Friday, September 08, 2006

My First Cancer Scare

or; Up Mine!

Okay, this is the kind of information may save your life, etc., but when it first happens to you, it's a bit unsettling.

I have suspected my doctor just likes to order tests and push pills on me for every least little thing. Yes, I am carrying about 100 lbs. more than I should, and I'm flirting with diabetes and a heart condition, but it seems that every time I see him, I have to add another pill to my regimen, or go for another test that my insurance decides is not a test because if it was they would cover it 100%. I'm still paying off a $4,000 bill for running on a treadmill after being injected with isotopes. And I didn't even come close to "Hulking out."

That test was ordered along with a slightly less expensive one: a hemocult screening based on feces samples. Six months later, I'm back for another checkup. The doctor tells me they found blood in my stool, so I need to go in for a colonoscopy. Seems blood in your sample can be a symptom of cancer. So at the age of 47 I get my first cancer scare; yay!

So August 28 I'm scheduled to visit the hospital and get a probe stuck so far up my wazoo that I can taste it. My concern about how this procedure will go down is unsettling, as it would seem to involve pain in areas of myself known for generating great pains before. My only reference to fictional characters that have had colonoscopies is from "King of the Hill." I have to prepare for this thing by taking yet another day off work to consult with the doctor who'll be doing the procedure, and he gives me a little lecture that lasts all of ten minutes. For which I had to burn another vacation day.

Day of the procedure, I go through all the usual preliminaries. Check in, show Blue Cross cards, show cards again, get into a room, don the famous "breezy bottoms" hospital gown Get wheeled into the room where I am shown how to lie on my side and see the monitor they'll using to view my insides.

The only part that really had me worried (aside, again from the possibility of finding a gut full of tumors) was the anesthesiologist. He started an IV drip on me with a mild sedative and cheerily informed me that he was ready to increase the dosage if I felt any pain. I usually take that to mean I should expect a lot of pain.
And I probably would end up not remembering any of this visit.

Turned out, though, to be no problem at all. Really. No more discomfort than a prostate exam. I seem to recall lying on my side for about ten minutes, so maybe I lost a little time, but it sure seemed like I was up for the whole deal. And best of all, they collected a few polyps from inside of me and later told me there was nothing wrong with them.

So a lot of fears over very little. I'm feeling happy and healthy. The next day I go back to work, and on my way home, my car gets sideswiped by a semi.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Love Network

Considering we only caught the last half hour of the MDA telethon, why do I want to comment on it? Especially, why am I pushing off other posts I wanted to write in order to do this? Partly, I guess, because of the great comments on the telethon that Mark Evanier provides. My comment is that what with Jerry having mellowed out considerably in his autumn years, there's one thing that consistently annoys me about the presentation, and it's on the local cutaways.

I suspect most of the nation now can only see the telethon on the WGN Superstation feed, but I'd sure like to know if any other stations do this: during the local cutaway segment, where we go to your local studio and see the Boy scouts and firemen answering phones, the 'GN folks announced the match challenge period from one of their big sponsors. As in, "Every pledge we receive during the next three minutes will be matched by our sponsor! $25 becomes $50! $50 becomes $100!"

All fine and dandy, but they demark this match challenge by shrinking the live picture into a corner so there's room for the sponsor's logo and a three-minute countdown clock and then...

  • The live picture becomes jumpy and stuttery, like the picture-in-picture function on a TV set. But I'm sure this a special effect chosen by the production crew, because:
  • Most of the live feed is now shown by the should-mounted news cameras, whose operators keep zooming in and out, tilting back and forth, panning way too fast, like a bunch of 13 year olds playing with a Fisher-Price Pixelvision. Maybe they think this effect will hypnotize us into calling in a pledge.
  • Once the three minute countdown gets to about five seconds, they fade the clock off the screen for a few seconds, then fade it back in, and presto! It's starting again from three minutes. The same cheap trick they use on infomercials urging us to "call within the next ten minutes" for a "special offer" that's really being extended to anybody, anytime.
  • To really get us in the mood to send in our money, during this match period they run a music bed that for the past 16 years has featured "Gonna make You Sweat" by C+C Music Factory played over… and over… and over. Does this 1990 chestnut stir anything in anybody's breast besides extreme ennui these days?
In the interest of disclosure, I have to admit that we did not phone in to pledge, so in some regards, we really don't have the right carp about it. We did, of course, throw some change in the fireman's boot here and there, but finances have kept us pretty tight these days. But the MDA telethon is after all, a landmark of our culture, and very soon that'll be gone, too.