My Facebook status update on the evening of Tuesday, May 24, 2011 read, “Janean Baird is in TMI H-E-L-L and that’s all I can say about that.”
Well, there is something about TMI, which stands for Too Much Information for all the Old School Communicators out there, that makes you wonder, “What Could Be?” My lively and fun group of Facebook Friends was no exception. My friends chimed in, one after the other…
Kelly S., “ROFL, what did you do to deserve that?”
me: “Just lucky I guess.”
me: “If I were as brave as Tara Scalzo I’d be taking notes and turn it into an uproariously funny blog post.”
Ellen: “Do it! Cuz we’re dying to hear all about it!”
My mom: “LOL because I think I know the story behind the story…”
Marla: “Now I want to know too!!!”
Lydia: “Oh no!”
Gillian: “wow!!! ik, marla…me too!!!”
Tara Scalzo: “You can do it!! Now we’re all curious!”
me: “Love you, Ladies for caring…and being curious. It’s just Not My Usual Topic Of Conversation.”
Marla: “We’ll all pretend someone else wrote it”
me: “Thanks for that, Marla. I did start writing down the comments he’s throwing my way. “He” being The Man Who Usually Doesn’t Want To Share/Talk.”
There were more raucous comments added as the night went on, but this gives you a snippet of the conversation. In order to sate my friends ceaseless curiosity, I sent this note to each of them Off Wall:
“Here’s the story behind the status update…
My husband, The Man Who Never Wants To Talk is giving me a play by play on the effects of the medicine he had to take before having a colonoscopy tomorrow. We don’t think it’s anything major that’s wrong, just a better safe than sorry. Of course I hate talking about bodily functions anyway. Even/especially living in a House of Boys so this is killing me! When I told him I didn’t want to talk about it he said, “Of course not, because you’re a Lady.” Whatever. Just didn’t want to go THERE.”
Here’s The Story Behind The Story…
On Tuesday morning, he followed the directions that came with the medicine and mixed it with water and put it in the fridge. He chose the orange flavor from the assortment provided. Not that it helped much from the sound of things and the look on his face as he choked it down later that evening.
He spent the day on a restricted diet. He could only eat Jell-O, popsicles and broth. Thankfully he was still allowed soda and juice. The Man is legendary for his Diet Mountain Dew consumption. Nothing could be red though. Thus, the Big Bowl of Green Jell-O I made the night before so he had something sort of solid to eat. On Tuesday morning, he made a Big Production about digging in with a spoon and saying, “Mmmmmmm, Jell-O”, as he scooped it directly from the serving bowl to his mouth.
The day went on. He joined our oldest son on a 5th grade field trip that included a picnic lunch, games and a walk to a nearby restaurant for ice cream. We traded spots during the game time. My Hubby headed home to mentally prepare for What Was To Come and I enjoyed the time spent outdoors with a great group of children, their parents and teachers. After school on Tuesday, driving my children home, I told them about the medicine their dad had to take and what the purpose of it was. I suggested they stay out of his way when he was on his way to the bathroom. When they asked more about the colonoscopy I explained it was to look at the inside of his colon. My oldest asked, “Why would they want to do THAT?” I replied, “Just to make sure everything is OK.” We didn’t want to worry them with Worst Case Scenarios and we didn’t want to hide the medical procedure either. They attend a Christian school where the pray for one another during class. I suggested they say they have, “An Unspoken”, without any details given. That it’d be OK and God would still hear the prayer.
When Supper Time rolled around, The Boys and I ate an assortment of reheated leftovers without fanfare. It was sometime after that when My Helpful Husband held the medicine box aloft and one by one read all the “effects” aloud to me. Then he proceeded to give me regular updates on The Progression of Things. He included Much More Information than I EVER wanted to know. I alternated between laughing aloud, saying, “ewwwww” and covering my ears Hoping He Would Stop Talking Now. I grew up thinking some things should be, well, uh, PRIVATE and STAY THAT WAY.
