need-to-inject-more-'cause-I-don't-feel-a-thing-and . . . Zzzzz."
  • Wake up groggy and half-naked with faces all around you, as if you've slept through your first orgy. The doctor says everything looks fine, and you're suddenly very happy because of the great news, not to mention the awesome anesthesia. Despite your liaison with the pooper python, you feel no pain in your ass. In fact, you feel no pain at all.
  • Head into recovery area. A nurse checks your vitals and says that you have to pass a large amount of gas before she can let you go. You cheerfully oblige her request in front of God and everybody, because you know this is the quickest route to food. Also you are still high as a kite.
  • Giggle as spouse helps you dress and ties your shoes. As you haven't eaten since dinnertime two days ago, demand that he takes you to Taco Bell at once! and post-haste! He reminds you that you've recently drank 64 ounces of MoviPrep/Colon Blow. Hmm. Taco Bell . . . Colon Blow. Even in your purple haze, you realize this is not a wise combination, so he takes you to Bob Evans, where you consume everything on the breakfast menu. And the contents of the butter dish. With a spoon.

Well, there you have it, folks, a handy guide for your first trip down the old dirt road. You can see that a colonoscopy is a pain-free way to lose a  little weight and freak way the hell out about nothing, as well as a chance to get naked, sleep and fart.

In front of total strangers.
_________________________________________________

We at the Center for Too Much Information do not advise doing what our, um, "friend" did. Between the start of the problem and and the symptoms being waved off by two doctors, it was eight months before "she" found a specialist who took her concerns seriously. Remember, some insurance companies don't even require referrals for specialists -- hers did not. And as another dear friend once said, if something isn't right, get checked. It's probably nothing. You'll be fine.

Butt (see what we did there?) . . .

. . . it's better to know for sure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ode to a Traffic Jam

(copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

I want to go home,
I'm feeling quite tragic,
Because just like always,
I am stuck in traffic.

Ten thousand people,
On the road tonight,
In front and behind me,
All ready to fight.

Guy up ahead goes,
Fifty-five in a 70,
Ticking everyone off -
Ain't nobody happy.

Texty McSwervy,
On my driver’s side,
Won't look up from his phone,
Almost hits me broadside.

The asshole behind me,
Rides right on my tail,
Causing me to think thoughts,
That would land me in jail.

Brake lights up ahead,
We slow to a stop,
Could be an accident,
I watch out for cops.

A backup this bad,
You think, “Wreck!” Or “Fire!”
But it usually turns out
To be just a flat tire.

A turtle strolls past me,
On the berm at my right,
I'm jealous ‘cause he is,
Almost home for the night.

The hub sends a text,
Asking where I am,
What can I say?
I'll get there when I can.

I'd rather be with him,
Sipping a beer,
But I'll be on I-70,
For the next 50 years.

Yeah my beer's probably warm,
And my dinner, it's cold,
While I sit in a Honda,
Getting nowhere - but old.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Long Live Mediocrity. And Turtles

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

I've recently become a decent person. I'm not quite sure how this happened.

I didn't mean to. My plan was to remain a mediocre person, filling my spare time with such strenuous activities as eating, sleeping and online shopping. I know this sounds lazy and self-involved. I'm OK with that.

But somehow, I've become the type of woman who occasionally volunteers at church, pitches in at school events, and makes meals for older folks. I've become the type of woman who sometimes helps people.

Please understand. I'm not bragging here. I've always stood back -- way back -- staring in wonderment at room mothers, shelter volunteers, soup kitchen workers and such who spend their free time caring for others. I want to tell these people, "Go home! Sit down! Open up a nice box of wine!"

But they're too busy being wonderful to listen.

I have no idea why I've been helping people lately. Aside from my family and friends, I don't even like people.

I blame the interstate and Donald Trump for that.

Animals are another story. Over the years, I've given countless dogs, cats, frogs, baby birds, etc., the benefit of my fumbling assistance, whether they wanted it or not. I have saved so many turtles by carrying them across the road that my husband calls me the Patron Saint of Turtles.

Now, If you're not very concerned about dogs, cats, frogs, baby birds, turtles on the road, etc., know this: you're not alone. And don't worry. I'm concerned enough for all of us.

I guess my new-found benevolence toward humans could be due to impending geezer-hood. It seems to me that as certain women age and move toward retirement, they spend more and more time volunteering. I'm retiring in 52 months and 11 days -- not that I'm keeping track. I have very big napping plans for the year 2020. I need to stop giving a shit real soon.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with volunteering is exhaustion. Philanthropy -- and getting off the couch in general -- makes me tired, and constantly interferes with my dream of sitting around and sleeping. Also, it seems like helping others just leads to more helping of others. If I'm not careful, I'm going to end up as the ancient volunteer lady in the front lobby of every hospital who nods off and can't work the desk phone. That is not who I want to be.

