Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Colonoscopy/Endoscopy: The Dreaded Double

Growing old.  It's not for the faint of heart.   I'm in my early sixties and  I've heard 60 is the new 40.  Don't believe that for a moment. 60 is still 60 and the only thing new are the  aches, pains and illnesses that I didn't  have in my 40s.   Among the indignities of getting older is the colonoscopy.  Yes. The colonoscopy, where a doctor snakes a "thin flexible tube" with  a camera attached into the rectum and way, way up into your large intestine.  The tube is anywhere from 4 to 6 feet long.  In this case I guess size does matter.  Obviously there is a camera attached to the tube along with the ability to take tissue samples,  if  God forbid, they see something they don't like.  As an added bonus, my doctor threw in an endoscopy.  An endoscopy is another thin flexible tube this time inserted in your mouth and goes down into your stomach.  Hopefully they don't do it simultaneously and meet in the middle.  Lucky for me I will be heavily sedated.  if I wasn't sedated for this I would probably lose my mind.  Imagine laying on your side, ass exposed, strangers milling about, machines blinking and making noises, blinding white light, nurses chatting about their weekend, all the while some  dude is snaking a thin flexible tube up your ass.  Nope. Not for me, thank you very much!  "I'll take heavy sedation for two hundred, Alex."  And lo and behold I hit the Daily Double because an endoscopy and colonoscopy, when done at the same time, is affectionately called by my gastroenterologist a "double." Yes, we are going to do a double on you. I urge you not to look that up on Urban Dictionary.   Okay. You did.   Satisfied?   I shudder to think what a triple would be.  

Anyway, the intestine has to be squeaky clean thus necessitating a colon cleanse.  Now I'm not going to go into detail on this but suffice to say, you-

1. fast (no food, liquids ok)
2. drink some horrible tasting liquid 
3. stay close to the toilet for the next 12 hours
4. stay real close to the toilet for the next  12 hours
5. essentially live in the bathroom for the next 12 hours

Now I've been hearing a lot on the radio about DZ10.   It's the  new miracle fat loss supplement  that, of course, promises you weight loss without actually changing anything in your lifestyle like adding in silly things such as  diet changes and exercise.  I mean, why bother with sweating and eating heathy right? Their claim is I have anywhere from 4 to 22 pounds of undigested food in my intestines. I can't even imagine  all of that food just rotting inside my colon.    Four to twenty-two pounds mind you, of undigested food just sitting there festering away. Makes perfect sense right? Somewhere in there is the pizza I had three weeks ago.   That works out to an average of 13 pounds if my math is correct.  so I weigh 179  and after drinking this stuff I will be down to a svelte 166 which is what I weighed in college.  So lucky for me, I'll check to make sure I don't have cancer AND drop two waist sizes.  A win-win if I ever saw one.  

The doctor gave a me detailed set of instructions as to what I can eat.  I call it the Solitary Confinement Diet because  here is my food for the next 24 hours.  Broth, water, gatorade, tea, coffee, Jello and popsicles. Now, ever since  I was a kid I hated Jello so that's out, and the popsicles can't be red or purple because we don't want the food dye to show up as cancer, and since they are all pretty much red or purple,  that's out as well.  They should have thrown me in a jail cell because after a few hours of not eating food I was ready to murder someone and the cops always look at the husband first.  So that's out too!

Four o'clock rolls around and we need to start the cleanse.   I  drink the first 8 ounces.  Hmmmm. Slight lemony flavor combined with a heaping dose of salt, sour and bitter.     To call it vile would be an insult to the word vile.  This stuff is beyond disgusting and  I have to drink 8 ounces of this stuff every 15 minutes.  Then the fun begins.  I'll spare you the details.  They are not pretty.  Then, I have to do it all over again at 12 midnight.  Fun is.  Fun is actually not doing this at all.  Fun is not burning a precious Sunday staying within spitting distance of the toilet.  Finally this ordeal is over and at two in the morning, I fall asleep.

After a short nap I run to the scale and weigh myself.  I am visualizing size 30 waist jeans.  I will be buying out Nordstrom's.  I am quivering with excitement as I leap on the scale and...WTF?  I went from a 179 to 177.  Huh?  What?  two pounds?  What about all the massive amounts of rotting sludge that was supposed to come out?  What about the losing two waist sizes?  Two pounds is from the fact that I haven't eaten in two days and I'm slightly dehydrated.  I throw away the Nordstrom's catalog in disgust.  

