Archive | July, 2013

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Barry? Barry, um, in, um, uh?

17 Jul
Confirmation that it's bad: this e-card already existed.

Confirmation that it’s bad: this e-card already existed.

If your day started out as expected and didn’t take a sideways turn when someone surprised you by putting a tube up your ass, I think you can consider it a banner day.

Just, WOW.

Let me back up… This morning I went to the hospital for a CT scan that was scheduled weeks ago, when symptoms led my doctor to believe my intestines might be nearing the point of explosion.

(In case you’re curious, those symptoms are: sustained high fever, stabbing appendicitis-like pains, overall body aches, nausea, and either projectile-vomiting or diabolic diarrhea. So basically, either a Crohn’s flare or the flu.)

To make sure my disease hasn’t progressed to the point of needing surgery, a CT scan was ordered. I was stoked that a colonoscopy wasn’t needed. What’s that saying about asses and assumptions?

This morning I showed up, woefully ill-prepared for what awaited me. I should’ve realized – after handing the receptionist my doctor’s order – that I was in for something special. She looked at it, then turned to a scrubbed up technician walking past the desk to ask, “Have you seen one of these before?”

Not a good sign. He looked at it, then looked up at me, then back at the paper. A doubly-bad sign.

After they whispered for a bit, I was shown back to his office and given two gowns to change into. TWO. Another bad sign.

When I emerged from the dressing room, he said, “OK. I’m going to have you sit right here in my office so I can keep an eye on you. Do you know anything about this procedure?”

Also known as "Radioactive Milk."

Also known as “Radioactive Milk.”

Apparently I did not. The nutshell: I had to drink a 1/2 liter of Volumen (basically a Barium suspension) every 15 minutes for 45 minutes, then hop on the scanner table and roll to my side so they could give me a Barium enema – then squeeze my cheeks while they slid me into the scanner for photos.

Wait. A. Minute. No one warmed me that I’d be getting an ENEMA.

While the idea of a tube jammed up your ass is disconcerting when suddenly sprung on you, the more immediate concerns are: Is there any chance I need to GO to the bathroom? How robust was my toilet paper this morning? Might I accidentally poop on this stranger?

It’s not a great place to be. I said, “Hold up. I can’t believe no one prepped me for this. Do you always get stuck breaking the news?” He shrugged and gave a “what can you do?” look.

“Boy,” I said. “Seems like you get stuck with all the fun stuff.” He cringed and nodded. I had to go out of my way to not use the word “shocker,” because I didn’t want him getting any ideas when he flipped me to insert the tube.

“Well,” I continued. “I’m sorry in advance. For both of us.”

He nodded before he caught himself. Then he tried to save it by saying, “It’s not so bad. I could be in the ER. At least you’re a walkie-talkie.”

“Walkie-talkie?” I asked.

“You’re walking and talking,” he explained. “In the ER, most people don’t have insurance, so they’re homeless or indigent. They aren’t always conscious and they don’t shower often.”

Perfect. That made me feel a bit better. I was pretty sure I could stack up favorably compared to a homeless person. But then again, no guarantees.

When he handed me the first bottle of Volumen to drink, he asked if I’d like a straw. I shook my head, screwed off the lid, and chugged it without pausing for air. I think he was mildly intimidated when I passed the empty back to him. Probably for many reasons. At this point, I began imagining myself played by Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids, in the screenplay of my life.

During this 15 minute interlude, he attached an IV to my arm so they could push the contrast dye into my veins easily once I was on the table. To make small talk while he did this, he asked me my age. Turns out we were only a month apart.

I’m here to tell you: the only thing worse than learning that a stranger is going to give you an enema, is learning that he is pretty much your age. Because you can imagine the happy hour he’s going to have, when he tells his friends about the unexpected procedure he had to conduct, and the otherwise professional woman who shat herself on his table.

I tried to block that image and instead chugged the next bit of Volumen.

