Lets go ahead and pretend I (you, everyone) will live to 90.
That means I hit my official middle age on Sunday.
In light of the newest news about turkey breast causing colon cancer I started thinking, naturally, about colonoscopies. Luckily for me I have not one but two friends who are gastroenterologists. One in particular is the best kind of doctor friend. He stocks TUMs and reassurance in equal measure. We celebrate a love of food and drink together. At least we used to. I texted him after reading the article. (I don’t recommend following the link if you enjoy, well, anything cured.)
On a side note I had to find this link (forwarded by my mother) amongst family obituaries, climate chance news, and an email that was titled READ/WEEP about the supreme court, Louisiana, and abortions. It is possible I need to send my mom some links from the onion to balance out her WEEPING. I will accept any suggestion for upbeat links that don’t include cat memes.
When I wrote to my non-alarmist MD friend I was hoping for some version of “remember the margarine scare- just keep on keeping on with your expensive “nitrate free” Applegate Farm turkey breast.” Instead he told me to go get a colonoscopy. Because the new age for colonoscopies is 45. And I am now 45. Happy happy birthday.
Having already scheduled my dermatologist growth check (which is not height, cause I am busy growing weird skin stuff, not inches that allow me to reach above the fridge), I decided to move on the the GYN (dropped the OB because, 45 happy happy birthday.) I searched everywhere. Calendar, email, even my online medical records. Although I was able to celebrate having written down the password for the account, this is a triumph, I did not find anything about the gynocologist. I have been there. I even wrote about it. Yet no record at all. Luckily I was scheduled to bring Leo in for his 3 month dental cleaning (you read that right) which is in the same building as my primary care doc. I figured I would wait in line, have them look up my history and get a recommendation for a colonoscopyist at the same time. Efficient.
They tried. There was nothing. So I took their recommendations for the probing (x2) and headed upstairs to watch Leo squirm beneath the gritty toothpaste.
Sitting atop a stuffed Nemo toy I looked up the listing for the Digestive Health Center. I was only looking for the phone number, but instead I glimpsed the Google rating. 2.2 Hm. I wouldn’t get into an uber with a driver with a 2.2, perhaps this was not the office for me. Because I love comfortable conversations I asked the hygienist if that rating sounded low to her. “No.” She told me. “It’s not like it is a hair dresser or a nail salon where the reviews matter.”
Nemo and I sat with that for a bit while I checked out her hair in a greasy ponytail (no judgement) and tried to see her fingers but they were gloved and deep inside my son’s mouth. It seemed time to dig a little deeper.
I looked up 10 colonoscopy places. Their ratings ranged from 2.1-3.0.
It is possible that no one likes colonoscopies. Happy happy birthday.
On our way home we stopped at Subway. I got a tuna salad. Leo got turkey breast. It is a long time until he is 45.
Sadly it turns out that the website that hosted my skin post is no longer. (Perhaps it made it to 90?) So I have added The Garden of Delights post here:
I might have a “black thumb” when it comes to the raised flower beds that surround my sunny yard, but if you take a close look at my skin, you can revel in a veritable garden of delights.
The best things my body ever grew were my boys, but these days I have moved on from human gestation to the growth of cutaneous curiosities. I have the typical skin tags and small calcium deposits that every self-respecting woman sports; I also have a wide selection of moles and blood-filled, three-dimensional red dots that are less common but still in the repertoire of reality. A step less appetizing, however, are my flat-lying and flapping brown bits.
There is an adage in planting that goes: “the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps.” Wow, have I leapt since the years of my youth—in fact, I’ve leapt so far that I now have a punch card to the dermatologist.
As the doctor peers at my naked self, she names things in Latin. What I call a “dot,” she refers to as some multisyllabic symptom of hormonal imbalance. On it goes: I give her a tour of my skin garden, pointing out the perennials and annuals, from hairline to armpit to underboob. She touches and names them all, then dismisses them with a shrug. “Nothing to worry about,” she says, pulling off her gardening gloves. She seems a little disappointed that I don’t have anything particularly spectacular, but still impressed by the mere multitude of my marks.
Generally, growth is considered a good thing: meditation, yoga, therapy, and journaling all catalyze personal growth. But personal growths? Those are a bit different.
I have ignored almost all of my epidermal friends in the past, just as my doctor expects me to. I think of them as constellations, unfathomable and ever-growing. Once I grew a blueberry, that grew into a grape, that then grew its own blueberry. I called it “my thing” and thought of it as the sister I never had. When I felt really alone, I would talk to her. Then, one day by the pool, a ten-year-old friend of my son tried to pick her off my back, thinking she was a mislaid piece of fruit from our snack. I’m not sure which of the three of us was most mortified, but that was the end of her.
Today I am battling back, lying prone, waiting to be cut and cauterized. The dermatologist is suited up with gloves and glasses and shears. In the brightly-lit office, she leans between my legs, the way only a select few have in the past. She oohs and sighs. Things are very interesting down there. Much more interesting than I prefer.
A few moments and it is over.
Except, of course, that it is never over. Once you start growing things you never stop. So I will keep most of them—my stars, my sisters, and my skin tags—and sit patiently while my kids connect the dots. Gardens aren’t for everyone, yet they seem to be for me.