Fun with Colonoscopy

What better way to celebrate a rough week than to get a colonoscopy?

No one wants to get their colon checked. But my wonderful primary care doctor, Dr. Etta Frankel, told me that I’d hit the age where I needed to. Besides, I’m losing my health insurance in a couple of weeks and wanted to get all my preventative care procedures done. Nothing like the thought of impending doom to get your house in order.

In early November, I got a postponement on my first colonoscopy due to Hurricane Sandy’s reshuffling of patients in New York City hospitals. All elective-type surgeries were canceled or rescheduled that week.

Happily, no NYC hurricane hit this week. Although the concoction I had to drink the night before the procedure worked like a Hurricane Sandy on my digestive track.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 2 bottles of coconut vitamin water
  • 2 bottles of green gatorade
  • one whole container of MiraLax

I mixed my concoction in a pitcher and in under two hours, I finished it. (Much like the 5K!)

a book that helped me through the night before my procedure, The Cookbook Collector:  A Novel by Allegra Goodman
a book that helped me through the night before my procedure, The Cookbook Collector: A Novel by Allegra Goodman

Everyone warned me, and so I was prepared, that this was hardest part of the colonoscopy — the drinking of the concoction. That, and the endless time in the bathroom to clean your bowels. To get through the evening, I reminded myself  that, “If I can run a 5K without stopping, I can drink 64 ounces of some sugary mix and spend an evening on the toilet.”

Also, I had a good book, Allegra Goodman’s Cookbook Collector, to keep me company.

The night of my internal storm in the bathroom, my son was very caring. Holed up in the bathroom for hours, occasionally, there’d be a gentle knock on the door, “You okay in there, Mom?” I truly loved that kid then. (I know I’ve complained about my kids on this blog, but they are basically kind and wonderful souls.)

Earlier that day, I’d fasted, which made me very crabby. (Yes, this is where the kids get their low-blood sugar crabbiness!)

The procedure itself was not a breeze. Everyone told me, “It’s the easiest part.” But I remember twice, half in a twilight sleep, coming to, in order to complain, “That hurts!” It felt like someone was poking me internally with a pool stick. Irksome, but not deadly.

Also, last night, the night of the procedure, I was very crabby. I felt my husband was not solicitous enough. Yes, he has his own health concerns. And yes, when he did ask, I told him, “I’m fine.” But when will a man realize that when a woman say, “I’m fine,” the day of a surgical procedure, what she really means is, “Please baby me the way I baby you when you’re sick! Bring me soup in bed and say, ‘Poor baby! Good that you’re taking care of your health!'”?

So, to reward myself for taking care of myself and surviving the storm of a colonoscopy, I went to a fun, girls’ night out, a jewelry sale to benefit a public high school. I bought some pretty little earrings. I giggled and had deep discussions with my girlfriends. That indulgence made the whole crappy week and day of the colonoscopy a little brighter.

Driving with Parkinson’s Disease

On the first day of vacay, just come back from the beach, sandy and relaxed, I got Chris’s phone call with the bad news.

After I drove myself and the kids to our flight out of JFK, Chris took the driver’s seat. About five minutes later, he rear-ended a car. It was on the ramp from the airport to the highway (the Long Island Expressway?). He had been fiddling with the radio and didn’t see the car stopped at the red light in front of him.

The airbags inflated. No one was hurt. Our car was totaled. Chris told me, “My driving days may be limited.”

That night after I got that call, I didn’t sleep well. It didn’t ruin my vacation. It just felt like a signpost on the unhappy road of the progress of Chris’s Parkinson’s Disease. (He’s had PD nine years now.) Parkinson’s is a steady decline.

I have not enjoyed driving with Chris for years. Lately, he could hardly drive a city block without me clutching the dashboard or pressing my foot on a phantom break. I tried to bite my tongue, but often blurted out, “Look out!”

So, when we were together in the car, I always drove, especially with the kids in the car.

This is tough stuff. But I’m glad I didn’t have to tell him, point-blank, “I think your driving sucks.” How do tell someone that? It feels terrible. Yet, it would feel even worse if there had been a serious accident and I’d have to apologize to some stranger, knowing as I did, that his driving sucked. Maybe a small fender-bender is a blessing in disguise.

When you live with someone who is chronically ill, you have to pick your battles. You have to witness a decline. And you often don’t want to speak your truth.

You have to take over the driving. Sometimes it’d be nice to doze in the passenger seat and trust that the driver’s doing just fine. That doesn’t happen when you’re married to someone with Parkinson’s. At least, it doesn’t happen for me.

He can drive other things, but he can’t drive the family car. For that matter, neither can I. Because we don’t have one any more.

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