Around this time, he started to get nervous about the timing. The last bottle of Volumen needed to be consumed in two drinks, with the barium enema occurring in between, and the dye injection happening after. He was using his smartphone to set timers for everything. “Just me,” I asked, “Or is this a bit of a circus?”

He nodded. “We don’t do this that often, so it’s a lot to coordinate.”

We moved to the CT Scan machine and he consulted his phone. “OK. Time to step out of your panties and lie on the table.”

How about you don’t use the word panties during a medical procedure? I thought.

Silently, I complied. I settled in on the table, knees propped over a pillow. And then he said, “OK – roll to your left.”

Before I did, I said, “In case you wonder what’s going through someone’s head at this moment, I think you should know. I am praying I don’t shit on your machine.”

He nodded solemnly and said, “I appreciate that.”

I rolled over. Tube inserted. My bowels filled with barium and the feeling was similar to when I flushed a toilet in Australia and saw everything swirl in the reverse direction.

It was go-time. I performed. And I did not ruin the machine.

Is it wrong to high-five a technician when you bolt out of the office? If it is, I don’t want to be right.

And that was my hump day. How was YOURS?

Seriously. They sell this shirt on Zazzle.

Seriously. They sell this shirt on Zazzle.

Great. My cat is an addict.

9 Jul
One if by land, two if by sea

First blush is always deceptive…

Great. So I thought I’d lucked out and adopted the perfect cat.

Should’ve known I was jinxing myself. I mean, I even came up with a LIST of reasons she was perfect. Here are a few highlights to let you know what I thought I was working with:

  1. Found the litterbox without coaching. Even after I moved it. And put a lid on it.
  2. Didn’t act skittish and hide under my bed when she arrived. Jumped on it like a boss.
  3. Purrs constantly. Even just if you make eye contact.
  4. Doesn’t bite. She only swats at you to pull your hand closer to her head – so you can scratch her.
  5. Hates Stompy Michael as much as I do. Stares at the ceiling with a look of exasperation whenever he moves.
  6. Fetches.

And that’s only a partial list.

In any case, that “perfect kitty” image was shattered today when I came home from work and found Miss Moneypenny waiting for me right inside the door with eyes the size of saucers.

“Hmm,” I thought. “This is an odd time of day for her to be hyper.”

She then proceeded to tear-ass around my condo, practically running across the walls as if it were a velodrome. Definitely out of character for a cat who is normally groggy from her nap. And she doesn’t own a bike.

“Maybe she’s just excited to see me,” I thought, heading down the path of so many enablers, making excuses for a user.

Then I went to my bedroom to change and noticed that my closet door was open. Very odd, since I make sure it’s closed at all times so she can’t fur-up my clothes. I looked at her accusingly, but then dismissed it… I’d probably rushed out this morning and left it open myself. 

Yes, sadly, I started blaming myself – another classic enabler move.

But I could hide from the truth no longer when – as a special treat – I went to retrieve “Turtle,” (the fuzzy toy filled with catnip that I shared with her yesterday) and found him missing from his spot inside my closet.

And we all know turtles don’t just hustle off.

Suddenly, everything made sense – the erratic behavior, the open closet door, the big eyes.

I found Turtle ten minutes later, under my bed, still wet from kitty slobber.

Oh, Miss Moneypenny!? 

Miss Moneypenny wouldn’t make eye contact with me, pretending she had no idea who Turtle even was. So quick to disown.

Headshake.

This is the face of addiction, people. We have to confront it head-on. No hiding.

Now excuse me while I run off to finish my Girl Scout Samoas. On the floor of my kitchen. In my underwear.

Do. Not. Judge.

Red, white and blood?

8 Jul
"Do you think I need to go to the Emergency Room?"

“Do you think I need to go to the Emergency Room?”

I mentioned in my last post that our Fourth of July became a bit of an adventure when Alan came for me at the community pool, squeezing his finger as blood flowed down his hand.

(You’re WELCOME, fellow residents, who previously only wondered if children had peed in the pool.) 

