If These Intestinal Walls Could Talk

anatomy-160524_640Like with many people, my digestion has gotten a lot more talkative as I’ve gotten older.  We don’t usually have extensive discussions unless I go to the seafood buffet, but I’ve become fluent enough to carry on a basic conversation in Gurglish (that’s what I’ve named the language of my alimentary canal).  My small intestine, which is the chattiest of the bunch, likes to wait until I’m out in public and then tell me long stories about how much better things used to be in my gastrointestinal tract, with the other organs chiming in for emphasis.  Here’s how the major players in my digestive system tell me it used to be in their salad days:

Infancy

Mouth:  Milk!  Oh, boy!  This is the best thing ever!

Stomach:  Look, I’m not saying it’s not awesome, I’m just saying, we’ve had milk for the last two hundred and seventy three meals.  Couldn’t we change it up a little?  Maybe some juice, a little cereal?

Small Intestine:  We could try spitting up again.  I think we’re really getting the hang of it.

Large Intestine:  Wake me up when there’s something for me to do.

Childhood

Large Intestine:  What on earth is she eating this time?

Stomach:  I’ve stopped asking.

Mouth:  Yesterday she ate what was in the dog’s bowl, and I’m not sure all of it was food.

Small Intestine:  I’m debating throwing up just on principle.  Thoughts?

Stomach:  Let’s do it.

Adolescence

Mouth:  Pizza!

Stomach:  Pizza!

Small Intestine:  Pizza!

Large Intestine:  I hate you.

College years

Mouth:  Chug!  Chug!  Chug!  Chug!

Stomach:  I’s were not shurr no food izzz good idea, now— oh, escussse me.

Large Intestine:  How come no one ever invites me to the party?

Small Intestine:  Everybody stop everything, I think we’re gonna hurl!

Young Adulthood

Mouth:  Ow ow ow!  She didn’t let the coffee cool down again!

Stomach:  Now, that’s just careless.  And I see we’re having Pop-Tarts for breakfast again.  One of these days, Metabolism is going to go on strike.

Small Intestine:  Come on, guys!  We’re not that fussy little GI tract we used to be; we’re in our prime!  We can handle anything she throws at us!  Let’s get those digestive juices flowing!  Who’s with me?

Large Intestine:  Whatever.  I think it’s all crap.

Small Intestine:  That’s the spirit!

Now

Mouth:  Did that Number 7 meal seem off to anyone else?

Stomach:  Don’t ask me.  I’ve been empty for hours, and now suddenly I’m dodging half-chewed chunks of Big Mac and a side of fries I think she swallowed whole!

Large Intestine:  Were the fries at least hot?

Mouth:  Lukewarm.

Stomach:  At best.

Small Intestine:  That’s it!  HUMAN!  HEY!  YEAH, YOU!  LEARN TO CHEW!  AND TRY EATING SOMEWHERE WITHOUT A TAKOUT WINDOW, WHY DON’T YOU?  AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, EAT SOME FREAKING LETTUCE ONCE IN A WHILE!  IT’S CALLED “ROUGHAGE,” MORON!

Large Intestine:  Amen.

It’s a tough job, being an alimentary canal.  Twenty-somethings, learn from my example and start eating better before your small intestine starts yelling at you.  Oh, and my stomach was right:  Metabolism did go on strike.  Negotiations are ongoing.  That one may take a while.

Incidentally, major kudos to anyone who got my truly awful digestion joke in the beginning.  If you didn’t get it, honestly, don’t try.  It was really bad.

 

Image, as usual, in the public domain via pixabay.com.

How Not To Be A Workout Buddy

floor-exercises-825064_640So you’ve decided to get serious about going to the gym?  You know, one of the best things you can do to improve your exercise routine is to get yourself a workout buddy.  Studies have shown that people who exercise with a partner are more likely to reach their fitness goals.  After all, no app, tool, or supplement can give you the kind of motivation you’ll get from a workout partner who really knows you:

Little Blind Girl:  Hey, I know we’re supposed to go to the gym right now, but Skeeter’s Taco Shack is having this contest called “Guess the Fish” where you eat free if you can—

Friend:  Nope.  The last time we skipped our workout, you made me swear on Season Two of Grey’s Anatomy that I would never let you do that again, so go squeeze your doughy butt into some spandex.  We’re hitting the gym.

