“This House is Clean!”…rewind

roto

(This post was originally published in 2014.  It’s a humorous take on a subject most folks are reluctant to discuss.  For obvious reasons…

I’m reposting because it want to make sure EVERYBODY (and AGMA means EVERYBODY) over the age of 50 knows how critically important it is to get regular colonoscopies.  Sooner if there is a history of colon cancer in your family. 

A little over a year ago (February 2017), Hubs went in for a “regular” colonscopy (his previous ones had been clear).  The GI guy removed a large polyp and it turns out there were cancer cells hiding in the polyp.  

Damn cancer cells.

It was very, very early colon cancer – literally only a few cells grouped together.  It wasn’t even staged.  In May, the area around the poly was removed and the margins turned out to be  clear.

There was much dancing and celebration at Casa AGMA the day the pathology report came back!

The survival rate for early detection of colon cancer is very high.   This is a very good thing!

So this is all to say, if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, get thyself to ye olde butt doctor NOW!)

On the way to a group run Monday, my running buddy told she was getting her first colonoscopy next Thursday. A colonoscopy virgin. Grasshopper has much to learn…

(Leave now if you don’t like TMI ‘cause this is going to be “one of those” posts!)

She complained that she couldn’t have any solid food on Wednesday; just clear liquids. She said she would be hungry. She was obsessing over how hungry she would be. “Oh honey,” I wanted to tell her, “hunger will be the least of your worries next Wednesday.”

I’ve had two colonoscopies. I think this puts me into the “experienced” category when it comes to this sort of thing. Lucky me.

Studies show that early screening for colon cancer save lives. I’m all over that. And, a colonoscopy really isn’t as bad as people say. Really. Maybe not.

I’ll give you that the prep is kind of yucky. My friend is going to be taking pills to “get ready” for the big day. I’m jealous. I was never offered a pill option.

The first doc in Ohio wrote me a prescription for something that I had to mix with water. It made 30 gallons. It seemed like it was 30 gallons. They said I had to drink it all over the course of the afternoon and evening the day before the procedure.

Game on!

Initially, it tasted like a cross between Gatorade, Pediacare and lemon-lime Kool Aid. Not too bad I thought at the time. “At the time” being the key words here…

Three gallons and three hours later into the prep “protocol”, my upper GI tract started to rebel. It was getting hard to drink the stuff. It was now tasting like a cross between horse sweat and liquified, stale Easter peeps. My throat was starting to clamp shut.

‘Round about that same time, my lower GI tract started to join the party. That’s the nice way to put it. I hovered close to the water closet. Very close. I was thinking of moving in for the night.

Several hours and several more gallons of the now totally undrinkable foul witches brew later, I took a stand. Enough is enough. The gag reflex had started kick in. This is never good. And what I did manage to force down started to shoot through me like I was a goose on speed. I made the unilateral decision that I had successfully completed the prep phase.

My second doc in Missouri didn’t write me a prescription for a prep concoction. He told me to get several over the counter products at the local drug store. Said they worked just as well. And it was cheap. No 30 gallons of toe jam peep sweat. No clamped shut esophagus. It was much more civilized with basically the same squeaky clean results. Easy peasy. Kind of…

So once the prep work is done, you’re basically home free. Other than the next day they snake about 15 feet of tubing up your colon while the doc wears a miners light on his head, a hazmat suit and stares at his monitor with live video of your now clean as a whistle innards. Can I order that on NetFlix?

But the best part of the whole process is the amazing twilight sleep stuff they use to knock you out! You have no idea at all what’s happening. This is very good. And you wake up feeling like you’ve had the best sleep you’ve had in years. In a sick way, it kinda makes it all worthwhile…

So if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, for heaven’s sake schedule one! It’s a relatively simple procedure that could save your life. Plus you end up (get it – end up?) with some pretty good stories that you can swap with other 50+ types. Good times.

But I do have one question – when did they stop calling them proctologists and start calling them gastroenterologists? Proctologist is just such a great word. It’s the stuff great jokes are made of…

Two proctologists were talking about their patients (obviously pre-HIPPA…) The first one said that he was probing one of his patient’s “nether regions” and pulled out a bouquet of flowers. In stunned amazement, the second protologist said, “Where did they come from?” The first proctologist answered, “I don’t know. There wasn’t a card attached.”

Badum-CHING!

One tough sausage ball

mr-bill

“I haven’t written anything in nearly three weeks. I’m going to go out and write come hell or high water.”

