Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dignity, Grace and Tumors, Part 3 of 3

"I need you to fart," said the nurse.

I had no urge to fart.  You know how when you have to fart, you are generally aware of it?  It's kind of like when you don't have to fart. Except the opposite.  Either way, you can tell.  Especially when you're 50 (51).

I didn't have any urge/ability to fart.

But the lady kept pestering me.  "I don't hear any farrr-tinnnng,"  all sing-songy and shit, holding her hand to her ear.  "We need you to fart because the Dr. blew a lot of air into you."

"Does he need a breath mint now?" I didn't ask.

What kind of strange place was this?  I didn't sign on for any kinky air hose shenanigans.  But I didn't really care because I was enjoying the drugs - or excuse me - "The sedation."  I mean, this was the best kind of high I'd ever had.  It was sooo much better than alcohol.  Possibly much more dangerous too since it had to be carefully administered by Kim.  Kim, if you recall, was in charge of facing me, while the doctor was on the other side, apparently, having fun with air tanks.  Or maybe it was Helium!

Now that would be awesome.  In fact, I'm going to call them and suggest they use helium from now on for the whole "blowing air into you" part of the colonoscopy.  Just think how wonderfully "Alvin and the Chipmunky" those farts would be.


I'll tell you what.  You want me to fart? Just tell me the doctor filled me with helium.  That's a party, to be sure.  But helium is rare and cost prohibitive so maybe they just use hydrogen instead ...

... And that's why we need you to fart.

Oh the humanity!  I bet when the Hindenburg blew up, they never imagined how much people would laugh about it for decades to come because, Les Nessman.

Anyway, it was starting to sound like they weren't going to let me leave with their air.  Still.  No urge.

Under normal circumstances when there are people around, I may have gas and not really be aware of it. This happens at work a lot.  As soon as I leave the office and start toward my car, I release a 20 second barrage from hell that I had no idea was even there.

So I thought maybe I do have it in me after all.  I pushed all that I dared.  But no.

Luckily I was on happy drugs.  Very happy drugs, so I had a brilliant idea.

I have Kyle to thank for my release from colon prison.

Kyle was my best friend when I was around 12-15 or so.  From the time I was in around 3rd grade until the time I met Kyle, I did the old "Armpit Fart" the way everybody did.  This ridiculous wild chicken wing flapping that resulted in these rapid-fire short bursts of fakey fart sounds.

Then I met Kyle.  Kyle was a master.  He could draw an armpit fart out to around 5 or 6 seconds.  Using different parts of his hand as the release spot, he could mimic all different types of farts from the entire humidity spectrum.  Kyle could, with incredible accuracy, represent the flatulence caused by all four food groups.  His lactose intolerance usually brought cries of "Encore! Encore!"
I'm pretty sure people threw roses to him and stuff.  Yeah, he was good.

Eventually, as best friends are wont to do, I took up Kyle's craft and added my own signature brand to his extensive collection.  In the end I had 3 good originals that made the final cut of Kyle's repertoire. For the driest rumbly farts, I let the air escape along the edge of my hand where it meets the little finger.

But today, I wanted a high pitched, wetter one.  That means let it go from the "butt" of your palm.  Coax the air toward your wrist and out.  That's a sloppy one, there.  And what I hoped they were listening for.  I didn't know if I could pull it off after all these years. But I had to try.

Some things, you just don't forget.  A couple of those and I was on my way.

They had told me they'd call for my wife when I was ready to go.  Of course they won't let you drive on the drugs, so you have to get a ride.

Now with the "farting" out of the way, I was going to see the one person who knows more about what's going on inside me than anyone in the world.  The dude who just sent a camera in there.

They took me to a room and had me take a seat.  The Doctor came in and right away I knew there was a problem.  I didn't care, mind you.  I wasn't worried or scared.  What kind of self-respecting drug would allow that, huh?

No.  I could see the doctor was troubled and I was a little curious. That's all.