Little Blind Girl:  Nah, I’m gonna bail.  Sorry, but there is nothing that could get me into my gym clothes right now.

Friend:  (thinks for a second)  Remember how you wore your fishnet stockings to that party the other night, but they’d gotten so tight that you had little criss-cross marks all over your legs the next day?

Little Blind Girl:  Hand me that sports bra.

When you exercise with a buddy, gym time isn’t just more fun; it’s also more effective.  Your friend will know when you’re not challenging yourself and can give you that extra push you need:

(while going for a run )

Friend:  You sure you can’t go any faster?  Okay, okay.  Oh, hey, I’ve got a call.  (talking into cell phone)  Hello?  Oh, hi, Grandma.  How’d the surgery go? (pause) Me?  I’m just out for a run with the Little Blind Girl. (pause) Sure, you can join us!

Little Blind Girl:  Very funny.

Friend:  (still talking into phone) No, Grandma, your wheelchair won’t slow us down.

Little Blind Girl:  Your phone isn’t even on!

Don’t forget that you and your exercise buddy can help each other outside the gym, too.  After all, no matter how much energy you put into your workout, you won’t see results if you don’t maintain a healthy diet:

(at Skeeter’s Taco Shack )

Little Blind Girl:  Well, Skeeter, I’m impressed by the addition of sushi to your menu, especially at that price, but today I’m more in the mood for the pasta carbonara platter—with extra parmesan, of course— and if you could bump the portion size up to “Last Meal On Death Row,” that’d be great.

Friend:  Guess how long you’d have to stay on the rowing machine to burn off all those calories?

Little Blind Girl:  I’ll have the grilled chicken breast, please.  No sauce.

And when all that effort finally starts paying off, no one will appreciate your hard-earned hard body more than the person who was with you for every rep:

Little Blind Girl:  Check out my new arm muscles!

Friend:  All right. (puts hand on Little Blind Girl’s bicep) Okay, flex.

Little Blind Girl:  I am flexing!

Friend:  Oh.  Are you sure?

The buddy system isn’t just for crossing the street.  When it comes to diet and exercise, there’s nothing like a partner to keep you motivated and on track.  So if you’re serious about fitness, make sure that when you head to the gym, you bring along the most important equipment of all:  a friend.

 

[Image is in the public domain via pixabay.com]

Insulting E-Cards By Shakespeare

Because I’ve had five migraines in the past two days and I’m not feeling very nice right now, and also because I love Shakespeare.  Migraines, these e-cards are for you:

1. First migraine, lasted six and a half hours

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2.  Second migraine, woke me up from a dream in which I was a secretary for Johnny Cash, but he would only talk to me in song

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3.  Third migraine, had me seriously considering a DIY icepick lobotomy

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4.  Fourth migraine, I admit, made me its b*tch

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5.  Fifth migraine, took my joy, my dignity, and my will to live, mixed them in a blender with some ice cream and chocolate syrup, and drank them

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I hope you enjoyed the results of my pain!  Hang on, I feel another migraine coming on.  Awesome.  I’m gonna go not compare it to a summer’s day.  Peace out, ye fat guts (Henry IV, Part 1.  Sort of).

Grapefruit Juice: Even God Hates It

juice-73768_640My doctor ordered me to drink a glass of grapefruit juice every day.  Sure, I could just pretend I’m doing what he told me to do but actually keep drinking Sunny D.  Aside from my fear of turning orange from the beta carotene, though (and, yes, that happened.  To someone else, totally not me), I’m also terrified of my doctor.  He was in the army when he was younger, and he gets this look in his eyes from time to time that makes me think he didn’t serve in a medical capacity.  So now I drink a glass of grapefruit juice every day.