That was AGMA around noon today to Hubs who was working from home.

And here I am writing, not having to deal with either hell (unless you consider the ongoing Trump presidency a new, 10th level of hell ala Dante Alighieri) or high water. Just some minor traffic and a hour less time to write than I thought I’d have.

AGMA’s dentist appointment for a crown re-do and a filling re-do for later this afternoon got moved to earlier in the afternoon. I wonder if it had anything to do with my FYI call to their office this morning informing them that half of the tooth scheduled for the filling re-do is no longer there.

Evidently the sausage ball I was eating Saturday evening at a party was a far more formidable force for a rear molar than it appeared. Or it could be that a molar that has been 70% filling and 30% tooth for the last 47 years finally gave up the ghost.  It broke.

My dentist is going to give me that look. Again.

Actually, this week is shaping up to be an expensive on for us on the healthcare front.

Timely given the proposed GOP Don’T Care Un-heathcare plan. It just seems like people can’t start dying fast enough for them. They actually seem a bit giddy at the prospect…

But we have good insurance – for now – so instead of costing us an arm and a leg, it’s only going to be a few fingers. Maybe a toe too.

Hubs was home today because he had a CAT scan this morning complete with a barium and iodine cocktail. Yummy.

The pathology on the MEGA polyp (seriously, that’s what the doctor called it; we have started calling it Mr. Bill) removed during his colonoscopy several weeks ago (that I did NOT write about…), showed the tiniest amount of cancer. The pathologist couldn’t see it when they initially checked Mr. Bill out, but there was ‘an area of suspicion’. Gotta watch out for those. So Mr. Bill was sent off for more tests and came back positive for some cancer cells.

The doc said that he was 80% sure that he got it all when he unceremoniously cut Mr. Bill out during the colonoscopy but just in case, Hubs had to have the CAT scan today.

I’m liking his odds. Stay tuned for more…

And of course AGMA has the joy of a visit to my long suffering dentist today.

I’m sure the crown re-do will go forward as planned. I’m just not sure what happens to the filling re-do since there basically isn’t much of a tooth left to fill. No matter what he does, I think it’s going to cost us some serious simoleons.

And last but not least, I have an appointment for MRI this week.

I took my last prednisone tablet on Saturday. AGMA cautiously feels like I have a new lease on life. I’m very much looking forward to a reduction in the chipmunk cheeks, getting all the feeling back in my tootsies and a good night’s sleep with out the help of big pharma.

I’ve been on this wonderful but horrible drug since the beginning of December. The goal is to get rid of the mass in my pancreas caused by a stupid autoimmune condition AGMA managed to develop.

Duh – I hate it when I do stuff like that.

An 8 week round of prednisone last summer caused it to shrink but not disappear. After trying another immune suppressant drug for a few months that my body did not like at all – lots of side effects – I took a 4 week break to run a marathon and go to Australia.

Naturally.

This round of prednisone has been more intense in that I took a higher dose for a longer time period – 14 weeks total.

Now it’s time to see if it worked.

That’s what the MRI (with contrast dye) is all about. Evidently they need to put dye in to make sure no part of the mass can play hide and seek behind my stomach.

Stay tuned…

As I said, an expensive week for the AGMA household, but thankfully, our insurance will be paying for large portion of it. But at some point over the weekend, when we were talking about all of the above and reading about the proposed GOP plan to decimate the ACA, Hubs and I looked at each other and both blurted out the same thoughts…

What would people who don’t have insurance do if they were in our situation? What will people who will lose their insurance coverage under Don’T Care do if they were in our situation?

Maybe we’re socialists or bleeding heart liberals. Maybe we have a bit of ‘survivors guilt’. But we think that everybody should have access to the same healthcare as we have without having to file for bankruptcy. Or die.

Pretty radical huh?

That’s AGMA.

Mr. Feder…Part Deux

capsaicin

So I wrote a post last week while I was in the waiting room of a local gastroenterology practice.  Hubs was in the process of getting a colonoscopy.  I thought it would be a good idea to write about his prep.

Lucky for you, I came to my senses.

So…no post last week.

AGMA is out of control again.

I just got home on Monday from the first of  what will be three long weekends away.  Between February 24th and March 13th, I will be home for a grand total of 3 days.  Three days.

Out. Of. Control.