We get to the hospital at the scheduled time and are whisked in to the pre-op.  After verifying who I am, I get prepped for surgery.  Johnny coat, IV-line, endlessly repeating that I am Barry A. Scott, my birthday and what procedure I am having done today. As if this is as simple as giving someone else your pee so they can pass a drug test.  "Sure I'll stand in for YOUR colonoscopy! What are bro's for?"   I will be given propofol, the drug that caused Michael Jackson to have an early demise.  Let's hope I have better luck than he did, or at the very least, don't moonwalk with six feet of hose dangling out of my ass.  

 Then I'm wheeled in and put under.  I'm always a bit skeptical about getting put under.  I mean, I'm essentially naked, in a room full of strangers, and to make matters worse, i'm heavily sedated.  Are they taking selfies?  Are they laughing at my body?  Am I moonwalking?  I don't know.  And you know what? I probably don't want to know.  Except for maybe the moonwalk.  Just sayin'.

I wake up in post op after about an hour and half.  The doctor comes in, shows me a few pictures of my insides, tells me they removed a few polyps and when the pathology report comes back he will get in touch.  He had a "don't worry look and attitude."  I asked him about the polyps he said nothing to be concerned about.  I like that.  I go home and have some coffee, eggs and toast... the first solid food in two days.  And now, because I still have some propofol in my system I promptly pass out.    

Oh, one more thing.  Did I mention that they inflate you with air?  Of course I didn't.  Well, in order to have a clear view of of your colon they literally blow you up.  Well, what goes in must come out and, let's just say, it will be a little noisy today.  Good night.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Connecticut; The Construction State

One of the many perks of living in Connecticut is the continuous road construction that is forever taking place.  Every morning is an adventure in “How long will the back up be?” or “Gee I get to be re-routed,” and my personal favorite, “Let’s merge five lanes into one and wait for the fun to begin.”  It was with such delight that I got to play the merge game the other day when crossing the Putnam Bridge.  The Putnam Bridge spans the Connecticut river and connects Wethersfield and Glastonbury.  The construction has been going for nearly three years with no end in sight.  Now mind you it didn’t take three years to actually build the bridge.  No, it only took about a year.  So the construction that is going on must be very complicated.  Here's a radical thought: build a new bridge instead of repairing the old one.  You could have built three new ones in the time spent repairing the old one.

So my wife and I were heading for Boston on a  Saturday because there is actually something fun and interesting to do there and had to cross the bridge.  Well lucky for us everyone else was out driving and yippee, going in the same direction as we were.  So we had two lanes of murderously heavy traffic merging in one lane.  You'd think this was rush hour on a Monday morning.

Everyone from the soccer mom in her minivan to the mid-life crisis idiot in his two seater was trying to beat the other guy out.   Think back to when you were in kindergarten and the kids were cutting into line to get a drink at the water fountain.  Now put those same assholes in a car and add three hundred horsepower.  See what I mean?  

So as tempers flared and cars overheated we see the obligatory  cop.  Was he directing traffic to ease the congestion?  Of course not.  He was  in his car texting.  Getting paid triple overtime to text seems like a pretty good gig. I guess it’s  too much effort to get out of his nice air conditioned cruiser and actually direct traffic.  That sounds like real work to me.   And, I could be way off base here, but I bet it is not as easy nor nearly as much fun as chasing after some poor schmuck  with red lights flashing and sirens blasting  and bestowing a massive ticket on him for simply trying to get to work.  

 After twenty minutes we finally pass the cop and spot three trucks.  The  first truck had five guys standing around chatting and enjoying the fall foliage.  One guy, who must have been the youngest or perhaps was going through some bizarre ritual  hazing was actually working.  He is trying to pull start a piece of important looking equipment. It seems that this piece of equipment was tough to start because his friends were shouting good natured encouragement such as,  “Take your time because we are getting triple overtime for this!” and “Did anyone check the gas tank?” and  “Pull harder! That’s what she said!”

I’ll never know if they started that beast of a machine because we managed to creep up to the next crew of workers.  These guys were enjoying the fall foliage and padding their pensions smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Hey does Dunkin’ Donuts deliver?    Maybe the cop will stop texting long enough make a coffee run for these guys.  "Okay ladies.  Who ordered the double latte?"  

We finally edge up to the last truck. Here is a group of guys with enormous beer bellies smoking cigarettes.  I start to think I’m hallucinating  because these  workers are really doing something that I think is called work. They are cleaning the storm drains. In between puffs on their cigarettes, they are moving around with some sort of purpose and direction.   I  start to feel sorry for these guys because I see that they are not state workers but employees of a private contractor who actually thinks about the bottom line.  