It was obvious from the Doctor's demeanor he had been weeping.  He was still sharply catching his breath from time to time.  His head was down and he was avoiding eye contact.

"You're just fine.  Everything looks good," he kind of mumbled, looking down at a clipboard.

He then started to leave the room.

"Wait a minute," I said. "If everything's ok, what's with the long face, doc?"

"What? Oh nothing."  he was still acting weird.

"C'mon. It's ok.  I can take it.  Remember the meds I'm on?  C'mon doc. C'mon." I badgered.

"If you must know, I'm considering what to do with the rest of my life now that I've seen the most beautiful colon in the world.  Believe me, I've seen them all, but yours ..."  he slapped his mouth shut at that and ran out of the room.  I don't know what he started to say, but I'd heard enough.  That explained the helium.

"I bet you say that to all the boys," I smirked as I tied my shoes, forgetting to first put them on my feet..

I sat alone in that room for what seemed like zero amount of time before a nurse came in and said, "You're ride is here."

"I think you mean ..." I started.

"Shut up, grammar Nazi,"  she interrupted.

"Touche," I conceded.

I got to the car and Jill had prepared a lovely cheesy egg bagel sandwich.  But even though I was terribly hungry, I refused her kindness.  I wanted to feast on a very specific meal.  A Gandolfo's breakfast sandwich.  Yum.  Gandolfo's breakfast sandwiches are so huge and wonderful, I didn't want to waste my hunger on a thoughtful, yet plain meal.

So on the way to Gandolfo's, I told Jill all about the colonoscopy.  When we got there, Jill pointed out that I had absentmindedly eaten the bagel sandwich and did I still want to go into Gandolfo's.

Silly Jill.

Mildly interestingly, the guy who made my fabulous Gandolfo's  sandwich was the same guy who had done my colonoscopy.  He was already getting a new start on his life.  When I considered it later, it seemed kind of gross to have that guy making my sandwich.  But I was really hungry.

... and sceeeeeeene!

P.S.  I just farted.  Doh!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dignity, Grace and Tumors, Part 3 of 3 Will Just Have to Wait

"She had to go because she didn't know who Joe Strummer was" -- Whoever Cowboy Mouth is/was

"... a man missed a Bible question because he did not know what Deuteronomy was.  Oh no!!"  - Billy Crystal, Running Scared.

(I'm listening to Cowboy Mouth for this post.  Mostly because I want to remember what the song was that caused me to buy this cd.  If it comes on, I'll let you know.)

(I'm not watching "Running Scared" for this post.  But I could.)


I have a 3rd part of 3 written and shoved way deep in the annals of the blog draft site.  But I have a strict policy of never finishing a story. Actually, I'll put that one out next week.  I just wasn't feeling it this week.

Because ...

A couple of days ago, I was riding down the keystone. I was headed home.  I had been doing these weird unstructured intervals.  It went like this.  Go as hard as you can to see if you can beat the max wattage of the interval before.  If you go 3 times without beating it, you're done.

I got up to 13 hundred and something and like 12 intervals, so yeah.  I suck.

While I was cruising down the trail, I saw an old friend walking along.  I made reference to this friend in a lively comment thread from a blog post in 2008.  The comment is directed at Brady.  I'll save you the trouble of going there and just repeat the comment here:


I've known 2 people who write like you do. One is a stinking drunk who is now homeless. Brilliant writer though. Big huge waste. The other is you. Time to give up this crazy dream of working 9-5 for the corporate machine. Time to settle down and find a publisher. You're not getting any younger and you have a family to think about. How long do you think they'll put up with this '40 hours a week' thing you're doing?

Well the homeless guy is doing slightly better now (he has a home).  I stopped the bike and talked to him for a while.  Without going into too much detail, I can tell you this guy has all kinds of trouble.  His problem stems from the deadly combination of some severe mental health issues and a seeming incompetence among the mental health fixer upper guys.

