Happy Halloween From the Lamest House on the Block.

The culmination of Spookytober has arrived.

It's a cold and windy day in Madison, WI and I'm afraid that the little spooks will be required to wear jackets over their costumes tonight. It somehow wrecks the atmosphere when the ghosts and goblins are wrapped in fleece and gortex.

I was complaining to Cassandra the other day that I'm having, what can only be called, craft-block. For weeks I've felt uninspired and unable to create. The result of this is that:
  1. I haven't done any creative/craft work of consequence in ages
  2. My house didn't get decorated for Halloween
The second of these is, frankly, my biggest source of guilt right now.

While I don't decorate on the same scale as Cassandra, I am (usually) one of the most decorated houses on my block. I have an awesome graveyard and a nearly-lifesized skeleton that lives in it. There are ghosts in the windows and larger-than-life rats and bats living all around my front yard. Then, on Halloween night, I put on my vampire cape and pointy teeth and I sit outside with my black bowl full of candy - a gargoyle and skeleton candles on the table beside me.

For many years, my dogs dressed up and sat outside with me but, as often happens with toy dogs, they eventually became too barky and annoying to participate in the event. Now they're relegated to the house. They're really missing out...

Tonight I'll still sit outside because, frankly, having my doorbell ring every five minutes sends the dogs into fits of barking that builds on itself until they become completely crazed. Plus, I love seeing all the kids running around the neighborhood.

In the spirit of the day, I'd like to share a great creepy food idea with you. My friend Tami made these amazing "meat mice" for dinner the other night.

She modified the original recipe a lot - making hers with ground pork, vegetables and a lot of spice. And, she simply baked them in the oven instead of cooking them in tomato sauce. She also served them over roasted potatoes instead of spaghetti. So, basically, they're meatloaf shaped into mouse shapes. I love them.

Here's the original recipe from the Facebook page, "Better Gnomes & Cauldrons". Obviously, you can alter this considerably to your taste. In the end, you just want to be able to eat some mice.

Baked "rats"

1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
uncooked spaghetti, broken into quarters
thinly sliced raw carrots
black peppercorns, cooked black beans

For the sauce, um, blood:

1 can (19 oz.) crushed or ground tomatoes
1-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cooking Instructions

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, egg and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Mix well.

Now make the rats. Using a measuring cup, scoop out 1/4 cup of the ground beef mixture. Form it, by hand, into a firmly packed teardrop shape -- pointy on one end, rounded on the other. This is your basic rat. Place it into a 3-quart shallow baking dish and gently pinch in the neck area. Poke a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the larger rounded end as a tail. Repeat with the remaining ground beef mixture. When all the rats are neatly placed in the baking dish, stir together the tomatoes, water, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour over the rats. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, basting occasionally with sauce. Then cover the dish with foil and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the rats are fully cooked. Gently remove rats, one at a time, from the sauce and place gently on a serving platter. (Take care not to damage the tails -- they're fairly delicate.) Into each rat, insert two carrot slices as ears, peppercorns (or whatever) for eyes, and a few more broken strands of uncooked spaghetti for whiskers. Spoon sauce around the rats and serve, smiling wickedly.


Making Your Own Hand Lotion Bars

Guess what I did? I made my own solid hand lotion. It was something that I've wanted to try for a while (and actually had the supplies sitting there waiting) but I kept putting off. I thought it was somehow going to be complicated or take forever.

Au contraire mon frere. It was simple and quick. (I think start to finish was under 30 minutes.) And the results yielded the best hand lotion I have ever used. It was even superior to similar natural ones I purchased.

Pretty little pots of awesome.

There are many, many tutorials out there and I'm pretty sure I looked at most of them in my research. In the end, the recipe I decided to try was this:

4 oz shea butter
4 oz beeswax (I used pellets)
4 oz avocado oil
essential oils for scent (I used a lovely blend from Lucky Mojo)

To get started, you need a double-boiler setup. You can purchase a proper double-boiler but I used a metal mixing bowl over one of my saucepans and it worked great. You just have to make sure you have the proper heat-resistant tools to lift the bowl off the saucepan easily when you need to take your concoction off the heat. Practice taking the bowl on and off the pan steadily before you heat anything up. The last thing you want to do is spill the hot lotion. It will result in a trip to the emergency room for burn treatment or a kitchen counter that will forever seem waxy and smell like rose geranium.

Another thing I need to mention is that once you heat up this concoction in a pan, bowl, or whatever...it is now contaminated. Don't use it for food anymore. My metal mixing bowl is now marked "lotion only".

The next thing you need are containers to pour your hot lotion mixture into. If you have soap molds you can make lotion bars. Once cooled, you just pop out the lotion bar and rub it on your hands like you would a bar of soap. These are so fun and if you can find a cute container to fit them would make great holiday presents. I chose to use 4oz glass canning jars. I have to sort of "scrape" the lotion out of them...but it's not big deal. I sort of have a thing for little glass jars with something gorgeous inside. It's my hang-up, most people would probably prefer a bar. Whatever you use should be heat-resistant though.

Now get started....

On a counter a few feet away from your stove, put down some newspaper and lay out your jars, molds, etc. ready to be filled with the hot lotion. (I used about 6 jars for the recipe above.)

Then, get water simmering in a pan. Make sure that when you put your second pan or bowl atop the pan with water that the water is not high enough to touch the bowl/pan above. Here is a great tutorial on double-boilers.

In your top bowl/pan, put the shea butter and the beeswax. Once the water is simmering, put this bowl/pan on the simmering water pan and stir constantly. Because you won't ever want to use this utensil again for food, I found that a disposable wooden chopstick worked awesome for stirring.