As we finally leave the bridge from hell, I immediately  scrap my plans for a trip to Boston and head down to the state employment office to pick up an application for the Department of Transportation.  Triple overtime and coffee.  Sign me up.  Best job ever!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

There are certain things that are sacrosanct in life; the Bro Code is one of them.  The Bro Code; what all guys who have half a brain, and that pretty much sums all of us up, live by.   Now the specific section of the Code that I want to talk about is on  bathroom etiquette.  I’m bringing this up because of an incident that happened to me recently.  Now when going into a public bathroom and someone is already doing their business, Bro Code clearly states, never under any circumstances stand next to the bro if there are other stalls available.  That’s just Bro 101.  And,  this is important, never, ever strike up a conversation with the bro unless you are at the sink and washing your hands.  The last thing I want to do is start talking to some guy as I'm peeing. You are in the most vulnerable of positions, facing forward, back exposed, junk in hand, and this jerk wants to talk sports or politics or some such nonsense. I mean, WTF!  Also, and this is essential, keep your eyes locked in the forward position, no turning left, no turning right, and certainly no looking down, except at yourself.  Urinals with dividers are the best as they keep creepy, casual glances from weirdos to a minimum.  Urinals without dividers, well bro, stand a little closer.  The dreaded pig trough; pee as fast as you can or use a stall.  

I was out for dinner the other night and wanted to use the restroom and wash up.  I excused myself and walked into the lav.  Now the layout of the lav was simple.  Three stalls, one of which  was the low urinal for kids.  I went to the first one leaving the other two open to my right. Notice I didn’t take the middle one.  That would be a douchebag move.  You always leave at least one urinal between you and the next bro, and if that urinal happens to be the junior one, well bro, suck it up and pee like a man.  So as I begin to do my business in walks an elderly bro.  We will call him E-bro.   E-bro strolls up to the urinal next to me, and begins to pee.  Hold on a second here, did this guy miss the chapter on bathroom etiquette?  Or is he truly an asshole?  I’m going with asshole, because he immediately starts talking. To me.  Wait. It gets worse.  E-bro begins to regale me with detailed information on his prostate.  Only, this jerk calls it his prostrate.  Prostate, an organ inside a bro. Prostrate, when a bro lies on the ground in supplication.  Is he going to start praying to the urinal? I hope not because that is definitely something I will never un-see.  

Then  E-bro starts to grunt.  This can't be good.  Who grunts when they are peeing?  E-bro does because he then starts in  about his weak stream. A weak stream?  I can't move because I'm in the middle of my strong, robust stream.  I'm a captive audience to this weak streamed, grunting, lunatic E-bro.  An audience of one. All I want to do is finish peeing, wash up and get the fuck out of there, but E-bro is yammering away about something called BPH all the while straining to pee.  I am literally losing my mind here, willing my bladder to finish.  

Mercifully I finish, zip up, and nearly catch myself in the zipper in my frantic attempt to escape from this guy. I wash up, and of course there are no paper towels at this environmentally concience, green restaurant, only the blower things that I hate because they take forever, and I don't want to spend another second in  lavatory hell with Mr. Weak Stream Prostrate E-bro. Finally my hands are dry. As I bolt out the door I hear him saying something about a dribble and I know for  a fact he wasn't talking basketball.  I'm pretty much done with dinner. I come back to the table and my wife says that was quick. Not quick enough dear. Check please!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sweater Weather

I admit it, I love clothes. I really do.  I read fashion blogs and follow fashionistas on Twitter.   I have more shirts, slacks, and sweaters than my wife. That doesn’t bode  well considering that they take up more space in our closet than I was “allotted.”   My chest of drawers needs an annex to store my tee shirts and pullovers.  And jeans, forget it. Let's just say AG Jeans is having a banner year.  When I walk into Nordstrom's the sales help prostrate themselves at my feet, salivating at the thought of a juicy commission.  And shoes, don't even get me started.