He opened with, “I don’t think it’s anything major…” but the fact that he’d walked down to find me meant that he actually did think it could be major and wanted a second opinion – or a driver to take him to the ER.

I quickly gathered my items and followed him back to his place. We examined his finger under running water, and every time he stopped cutting off circulation to his finger, blood gushed out in time with his heartbeat.

Some people might be squeamish, but we’re both pragmatic. I hated to even ask the question. “Do you think you should go to the emergency room?”

Alan took a deep breath. I knew what he was thinking. We hate the emergency room and will go to great lengths to avoid it because it’s inefficient and generally requires a minimum of a six-hour time commitment. And on a heavy drinking holiday like the Fourth? It’d probably be overflowing with dumb drunk injuries and mean an overnight.

“I’m actually not sure,” Alan concluded.

So we talked it out. We should go to the ER if we couldn’t stop the bleeding. Or if it seemed infected. Otherwise, there was nothing to be gained, we reasoned. After all, he’d shaved his entire fingertip off, so it’s not like there were “edges” that could be stitched together. Short of grafting skin to the area, the doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything we couldn’t do at home.

Plus, we had two fat rib-eyes ready to throw on the grill. If there had been any doubt about our ER avoidance plan, this factor effectively killed it.

Later in the evening, as I tidied up the kitchen, I spotted a number of paper towels in the trashcan from the earlier drama. At the top of the pile was a cocktail napkin with Amtrak’s logo on it in blue, surrounded by red blood drops. “You should carry that on your next trip to New York and stumble off the train with it in your hand, commenting, ‘Hell of a ride…’ to anyone you see.”

Alan shook his head. “Actually,” I reconsidered, “It looks rather patriotic, what with the red, white and blue motif. You certainly know how to honor Independence Day!”

“Well,” Alan said, “As Jefferson said, ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots.'”

Good point.

Just not sure Jefferson envisioned combat taking place with potato peelers.

We call this independence.

6 Jul

I live in our Nation’s Capital and I love it.

It’s a great city for so many reasons: It’s super walkable; there are hundreds of miles of bike paths around the area (56 miles in the District itself!); the architecture is pretty; each neighborhood has its own distinct personality; the residents are some of the best educated in the nation; the public transit system is clean and safe; there’s so much culture – museums, theaters, galleries – and most of it is free… I could go on. And on.

But one thing I do not like about living here: The tourists.

DC Tourists

See what I mean?

I know, I know. This city belongs to all Americans, so I can’t really get territorial.

But from April to September, DC is transformed into the urban equivalent of Walmart as loud people wearing Cheetoh-stained flag shirts and fanny packs crowd the sidewalks (four-across, no less!) with their mouths agape, making it hard for those of us who live here to get from Point A to Point B. I’m here to tell you that the stereotype of “Obnoxious American Tourists” isn’t reserved for how we behave in other countries.

So then, to continue the analogy: If DC is like Walmart for six months of the year, Independence Day is like Black Friday. People show up early. They push and shove to jockey into position. There are more people than real estate. And Neil Diamond is playing over the PA system.

Most locals either stay home and watch the fireworks from their roof decks or scoot out of the city all together, choosing to relax on a beach for a week while the inmates run the asylum back in DC.

Alternate Source: www.animalcapshunz.comThis year, since Independence Day fell on a Thursday and Alan had to work on Friday, we decided to stay in the area. The forecast was hot and humid, so rather than hanging in the District, I hopped on my bike Thursday morning to head to Alan’s place in Arlington so we could relax by the pool and grill up some steaks for dinner, far from the crowds.

We thought we were clever – hatching a plan that allowed Alan to avoid the District in his car on a notoriously crazy traffic day – but apparently we had overlooked a wee detail. Namely, the fact that it hasn’t even been three months since the Boston bombings.

Meaning: Homeland Security spared no effort in securing our Nation’s Capital, something I hadn’t realized until I was on my bike, trying without luck to cross Constitution Ave in front the White House.