He talked for about 3 minutes and I had no idea what he was talking about.  He kept interrupting himself.  Changing direction.  I couldn't follow any of it. Then I realized I was listening to emotion in the form of words.  If you could speak your thoughts as they happen when nobody is around, this is about what it'd sound like.  When your mind is going, you don't have to finish a thought.  You know what you're thinking.  You can start a thought and then it completes in your brain and you move to the next thought.

I don't think I could do this if I was speaking to somebody.  That's what my friend was doing though.  After a few minutes, I was not listening to him.  At least not in a straight line.  It was easier to understand him if I pieced together phrases from the previous minute or so.   I felt like this is what it would be like to be able to read somebody's mind.  You wouldn't hear whole complete sentences all spelled out.  You'd hear a rambling of disjointed phrases.  A shorthand of sorts that only means something to the originator of them.

After about 10-15 minutes, we set off on our separate ways and I was not hearing what I had been waiting for.

In the past, my friend has always ended one of these chance meetings with a "Let's get together for breakfast, some time."

I'd always say, "Sure." and think I'd never hear from him, nor him from me.  That's just the way people are.

But my friend is different.  I can count on him to give me a call within a couple of weeks and arrange breakfast somewhere.

So as we were parting, I was waiting for it.  But he said, "Well, I hope your family is all doing well. It was good seeing you," And so on.

I couldn't believe it. The feeling I got was that his confidence is so low, he wouldn't presume to suggest we get together for breakfast.   But I want to eat breakfast.  It's like, the most important meal of the day.

He started to walk away and I said, "Hey.  Call me about breakfast."

He said as soon as he felt like he had gotten himself together enough, he'd give me a call.  I didn't want to push him, so I left it at that.

But it bugged me.  So later on that night, I sent him an email to reiterate breakfast. I really like talking to him and listening to his creativity. I'm hoping we can get together soon and chat for a while longer.

What follows is a portion of the reply I got the next day:

Really good to see you Fred.  I forgot what it felt like to hear from the rare friends I think of as peers, especially at such redefining junctures.  Been jotting and drafting my thoughts the last couple years when I could while finishing off an accumulation of unread non-fiction to arriving recently on the brink of actually penning [redacted].  I see now the letter seems to have been coming along as something of a prerequisite to weightier overtures, with talking to you I know among them, unless of course you would deny having a certain efficient zeal that also allows your higher values, those akin to geekdom, exercise, comedy and intellectual consistency.?

Yeah - you should see how he writes when he's feeling well.

Well I never figured out exactly why I bought this Cowboy Mouth CD, but I guess this is ok ...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dignity, Grace and Tumors, Part 2 of 3

So I think I might have mentioned that the day before the procedure, you can't eat anything solid.  You can have clear liquids, including chicken broth if you want.  That sounds pretty awful, but by 8:30 PM, it was the most delicious thing I'd ever had.

I also drank a bunch of white grape juice and apple juice and laxative enriched Gatorade, but I still felt very very hungry.

I normally get pretty nervous about going to any sort of health check thing.  I worry that something will be discovered that will make life "inconvenient" at best and "over" at worst.

I know it's silly.  If there's something to be found, it's usually best to find it and get it taken care of. Usually.  Not always.  That's why they advise against Prostate checks these days.  The checks and treatment if cancer is found are statistically worse for you than the cancer.

So - colonoscopy.

I expected to be absolutely beside myself with worry on the day of the procedure.

I was nervous, but I was mostly hungry.  By the time I got there, I just wanted the whole thing to be over, butt cancer or no, so I could grab a bite to eat.

I stepped on the scale after a day of fasting and purging. I expected to see a dramatically comical drop in weight.  Two pounds lighter than the day before.  Damn.  That's nothing.

Two days after thanksgiving, I typically weigh 6-8 pounds less than the day after Thanksgiving.  Did I mention that I'm a pretty regular guy?