So a recent visit to Boston found me at the North Shore Mall in Peabody, Massachusetts.  I had just cleaned out Nordstrom’s, or maybe Nordstrom’s just cleaned out my wallet, and was browsing the mall, when lo and behold, there stood another favorite store of mine; Banana Republic.   So I waltz in and spot this really handsome sweater on the front table.  It was sort of a grey pullover with a variety of muted patterns on it. It really caught my eye.  It screamed,  “Buy me Barry. You need to take me home.” Well, who can argue with that, right?  Fall is here and I only have seven sweaters.  I needed another one, or three, or perhaps five.  I lovingly picked it up and held it to my chest. Looks awesome. I get a large and go to the dressing room.  Hmmm.  Little tight.  I go back and get an extra large.  That’s it.  My wife says, “Wow that looks great on you.  Buy it.   We just won't tell anyone it's a woman's sweater!” WAIT! WHAT?  The display was covered in woman's clothing.   How could I not see that? The manikin had boobs and nail polish for crying out loud!  How did that not register in mind?   Talk about right church wrong pew.  How about great sweater, wrong gender.

 That one slight detail was pretty much the deal breaker. Now I realize the world is changing.  You want to wear woman’s clothing?  Fine. Knock yourself out.   I’m just not too interested in joining the club.   That sweater could have been my introduction to the world of cross dressing. I mean you don't just wake up some morning and decide to raid your wife's closet and fashionably go off to work.  It starts out innocently enough with a sweater. What's next, lacy bikini underwear?  A thong? What if I threw caution to the wind and bought it anyway.  Then I would be mortified to walk into a restaurant and see a woman wearing the same sweater.  Yeah, that would go over big. How can I ever explain that  one? “Oh,” I would say, “My wife picked this up for me at Good Will.” I don't think so.  I just can't imagine getting dressed in the morning and casually asking my wife, “Does this sweater make my ass look fat?”

Monday, September 28, 2015

Upside Down Tomato Plants

This a repost of a story I wrote a few years ago.  It relates well to my most recent one about the Miracle Garden.

My wife, who has a partial green thumb, became enamored with the Topsey Turvey Upside Down Tomato grower.  You know, As Seen On TV. A word of advice, if you are contemplating purchasing anything As Seen On TV, DON’T.  This is because whatever you think it will do—it WON’T!  Besides, I have enough trouble growing anything right side up.

I was very skeptical, because for the life of me I can’t think of anything that grows better, up side down.  I don’t.  You don’t.  My cat certainly doesn’t, in fact she gets real pissed off and scratches and hisses when I hold her upside down. 

My wife persisted, wore me down actually, so being a smart husband I agreed.  We went to Home Depot and bought the kit.  It came with a plastic basket, a wire harness, and a plan for building an elaborate trellis system. All this for only $9.99.  We buy three!  Then we had to get the dirt because even though the plant is growing upside down, it has to grow in something.  That was $24.  Next we bought the plants. That was $2 a pop.  I’m not done.  Since the plants will be growing upside down, they have to be attached to something.  Alas, they don’t just hang there in mid air.  So we had to get three shepherd hooks.  They were $15 each.  I’m into this thing for over a hundred dollars and haven’t seen one tomato. 

We get everything set up and hang the plants from the hooks.  They immediately begin to sag a bit.  This is not looking good.  We then water the plants.  The shepherd hooks bend so far over that the plants start to touch the ground.  I had to rig a rope from my fence to the hooks to keep everything off the ground. I look at the plans for the trellis and begin to understand why it calls for 4x4s and 2x4s, and a suggestion that I get a building permit.  These things weigh eight tons a piece. 

According to the geniuses at Topsey Turvey, gravity will force nutrients into the plants that will result in volleyball-sized tomatoes.  I’m not a botanist, but I always thought that roots are supposed to do that.  And speaking of gravity, you have to water these things two to three times a DAY because, yep, you guessed it, gravity also forces the water to run out the other end.

Another problem is, just like you and I don’t like to be upside down, neither do the tomato plants.  Yes, they do grow down for a while, but once they discover the sun, they reverse course and begin to grown right side up.  Normally you stake the plant to support the tomatoes.  However, with the upside down grower you cannot.  This results in tomatoes being ripped off the branches and being forced by our old friend gravity to fall to the ground.

Final tally—ten tomatoes.  That’s not a misprint, ten tomatoes.  Well, actually two had some funky holes in them so we’ll say eight.  That comes out to roughly $13 per tomato, not counting the three-hundred gallons of water.  This year I will be going to a farm stand.  Let me leave you with a word of advice.  If you are thinking, even remotely, about the upside down tomato plant grower...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Miracle Actually Happened in the Miracle Garden

