Category Archives: books

Tips for Your First Colonoscopy

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Yeah, I know. Not what you really want to read. But if you are about to turn fifty or if you are younger and have a family history of colon cancer you need to be prepared for this. I wasn’t, but I got lucky. AND there were absolutely no abnormalities, so I don’t even have to think about this for another decade.

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Know all the details about your “prep” well ahead of time. You will not be able to do anything during your bowel prep that you can’t do while having explosive diarrhea. The prep is designed to clean your colon out completely so the doctor can get a good look at all the tissue inside there. Your prep can be anywhere from twenty-four to seventy-two hours depending on your doc’s preference and your health history. If you have the seventy-two hour prep schedule yourself a day off afterwards to recover as well. Seriously.

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At an early point during the prep you’ll be able to have clear liquids. That means you have to be able to see through it. You can have apple juice, but not orange juice. Beef broth is really good – it tastes like “real food”. And here’s something I always have in the fridge for GI bugs, really busy days, or when I know I’m just not getting enough protein: Protein Water. I’ve found it in both grocery stores and specialty stores like GNC.  Twenty grams protein and only eighty calories. It only comes in Orange and Blueberry, and it’s pricey, but it’s not like you’re going to be living off the stuff!

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While we’re on the topic of clear liquids let’s talk about coffee. Black coffee is a clear liquid. Coffee with creamer is NOT. So wean yourself off your caffeinated drinks a few days before the big cleanse. I forgot to do this, so I got to add a big ol’ caffeine-withdrawal headache to my list of miseries on procedure day.

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Here are some things to buy or arrange for in advance. You’re going to need your own dedicated bathroom. If your house has only one bathroom anyone else who lives there is going to have to make other arrangements. Dead serious. This is like the worst GI bug you’ve ever had TIMES TEN. You also want plenty of nice, soft toilet paper. Don’t bargain-hunt. Buy the good stuff. While you’re in that aisle get some flushable wipes for the last couple of hours of your prep, when it’s going to feel like fire is spouting from your rear end.

And I was incredibly thankful we still had a pack of adult diapers Michael had received as a gag gift at his fiftieth birthday party. (Yeah, my de-cluttering isn’t going so well.) Buy a package! I wore a pair to the hospital the day of the procedure. With yoga pants. Honey, I took visible panty line to a whole new level.

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You will need something to distract you during the many hours it takes to drink four liters of rather nasty-tasting liquid and then have all of that spew out the other end. I read two really good books. I highly recommend them even if you’re not going to read them on the toilet! They are both light, funny, and exceptionally well-written. I’ve read books by both these authors in the past, and thankfully it looks like they both have plenty more available!

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On colonoscopy day itself make sure you have someone with you. Odds are you’ll be too groggy to remember what the doctor tells you, and you certainly can’t drive yourself home! Make sure this nice person has a book to read, music to listen to, or games to play. Almost all hospitals have free wifi, and almost all doctors run late now and then. Good luck!

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Babies and Parties and an Upcoming Trip!

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We had such a wonderful week with Aaron, Catherine, and Emma! She’s almost three months old now, so we got plenty of coos and smiles as well as plenty of snuggle-time. She’s trying really hard to turn over, but can’t get her head to follow the rest of her busy body! She showed a very clear preference for John, as did our eldest niece’s one-year-old, Layla. He’s just a baby magnet!

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Since he and Emma bonded so immediately Aaron and Catherine gave him a spectacular graduation present: a trip to Austin for a week! He’ll be there over the Fourth of July holiday, which will give him a bit more “brother time”, but I suspect he’s going to spend so much time holding, wearing, or entertaining Emma that Catherine will have to tug her away when it’s time to nurse!

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We had a big party while they were in town to celebrate John’s graduation and Emma’s first visit to Kentucky. It ended (as all large Ballard gatherings do) with a cut-throat card game. My back pain sent me home much earlier, but Michael and John didn’t leave until midnight 🙂

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We’re still finishing up each recording our own special books to send to Emma, but here’s the first one I tried, before she was even born. (We have a pop filter on the vocal mike now)

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My latest addiction? The fidget spinner. I have a tremor that can get really bad some days – it has made my handwriting awful. But playing with one of these (which you can pick up just about anywhere) while I’m reading or watching TV has actually helped my tremor – go figure!

