prepping for awareness…

“Earth’s crammed with heaven…
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

And you thought I was going to be talking about prepping and not about
that kind of prepping…
but prepping is indeed prepping…as in getting prepared…
for something…and today, I am prepping….

We should note that March is National Colorectal Awareness Month.

That is why it is August and I’m just now getting around to being aware.

Also…

I think most of us know that when we reach a certain age, our doctors
always start recommending certain tests and screenings.
They hit you with that…
“you know…now that you’re over 50…”

That’s why at 57 I’m suppose to be having a colonoscopy every 5 years…
and yet here it is well past 7 years and I’m just now getting around to doing such.

I would rather volunteer to have a root canal in North Korea before I’d volunteer
for a colonoscopy….just saying.

It’s not so much the actual procedure, that part is a piece of cake…
cause you’re asleep…good sleep too…just saying…

It’s rather what all is involved in the prep for this type procedure that is so….
in a word,
awful.

We can send men to the moon, with talk of Mars being next, and yet we’ve yet to come
up with a people friendly colonoscopy prep.

I have seen those commercials…
you know the ones…
the ones with the little blue and white box that talks to us
explaining that “it’s as easy as get, go, gone.”
No prep there.
But that’s a test for those age 50 at an average to minimal risk for colorectal cancer.

I’m not average.

If you’ve never had to go through such a prep just know that it seems to be a
challenge for any and all who participate. Even my doctor’s PA,
who I really love by the way, shared with me that she simply stayed in her
bathtub throughout her perp.

Really?

Her own little horror story followed with the very next breath telling me
that the prep has gotten so much easier than it use to be.

Really?
You’re in a bathtub and you’re telling me it’s now easy…
yeah…right.

After reading through the prep procedure papers the only thing different that
I can see is that I can start the misery at 9 AM verses say noonish…
That way the misery lasts all day long verses afternoon and night.

During the last prep seven years ago, I lost 6 pounds—
which mind you is a great thing, but what I endured while losing 6 pounds left
an indelible mark on my psyche.

Laying on the bathroom floor, trying to simply sleep,
wrapped in only a beach towel, can be a bit traumatizing.

For whatever reason,
this body of mine simply doesn’t handle invasive trauma very well.
My mind does okay…tough as nails….
the body however is entirely a different story.

As you may recall, I’m adopted.

Whenever any of us goes to a doctor, they always ask if we or a family member has
a history of___________
filling in the blank with anything from heart disease to cancer…

Being adopted I can’t answer because I have no clue.

I have however always battled a lifetime of IBS, or what my pediatrician would
tell my mom, “she has a nervous stomach”…later in college they called
it a spastic colon.
Nowadays it’s known as IBS…
I simply call it a lifetime of angry and unappreciable guts.

Plus I’ve had my fair share of misery with a peptic ulcer.

So colonoscopies, for me, have been long before age 50.
In fact in college I felt more like a lab rat at the University’s Health
Center than I did a student seeking medicine.

So I know procedures and I know preps.
It’s just that I dread each one like a hole in the head.

There is a childhood memory however, that I carry with me to this day…
a memory that cuts right through my attempted humor over “prepping”….
a memory that reminds me that prepping and screening for cancer, any sort of cancer,
is a very serious matter that can mean the difference between life and death.

When I was a little girl my mom had a dear friend.
The two moms use to always get us kids together and we always had
such fun…there was a daughter my age and we always played at one another’s
houses— going to birthday parties together, trick or treating together,
the circus together…we did everything together as families.

Mom’s friend however had a condition that I did not know about.
I’m pretty certain the adults knew about it but back in those days, of the
very early 1960’s, not much was really known about treating ileitis colitis…
or what we know today as Chron’s Disease.
Such being that trying to “control” it through diet was about the only option.

And granted Chron’s is not cancer, it is however a disease that can be
screened for, treated and watched, lest it become overwhelmingly too late.

I didn’t know about her condition until late one afternoon when our phone rang.

My mom had gotten a phone call and I can still vividly see my mom breaking down
while on the phone, crying.
I had never seen my mom cry until that afternoon.

Her friend had had an “attack” during the day while her husband was at work and
her kids at school. She died a very awful death only to be found by her son,
in the bathroom, once they’d gotten home from school.
Mom’s friend was only in her early 30’s leaving behind a young husband
and two young children.

That episode left a lasting impression on me.

