Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can you say "colonoscopy"?

I'm listening to Tim try to play "Lean on Me" on the piano in four part harmony, which isn't such a big deal really, except he's never learned to play the piano. He's been messing around on it quite a bit today, though.

* * * * * * *

Today was my first colonoscopy. Not too bad, really. The worst part was drinking the gallon of colyte yesterday evening. It isn't unbearable. It is a lot to drink. You are supposed to drink 8 ounces every ten minutes until it is gone. The first eight ounces are deceptively easy. The second eight aren't too bad. After the third, you look at how much is still left in that jug.

This stuff is supposed to clean out your system, which less delicately put, means completely empty your colon. You drink it after a full day of clear liquid diet, so there isn't a whole lot in your colon anyway. Your colon does not start to empty until about an hour into the process. For those of you who do not like math, that is after at least a quart and a half or this stuff is inside you.

My stomach was so full I could hardly look at the stuff and the timer just kept going off faster and faster. How can ten minutes be so short? When I'm waiting on a train it takes a lot longer.

But then my colon started to empty and ten minutes became even shorter, because I was spending half of each ten minutes in the bathroom. They are correct about warning you to stay home.

The big jug has different instructions than you get from the doctor or the pharmacy. The doctor and the pharmacy agree---Drink the whole gallon! The jug tells you what the goal is (I won't elaborate here) and says, "When you reach this goal you may stop drinking, even if the jug is not empty." I was pretty sure I had reached the goal at soon after 3 quarts. I told Chuck about the discrepancy in directions. He said, "I drank it all!"

Not wanting to look like a weakling in the eyes of my husband, I dutifully worked my way through the last 3-4 cups.

I came down with a sore throat two nights ago. I spent the morning before the colonoscopy calling the hospital and my doctor to see if I should still go ahead. The final answer, after many suggestions to ask yet one more person, was that it would be fine to go ahead. I was glad. I didn't want to put it off. But the only thing that would ease the sore throat was eating and drinking. I was to eat and drink nothing all night the night before the procedure.

It was OK. Apparently the huge quantities of liquid consumed in the evening kept my throat moist all night.

This morning my son dropped me off at the surgical center at 6:45 a.m. I was clean and shiny with no make-up or nail polish, not that I would normally have make up or nail polish at 6:45, but I could at least pretend that the reason I looked this way was because I'd been told to look this way.

This is a nice place for a procedure. The nurses speak softly and gently at 6:45 a.m. When you have to change into the dreadful hospital gown, they have slipper socks for your cold feet and prewarmed blankets to take the chill away. After a day of clear liquids and cleansing, there is definitely a chill, even in a warm room.

They explained what would be happening, and that I would fall asleep and not feel anything and would wake up after it was over. Then they started an IV (a first for me) and hooked me up to a heart monitor and a little clip on my finger to monitor other things. My daughter could tell you what it monitors. I can't.

The anesthesiologist came and introduced himself and explained what medication he was using and how it would affect me. By 7:15 they were unhooking me from the machines in my room and pushing my bed to the room where the big event would take place.

I knew the anesthesiologist because his kids went to school with mine so we visited a bit. Then he told me something very disturbing. He told me that he was keeping an eye on my doctor, who was currently completing a different procedure on another patient. He was doing this because he wanted to start my meds as soon as the doctor was finished with that patient. He explained that my doctor doesn't always like to wait until the patient is completely out, and neither the anesthesiologist nor the patient gets too excited about this. At that very moment my doctor walks in.

I can feel my heart rate increase. The doctor introduces himself and jokes with me a bit. The anesthesiologist says, "You'll go to sleep now." I think, "No, I won't. I'm not even beginning to get sleepy and that doctor is going to hurt me before I'm asleep. I'm completely wide awake."

Then the nurse said, "It's time to wake up."

Actually, the doctor did talk to me before the nurse. I remember him telling me everything was fine. But somehow it seems like the nurse talked to me first, even though I know she didn't. I was back in my first room. I don't remember getting there. But Chuck wasn't there yet. I do remember that.

He arrived in a couple of minutes. The colonoscopy had been quicker than anticipated. I wasn't falling back to sleep or forgetting things like he did. I thought I was being completely lucid, just my normal everyday self. He said I seemed to have some kind of strange aura.