I have a lot of interests and hobbies.  Photography, playing the drums, biking, reading, hiking, writing, cooking; the list goes on.  Sadly, gardening is not one of them.  I’ve tried and failed miserably every time I've attempted to grow anything other than weeds.  Weed growing, it seems, is where my talents lie.  In the past, I have planted tulips that never grew because I somehow managed to plant them upside down.  Believe me, the instructions were not that clear.  The “As Seen On TV” Upside-Down tomato plants were a bust because of a minor thing called gravity which ripped the tomatoes from the stalk thus providing a veritable feast for the bunnies and bugs.  Never mind that those stupid planting sacks each required 40 plus pounds of dirt. My raised bed Miracle Garden continues to mystify  me year after year.  The first year nothing grew because I might have, perhaps, well, maybe I forgot to add fertilizer.  Ok, rookie mistake.  The next year, we tried to grow tomatoes from seeds.  Well, we misplaced the seed packets of course, and then planted too late, and well, lets just say, we managed to eke out one tomato and a funny looking yellow cucumber.  Last year for some reason due to fact that I might not have watered the tomatoes on a regular basis, (meaning more than once a month) our crop was meager at best.  Our cucumber crop however was amazing.  Amazing in the fact that I have never tasted a more vile tasting vegetable.  Sort of a combination of bitter and sour wrapped up in a crunchy-mushy consistency.  It was a science experiment gone horribly wrong.  Every single one ended up in the compost pile.

Well, this year, I decided to opt out of the Miracle Garden.  I gave full reign and authority to my wife.  Now, if something went wrong in the Miracle Garden, I would have someone else to blame.   I accompanied her to the local Agway Store snickering and making jokes all of the way there, knowing full well that nothing but weeds and strange mutated plants can survive the Miracle Garden.  We brought home six plants and I gleefully downed a few martinis as I watched her plant the tomatoes.  Well, my wife, having carried and raised two sons knows a thing or two about nurturing.  Day, after day, she was in the Miracle Garden, weeding, watering, plucking suckers off the plants.  I have no idea what that even means but apparently its supposed to be good for the plant.  And, probably as a general rule, it's a good idea to pluck suckers off of anything you hold near and dear.   Just sayin’. After a few weeks, she had to stake the plants because they were growing so rapidly.  After a few more weeks she had to get longer stakes because these babies were really freakin’ growing.  Then a miracle happened. They started to flower.  Whoa, this was news.  And not just flower, but FLOWER!!!  Then another miracle happened.  The flowers turned into, you guessed it, tomatoes.  

I mean these plants started to burst with tomatoes. We had an abundance, a plethora, a  cornucopia, I’m running out of adjectives, so let me get out the Thesaurus, a profusion, a copious amount, literally mass quantities.  In essence, a lot of tomatoes.  And not just marble sized tomatoes.  Oh no, these were huge.  Like softball size.  It got to the point that were giving these tomatoes away because we couldn’t eat them fast enough.  I was exporting crates of tomatoes to third world countries.  These tomatoes are the mythical Hydra of the plant world.  Pluck off a tomato, two new ones take its place.  I don’t even like tomatoes and I was eating them at a furious pace. 

As I look out the window it is now fall and tomatoes are still going strong on the vines. When is it going to end?  The vines are now well over six feet tall and still producing tomatoes.  I did a rough count and there are at least six DOZEN tomatoes still there.  This is in addition to the boatload that we previously harvested.  Now THAT’S a Miracle Garden.  So how do we top that next year? We do the Miracle Garden dance and pray for Round 2!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cammo Tux. The Possibilities Are Endless!

I was shopping for some sweaters at Kohl’s the other day.  You know Kohl’s.  The store with ridiculously low prices that get even lower when you start to present the cashier with a multitude of coupons, Kohl’s cash, credits and 30% off discount coupons.  Yeah that store.  Where you save more money than you actually spend.  How can that be?  I bought two sweaters and after all was said and done I paid three dollars.  They practically give the clothing away and yet they manage to stay in business.  How do they do that? Well more than likely through great business acumen, attention to the bottom line and wonderful merchandising.  Such as this gem of a dinner jacket, my favorite find of the day.  

That’s right a cammo inspired tux. Not just any cammo tux, but a velvet one to boot with satin lapels.  Now I like to wear fashionable clothes and this seems to suit me just fine.  Imagine, going to  a dinner party and literally blending in with the scenery.  What fun you could have popping out of a potted plant and scaring the wait staff.  Or sitting at the main table of a wedding completely unnoticed.  I know, the possibilities are endless.  Or even better; crashing parties and no one knows you are there.  Think of all of the good food and drink you could get for free.  What a way to impress your date and not pay a penny.

Or perhaps a formal hunting party.  This would have been perfect attire for my friend's 50th birthday party at his hunting lodge.  Talk about a fashion statement!