Even though I was too hungry to be freaking out about the procedure, I was nervous about one thing.  My blood pressure. I have a condition known as "white coat syndrome."  When I go to the doctor, my blood pressure elevates.  The only thing that brings it down is not being at the doctor.  So before I go to the doctor, I worry about what my blood pressure will be.  I'm fairly certain that worrying about it is not the answer to lowering it.  C'est la vie.

A few years ago, my doctor and I did a bunch of monitoring and calibrating and so on.

At home, I'm typically around 116/74 with a heart rate of 44-46.

At the doctor's office 144/88 HR 62.

So when they get you all gowned up and on the table, they jab the back of your hand with a needle for the IV and drugs.  They cuff you for the blood pressure machine, and they let you watch TV while they get ready to shove their huge camera snake as far as it will go.

My blood pressure was right around 178/108.  My first thought was, "Hey, shouldn't we get me to a hospital or something?"

The nurse just laughed and said knowingly, "That blood pressure will come down in a few minutes."

Good Morning America was on the TV.  The last time I saw Good Morning America, the guy who played Lucas Tanner, M.D. (David Hartman) was on it.

Good Morning America that morning was about "The world's most awesomest pizza" or something.

They had renowned pizza guys on there showing off their wares.  I was reminded that I was pretty hungry. My stomach began to rumble and I feared an unscheduled lemonade spill. I was still only 5 hours removed from my most recent laxative O.D.

The nurse came by and pushed the Blood pressure button again. 170/100.

"Don't worry.  It'll come down," she said all sing-songy and shit.  She knows something, I thought, as she hummed her way out of earshot.

Then Kim came over.  Kim told me she was going to be giving me the drugs and that she and I would just hang out while the roto-rooter guy did his business out back.

Kim then took 2 syringes full of - might as well be called 'Heaven' - and pushed them into my vein. She said in about 30 seconds, I'd most-likely not have a care in the world.

A few minutes later, smug "your blood pressure will come down"  lady stopped by ... 112/66.  What the hell?  "Told you so," she said in slow motion, her face melting as her voice dropped a few octaves.

I was so so relaxed.  I don't know what that stuff was, but I was happy. The doctor came by and started up the snake.  It was obviously a quality piece of equipment. Craftsman. Gas-Powered. Oh, it took a few pulls of the cord to get it started, but that baby roared to life in no time.  Good ol' Craftsman.

Then it gets a little fuzzy as the sedation kicked in. At about this time, Good Morning America got weird too. "The world's best pizza" segment ended and now I was watching some bizarre short feature about "The world's wettest and pinkest caves."

I must've dozed off about that time because I don't remember much until I became aware that some lunchlady-type nurse had repeatedly been shouting, "I'm going to need you to toot."

"Toot."  I repeated.  I knew it probably sounded like a question as to her meaning.  But I knew what toot meant.  I just didn't know why she was saying it.

"Fart," she clarified, "We need you to fart." Obviously, she meant for me to "toot" with all of the grace and dignity I could muster.

To be continued ...

Next week: Fart Lady, Results (you won't believe what they found), Gandolfo's.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dignity, Grace and Tumors, Part I

(Working Title)

Although I can say with a degree of certainty that everything above this line makes it to "post time."

I was also toying with the title "Is it soup yet?"

For roughly the last one year and four months, there's been an appointment I kept "forgetting" to make.

Sixteen months ago, I turned the big 5-0.

I am by no means a dignified person.  I am not graceful or couth either.  I do seem to have a better vocabulary than google though so there's that (Google is calling "couth" misspelled. It is suggesting I use the word "couch" instead.  To be fair to google, I am not a couch either, so ...)

Anyway, from the time I was a little kid, I thought old people were a little ridiculous.  Goofy fuckers, all. With their dirty, ill-fitting, mismatched clothes.  Their loud voices.  That messy white hair they'd walk around in, etc.  Oh and they always smelled like ketchup or peanuts to me.  Yuck.

There was one exception in my mind.  Every once in a while I'd see the "Distinguished Gentleman."

This was a guy who groomed and stuff.  Also, he seemed fit and strong.  His clothes were neat and clean.