Last weekend, I did a half marathon in Florida.  I drove down with a friend and stayed at her 80 year old mother’s home.  Her mom was a wild woman cut out of the same AGMA cloth as yours truly.   It was a great time.

And I loved watching my friend’s mother “mothering” her.  It’s been about 25 years since I have been “mothered”…I forgot how (mostly) wonderful it was.  It made AGMA really miss her step-mother.  And feel a bit guilty that I didn’t appreciate her as much as I should have before first Alzheimer’s then the Grim Reaper stole her away from all of us.

Tomorrow, I go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

ZZZzzzz…

I know I’m nuts, but this is a trip AGMA really doesn’t want to take.  I committed to it last fall before life took a turn for the cray cray.  It’s an el cheapo trip – a friend is renting the condo and invited me to come along gratis.  And I’m using airline miles to get there.  And I don’t think it will be terribly expensive once I get there.

But it’s six days I’d rather be doing something else other than sitting in the sun and walking along the ocean.

Huh?   I know that 98% of you think I’m nuts.  And you would be right…

I get back on Tuesday next week, then leave on Thursday for Chicago to hang out with B & V (my very hip, awesome grandchildren.)  This trip, I very much want to take.  Always.

But I will be missing a long run that Saturday.   So AGMA has to make it up because I’m signed up for another full marathon on 4/2.   Yeah – I’m nuts.

I’m planning on running 20 miles by myself the Monday after I get back.

That sucks.

Right now, it feels like I’m running through grape jelly when I run.  I’ve never been fast, but my half marathon time last weekend was abysmal considering it was a relatively cool day and the course was pancake flat.

I blame the prednisone and the shingles.  And the grand Cheeto-head.  Of course.

Prednisone update…  My GI guy wants me to take the low dose I’m on for another 17 days.  I’ve been on prednisone since early December.   Don’t tell him, but AGMA’s planning on only taking it for another 10 days.  Shhhhh…

I’m so over it.

Shingles update…  The rash is gone with nothing but discolored areas remaining.  Again, TMI.  But now I’m experiencing what they call Postherpetic Neuralgia.  Yuck.

Postherpetic Neuralgia is when the nerves in the area of the rash fire on their own.  And often.  According to Dr. Diagnoseanythingontheinternet, this condition can last anywhere from a few weeks to forever.

AGAM’s rooting for the ‘few weeks’ option.

The weird thing is that I’m not experiencing pain.  I’m getting an intense tingling, itchy, ticklish sensation.  Like really intense.  Like so intense that I feel compelled to scratch and rub the area.

This has been somewhat embarrassing since the rash was on my left buttocks, left hip and left pubic bone area.  You get the idea…

Oh la la.

I read that a topical lotion with capsaisin in it can help relieve the sensations.  Capsaisin is what makes hot peppers hot.  It somehow blocks the nerve signals to the brain.

So basically AGMA would be rubbing a red habanero on her crotch.

Let’s do this.  Sounds like fun.

I had a corporate chair massage gig yesterday.  Since didn’t want to be constantly itching and rubbing my nether regions during the job, I decided to try a topical capsaisin product.

I used the applicator to rub it on.  I wasn’t sure the lotion was flowing so I made sure I put extra on.  Alllllll the way from my spine to just above my pubic bone in front.  I covered it good.  Real good.

Turns out, this was not a wise thing to do.

Round about 30 minutes into the job, the itching and ticklish feelings were intensified and joined by a burning sensation.  Like a 13 year old middle school male,  I couldn’t keep my hands off of myself.

At one point, I managed to take a peek at my waist.  It was bright red.  I mean, fire engine red.

Yesterday is now in the top 10 list of AGMA’s most uncomfortable moments.  Ever.

Too much capsaisin can actually cause burns on the skin.  AGMA thought she was SOL.

But then an amazing thing happened.  After nearly 3 hours of extreme discomfort, it suddenly went away.  Poof, goodbye.

No more itching.  No more tickling.  No more pain.

When I got home, I checked out “the area” and all the redness was gone.  Poof, goodbye.

AGMA felt like she did in the good old days before shingles.  Like four weeks ago.

The itching and tickley feeling came back around 9 PM last night.  Damn.  But not as intensely as it had been.

AGMA looked at the little bottle of the topical capsaisin by the sink.  With fresh memories of intense itching, extreme discomfort and semi-burning flesh, I decided to take extra ibuprofen instead.

As the old saying goes, sometimes the “cure is worse than the disease”.

