Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not Shopping--The Baseline

Then it's the baseline colonoscopy. Three days before, I have to start the low-fiber diet. Not a pleasure for me. I don't really like low-fiber foods--white bread, white rice, mashed potatoes--and to be forced by the health professionals to eat as badly as the majority of the American population, to have to get a baseline in the first place because so many people take all health guidelines so skeptically, it burns me up. My bowels are probably glistening pink garden hoses from the all the healthy, low-fat, high-fiber, practically vegetarian eating I've been doing since 1999. And yet I must go through all this rigamarole to prove to the doctors that I'm telling the truth about my diet. Because everybody else lies.
I know most people would take this as a license to eat as badly as possible--with the doctor's seal of approval! I suppose it should feel like a reprieve, like getting out of school early or having an exam postponed, but it doesn't.
I stay awake for the whole thing. I was right. Not a polyp or involution in sight. I ask the doctor what's the strangest thing he's ever found up there. He changes the subject by telling me about the book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. He tells me I did an excellent job on my prep. I am inordinately pleased, a gold star or a smiley face sticker on my medical record. Will they believe me next time when I report my diet? Probably not.

The sandwiched generation is right. I am still taking care of my child while my elders decline. My elders had their kids earlier in life, in their twenties, and thus we the kids were off their hands before they were faced with taking care of their elders. They don't seem to recognize this conundrum. Their point of view on this is that if they feel they need help, with whatever it is, then I should drop everything and come over. Even if the whatever is the continual search for more furniture and knickknacks. Why don't I want to go shopping with them any more? their eyes plead. Don't I love them any more?
Well, that's not really the question, is it? Yes, I do love them. But no, I don't want to go shopping with them. I never liked shopping, not when I was a kid, not when they assumed I did, because didn't I buy something too? Not later either. Still don't. But when I was younger, I believed I had enough time to do what they liked, and what I liked, so I went along. I only complained a little. Now, although the icy fingers are not as tightly clutched around my throat as they are around theirs, I still feel the finiteness of my remaining time and that if I don't defend it, they will not respect it.

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