We tried to carry on together as families, but the husband eventually remarried,
moved away and stated a new life…

Knowing that I too had a troublesome gut, even as a child,
this one incident scared me.
I was determined from then on to be vigilant and proactive.
Mother’s pain over this sudden and tragic loss, made a deep impression.

Are we not always reminded in some sort of poignant way or another that we
are to take nothing for granted….

The one thing I’ve learned over the years is that we should always be proactive
when it comes to our health.
I’ve known many a woman who, for whatever reason, was unwilling to have a mammogram,
or to have one regularly.
I had many a female high school student who I knew were sexually active yet
refused to visit a Gynecologist.
I had a brother-n-law who would never have a colonoscopy and eventually died
from colon cancer.

So as far as our health is concerned, ignorance is not always bliss.

Yet that’s not to say that all screenings catch things early or in time.
But I honestly believe that by trying to stay on top of things we are better off
in the long run…

So….once again, I’m biting the bullet, or actually
more like drinking the full 64 ounce Miralx laced Gatorade, one more time…
while I go locate my beach towels…
wish me luck.

do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Beware the Walu

“Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison,
and everything I don’t eat has been proved to be indispensable to life…..
But I go marching on.”

George Bernard Shaw

poop fish
(an image borrowed from the web of a “Walu” fish, otherwise known as escolar–the image says it all)

Firstly I want to thank you all for your the prayerful love extended to both me and my family as we struggled over the weekend, and continue to struggle, with the sudden the death of my father-n-law.
At some point in the near future, I will touch base on this latest detour within Life’s journey…
however today…I thought we could all benefit from a bit of uplifting levity.

I always marvel at God’s impeccable timing…as well as for the depth of His comfort, joy and even laughter when it seems we are at our lowest…and have fallen to the bottom of our despair…
…Of how He works ever so gently, reminding us of His ever constant presence…especially when we feel most overwhelmed and alone.

Sometimes He comes as a gentle breeze cooling the tear streaked cheeks of sorrow…
other times He comes riding in on the wings of comedic diversion….

Today it is upon the wings of comedy I wish to expand as I want to share the tale of a fish…
A fish by any other name would taste so sweet….

Saturday had been a very long day.
It was the day following the sudden death of my 92 year old father-n-law. Whereas he was in his ninties, he was still very much alive and quite active…still working and very much a part of our daily lives.
I had been cooking for him on Wednesdays as my husband and I would take him supper and then breakfast every Sunday. He was not one for wearing his dentures, so meals were “soft”–lots of fish and mashed potatoes.

Saturday evening following the visitation at the funeral home and prior to Sunday’s funeral, my husband and I found ourselves exhausted both physically as well as emotionally. Here it was 9 PM as we drove back home when we suddenly realized how hungry we were…as we couldn’t remember when we had actually last eaten.

Thinking by 9PM most restaurant crowds would be tapering off, we headed to the local Longhorn Steak House… only to be met by throngs of girls in softball uniforms waiting outside. It seems a tournament had taken place earlier and now the hungry players had amassed for a healthy dose of protein.

“Go on to Lil Hawaiian” my now disgruntled husband groused.
Lil Hawaiian is a local restaurant run by a Hawaiian chef who specializes in fresh fish with a Polynesian flare. His fish is not the typical fish found so far inland such as trout, catfish or tilapia but rather fresh fish he has flown in often from the west coast.

Tired and very hungry I scan the menu noting that several of my go-to favorites are sold out. My husband sticks to his safe standard of steak and shrimp as I eye something that sounds good asking our server her opinion.. “Oh I love walu, it’s a buttery fish”
Butter?
My ears perk up.
Being a lover of all things butter, I tell her I’ll take it.

Moments later our food arrives.
I am presented with a lovely piece of white pan sautéed fish topped with a ginger shiitake mushroom sauce paired with jasmine rice and sautéed snow peas.
The first bite was divine.
A wonderful unctuous and satiny fish that practically melted in ones mouth.
I offer my husband a bite, who laments that he now wishes he’d been adventuresome, ordering the same.

As I finish the last bite asking my husband, who is an avid fisherman, if he’s ever heard of walu.
He casually munches on his shrimp and cheekily tells me that it’s probably a trash fish.
Grabbing my phone I decide to google walu.

My eyes suddenly grow wide and my mouth hangs open as I begin to scan the top links for the walu fish…

“World’s most dangerous fish…”

WHAT?

“Don’t eat escolar…”

Escolar??!!?

