Tag Archives: Alicia

Punk’d by a Phlebotomist?

26 Sep

Funny Stool Sample

Apparently my Crohn’s took a turn for the worse this year without my knowing it. When I went for my annual colonoscopy in June, my intestines had narrowed significantly, indicating either some crazy amount of ongoing inflammation or the creation of scar tissue. Since I don’t experience symptoms on a daily basis, I was inclined to ignore it and carry on – but after the three doctors told me that doing so would likely result in my intestines rupturing and necessitating emergency surgery, I decided to listen.

As a result, they’ve started me on a combo of steroids and an immunosuppresant (6MP, used primarily as chemo for people with leukemia). Because of this, I need to have blood drawn weekly to check my white blood cells and make sure my liver isn’t short circuiting from the influx of chemicals it’s being asked to process.

I share this by way of explaining how it was that I found myself seated in the lab at GW Hospital, waiting for a large man who didn’t possess an “inside voice” to draw my blood Monday morning before work. The way the blood-drawing stations were positioned, I was in the awkward seat that faced out into the waiting area, so I had a bit of an audience.

I normally wouldn’t have a problem with that since I’m fine with needles, but it’s something of a game-changer when you’re facing an audience and the phlebotomist booms, “DID YOU BRING US A STOOL SAMPLE TODAY?”

“Um, no?” I tried to use a librarian’s voice to provide an example for him.

It didn’t work. After drawing my blood, he brought back four containers, a plastic bag and a sheet of instructions. Instead of discreetly handing them to me, however, he decided to give me a very loud lesson on what needed to happen.

I chose to bask in the awkwardness, so as he started yelling (“THE LID HAS A SCOOP FOR YOU!”), I glanced around the waiting room to see if any of the other patients found this as amusing as I did. The same strangers’ eyes that had been keen to watch my blood get taken were all suddenly boring holes in the floor. No one would meet my gaze – it felt as if I were wearing the human-equivalent of a dog’s cone of shame.

I’d half tuned him out in my assessment of my audience, but my head whipped in his direction to the tune of a mental record-scratch when I heard him say, “SO YOU STRETCH PLASTIC OVER YOUR TOILET BOWL…”

Excuse me? Are you reading a passage from “Pranksters 101?” I’d missed what he had said before that, but I couldn’t think of a single reason that it would be EVER a good idea to stretch plastic over one’s toilet bowl. Later that night, when I related this to my sister, she eloquently bottom-lined it: “Wait. So he wants you to shit on Saranwrap?”

Before I could even suggest that she’d missed her calling as nurse, she followed up, “Why is a phlebotomist giving you instructions for a stool sample anyway?”

“I got the sense that he was providing the instructions theoretically but had no first-hand experience with the collection process himself,” I told her.

“Right,” she responded. “He probably just makes things up just to see what he can convince someone to do. Did he wrap up by asking you to report back on how it goes?”

I could hear her wheels turning as she warmed up to the idea of a phlebotomist prankster giving ridiculous instructions. “If I were him, I’d tell people, ‘Listen, you’re going to shit on Saranwrap, so try to have a little fun with it. Roll out your yoga mat, grab the handle of your oven door…'”

Headshake. And this is why we’re glad my sister is not a doctor. Or a nurse. Or a phlebotomist.

Next week when I go in for my blood work, I’ll be prepared. When he asks how it went, I’ll say, “The trickiest part was getting the water out of the bowl before I lined it with plastic…”

Two can play at this game. Bring it.

 

 

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See This Film: From This Day Forward

23 Jun
Title Art - created by Trisha Shattuck

Artwork by Trisha Shattuck – pending permission for use

Last week was the AFI DOCS Film Festival in DC. If you couldn’t gather it from the name, it’s a documentary film festival.

Friday night, Alan and I made a beeline for the theatre on E Street so we could screen, “From This Day Forward,” which is described on its website this way:

From This Day Forward is a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother, Marcia, to accept, but her parents stayed together. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage survived the radical changes that threatened to tear them apart.

In the wake of Caitlin née Bruce making headlines, it’s a timely topic, but that’s not what drew us to the screening.

It was on my radar because – some years earlier – my sister  told me that one of the students she had become friends with through her job at the University of Michigan was using kickstarter.com to raise funds to make a documentary about her family, focusing on her father’s transgender journey in northern Michigan.

I’m something of a kickstarter and gofundme junkie because I believe there’s not enough art, beauty or understanding in the world, so if I spot an opportunity to help reverse that, I do what I can.