I’m wondering if the Russians might like my almost full bottle of capsaisin lotion to use in their political prisoner interrogation program.

They’ll talk.  Oh yes – they’ll talk.

AGMA guarantees it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Feder…

rosanna-rosanna-dana

Rosanne Roseannadanna, played by the late Gilda Radner, was a reoccuring character on the original Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live.

And she rocked.

She read letters with questions from “viewers” and then give her advice/opinions which were always hil-arious. Lots of chuckles.

But it seems like the only person who ever sent letters to her was Mr. Richard Feder from Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Bit of trivia… There actually WAS a Richard Feder from Fort Lee, New Jersey. He was the brother-in-law of the guy who wrote that segment for SNL. But he never wrote any letters. Inside family joke I guess…

Gotta love the in-laws.

On one Weekend Update, Roseanne Roseannadanna reads (yet another) letter from Mr. Feder detailing the problems he’s having trying to quit smoking.

He writes, “Now I’m depressed, I gained weight, my face broke out, I’m nauseous, I’m constipated, my feet swelled, my gums are bleeding, my sinuses are clogged, I got heartburn, I’m cranky and I have gas. What should I do?”

“Mr. Feder, you sound like a real attractive guy.”, Ms. Roseannadanna said.

AGMA can relate.

Two weeks ago, I was blissfully hanging out with my grandchildren in Chicago. Minding my own business. Enjoying being Nana. A cool, newly tattooed Nana…

And that’s when I noticed the small red area on my left hip. Hmmm – my jeans must be too tight. Entirely possible since AGMA has been eating like Steve Bannon at a KKK recruitment pig roast.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I got alarmed. The little red spot had morphed into a painful, bumpy rash that covered my left hip. Hmmm – this is weird.

Concerned about what kind of creeping crud I may have contracted and being around my grandchildren, I asked my DIL to take a look at it. She’s a brave woman since I had to pull my pants down.

She took one gander at it and said, “I think you have shingles.”

WTF??

Turns out my son had shingles in the same spot a number of years ago and she said it looked just like his shingles. Mother and son matching shingles – how precious.

My primary care doctor talked to me about getting the shingles vaccine last month. But since I’ve been back on the evil prednisone since early December, she said I needed to wait. Evidently the prednisone can interfere with the shingles vaccine’s effectiveness.

Joke’s on her. Or AGMA.

Back in Chicago, I hurried to a local doc in a box to get “officially” checked out. Sure ‘nuff – shingles.

Damn.

AGMA admits she panicked a little. And almost broke down into tears. My sweet granddaughter is only 3 months old and I was afraid that she was going to get chickenpox from her tattooed Nana.

That would not be cool.

The Physican’s Assistant said that little Vi would have to come into direct contact with the shingles blisters oozing “goo” (OMG that’s so gross…) to get chickenpox. And given the location of the rash – on my hip, waist and (blush) bottom – that probably wouldn’t happen.

I texted my DIL that it was indeed shingles and that she should call her pediatrician for advice. I ate lunch at a local restaurant waiting for her to get a call back. I was fully prepared to be kicked out of the house until I flew home that Saturday. AGMA was on her phone during lunch looking for cheap hotel rooms…

But her pediatrician said the same thing the PA said and I was welcomed back into the house with open arms. I just had to wash my hands a lot.

Because I was able to go on an anti-viral, I haven’t had the horrible nerve pain that Hubs had in 2006 when he got shingles. And most (but not all) of the rash faded without blistering up and crusting over.

Again, so gross… Isn’t “crusting” kind of a digusting word?

But it’s kinda put AGMA down for the count and I’m dragging. I’ve still been able to run, but it feels like I’m running through jello with weights on my shoes. Slog.

I blame Donald Trump for my shingles. And the prednisone. Between the two of them, my immune system was flashing STRESS LEVEL TOO HIGH – DANGER, DANGER.

Since I’ve been back on prednisone, I’ve had most of the side effects I had when I was on it last summer. Oral thrush and trouble sleeping. Like big trouble sleeping. More than 5 hours a night is a special treat.

Added to the mix this time is numbness and tingling in my hands and feet along with a foggy head (more than normal…) and blurry vision. And a bigly yuge set of chipmunk cheeks. AGMA’s got some serious jowls going on right now.

And now shingles with most of the delights that come with that little gem of a condition.

Ms. AGMA, you sound like a real attractive gal.

Wake me up when it’s all over.