“Oh I didn’t eat escolar, I ate walu…WHEW”
the rising panic starts to subside…
when the very next line listing the other names offered for the escolar fish….
jumps right at me…W A L U

From food blogs to nutritionists, from fisherman to even TripAdvisor…every link’s top line consisted of one of the following disclaimers…

“don’t”

“beware”

“dangerous”

“to be avoided”

down to

“avoid at all costs the ex-lax fish of Hawaii

or

“don’t eat the poop fish of Hawaii.”

By now I’ve turned pale while my husband stares at me during mid chew of his steak.

I begin reading aloud…

...The escolar, aka walu fish, is a delightful buttery fish with a dangerous side effect.
It is so bad that the fish has been banned from public consumption in Japan, Italy, Australia with the EU mandating that the fish be packaged with a health warning…

Warning number seven on one such disclaimer especially caught my eye…

7. Pre-Existing Conditions. As always, pregnant women have no fun. Also, people with malabsorption or bowel problems should probably just stay away. Unless you find your bathroom comfortable and you dislike your pants

Anyone who knows me, knows I have suffered with IBS my entire life.
My stomach and I are not friends and I work very very hard to keep it happy.
This is absolutely the last thing I needed…an innocently consumed yet guaranteed trigger for misery….
all during a very important and busy weekend…

What exactly happens to those poor souls who knowingly, or unknowingly such as in my case, consume this so called “butter” fish of which you are now most likely wondering…
well…I don’t wish to be too graphic but I will simply cut and paste to the chase…

“But the buttery fish is actually a kind of snake mackerel, a deep-sea bottom-feeder full of a wax ester that accounts for its dreamy velvety texture. Unfortunately, that oil is not digestible by humans and causes severe gastrointestinal distress in some people. It has earned escolar the nickname “Ex-Lax fish.”

Well, a ‘laxative like effect’ is how my fish monger described it. Others would describe it as closer to diahhrea. An expert would call it ‘keriorrhoea’. Literally translated, it means ‘flow of wax’. Oily orange droplets pouring out your pooper. Keriorrhoea occurs because the wax esters in the flesh of the fish pool up in your intestine.

Symptoms can begin anywhere from 30 minutes to 36 hours following consumption.

With that last little fun fact, my husband quickly asks for the check, as he hasn’t even finished his last bite of food, wondering aloud why in the world would a place with a Hawaiian chef, of all things, knowingly offer such to their customers?????

We race as if our lives depended upon it head home with me wondering if we shouldn’t just detour to the ER so I could get my stomach pumped.

A long story short…

With our Sunday filled with the sorrow of official good-byes, families, friends and an emotionally heavy sadness, I knew the last thing we’d need would be for me to be in some sort of physical distress.

I actually did not feel well throughout much of the night but hoped it was simply nerves generated from the current events.
The following morning, in order to be on the safe side with an added bit of insurance to safely survive the funeral, I downed several Immodium.

By late that evening we gratefully realized we had made it through the rigors of the day.
Following the ceremony, the family gathered back at my father-n-law’s house as the church ladies provided the family with a lovingly cooked meal…but I hadn’t much of an appetite only picking over the food.

By Monday morning I thought that my 36 hour window was coming to a thankful close. I would be home free… escaping the wrath of the walu—-that was…until after a morning cup of coffee…

Oddly and seemingly out of nowhere, there were strange rumblings coming from somewhere deep within our house…alarmingly it dawned on me, those loud rumblings were coming from somewhere deep within my own gut….and they weren’t rumblings of hunger….

Later in the morning, I managed to call my husband, who was by now safely at work and back to a much needed routine…
I wanted to inform him that it was official…
the walu fish had finally made its presence known in my life…and it was not pretty…

The good thing, the thing that I was most grateful for however, was that I made it through the difficulties of the weekend without the added misery of an unhappy digestive tract…as disaster thankfully waited to strike at a more convenient time.

Had I not “researched” the walu fish, I would have thought for certain that the sweet church ladies had given me some ghastly gift of food poisoning with their love offering of a wonderful southern spread.
But with my having been fully educated at the dinner table the night prior, I knew all too well that I was suffering from the revenge of the Walu…

Odd coincidence or bad dinner choices or perhaps God’s delightful way of adding a little levity and a bit of diversion to our otherwise overtly sad detour on the journey of Life….

Now can someone please quickly pass the Immodium…

Here’s a little link for your own research into the effects of the escolar / walu fish…

http://blog.medellitin.com/2008/12/escolar-world-most-dangerous-fish.html