Admittedly, most of my gambles have not paid off – aside from Calligraphuck, which seems to be thriving yet somehow lost my donor gift of profane greeting cards so I still haven’t actually handled the product. (Probably for the best or half my Christmas list might disappear in one year!)

So imagine my joy when I learned that a film I had contributed to actually made it to the big screen! There was no way I was going to miss it – and since Alan is pretty much the best partner ever, he accompanied me without even knowing what we were going to see.

Turns out? Incredible movie. Not only did Sharon Shattuck (the director) do a fantastic job with the images and videography, she also crafted a clever backdrop for the story by using her father’s artwork and her own wedding to unravel the threads of her parents’ marriage and their family dynamic.

Early in the movie she quotes her dad, Trisha, as saying, “Sharon, whenever you get married, I hope you’ll let me wear a dress when I walk you down the aisle…” The rest of the movie then builds to her wedding day, with the suspense of the reveal (will her dad wear a dress?!) flowing like an undercurrent, subtly tugging us forward as we learn about her parents’ marriage.

I won’t ruin the reveal. I will just say this: the film is loaded with gorgeous imagery – both in the form of Michigan landscapes and Trisha’s artwork; even so, the most beautiful part of the film is actually the message – that a marriage unfolds in many unexpected ways, and love actually can conquer all.

Needless to say, I wasn’t the only person wiping at my cheeks when the credits rolled. And I’m probably not the only person now trying to get one of Trisha’s paintings in my house.

Check out the trailer here, and see if it’s coming to your city soon – you’ll be glad you did:

What Katie Couric DIDN’T show us…

9 Jun

Time for Ye Annual Colonoscopy. Which always gives me flashbacks to Katie Couric being heralded for being so brave and broadcasting hers. She makes it look simple – which the actual procedure is. What she didn’t spend much time on (and why the procedure has a bad rap) is the prep.

The face of excitement.

The face of excitement.

Since I’ve ranted about the entire experience before, I won’t bore you with a redundant entry. Instead, I’ll just share a few quick updates and observations from this year’s scope. Note: this post may be a bit too much information for you if colons (and their functions) make you squeamish, so you may want to skip it. I consider it a Public Service Announcement for people who must also undergo this procedure.

First – surely they can do better than the 3 Liter jug of GoLytely they prescribe as part of the prep. In fact, I happen to KNOW they can, because about 10 minutes after I started drinking it on Monday night, I had multiple people ask why my doctor hadn’t prescribed the new 1 Liter option that apparently everyone but me is using. My short answer: because he is a sadist. My more considered answer: I probably earned it because I ate an entire bag of popcorn before my last colonoscopy.

Second – I finally figured out a method that makes the prep a wee bit less traumatic. I took the entire jug, a tumbler of ice and a lemon lime Vitamin Water to the loo with me. I normally would NEVER advocate eating/drinking in a bathroom (unless you are in the bathtub with a book), but this method both reduced the amount of wiping needed and the constant “I’m about to shit my pants” feeling that are hallmarks of the prep.

Ready for it? The trick is to sit ON the toilet while pounding the GoLytely so it can just shoot through you. Break it up with a few sips of Vitamin Water so you don’t throw up from the horrible taste, and VOILA – you will be done with the GoLytely in one hour and out of the bathroom in 90 minutes. Using this method, I was actually able to crawl into bed and get six hours of sleep before the second round of GoLytely hit.

Also: I draw a face on the jug so I can feel as if I have a companion there in the trenches with me. It happens to be my enemy, but a companion nonetheless. I think the word is “frenemy.”

GoLytely Face - (c) 2015 pithypants.com

Third – because I am too cheap to take a cab, or too hell-bent to get my 10,000 steps in, or too stubborn in general – I decided it was a good idea to WALK the 1.25 miles to my appointment. This, only three hours after completing the GoLytely. Let’s just agree: probably not the wisest decision. I arrived at the office making a beeline for the bathroom before even checking in. It was my way of playing, “Guess What I’m Here For” with the other patients in the waiting room.

Fourth – turns out, doctors don’t find it funny when you quip, “Guess I’ve flatlined” when they remove your heart monitor and the bleeps turn into one long BLEEEEEEEEP.

Fifth – if I were a nurse, I’d want to work in the recovery room. Because people coming out of anesthesia must say some pretty hilarious stuff. I can’t remember the FIRST things to come out of my mouth after they woke me, but I do remember some of my early sentences being, “Tell me, did I make a big mess in there?” and “Remind me, do I need to fart or something so you can spring me from this joint?” And I really wasn’t trying to be funny. I can only imagine what’s on “best of” reel.