As I came rolling down 15th Street, I saw a crowd ahead of me, blocking my path to Constitution Ave. I could tell they were watching a parade (as evidenced by the people dressed in old-timey gear, riding old-fashioned bicycles in circles while waving over the on-lookers’ heads), but this in itself didn’t deter me – I’ve accidentally participated in races, runs and parades before due to bad timing. (The most memorable was when I accidentally became the pace car for the Gay Pride Parade because I remembered to move my Jetta just as the cops where showing up to tow it.)

Image Source: http://www.jointaction.org.uk/media/Joint%20Action%20Media/News%20Pictures/X-Ray%20Bike%20Rider%20(colour)%20(smaller).JPGSo the crowd was thick, but I was going to try to wiggle through and cross – until I saw that the Mall had an eight-food chain link fence barring access to the other side of the street. Huh? (After Googling, I’ve learned the barricade actually ran 32,000 feet in length.)

I did a U-turn and asked a cop for advice about where I’d be able to cut across the Mall. He was friendly but useless. Apparently when they’d done the briefing for the event, he had only paid attention to his specific role – not the overall design of the parade route and city plan in general.

I thanked him for nothing, then rode back up 15th Street, where I asked a Secret Service agent the same question. As expected, he was more dialed in and offered good advice. I’d have to cut up to the Memorial Bridge and take that route out of the city. No problem.

Or at least – no problem until I got to the bridge and saw that it was blocked by a series of Metro Buses parked nose-to-tail, creating a rather effective barricade, with cops monitoring the only gap that remained. Turns out, the ENTIRE Mall – from the Lincoln Memorial/Memorial Bridge to the Capitol Building, was fenced in. The only way to get out of town was to pass through one of nine pedestrian checkpoints.

So I biked back half a mile, then stood in line with other bikers and walkers trying to get to (or across) The Mall. The police inspected my bag and wiped my bike down with the chemical/explosive detecting wand typically used at airports.

The security measures ended up adding 30 minutes and two miles to my commute out of town. A headache on a hot day, but it appears the efforts were effective since there were no major “events.”

Unless you count Alan fetching me from the pool later that afternoon, blood dripping off his hand at an alarming rate after he took the tip off his finger with a potato peeler. Guess next year we’ll have to put an eight-foot fence around his kitchen.

Introducing… Miss Moneypenny!

2 Jul

I got a cat.

I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t you ALLERGIC to cats? Didn’t you give BACK a kitten once? How will a cat work with your OCD tendencies?

Or maybe you’re not thinking that at all – maybe I’m projecting?

To answer your (my) questions:

  1. Yes. I am allergic to cats. But my intestines are apparently allergic to food and I haven’t stopped eating. At least I can pet a cat. And a cat will never cause me to shit my pants or need surgery. So overall, I think the cat wins this one. Did I mention I can PET it?
  2. Yes. Factually, speaking, I did once give back a kitten. But in my defense: my co-worker had found a litter in her garage and pawned them off on people for “trials” hoping we’d get attached. And the particular kitten that I got was something of an asshole. So of course I gave him back.
  3. Way ahead of you on this one. I’ve set up a lidded litter box with a swinging door, and it’s perched on a litter mat that grabs loose litter of my cat’s paws. Also? I deliberately chose a cat that matched my couches and rug so that fur would blend in. (That is: any fur that I miss during my twice-daily wipe downs.)

So now that we’ve resolved your (my) initial concerns, let me introduce…

Miss Moneypenny  © 2013 pithypants

OK, I’ll admit, her given name is “Squeaky.” And as Alan has pointed out, it’s probably ridiculous to try to rename an animal something that involves five syllables. But I think we all agree that “Squeaky” requires updating for obvious reasons. So why not go with a James Bond character?

Alan actually first suggested (to one of my co-workers, nonetheless) that we were naming her Pussy Galore. I’m sure I don’t have to explain why Miss Moneypenny seems a tad more fitting, but in case you’re slow on the up-take: because I’ve always wanted a secretary.

Duh.

One step closer to becoming a crazy cat lady. Wait for it.