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After binge-watching Orange is the New Black I just wanted to shut my brain down, curl up in bed, and watch something else. I didn’t even feel like picking up a book, which is odd for me. So I gave another Netflix creation a try. It’s called Night Shift. Sort of a cross between Grey’s Anatomy and McGuyver, but without as many obvious errors as most medical shows. Worth a watch.

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Michael went with John for his college orientation, and it’s starting to get really exciting. Of course John doesn’t get the dorm concept, even after staying overnight. All he’s planning on taking are his electronics and a few changes of underwear. Which is pretty much how he’s planning to pack for Austin, too. Anyone traveled with an Amazon Alexa before? I can’t imagine it would be any different than carrying on a laptop, tablet, or Kindle, but I don’t want him stressed out before he even gets through security.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

Seven Binge-Worthy Netflix Series

7qt_lyceum_v2I’ve only ever blogged about when to stop watching a series, so I thought I’d bring the positivity today and suggest some series to start watching. Just in case anyone is bored, can’t sleep, or is on bed-rest (which is HORRIFIC for those of you who haven’t experienced it.)

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Black Mirror – depressing future world, blah, blah. But I didn’t have a book handy and I wasn’t sleepy, so I started it. Each episode is a completely different future. If it were a book it would be a page-turner! (BTW, don’t bother to correct my grammar. “If it were” is the past imperfect tense. Only 9% of English speakers use it. It’s much more commonly used in Spanish.)

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Stranger Things – I paused this about thirty seconds in to see if Stephen King had suddenly decided to do script-writing. The font of the title is even Stephen King’s. And yes, I do realize how weird it is that I can recognize his font. I’m okay with that. The whole series could have come straight out of one of his novels. And I don’t mean one of his many books that have been turned into pale, poorly cast imitations of variations upon his movies, either. When I saw him (yes, saw him in person in the middle of a raging thunderstorm *insert smug smile and hair flip*) he made it clear he doesn’t have any interest in the movies made from his books. In his own words, “There’s one movie I will always think of when I hear the name Tim Curry, and it’s not ‘It’!” Yes, I stood and cheered at that comment. But the brothers who did this series are clearly huge fans. Just watch it.

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Santa Clarita Diet – I’m not a Drew Barrymore fan. Honestly, I haven’t been impressed with anything she’s done since E.T. So I was surprised by how much I enjoyed her acting in this series. I know, the premise sounds stupid, but how would your family react if you suddenly started craving human flesh? She and her husband are realtors, which I think is brilliant. I truly can’t watch some of the shows on HGTV anymore because I imagine them munching on feet between takes. (Flip or Flop? Seriously? There’s no other possible reason they’re still on TV other than that their producers are afraid of being eaten.)

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Lost Girl – This one had a long time between seasons, so when the fifth season came out I watched the first four seasons again first to catch up. I’m glad I did, since I’d forgotten a lot. It’s got true BFFs, a love triangle, the supernatural, and just enough action/adventure. It’s more about the mystery and the magical creatures, but there are some political maneuverings thrown in. The costume department is heavy on black leather and high heels, and their eyeliner person probably has to be replaced each year due to carpal tunnel, but it’s fun!

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Grace and Frankie –  With this all-star cast you’d expect something serious and meaningful. We’re talking Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, Lily Tomlin, and Sam Waterston. And the supporting actors are no slouches, either! Instead, we get comedy and unexpected friendships. A new season was just released, and I will totally binge-watch the whole thing in a couple of days. It’s that good.

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Glitch – Do you love hearing an Australian accent? Think zombies are a cool concept? You’ll love this – watch ASAP!

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No Filter – Oopsie – this isn’t a series, it’s a movie. But it resounded with me so completely that I added it to my list of recommendations. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it: “When a woman visits a Chinese doctor, she discovers her pain is due to pent-up rage, and the only cure is to fully express herself, whatever may come.” Yeah, sound like anyone you know? If only my behavior in recent months had decreased my pain 🙁

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t The Lyceum!

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