Somewhere along the way, during my TMI Hell I started taking notes. I couldn’t help myself. The Comedic Material was too good not to use in a future blog post and I think my husband knew it. At one point I even typed in the comments of my status update, “I may have to be an Anonymous Guest Blogger…though if the whole NPD knows why am I being shy to discuss it…especially with the hilarity of the one liners I’m compiling…”
Consider yourself warned. Here are some Excerpts From His Constant Commentary:
“We now have runny….”
“The color is the same as whatever I eat. Remember that green Jell-O?”
“When you have to have yours, one thing I recommend is, “Pooping Shorts”. (As he snaps his elastic waistband for Emphasis Added.)
“No time to mess around with a button and fly. It comes out fast.”
(My next entry is Too Gross To Share, even in a TMI conversation. SKIPPING IT. Just say, “Thank you.”)
“Bet you didn’t know your butt could vomit. But it can.”
“We’re having pizza tomorrow night. Big Pizza. And Burgers. And Hot Dogs.”
“Time to make another Movement.”
(As he’s whistling “Dixie” on the way to the potty.)
You see, he chose to pass the time that afternoon and evening by watching a PBS documentary on the Civil War. An 11 hour documentary that we own on DVD I might add. I knew it was time for Another Bathroom Run when, from the other room, the television sound stopped as he paused his show long enough to head to the nearest bathroom. Thankfully we have more than one in our two story house. SO THANKFUL!
Me: “How are you doing, Honey?”
Him: “I’m gurgling. My bowels are gurgling. About time to go pee some more.” (But he wasn’t talking about #1…)
You can see how all was Too Much For Me. Not that I never talk about bodily functions. I am a woman, and a mother at that. When my children were little, like any mother, I had countless conversations about the color, consistency and frequency of the poop in their diapers. When diapers are nearly through, there are the inevitable conversations about being So Proud when your Little One learns To Go Poopy In The Potty. I had these conversations then. And more. Our bodies are amazing machines and make a myriad of fluids not meant for Conversation, Polite or otherwise.
Oh, and I’m not done yet. I’m still typing from my Tuesday Evening Notes here. When it was time to do Family Devotions my husband said, “I’m going to read tonight.” I countered with, “I wanted to read.” He trumped with, “It’s MY Poop Day.” OK. He wins.
At Prayer Request time, as we listed the people and things we wanted to remember in prayer, our oldest son reminded, “for Daddy’s Colonology”. Then, trying again after we chuckled at his pronunciation, “for Daddy’s Colonastrophe”. That one was even better than the first. We all laughed and repeated once again, “Colonoscopy.” After prayers my husband said, “Have no energy. Need food.”
On Wednesday morning he needed to be there by 6:45. Since it was a school day, and our children aren’t old enough to be home alone, my mother came over bright and early to get them up, dressed, fed breakfast and take them to school at 8:00. Her classic wisecrack, that I might as well include, since I’ve come this far, was, “At least no one can say he’s full of sh*t today.” True that. Before we left the house that morning he commented, “Surprisingly I’m not that hungry.”
When we arrived, he thought it’d be done in the doctor’s office. But that door was closed and locked. The building was mostly empty, except for a corner suite with people inside waiting and an efficient person seated behind a desk. The sign outside read, “Endoscopy”.
Him: “I don’t know what endoscopy means.”
Me: “Me either, but they are scoping your end.”
We agreed that I’d go inside and ask if that was where we needed to be while he continued to Stake Out the doctor’s office door. Turns out that was The Right Place. Questions asked and answers given. Shown to a room and given a hospital gown to change into. Originally, My Husband’s Plan was to shake me. He wanted me to drop him off, see where to go and then return home and take over from my mom The Usual Before School Preparations. Then for me to swing back by to pick him up after taking our boys to school. When he realized I wasn’t going to shake, he said, “But that’s not The Plan”. I replied with a grin, “Sometimes I like to mess up your plans.” Besides, as it turned out, he needed my help figuring out how the hospital gown went on. It reminded me of those infant outfits with the feet and all the snaps that you could never get right in the middle of the night. It was a little unsettling to see him laying in the hospital bed with just the U.S.M.C. of his bulldog tattoo peeking out from the bottom of the sleeve.