I want to be the ancient lady who nods off in a hammock and can't work her own phone.

And when I retire on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (at 5:30 p.m. -- not that I'm keeping track) I plan to go home, sit down, open up a nice box of wine, and only get up to carry the occasional turtle across the road.

It's good to have goals.

__________________________________________________




Friday, April 29, 2016

World's Only Redneck Liberal

(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

Sometimes it's hard to be liberal,
In a wee-tiny rural town,
There's really no doubt about it,
I'm the only tree-hugger around.

Election Day in 2008,
I hit the town polls at dawn,
To cast my vote for the black guy,
Though I dare not tell anyone.

"Too late," I thought as I entered,
A parking lot filled up with trucks,
"My vote was canceled 30-odd times,
Before I even woke up."

Somehow he won it despite this,
Next time he won it again,
And so it's been eight years of,
Ducking from the Republicans.

But I own a Volkswagen Beetle,
Which might as well be a float,
That says, "Shoot me, I'm a liberal!"
As I drive past the cows and the goats.

See me signing all the petitions,
And giving my cash to hobos,
Watch me sobbing my hippie-chick eyes out,
At dead polar bear videos.

This aside, I'm just as rural,
As any-a-one of them,
I like beer and pickups and, Lord help me,
I’m a closeted Luke Bryan fan.

But they don't know what to make of me,
They don't really know what to say,
I'm the world's only redneck liberal,
I think they wish I'd go away.

So I generally keep my big mouth shut,
I try very hard to keep peace,
No one will change their mind anyway,
No one -- but especially me.

Still, this worrisome prospect of Trump,
Really has me scratching my head,
He's a sexist, unqualified, bigot . . .
Oh wait. Never mind. I just got it.

I would not say that to them though,
I hate noise and shouting and drama,
It's sure been a rough eight years though,
And for that I say, Thanks, Obama.






Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My 20-Pound Geriatric Thug Purse



(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

Mom jeans, sensible shoes, giant purse. You probably wouldn't peg me for a drug smuggler. But that's what I've become.

Of course, you'd have to define "drugs" in a geriatric, ibuprofen-and-probiotic sense, and "smuggler" as one who carries around perfectly legal prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements, but still -- you get the point. My purse has become a big bag o' meds.

This realization hit me recently as I walked into work wondering why the hell my handbag was so heavy. As I plunked it down on the counter of my soul-killing cubicle, a bottle of Aleve and pack of multivitamins poked from the interior, and I realized the reason for its heft. Pain relievers. Supplements.

Drugs.

I have pills to make my back feel better. Pills to help me sleep better. Pills to grow my hair. Pills to keep me regular. Pills to improve my joint health.  And more.

So much more.

Now before you call me a pill popper and I hear from all you granola hippies out there about the benefits of good diets and healthy habits and kefir yogurt that smells like ass, let me say this: I do all that. I am something of a granola hippy myself, and regularly manage to annoy my family by making them exercise and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

(But never kefir yogurt that smells like ass.)

All this medicine is a relatively new development. You see, I've hurt myself. By sitting. In a chair.

Yep, you read that right. I'm having sacroiliac joint problems due largely to the fact that I sit for 12 hours most days a week, thanks to ten-hour workdays and two-hour round-trip commutes. Oh sure, I exercise on my breaks and days off, but that's a lot of sitting.

You know, they say sitting is the new smoking. But still. I can't believe I've reached an age where I've actually injured myself by sitting.

In a damn chair.

As a kid, I remember groaning and rolling my eyes in the back seat of the car as my grandmother rode in the front and complained about how long rides hurt her back. 

"C'mon, Gran!" I thought. "You're just sitting there!"

And now, these days . . .

Ha ha haaaa!

Did you hear that? She's getting a big kick out of this up there. Not funny, Gran.

I see a physical therapist, a chiropractor, and an MD for the back problems. My days off each week have become eight-hour geezer events consisting solely of doctor's appointments. And the back issue isn't even all of what's going on with me. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say it involves the aforementioned probiotics and lots of whole grain foods.

Whoops. Sorry. In typical senior citizen fashion, I can see that I'm oversharing and bemoaning my many and various maladies, as well as forgetting the original point, which was . . . what? Oh yes, my huge, ridiculous, drug-filled purse.