I figured if you had to get old, that was the way to go.

Through the years, that idea kind of morphed into the concept of "Aging with dignity and grace."

I'd say to myself, I want to age with dignity and grace.  All the while turning more and more into a goofy old fucker who smells like ketchup.

But you don't just say to yourself, "Now that I'm old today, it's time to be dignified and graceful.  It's time to grow one of those thin, white mustaches and say, "Hmm.  Yes." like Sean Connery.

In reality, what happens is you just live each day as one day older than yesterday.  You do that 15-20 thousand times and before you know it, you're not only not a kid anymore . You're old.


And no matter how much you take care of yourself to avoid being a goofy old person, once you hit 50, you are still required to let a coal miner's camera probe deep, deep into your anus.

Either that or it's certain death by butt cancer.  Who's dignified now, rot bottom?

And though this is seriously no laughing matter, if you do get butt cancer and die, people will be thinking of laughing.  They won't laugh because they're better than that. But they'll want to.

I guess you could just get the colonoscopy and not talk about it.  I suppose that's one way to hang on to a shred of your dignity.  Yeah, that's what I should do.  Just not talk about it ...

So I scheduled the procedure about a month ago.

When you sign up, they send you a packet of "prep" instructions.

It basically boils down to "Don't eat anything the day before.  Drink a bunch of liquids and take a dangerous amount of laxatives."

This is what they call "prep" or "cleansing".

From the literature :

 "... a poopy poop chute can obscure the doctor's view of any lesions.  Plus ewwww! There's a bunch of poop in your butt!"

So yeah, you gotta "colon blow" all that outta there the day before.

I have never in my life taken laxatives.  I'm a pretty regular kind of guy in the extreme.  I don't have any problems in that department if you know what I mean. If you don't know what I mean, I'm saying I normally poop a lot.  Like at least once a day.  Usually more.

So drinking a bunch of liquid all day and taking 9 doses of laxatives between 1 and 4 P.M. was the formula for a perfect storm that began at around 6PM and went strong until about 10PM.

Here's my favorite answer from the F.A.Q. in the literature they sent me:

What should my bowel movements look like after I drink all of the prep solution

Your bowel movements should be clear yellow liquid.  They will look like urine or lemonade.  If your bowel movements are still brown and haven't been clear, please call ...

Uh yeah.  So I had my dignified goal.  Sit on the toilet until I saw lemonade.

At 6 PM, I had what could easily be mistaken for Dinty Moore.  Except there seemed to be some sort of small twigs interspersed.

By 8:30, I realized I'd never look at a Black and Tan the same way again ...  Plus the sound was amazing. It sounded just like peeing, but felt way different because, um, because of the source.

So that was better. Closer to what they were looking for, but not lemonade. I was hoping I wouldn't have to make that phone call.  How do you gracefully tell a stranger "Yeah, I realize it's 2 AM but I just wanted to call and let you know my poop isn't clear yellow liquid yet.  Hmm? What? Did I dial ...? Sorry.  Wrong number."

But thankfully, by 10 PM, we had lemonade.  I mean, sure it was extra pulpy, but definitely lemonade.  Ice cold lemonade.

I was ready.  My colon was ready.  Now all I had to do was wait until 2 AM when I was supposed to take another huge serving of laxatives (well, only 7 doses this time).

To be continued ...

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Saturday Morning Extra: 15 Minutes.

So after my last post, I've decided a career change might be in order. I'm going to start writing new GEICO commercials.  Abe recently told me that Flo from progressive pulls down about a half million a commercial, so it looks like I'm on easy street, baby.
I tall, immaculately dressed man is seen throwing a pair of dark leather gloves into the trash.  Then in another cut, the same man, different clothes, gloves in the trash.
Repeat a couple of times.
"If you’re an assassin, you toss your gloves into a nearby trashcan.  It’s just what you do …"
Shabby, possibly abandoned house.  It’s dark inside. Windows covered with newspaper. The shape of several dirty people can be made out, lying haphazard and motionless on sleezy, thin mattresses.
"If you’re a meth addict, you sleep in your own filth.  It’s just what you do …"

Update/refinement on what started this:

We see Sergio Garcia seated at a fancy clubhouse restaurant.  He's staring off to his left at a group of reporters interviewing the tournament winner.  While he watches, he's absentmindedly shoving hunks of steak into his mouth.   Suddenly he's pounding the table, gasping for air as all the reporters rush to his aid ...

