THE LONG AND WINDING…PROBE

I now have photos of parts of me I have never seen nor will ever see in person. 
Last Wednesday I underwent a colonoscopy and an endoscopy, both of which were filmed.  The wonders of digital photography!  These are truly what can be called close up shots.   Inside shots?  I’ll let you look at them if you really want to.  I’m talking about this event because of the statistic my doctor gave me.  Six out of 100 people have colon cancer.  If it’s detected early, it can be zapped.  If not, you’re a goner.
All went well and I’ve been checked out top to bottom.  Or bottom to top.  I wasn’t aware enough to know the order of things.  At any rate, it appears that, with the exception of a hiatal hernia and diverticulosis, both of which I already knew I had, I’m fine.  No ulcers.  Parts of me were clipped for biopsy and those parts came back negative.  That’s good news.
If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, here’s how it goes.  The process is so much more streamlined than it was nine years ago when I had my first one.  Three days before the procedure, you stop eating nuts, seeds, berries, and red or purple food.  I learned that most of what I eat is food with seeds, nuts and colored red or purple.  Some green.  Do you know how boring white food is?
The day before the procedure you eat no food at all.  You may have bouillion or beverages except coffee (no coffee) or jello, but not red or purple jello or beverages.   I think you can wear lipstick, though.
The day I didn’t eat any food, only liquids, I thought about how at least three/fourths of the world every day has no food.  My head ached and my brain was foggy.  I knew why school students who don’t have a breakfast can’t think.  I’m so glad for people like my friend Georga who coordinates the summer Lunch Buddies program in my town, the ones who make sure kids get something to eat when school’s out.  I wondered how actresses and ballerinas don’t eat day after day.  A day of fasting puts abundance in perspective.
At 4:00 p.m. you swallow two Ducolax pills to start the cleansing procedure.  At 6:00 p.m. you begin drinking 64 oz. of Gatorade mixed with 238 grams of Miralax.   For the next four hours you spend most of your time in the bathroom, so have a fascinating book ready.  I read Steve Martin’s new book, The Object of Beauty.   I learned all about the buying and selling of art over the past 20 years.   The Gatorade helped with my headache.  I slept very well despite getting up four times during the night.  The last time I had this procedure, I endured two days of fasting and a more violent cleansing, so this time I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s all relative, remember.
You can drink something the morning of the procedure, up until a certain hour.  No coffee, remember, and you should lay off the caffeine, too, so the nurse can find a vein.  Nurses have a difficult time finding a vein on me.  You’re already dehydrated and caffeine shrinks your veins even more.  I drank green tea, forgetting about the caffeine.  Then I started to worry because once in the past I got poked eight times by a needle and then was sent to the hospital where I think the expert there opened an artery or aorta or something similar.  I don’t like getting poked even once.
Once you stop fluid intake, you wait until time to arrive at the clinic.  Waiting is boring and for me with an overactive imagination, my muse on overdrive, nerve wracking.  I worried about the vein issue and the minute possibility the procedure could cause a tear. 
Finally we went to the clinic and I had to read and sign a waiver form that said in many different ways that if something bad happened, the clinic would not be held responsible.  Of course, all the terrible things were listed, just so I could worry even more.
While we were seated in the waiting room and I was worrying, a nurse came to get a gentleman also waiting.   She told him that the nurses could not find a vein on his wife and they couldn’t spend any more time trying.  He was to come inside to a conference room where the doctor would talk with them both.  The man gathered up his things, softly saying, “Shit.”  Nurses walked the wife out of the preparation/recovery room.  When she saw her husband, she screamed and fell to the floor.  Several more nurses came running.  She flailed about and screamed for at least 15 minutes before she was upright again, calmed, and escorted into a conference room.  I saw it all right over the top of the receptionist’s head, happening in the hallway.  I recommend a wall be constructed there immediately.  (Hello? HIPA?)
I told my husband, “This is not what I need to see (or hear) right before I go in there.”  I was already, with my vivid and overworking imagination, worrying about everything that could go wrong and thinking how pissed I’d be if they couldn’t find a vein so I would have done all that fasting and pooping in vain. 
As soon as the door closed on the screamer, a nurse opened the door and said, “Karen?”  Why would a person want to go into that chamber of horrors after witnessing the scene that had just played out before me?  I didn’t want to, but I stood up, kissed my husband good-bye, not for the last time, I hoped, and followed her.  I was absolutely valiant.
We entered the preparation/recovery area.  The nurses’ station was centered in the large room, and curtained cubicles covered three walls.  A true ASS-embly line, I know my friend Jerry would say.  The room reminded me of those swimming resorts in the 1930’s, with their little changing rooms and the pool in the middle.  No swimming today.
The curtains drawn provide visual privacy, but every conversation up and down the walls can be heard just fine.  Everyone agrees that you can’t hear but you can.  We all got the same questions from the nurses who typed into the computers our answers.  Our blood pressure was taken and we removed our clothing and put on the cotton gowns.  The first nurse tried to get a vein.  Poke, poke, poke.  Nope.  Wasn’t happening.  I wondered if she was the one who had tortured Screaming Woman.  She left and returned saying that another nurse would come to give me an anti-nausea shot and insert the IV needle.  When she arrived, I told her to just use the vein in my hand.  That’s exactly what she did and my vein worry evaporated. 
Of course I was so nervous I had to pee, so I traipsed over to the restroom and back, holding on to the back of my gown.  I knew someone would soon be seeing my butt, but I didn’t want it to be just yet.
Back at my cubicle, I lay down and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I don’t wait well.  I used all the meditation techniques I knew to try to calm myself down.  Chanting works best for me because I can focus my mind on the sound.  Silence never works because I have trouble shutting off my blathering mind.  I tried to chant the holy harmony chant I know, the most powerful healing chant that is the name of Jesus, but I was so nervous I forgot one of the words.  I began softly singing “Amazing Grace” but then I thought I’d better shut up because everyone can hear everything from every cubicle and that’s a song usually sung at funerals.  Nothing else would come to my mind, so I lay there blankly.  FOREVER.  Almost.
Finally, a woman who looked too tiny to move my bed and me, transported me to one of the procedure rooms.
One funny thing that happened was that when all my tubes and wires were being hooked up by nurses, the song playing was, “Knock, knock, knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”  I told all who were assembled I surely hoped that wasn’t prophetic.  They changed to another song and apologized.  Somebody there needs to do some deleting from his i-pod.  🙂 
Electrodes were placed on my chest and one under my heart, so for a couple of days afterward, my chest read, “OO.”  If you read from bottom to top, my torso read, “OOO.”  Ghostly.
Jeff introduced himself to me, saying, “I’ll be assisting the doctor today.”  He wore the blue smock and cap.  My doctor came in to talk with me.  He wore regular street clothes.  Right then I figured who really would be doing the dirty work.
The doctor told me what they would be doing, which I already knew because why would I be there otherwise?  He walked over to his computer and another death and dying song came from the speaker.
I removed the plastic device that held my mouth open so a tube could be inserted and told them they needed to get Elton and Leon’s “Union.”  Jeff said, “Thanks for the recommendation.  Now put the plastic piece back in your mouth.”  The next thing I knew, I woke up in my cubicle.
I was so glad when I woke up and it was all over and nothing at all hurt and hasn’t.  Glad again when I ate dinner.  Really glad when I got the news Friday of a ten-year reprieve because all biopsies came back negative. 
If there is a medical procedure you should be having, then go do it.  People love you and want you around a bit longer.  Besides, now you get photos.