The other evening, as I pawed through its contents looking for the glucosamine pills so I could swallow them down with my evening Metamucil, I realized that not so long ago, things were very different for me. In the 80s and 90s, I owned tiny handbags that contained only a few items. And on most weekends, I didn't even carry a purse -- all I needed was my go-to checklist of money, ID, keys. That's it. I was out the door, and onto the dance floor. 

Not so much anymore.

Now I have a behemoth bag filled with an entirely different, way longer checklist, consisting of (but not limited to) prescriptions. Supplements. Vitamins. Wrinkle cream. Pain relievers. Sunscreen. Fiber chews.

In fact, all my purse really needs is an AARP card, a handful of lightly used tissues, and five or six stale butterscotch candies, fuzzy and forgotten at the bottom.

Geezer level: complete.

Ha ha haaaa!

Yeah. There she goes again. If I squint, I can just about see her. A short, smiling old woman with a cardigan, bright blue eyes, and a perpetually aching back.

Not to mention one giant purse.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Go Home, March. You're Drunk


(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

On Monday, it's sixty-seven,
On Tuesday, it's twenty-one,
I don't like to gripe about weather,
But go home, March. You are drunk.

Look - it's starting to snow now,
Or no. That is freezing rain,
But wait, I think the sun's coming out,
And poof! It is gone again.

Four seasons, one day - just crazy,
I feel like I'm losing my mind,
But March, you're the one who is schizo,
Though my sanity's not far behind.

The birds are back, feeling confused,
They're shaking their feathery heads,
"This is bullshit. Why'd I come home?"
They say as they freeze in their nests.

I leave the house in three layers,
By ten I am down to shirtsleeves,
At two I put on some shorts 'cause,
The temp's up by 30 degrees.

That's how March goes in the Midwest,
That's March in your average town,
Better stay in the house until April,
'Cause March is one scary-ass clown.

With winds that constantly blow me,
And not in any fun way,
I lie awake fearing tornadoes,
Shovel snow the very next day.

March, you're dirty and flirty,
Indeed you're a terrible tease,
You lead us on with the sunshine,
Then merrily knock down our trees.

I'm done with you, March. I mean it,
You've got me in a foul funk,
With your rain-sun-sleet-snow and windstorms,
Yes, go home, March. You are drunk.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Charm Bracelet: Book Review and Giveaway


Books. One of the best ways to cope with winter.

Yes, in typical Midwestern fashion, I'm getting through February with a combination of grim determination, Walking Dead binging, and lots and lots of reading. So much reading, in fact, that I'm running out of books, as well as the money required to buy said books.

Because of this literary poverty, I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by the publicity team of Viola Shipman to review an advance copy of the author's debut novel, The Charm Bracelet. Viola Shipman is actually the pseudonym of one of my long-time favorite writers, Wade Rouse, who chose the name as well as the book's title as an homage to his late grandmothers, avid fans of charm bracelets. Rouse has authored several great non-fiction books, including It's All Relative and I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship, both of which of I reviewed here.

The Charm Bracelet arrived at my house last week, and the winter air seemed to lift as I opened the package and turned the pages of this warm novel, the multi-generational story of artsy Lauren, driven Arden, and their aging matriarch, the irrepressible Lolly.

As its title suggests, the book tells the tales of the characters' lives and ancestry via the charms of a bracelet. From the hot air balloon charm, ("to a life filled with adventure"), to the tiara charm ("to a life in which you get to feel like a queen, even for a day"), Rouse weaves the three interlocked stories wonderfully, dipping in and out of each woman's life with ease and grace.

The effortless pace of this novel impressed me the most. I found myself midway through *The Charm Bracelet before I realized it, filled with hope that Lauren would find her passion, Arden would find some peace, and Lolly would once again find her family.

I'm always in awe of non-fiction writers who cross over into fiction. It's difficult enough to compose stories from real life, but the writing is made easier simply because the events really happened, and the characters actually existed.

The fiction author's job, however, is to craft a believable story out of thin air, hundreds of pages of plot, setting and characters pulled from the far reaches of the imagination, or in this case, the charms of a bracelet.

Now, I write only non-fiction for specific reasons, and those are: A) I'm lazy; and B) the act of creating fiction -- an entire world from nothing -- seems impossible to me. But Rouse (a.k.a. Shipman) writes his first novel masterfully, with his finger on the pulse of three very different women who reconnect thanks to some links of chain, bits of metal and the tenacity of the buoyant, unforgettable Lolly.

Warm up your spring with this wonderful, utterly charming (see what I did there?) book, on sale March 22.

One reader will win a copy of The Charm Bracelet, courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press. Comment below to enter, then check back in the comments next weekend to see the lucky winner.
Winner: please contact me with your snail mail address at webs672002@gmail.com.