"If you're Sergio Garcia, you choke on Sunday.  It's just what you do ..."

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Top 10 Day

Last Saturday was what I think people call a top 10 day.  It was late February and the record high temperature happened, I think.  It was somewhere in the 70s for a high.  Just fantastic weather.  And on a Saturday too!

For someone like me, that's about the best kind of day ever.  You gotta take advantage of those when you can.  So here's a summary of what I did on that godsend of a day.

I woke up bright and early to send a text to Brady about the ride we had tentatively planned.

Then I went back to bed and slept for another 4 hours because the really bestest part of the day wasn't until later.  It was still a little chilly in the morning.

At about 12:30 I made an egg sandwich for myself and went downstairs to see when Golf was on.  It wasn't until 2 PM, so I watched a college Basketball Game.  I think it was Georgetown vs Butler but it might have been Georgetown at Butler.  Either way, it was a doozy.  It went into overtime and one of those 2 teams eventually won.  The other one did not pull off the upset, so whichever team was favored was the one that won.  I don't really follow college basketball but I do enjoy watching it when I can.  Particularly in late February/March/Early April.

Even though the basketball game went into overtime, it was still over at around 1:30. About half an hour left of this incredibly gorgeous day before golf.  No fear. There was another college basketball game on.  This one was Oklahoma and Texas.  Not as fun to watch because those sound suspiciously like football schools.  I like to watch basketball teams with basketball sounding names like "Georgetown", "Gorgonzola", or "Duke"

Anyway, I didn't have to watch too much of the Big 12 battle because Golf came on a few minutes later and I could really get serious about taking advantage of the best day of the year.

I always watch golf the same way.  Lying down with a pillow and a blanky.  Oh yeah, and mostly asleep.  I love golf.  I am amazed by the skill of the pros.  But this is truly television for people to watch while sleeping.  That's why the announcers whisper.  It's not out of courtesy for the golfers out there on the course far, far from the studio.

I'm sure that back in the old days, golf announcing was all about trying to keep the home viewers awake.  I bet there were noisemakers and sousaphones and such.

But after a time, the golf tv people found their target audience.  That's why golf is on at nap time (2-5) Saturday and Sunday.

So at around 4, I woke up from my nap to watch the rest of the golf for Saturday.  Predictably, Sergio Garcia ended up tied for the lead with Adam Scott.

At that point, I didn't know Adam Scott would go on for the win on Sunday - but I knew Sergio would piss it away because that's what he does.  I just thought of another idea for one of those car insurance commercials.

"If you're Sergio Garcia, you lose your shit on Sunday.  That's just what you do ..."

Anyway, with golf over and only about an hour of sunlight left on the record breaking, beautiful February Saturday, I promptly slid "Bioshock Infinite" into the PlayStation.  I bought the game years ago but never played it.  Playing video games for me is sort of a "rainy day" affair.  Or in this case, an "Are you kidding me with this incredible weather?" affair.

I played Bioshock for about 3 hours, then I went back to sleep.  For the night.

Sunday was pretty much the same as Saturday.  Well, for me.  Not Sergio Garcia.

Then on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I didn't feel much like riding.

So I rode today instead.  It was ok I guess.  I'll tell you this much.  I'm probably going to miss golf this weekend.  I'm also a little sad that I didn't finish Bioshock because I don't see any way in hell I'll get back to it anytime soon.  Unless I get really really sick again like I was when I woke up on Saturday ... A boy can dream.