This raises a problem that I can’t ignore, however, and it’s not that I’m more scared of my doctor than I am of finding out that Johnny Depp hates my blog.  My fear of my doctor is probably the healthiest thing about me.  The problem is that I hate grapefruit juice.  I hate it with the burning, white-hot heat of a thousand suns.  For those of you who’ve seen the movie Clue, which I highly recommend by the way, my feelings for grapefruit juice make me think of Madeline Kahn’s character saying “I hated her SO… much… it… it… the… it… the… flames… flames… on the side of my face… breathing… breathless… heaving breaths…”  That’s exactly what it’s like for me, except that I haven’t murdered my grapefruit juice in the study with a candlestick (mostly because I can’t figure out how).

Grapefruit juice hates me back, incidentally.  I’m staring at a glass of it right now, one I tried to make more appealing by serving it over ice in a fancy wine glass and throwing in some grapes and a couple of cherries.  Every time I do that, though, I eat the grapes and cherries first; then I put in some more grapes and cherries, and then I eat those; then I let the ice melt; then I put the glass somewhere I can’t see it so I won’t feel guilty while I do pretty much anything else; then I sullenly unearth the glass, pinch my nose, and drink the juice.  Then I tell the remaining citric effluvia how awful it is, with references to reality television and Fifty Shades of Grey.  It’s hardly surprising that the juice resents this a little bit, especially given what happens about an hour after I drink it.

non-judgment-801268_640 2My motto has always been, drink a glass of grapefruit juice first thing in the morning and nothing worse can happen to you for the rest of the day.  I’ve lived by that motto for years, starting every morning by not drinking a glass of grapefruit juice right after I get out of bed, no exceptions, no matter what.  Then, when bad things happen during the day, I’ll think, “At least I didn’t have to drink a glass of grapefruit juice this morning,” and it all seems a little easier.  It’s been a touchstone of my adulthood, a way to know if I’m headed in the right direction.  When I don’t know what path to choose, I ask myself, “If I take this road, am I more or less likely to end up drinking grapefruit juice?”  It’s the reason I didn’t major in Business.  It’s why I broke up with the guy who wore suits on weekends.  My hatred for grapefruit juice is essential to who I am.

I tried to explain this to my doctor so he would understand that telling me to drink grapefruit juice really means ordering me to contravene the dictates of my soul, and could he truly want such a thing?  That’s when he got that look in his eyes and said something I won’t quote directly because I like you and I don’t want to scare you, but the gist was this:  “Sometimes in life, we all have to do things we hate—things we can’t forget, things we still see when we close our eyes, things that will stay with us even as we lie in the sweet embrace of Death.”  He kept twisting the cord of his stethoscope as he said it, too.  I’m not saying that has any significance, it’s just the kind of thing you notice.

So now I have a new motto:  Do what your doctor says unless you want to gaze upon the ruins of your life and weep bitter, pink, grapefruity tears.  And then publish a blog post about it and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day!  I hope.  I mean, what are the odds that my doctor reads this blog, right?

 

[all images are in the public domain via pixabay, with modification]

10 Things I’d Rather Do Than Go To The Gym

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image in public domain  (pixabay.com)

Any time I need motivation to do some chore I’ve been putting off, all I have to do is tell myself to go to the gym, and like magic, I’m suddenly cleaning the bathroom grout. I don’t know why I hate going to the gym so much. I don’t hate actually being at the gym. Once I’m there and I’ve started exercising, I usually get into it. I certainly don’t hate the self-satisfied glow I get after I’ve been to the gym. Plus, then I get to stop off for a post-exercise smoothie and say, “I always hydrate after I work out,” and watch everyone who wasn’t at the gym look guilty.

I’ve had to start facing facts now that I can’t fit into any of my jeans. I don’t know why, but as far as getting myself to put on gym clothes and head toward the shiny, pretty building with the shiny, pretty workout equipment and the shiny, pretty people, I’d rather chew off my own hand at the wrist and use it to punch myself in the throat. Heh. I’d rather tattoo my entire face hot pink than go to the gym. Ooh! I’d rather walk through a room full of clowns than go to the gym. Hey, this is fun! I wonder what else I’d rather do than go to the gym?