The TV was on while we waited together. My role was Comic Relief as I could tell he was apprehensive about the test to come. When he turned the channel to WGN I sang along with, “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song. He shushed me. As he watched TV he noticed I’d slipped my journal from my purse and said, “Don’t take notes”. Then when my pen didn’t still immediately he said, “Don’t write, “Hubby said don’t take notes.” So of course, I had to. I also made myself useful by keeping his Take Home Papers safe and as a Wedding Ring Holder.
The nurses came in. One explained that during the procedure his bowel would be filled with air and not to be shy about letting the gas out afterwards. (Anyone who knows my husband knows this is never the case.) She went on to say, “We’re kind of Fart Cheerleaders around here.” Heaven help me. Another Least Favorite Topic. As one pretty nurse took his blood pressure she asked, “Do you work out?” It was to put him at ease and start a conversation. She wasn’t makin’ a play, though it made me think twice about my appearance. I’d literally rolled out of bed at 5am, wetted and combed my hair so it wasn’t sticking up, skipped makeup and was wearing my batik Dragon Shirt with my favorite faded, old and comfortable jeans with black sandals that showed off my violet metal iridescent purple toe nail polish.
They took him back for The Procedure at 8:00. I settled in to the waiting room with a book I’d been reading before I went to bed for several nights before. Reading as in, “mostly with my eyes closed”. I was only on page 6. I sat in the waiting room drinking decaf coffee doctored up with two packets of creamer and three sugars to help me get it down. I’m usually a hot tea drinker. I drank two and a half cups, in the hour I was waiting. The Waiting Room Entertainment was provided by two young girls, nieces of a woman going in for a procedure. I know that only because I overheard her tell her doctor who was waiting for her. I say “young” because though it was 8:00am they kept going on and on about how early it was and saying, “How do people get up this early?” Their chatter continued across a wide range of topics from bellybutton piercing, lip piercing, various vehicles they’d owned and would like to own, price of gasoline, carpooling plans for upcoming night shifts jobs, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, parties, moving in together and so much more. All this while they are simultaneously texting, listening to music with earbuds in and getting up for coffee. One girl was 17 or 18. I think the other was 20 because she was making plans aloud for the 21st Birthday Bash she was going to throw at a hotel in a suite of rooms. I’m 39 and a half. My husband is 40. But as I sat there listening, I felt ancient, like 105. I alternated between wanting to say, “BE QUIET!!!!!” and butting in to their business by saying, “Get an education. Work hard. Save your money. Don’t drink to get drunk. Don’t drive after you’ve been drinking. Don’t move in with anyone until you’re married. Go to church, not bars, to meet Someone Special.” I was so relieved when, at 9:00 the nurse said, “He’s done. You can join him. He’s back in the same room now.”
I could see the effects of The Knock Out Medicine in his eyes. Thought to a casual observer he looked awake and alert. It wasn’t long after, maybe 9:05 or 9:10, that the doctor came in to show us the pictures of what he’d found. Yes. It was as bad as that sounds. The internal hemorrhoids that led to the colonoscopy in the first place became a non issue. As were the polyps, plural, that the doctor found and took care of right then. It was when he said he, “took biopsies of A Suspicious Mass” that I thought my knees would buckle as I stood beside the bed. They didn’t though. He was still talking. About surgery being needed to remove part of the bowel and reconnect it. Laparoscopic was preferred for a smaller incision. He was still talking. My husband, still dazed, asked the doctor point blank, “What do you think?” The doctor replied, “I think it’s cancer. We’ll try to get the biopsy results on Friday, otherwise it’ll be Monday.” I reminded him of the Memorial Day weekend. He said, “We’ll try to get it by Friday so you don’t have to wait until Tuesday.” He made sure we had his number to call when we had a chance for the news to sink in and do some googling on our own. He shook my husband’s hand and then mine, sandwiching mine between both if his. I knew that was A Bad Sign. The Sandwich Handshake Of Compassion. I already had tears in my eyes and clogging my throat and was biting the inside of my cheek to Keep It Together. After the doctor left the room, my husband looked at me and asked, “What time is it?” I looked at my watch and said, “9:35”. That’s The Time That All Joking Stopped.
