Archive for June, 2011

Comfortable Shoes

Sometimes I can’t tell where Vigi’s sandals leave off and mine begin. I chose sandals instead of pumps or oxfords because they’re open and leave plenty of space, much like my lovely lady herself. They were also the first thing I saw as she glided toward me the first time we met.  As my eyes crept upward from her toes, they revealed a pair of neat white slacks, then a pressed white blouse, and finally a deliciously dark tan topped off with tresses of sun-bleached blond hair. My mind photographed the image more clearly and more indelibly than anything a camera could have recorded. I filled in more personal detail on the way back down.

That was thirty-three years ago and we’ve learned an awful lot about each other since then, including that I don’t like wearing sandals and she doesn’t like wearing any shoes at all. We’ve actually reached the point where we frequently finish each others’ thoughts. I don’t mean each others’ sentences, I mean each others’ thoughts! On more than one occasion I’ve wondered whether we’ve grown to be that much alike or if we started out that way. Did that kind of simpatico draw us together in the first place?

It isn’t that we always agree or buy matching outfits, or anything like that … although we’ve been known to choose the same color combinations when getting dressed, only to discover our twinhood later. It’s more like being together just feels comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s also scary. Sometimes Vigi knows me better than I know myself.

Take last weekend when I was rummaging around under the kitchen sink, looking for the stuff I spray on the furnace filters when I change them. “It’s on the right, all the way in back,” she informed me. “What is?” “The Endust. Isn’t that what you’re looking for?” I hadn’t said a word to her! I was so taken aback that I just laid out on the floor and laughed until my tear-streaked face went stiff and my ribs ached. I was finally able to foolishly ask, “How did you know what I wanted?” She said nothing. She didn’t have to. She simply smiled that ‘feline got the fish’ smile that can only be properly executed after half a lifetime together. It’s amazing how much can be conveyed with just mouth corners, if it’s the right mouth.

You know how we’re told to walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes? Well, Veege is inside mine while my feet are still in there! On those rare occasions when we’re not in blissful agreement, we don’t really argue, we ‘bicker’ … and she’s a great ‘bickerer!’ It’s never personal and usually about something silly like why the spare car key isn’t on its hook or how the perpetual clutter (mine) seems to live on the corner of the kitchen counter. Her most effective ‘bickering’ weapon is merely providing a brief entree to the subject and then clamming up. Sometimes I get on a rant like some giant steam engine rumbling down the tracks, breathing fire and belching smoke … unable to put the brakes on until I realize that I’m the only one participating in the discussion. Once I feel stupid enough, it’s over!

Her patience is probably the greatest reason why we’re still married after so many years and, in my book, why it gets better every day. She knows exactly how much rope to play out before she ‘yanks’ and has mastered the art of letting me think I’m running the show, while all the while she’s the one in charge.

On those even rarer occasions, when there is actually some tug and pull, nothing gets us back into the same sandals faster than simply facing each other, holding hands and looking straight into each others’ eyes. It’s impossible to fight, bicker or argue in that position. I’m not saying the sun always comes out but it’s a great way to avoid the lightning and thunder … to slip on more comfortable shoes, especially if you’re joined at the toes.

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Colonoscopy Journal

Every so often a reader splashes an outstanding eMail across my computer screen and I have to share it with you or burst. I wish I could take credit for more than just passing this one along, but Dave Barry is a humorist without equal in his larger than life description of the colonoscopy experience.

If you’ve ever had one, you’ll find his every pearl strikes an all too familiar note. If you haven’t, and you’re over fifty, stop playing chicken with your health and schedule a date with your doctor. This article was originally published October 23, 2008 but Dave’s perspective remains perpetually fresh:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!’

I left Andy’s office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ‘MoviPrep,’ which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America’s enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation.  In accordance with my instructions, I didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ‘a loose watery bowel movement may result.’ This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground. MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle.  There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, ‘What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that?  Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn’t thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.  I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ has to be the least appropriate. ‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy, from somewhere behind me. ‘Ha ha,’ I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, Abba was shrieking ‘Dancing Queen! Feel the beat from the tambourine …’ and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.  I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Miami Herald … and now you know why.

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