Top 10 Things I’d Rather Do Than Go To The Gym

  1. Give a bath to five feral cats, all at the same time.
  2. Prepare, bake, and eat a dirty-sock pie.
  3. Find that video of me from my fourth-grade school play, the one where I’m wearing some sort of metallic tutu and have glitter on my butt, and post it on YouTube.
  4. Take a selfie. Any kind of selfie.
  5. Find the source of that weird smell in the refrigerator and lick it.
  6. Trim my toenails with my teeth.
  7. Run a resort for obese exhibitionist nymphomaniacs.
  8. Tell my parents what really happened to the Mercedes.
  9. Go through natural childbirth.
  10. Write a blog post about things I’d rather do than go to the gym.

I’ll be honest, that got a little disturbing. But we’ve all got our dark secrets; some of us just choose to make them available to anyone with an internet connection and basic literacy skills. So what is it that you would rather eat a dirty-sock pie than do? Clean out the garage? Get a tetanus booster? Go see that play your significant other is in that you’re trying to be supportive about? Come on, leave me a comment with your shameful confession. It’ll be just between us! And if you believe that, I’ve got a truly impressive workout routine I’m going to tell you I did. Now, to round up five feral cats….

Depression And Me, Or: Not Today, My Friend

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Hands behind glass by jannemei on flickr https://flic.kr/p/APgHk licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If hope is the thing with feathers, then depression is the thing with barbed wire.  Depression is the thing with barbed wire that wraps around the soul and binds and tightens and tears apart and never stops at all.  If a person were stumbling down Main Street literally wrapped in barbed wire, people would shriek (and probably whip out their camera phones), emergency personnel would respond, and that person would receive effective medical attention and sympathy.  It would make the news.  There would probably be one of those online fundraising campaigns for medical bills that would reach its goal in half an hour.  Yet there are millions of people walking around with metaphorical barbed wire wrapped around their souls, and somehow that’s not only not a crisis, it’s a complete non-event.  When did this become acceptable?

Of course, it isn’t acceptable, but that doesn’t keep us as a society from accepting it.  I think a large part of that comes from the inability of those who have never experienced depression, no matter how well-meaning they may be, to understand fully what it’s like.  The most hideous part of depression isn’t the pain, or the despair.  It’s not the exhaustion, the isolation, or the sheer tedium.  It’s the helplessness.  Depression targets your will, weakening it until you may know what can be done and you may want to do something, but you’re incapable of making the choice to do anything.  Free will, or the ability to choose, is what makes us human, makes us people instead of animals, and that’s what depression hits hardest.  If it keeps hold of you long enough, you’ll no longer have enough of yourself left even to want to do anything.  Depression destroys what makes us who we are, and if you’ve never had something that fundamental taken from you, you can have the best intentions in the world and still have no way to comprehend what the experience is like.

The hell of it is, for those of us under siege from that horror, we’re still in there somewhere.  Behind all the pain, despair, exhaustion, isolation, tedium, and helplessness, we’re there.  We’re screaming for someone to help us, raging at our own inaction, and begging for the pain to stop.  We’re also, frankly, really bored.  You have no idea how boring it is to be trapped in your own head, listening to the same malicious thoughts over and over.  I mean, how many times can you hear that you’re not good enough before you start to think, enough already!  At least pick a new fault.

I’ve actually had that thought, and that’s really what led me to find my most effective weapon against the depression I’ve fought against for twenty years:  humor.  That’s why this screed belongs on a humor blog.  Laughter isn’t just medicine.  It’s also a tool that can cut through the barbed wire and  a key that can unlock your will to choose.  Ironically, or perhaps just symmetrically, laughing at someone is also the tool that will secure the wire in place and the key that will close the lock.  It’s kindhearted laughter, generous humor, that works against depression.  I, for instance, laugh about how terrible I am at yoga and write sonnets to Johnny Depp.  You may choose to turn on the television, mute the sound, and make up your own dialogue (this is a favorite with my circle of friends; we’ve found it works best with soap operas, the news, and any kind of talk show).  As long as you keep kindness in your heart, laughter will help.