© 2011 Janean Baird, Turquoise Tangles
I wrote this because I had to. It’s the only post that could follow, “sometimes life throws you curveballs” from Sunday, May 29, 2011.
Please know my husband gave me The Green Light to write it days ago. However, I’ve been dragging my feet and thinking that somehow, if I don’t write it, it won’t be true. But it is. Very. We are taking it step by step, day by day and praying without ceasing. The biopsy results that came back on Friday, May 27, just a week ago, confirmed the doctor’s words after the colonoscopy. We told our children Friday evening. They needed to know. We are thankful for their strong Faith and firm belief in The Power of Prayer. The word is out. It’s Official. My husband has Colon Cancer.
In Other News, here is a link to the brave and uproariously funny blog post written by Tara Scalzo at “Lotus Blu Mama” that I referred to earlier. She posted, “The Other Side of the Sac”, on November 21, 2010 about husband’s Big V experience. While you’re there, read some more of her Sassy Summaries of Life.
Mom writes:Well done! Laughed. Crying again. Praying, as you know. Proud of you all.
Tara Scalzo writes:OMG girl, this post blew my mind! First of all, I'm glad that you wrote about every hysterical, nauseating, scary moment of this monumental event in your life. You had me laughing and crying all in the matter of a few minutes – you made me FEEL. And *that* is the sign of a good writer!Thanks for the shout-out, I'm glad that I was a positive influence in your decision to write all this down. I hope you'll continue to share your journey with those that love you 🙂
Mom, I haven't cried today but the day is still young. My husband gets all the credit for the great comedic lines in this post. The Man Has A HUGE Sense Of Humor. ESPECIALLY on This Topic! Thankful for your prayers that started before I was born. Tara, Thank you. I've been writing in various venues my whole life but it's just been recently I've felt I could call myself a writer. The only way to tell this story was to write it all. There is so much more to say. I'm already sure that I'll be writing about that Journey here. Sure, I could keep it in a private journal instead, but I've spent so much of my life Hiding My True Self and Playing It Safe, I'd rather just Say It Aloud and Keep Moving Forward. And, "You're welcome" for the Shout Out. Love,Janean
Shana writes:Janean, You are an inspiration! I hope you and your family have a wonderful vacation and find some peace while you are away! You all are in my prayers!
Thank you, Shana. We ARE looking forward to Running Away From Home Together and Going Adventuring. We SO APPRECIATE your prayers! ~ Janean
Anonymous writes:Janean, I don't remember ever laughing so hard and also feeling so heart-heavy while reading one post. You have a mastery of words and a profound perception of Life. Prayers and more prayers as you continue on this journey.
Sue writes:Janean, you have been blessed with the talent of writing. How very touching your post is. I, too, laughed and cried. In times like this, you simply must find the humor. You have God's Strength to wrap yourselves in and it's clear you have already done so. We are praying for you, as is our church. And nobody prays like a bunch of Southern Baptists! =)
Sue, we are so in awe of the outpouring of prayers being said on my husband's behalf. We are thankful for all the Prayer Warriors lifting his name up to the Lord for strength, peace and healing in the days, weeks and months ahead. Anonymous, how I wish I knew your name, but I appreciate your comment and am grateful for your prayers. ~ Janean
Anonymous writes:Yup. Familiar with colonoscopies from the primitive days of the mid-1970s until now. Believe me…they are MUCH better and more refined now.Aunt Janet
That's VERY GOOD NEWS, Aunt Janet! Our children will need their first colonoscopy at age 30, because of their father's diagnosis at age 40. We wonder aloud at the possible advances in medicine that will occur between now and then and figure there will be many. Love, Janean
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