Later he described it as 'just waking up'. Except I'm usually completely lucid when I wake up. I'm the one who takes care of the emergencies at night. I have to wake up quickly and be rational. Anyway, he says I was very chatty and kind of loopy. I believe him.

They brought me a second prewarmed blanket because I'd gotten a bit chilled while I was asleep. Then I had some toast and juice. I could have had jello or ice cream or pudding or several other things, but really, only the toast sounded good to me. Maybe that's why Chuck thought I was loopy.

I began to expel some of the air that had been pushed into me, so we knew everything was working as it should. The nurse removed all the monitors and the IV and we went home where I slept the rest of the morning with vivid dreams of visiting friends and falling asleep in the middle of conversations.

Chuck was hoping for a chance to see me behave foolishly, since I was merciless about writing out his colonoscopy story. I think he got more anesthesia than I did because I had a much easier time coming out of it than he did, so I was only a little funny. I wasn't hilarious.

Everything is fine, though. It was a routine procedure recommended after turning 50. Now I don't have to think about it any more for 10 years.

* * * * * * *

I watched "Wit" tonight. I'd forgotten how good that movie is. In this house it is nearly impossible to watch a movie uninterrupted, so sometimes I loose the momentum while taking care of business. I had to stop it a few times, but I managed to salvage all my most favorite scenes. Sometimes it seems pretty stupid to have bought so many dvd's last year. I admit, buying some of those dvd's was stupid. But these best ones, like "Wit", are worth seeing again and again and again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Old Fashioned Play

I happened across a story on NPR's website this week that confirms much of what I believe about how children learn. You can find the story here, if you want to take time to read the whole thing. It is worth it.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514

The story begins with history. Until the Mickey Mouse Club show there was no toy advertising outside of the Christmas season. Except for recent history, the majority of children didn't have many toys, or sports, or lessons, or TV or computer games. Children had a lot of unstructured time in which to choose their own activities. They could engage in imaginative play where they made up their own scripts, invented their own props and cooperated with other children in that play.

According to this article, the result of all that unstructured time where the children designed their own pursuits was an increase in 'executive function' which includes the ability to self-regulate. According to the article, "Kids with good self-regulation are able to control their emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline."

In the 1940s researchers asked children, ages 3, 5, and 7 to do a variety of excercises. One of those exercises was to stand still for a period of time. The three year olds were unable to do it at all. The five year olds could stand still for about three minutes. The seven year olds could stand still as long as the researchers wanted them to.

This research was repeated in 2001. The results showed that the five year olds were now self-regulating like 1940's three year olds. Seven year olds now were at the level of five year olds in 1940.

This is important, because self-regulation is a better predictor of success in school than IQ. I'm guessing it is also a better predictor of success in life as well.

What are the enemies of self-regulation? The enemies are the things that keep our kids from long periods of self-directed imaginative play. TV and computer games play a part in that, but so do lessons and sports and multitudes of other activities that fill the days of children. And this is the part that is so difficult.

It has become the norm to have children's time very structured. We parents suffer from guilt if we don't have our kids in music and classes and sports and clubs and camps at the earliest possible ages. We wonder if we are depriving them of opportunities, and keeping them from achieving as well as their peers who do all those things. This study is saying to back off.

It is hard to feel like I'm doing the best thing for my kid when I say no to so much activity. What if they could be a musical prodigy? Will they even be able to compete athletically at the high school level if they aren't participating in comptetitive sports clubs at an early age? How do I deal with the boredom that comes before the creative play can begin? Wouldn't it be better to give them good constructive things to do with their time than to let them get bored and figure out their own activities?

I'm pretty much past this part of parenting, and since we unschooled for at least part of those years, I think we accidentally provided some of this for our kids. I sympathize with parents just starting out. The pressure to do more, learn more at early ages, and be in sports is even greater now than it was for us.

Maybe there need to be support groups for parents who choose to step out of that. Parents could have long relaxing conversations with other parents while their kids come up with their own imaginative play acting games in the back yard.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mongolian Prohibition

I read this story about Mongolia yesterday and thought I would pass it on.