Laughter from a kind heart makes room.  It eases the pressure of sorrow against your soul.  It creates the space you need to pick yourself back up when you fall down.  It acknowledges that we’re all human and we’re all, at various points in our lives, ridiculous.  It gives leeway for screw-ups and fallibility because they happen to everyone and the world will keep spinning.  It makes room because we’ve all been there and we will be again, and we want there to be a way out.  With depression, laughter makes room for one of the first things that gets forced out:  hope.  Hope is the ball of twine that led Theseus through the labyrinth, and it hasn’t lost any of its power with time.  So for the past twenty years I’ve taught myself to laugh as much as I can and to hold on to hope so that, with luck and the world’s dippiest sense of humor, I’ll find my way through.  The Minotaur won’t get to eat me this time.

For those of you who know someone suffering from depression, please understand that he or she is facing the inexpressible anguish of becoming less of a person each day.  Help them however you can, and thank fate, chance, or whatever gods you believe in that it’s not happening to you.  Depression should shock the world, but it doesn’t, and it should never have become a source of stigma, but it has.  I worry about what that says about us as people, and I worry about those who don’t feel free to ask for the help they need.  I worry about what another twenty years of suffering is going to do to me.

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Prothonotary Warbler Singing by Noel Pennington on Flickr https://flic.kr/p/kDn241 licensed under CC BY 2.0

But as long as I can laugh, I have hope.

 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

– Emily Dickenson

No! Take anything you want, but spare the caffeine!

Old Man Grieving - Vincent van Gogh

Old Man Grieving – Vincent van Gogh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As yet another part of a well-meaning attempt to preserve what vision I have for as long as possible, my doctor has finally gone too far:  he has ordered me to give up caffeine.

Now, there are a few issues this raises.  One of the first that may strike you is–how can my doctor order me to do anything?  The answer is that he was in the army before he went into private practice and, although he doesn’t say anything, I’m pretty sure he knows at least ten different ways to kill me with his bare hands.  I know he has a very pointed look when he asks if I’ve been eating enough green, leafy vegetables.  There are very few people who scare me, but he’s one of them.

The second, and ultimately more important issue is, is it actually possible for me to survive without caffeine?  I know there are people who can, but I think at this point I may be physically composed of caffeine in significant amounts.  I’m not saying giving up caffeine would actually cause my body to shut down, but I’m not eager to find out.  I don’t have the courage to say this to my doctor, however, so the caffeine (I can’t believe I’m saying this) has got to go.

Today is my first day without caffeine.  I found myself, once I was able to reassemble and reattach my skull, experiencing some unfamiliar emotions.  Thoughts popped unbidden into my head.  I started thinking, “I don’t really need to give up caffeine.  I’m fine!  Why is this happening to me?”  I progressed from these thoughts to ones such as “Stupid doctor!  It’s not fair!  This is his fault!”  From there, I went to “Maybe if I just offered to eat more fruit,” and “I’ll donate my life savings to charity if I don’t have to give up caffeine.”

I finally realized what was going on:  I’m going through the five stages of grief.

  1. Denial.  “I don’t really need to give up caffeine”
  2. Anger.  “This is my doctor’s fault!”
  3. Bargaining.  “Maybe if I just ate more fruit”

This leaves me with two more stages:  depression and acceptance.  I’ve already progressed to the depression stage.  “It doesn’t matter, nothing matters anymore.  Life is meaningless without caffeine.”  Wikipedia has this to say about the depression stage of the Kubler-Ross model of grieving:

During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage…. It’s natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage.

Sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty.  This is what I feel when I contemplate a Monday morning without caffeine.  A tad dramatic, you say?  Just imagine Monday morning at the office, in heels and hose, checking the seventeen messages that have accumulated over the weekend and remembering all those things that got put off from last week because it would all somehow be easier this week.  Now, add caffeine withdrawal.  Doesn’t that make you feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty?

I look forward to the acceptance stage.  I’m told that’s when I come to terms with the tragic event.  Caffeine, you’ve left me too soon.  When I think of all the manic unfocused energy you gave me and the sudden complete physical collapse that came as you wore off, it’s hard to imagine my life without you.  But our time has passed.  And, to be honest, I doubt I’ll lose any sleep over you.  That was kind of the problem in the first place.