Sixth – everyone should have a sister like Alicia. I went to bed relatively early on Monday night, having completed the first half of the prep and hoping to sleep as much as possible before Round Two commenced at 4am. When I woke at 4am, I found that she had filled my Facebook Feed with anything funny she could find on the topic of colonoscopies – just so I’d have some early morning entertainment to get me to the finish line. Example:

Someecards.com

Finally – everyone should have a partner as awesome as Alan. Not only was he there to collect me and whisk me home at the end of the procedure (helping me navigate since I couldn’t quite walk straight), he showed up with two juices and a box of chocolate bon bons for me to snack on immediately since he knew I’d be thirsty and starving.

Even better – as we walked up the sidewalk to my building and I said, “Um, I think I might be leaking – can you see anything on my skirt,” he just said, “Here – let me walk behind you,” instead of directly answering the question on the table. That’s a keeper, folks!

Poked, prodded and probed – all in all, I’d still say I’m a pretty lucky lady.

Kicks from the crypts?

14 Feb

Funny tombstone

Facebook recently announced the creation of a “legacy contact” feature, where you can appoint someone as the curator of your Facebook page to maintain it or shut it down after you die.

Upon learning this, I immediately went to my account settings and tapped my sister to see if she’d be up for the challenge in the event of my untimely demise. Who else would get the tone right in my post-life posts?

Here’s the type of updates I’d want her to keep flowing from my account:

“Hey guys – as it turns out, snowballs DO have a chance in hell.”

Whenever there’s a celebrity death, I’d like a, “You’ll never believe who I ran into last night,” post.

“BORED.”

“Need a haircut. Can’t trust anyone with scissors here.”

“All the constant singing and euphoria is starting to get on my nerves.” 

“Time to go take my accordion lesson.” 

“Heads-up: Eternity is over-rated.” 

“After-life? I’ve been to better after-parties.” 

My friend Alison hopped in on the action, suggesting that there would be some pretty rich opportunities for “Throwback Thursday” (#TBT) photos as well. I tend to agree:

“Remember this? Back when I was ALIVE??? #TBT”

“Wow. I really had some skin on my bones in this one. #TBT”

“Looking kind of fleshy, no? #TBT”

“This one literally killed me. Literally. #TBT”  

Speaking of hashtags, I’m thinking we could create a new one” #PLP – for “post-life post.”

Whew. Glad I’ve sorted this out. I don’t have a will or a DNR order executed, but I can sleep better knowing I’ve achieved social media immortality.

New year flashbacks.

1 Jan

Image Source: http://img2.timeinc.net/people/i/2012/galleries/dick-clark/dick-clark-660.jpg

Happy new year, everybody!

For the first time in a long time, I was awake when the ball dropped last night. If you weren’t able to make it up that late, here’s all you need to know to participate in the water cooler talk in your office tomorrow: Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy hosted; there was significant discussion (on our part – not on air) about Dick Clark’s status (dead or alive); the only conclusion we all agreed on was that Casey Kasem is, in fact, dead.

You’re now up to speed. Go forth and discuss.

We celebrated at some friends’ house, and their kids emerged from their bedrooms around midnight for the ball drop. It reminded me of one of the most infamous new year’s eves of my childhood, when my parents left my sister and me home with a babysitter.

Alicia – who was in middle school at the time – was allowed to have a friend over, and my parents told the babysitter that we could stay up to watch the ball drop. I’ve always been a sleepy person, however, so I called it a night around 8pm, wishing everyone a good night and pulling my door shut on Dick Clark’s smiling face.

When I woke up the next day, I quickly was brought up to speed. Apparently while I slumbered, quite a little drama had unfolded. The babysitter had made Alicia and her friend go to bed early as well, and once they were in Alicia’s room with the door closed, the babysitter called her boyfriend and invited him and some friends over.

I’m not sure if Alicia was upset about the babysitter breaking the rules and having boys over, or if she was simply pissed that she’d been relegated to her room and missed the ball drop, but she wasted no time in telling my parents how she’d spent HER evening. I’m not sure how the situation was addressed with the babysitter, but I’d have to imagine it was awkward since she was one of my dad’s students. I can only imagine she wanted to crawl under her desk for a good portion of the next semester.

And so on that note, I wish you a happy new year. If you left your kids with a sitter, I’d suggest interrogating them to make sure no one threw a party in your house. Or maybe they can at least tell you if Dick Clark is still alive.