Burlesque

We went to see the film Burlesque last weekend.  This, even after I had read review after review panning it.  I don‘t care.  I idolize Cher and I’d go to see anything she was a part of.  I was not disappointed and neither was my husband who normally doesn’t care for this film genre.  I laughed, I cried, I clapped my hands, all the way through the film and at the end—just like everyone else in the theatre with us, including that guy sitting beside me. 
Critics complained that Christina Aguilera sang the hell out of every song.  Well, duh.  She did and her renditions were fabulous.  The moment she opened her mouth to sing, electricity zinged from the screen, transforming into a frisson of excitement and delight pinging up and down my spine.  That’s what musicals are all about.  The dancing was tantalizingly thrilling as well and would make one heck of a workout to do behind closed doors.   I wish I had just one of the glamorous costumes to wear around the house for a day.  Paul Giamatti made a loveable sidekick and got his own little sub-plot whose resolution was probably the most real-life scene in the film. 
Of course, the story was predictable and the characters as well.  Every commercial American film is predictable in that there is a certain formula that must be followed in order that the film be produced at all.  As an amateur screenwriter, I know that formula by heart.  What’s fun for me is to see how the screenwriter makes the story come alive and how it goes from point A to Z.  I know in the last 5-10 minutes every conflict will seem as though it cannot be resolved and then, magically, the writer presents the solution for every single one.  Voilà, the happy ending American audiences expect.
If you’re not paying attention all the way through, you miss the foreshadowing that makes resolution possible.  Who knew the seemingly innocent exchange about retaining air space rights between the seductive bad guy and the good girl trying to make it in L.A. and still retain her morals will have such import by the end of the film?  Writers know.  Nothing is in a well-written film without a purpose.
Besides Cher and Christina, the dancing, costumes and music, what I liked about Burlesque was that this film about a “naughty” entertainment form was not a naughty film.  There was no continually streaming F-word, no violence, no gratuitous sex, no car chases—none of the obligatories I detest, stuck in films for men ages 18-34 which we are told make up the largest movie-going audiences in the United States.  In Burlesque, morality reigned.  I need some of that, living in this chaotic world where often people don’t seem to care about anything or anyone, including themselves.
Here’s another thing.  Cher and I are the same age.  She is like the real me inside.  For a few hours and a few bucks, I can be her.  Cher learned her smarts the hard way, through life’s knocks and without the benefit of higher education, so I like listening to her in real life, too.  She tells it like it is.  She should be writing a book of her philosophies learned.  I know she can write because she wrote one of the best scenes in the film, the one where she shows Christina how to apply her stage makeup.  She works hard to be who she is and to look like she does.  Well, Cher and a few plastic surgeons, and an intense physical workout every day walking in the Malibu hills.  That perseverance and truth-telling inspire me.  I identified with the song she sang in the film.  Most women my age who’ve been through a world of crap would.
Diablo Cody (another wonder) wrote the first go-round script of this film and then it went through two other writers’ hands, ending up with final touches added by the director.  You can find out more information about the film on Wikipedia or at IMDB.com.  A sound track of the music is available, songs sung by both Christina Aguilera and Cher.
Like those critics, I have my own prediction.  This film will end up on Broadway and may inspire new forms of burlesque itself.  I’d like that, because being naughty while being nice is fun.