"Just before New Year's Eve, a factory outside of Ulaanbaatar made some vodka using the wrong type of ingredients. Unfortunately, as a result somewhere between 11-14 people (exact numbers are difficult to find) died from poisoning with another 200 hospitalized. In response, whether as a safety measure or in respect for those affected, the Mongolian government has banned the sale of any kind of alcohol almost everywhere in Mongolia. It has been reported that crime is down between 30 percent and 50 percent and the police are getting bored with nothing to do. As this has coincided with a cold snap in the weather, the police have opened up the now empty "drunk tanks" [where drunkards are taken] for street people to sleep in. No one knows when the ban will be lifted, but many are hoping it will last as long as possible. All these events are visible proof of how alcohol affects this country."

I don't know how cultural differences would change outcomes from what happened in Mongolia, but it is interesting to think about. Generally I'm not someone who want lots more laws. But the results of this short term alcohol ban are certainly attention getting.

Obviously voluntary abstention from alcohol would not make a difference. Surely those who are ending up in 'drunk tanks' or who are committing crimes under the influence would not choose these things. So the question is about whether we limit the freedom of those who can control their drinking in order to make a place safer and to provide outside controls for those who don't have inner control. If law enforcement would cost 30-60 percent less, is that enough of a reason to legislate alcohol?

A variable that can't really be measured is the fact that this legislation is seen as temporary. If it were like prohibition, my assumption is that eventually crime would again increase, and would included black market liquor and all that goes with it. Is this working because the whole country is sobered by the deaths of those few? Is is working because people are afraid of drinking other tainted alcohol? If a ban on alcohol would be legislated without a precipitating tragedy would the results be the same?

Monday, February 18, 2008

No Complaining

I wrote a blog entry this morning but couldn't post it because my wifi wasn't working. It must have been a God thing. When I went back and read it I realized that the entire post was complaining.

no complaining!!!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Observing Lent

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and, late as usual, I have not decided how to commemorate lent. I've heard several suggestions for giving up energy consumption. In a world where global warming is becoming the burning issue of the day, literally, this makes sense. But I haven't figured out how to make that choice without also imposing it on my family. The largest part of my energy consumption right now is in driving children to the places they are required to be for school, church, music, or the sport they have signed up for.

One year I gave up pop, and another year TV. Somehow those seem like small ways to remind myself of God's sacrifice for me. Yet, making a 'big' sacrifice for lent seems prideful, and perhaps even slightly impossible right now. I don't really want to make the choice about what to give up based on whether the sacrifice is big or small. I want to make a choice that will help me to see God more clearly.

My New Year's resolution was to read through the Bible this year and I am still on target with that. What could I give up that would be meaningful and would not be so overwhelming that I would be doomed to fail?

Things I would like to give up:
  • pet hair on the carpet
  • complaining
  • the sound of video games
  • being overwhelmed by schedule and responsibilities
  • eating too much
  • feeling guilty
  • going anywhere two days a week
  • dirty dishes
I think I will start with giving up complaining. That's a lofty goal that is completely unattainable, but even a little less complaining will impact how overwhelmed I feel and how guilty I feel. That hits three items with one effort. I feel better already. If I'm not complaining then maybe I'll just take care of the pet hair and dishes without feeling sorry for myself. Well, we can always hope. And wrestling season is over after Saturday so I may actually get two days a week without going anywhere during part of Lent. That would give me fewer reasons to complain! I'll worry about the sound of video games and eating too much another year.

I feel better, but I'm wondering how this honors God's sacrifice.

I believe that part of the purpose of the season of Lent is confession. I once went to a prayer workshop where we used the A.C.T.S. pattern for our exploration. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) While we talked about confession, the statement was made that confession means truth telling. Confession is telling the truth about God and about myself.

The truth about myself includes the fact that I have much to be thankful for and little to complain about. Maybe in giving up complaining I can get a better picture of what God has done. Maybe in giving up complaining I can divert my eyes from my own problems enough to see the world around me more clearly.

While I'm at it, I might even realize that the sound of video games means my children are home, and dirty dishes mean we aren't going hungry.

This is getting just a little bit too close to Pollyanna, isn't it.

I can't fix everything by quitting my complaining. I don't really know if I can fix anything. I can try it and see what happens. That's all.