You will only stir for a few minutes before this mixture is completely liquified. Once this happens, pour in the avocado oil and keep stirring. As soon as it looks mixed and right, take this off the heat and pour into your molds/jars. You do not want to overheat the mixture or your ingredients can start getting weird on you. But don't worry, it's obvious when it's time to get off the heat. The oils will be completely liquid and a light golden color. 

Now is when it's handy to have a friend helping you. This mixture begins to cool quickly, so as one of the molds/jars gets poured, someone needs to follow behind and add the scent oils in and stir in well (but fast) with a toothpick. You don't want to heat essential oils so they get added at the last. As far as how much essential oil to add is up to your preference. I was generous with mine and have no regrets.

I let my lotion cool for about 10 hours before I deemed it ready for use.

Some recipes call for alternate ingredients like coco butter or jojoba oil, but this recipe felt right to me. What I might add next time is some vitamin E. (You can buy it as oil or just squeeze the contents of capsules right in with your essential oils.) This is supposed to act as a preservative from what I understand. You can order all the materials you need online or if you are as fortunate as me, buy them at a local natural pharmacy.

Sorry there are not more photos here but I was making these on my own and needed both hands. :)  But please take my word for it, these are simple and fun to make. This is the best lotion for crafters whose hands take a lot of abuse.


The Rise of Fleece

Fleece used to really freak me out. I hated the way it felt - weirdly like plastic against my skin. Since I'm a natural fiber snob this aversion to fleece should come as no surprise to anyone.

Then I adopted my dogs. My dog LOVE fleece. I cannot emphasize this enough. LOVE. If given the option of a cotton, wool, or fleece blanket, the fleece will win every time. And, frankly, this is a good thing because it doesn't matter how disgustingly doggy their blankets get, the damn synthetic washes up clean. The worst thing that happens is that it pills. And, guess what... my dogs don't care.

We call this the "bed nest"

So, suddenly, I had fleece blankets in my house - first, just on the dog beds, then, eventually, new ones were bought for the sofa. And then one made it onto the bed.

Wisconsin winters are really cold and my 104 year old house is a drafty old gal. I came to welcome the fleece blankets and, somehow, my strange aversion to the "feel" of it disappeared. I like to think that it's because fleece evolved and the newer stuff was less "fake" feeling but, truthfully, it's probably just that I got used to it.

The final blow came a couple of years ago when Company X offered a variety of Land's End clothing items as holiday gifts to the staff. The only thing I thought I might actually wear was a 1/4 zip fleece pull-over. If nothing else, I could wear it around the house when it was cold. So, that's what I ordered. It was so soft and warm that I ordered a second one the following year in a different color. As a matter of fact, I'm wearing one right now!
It's kind of pill-y but, really, who cares?

So, why this diatribe on fleece, you ask? Well, recently, I've been crafting with fleece and I've come to appreciate one more thing - the ease of the stuff.

If you need a quickie project or want to do something with children that doesn't involve sewing, fleece is your go-to fabric. There are multitudes of prints and weights (the wall o' fleece at Joann's is a thing to behold) and it's cheap.

For our charity crafting day, we did a number of no-sew fleece blankets which we then stuffed with batting and turned into dog (or cat) beds for the Humane Society. No-sew blankets are beyond easy. Here are the instructions in 5 steps:
  1. Cut two pieces of fleece about three to four inches bigger than you want your finished blanket (dog bed) to be. This extra length accommodates the fringe and knots.
  2. Lay the two pieces together, right sides out.
  3. Go around the square cutting 3-4" fringe through both pieces of fabric.
  4. Once this is done, go around the blanket tying the top and bottom fringe pieces together, nice and tight, into square knots.
  5. If you want to insert batting (to make it a dog bed), simply insert the batting before you've tied up the last side and then finish the tying.
That's it. I tacked down the batting so it wouldn't bunch up during washing but, seriously, it's one of the easiest projects ever and perfect for a child who can handle either scissors or tying.

Also, while it required sewing, I used fleece to turn out a super-fast scarf and "ear muffs" for the Company X mascot. The beauty of this is that the scarf didn't have to be hemmed in any way and I could fringe the ends by simply cutting the fabric into strips. The "ear muffs" took a little more doing but fleece is so forgiving that I think I knocked them out in about 30 minutes total. I didn't even match the thread to the muff color because fleece sort of envelopes the stitches so you don't even see them. Here's a pic of the mascot wearing my creations:

If you have a Facebook account, you can watch the video below of the mascot doing the Gangnam Style dance and then you can get a view of the ear muffs too. Sorry about the tie to FB... we had no other way to link the video but the dance is so hilarious I wanted to, at least, let some of you see it. :)

So, what are your favorite, easy-peasy fleece projects? I'd love to hear because I'd like to add a few more to my arsenal for quick gifts and/or more charity projects.

- Alex

The House of Spirits and Whispers

It is dark and spooky out today here in Madison. So instead of writing about my weekend craftiness, I am going to tell you about a book I just finished, because it is spooky too.

The House of Spirits and Whispers by Annie Wilder

This is the true story of a single mom living on the Wisconsin-Minnesota border who bought a house and discovered pretty quickly that it was haunted. What makes this book different from most "Amityville" type of books is that it is actually a pretty sweet haunting. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but the ghosts who inhabit the house are former owners/tenants who love the house as much as she does.

Sure it's unsettling to hear banging on the walls at night or see apparitions in your bedroom doorway, but she tries to understand what is going on instead of running from it. Through research and some work with psychic mediums she starts to put together the cast of invisible characters trying to get her attention.

I give this book a thumbs-up. Its a super-fun story told by a woman I think most of us can relate to. (She's a practical Midwesterner after all!) Here is a video clip of her being interviewed about her haunted house:

Get into the spirit of the Halloween season! Go pick up a copy of The House of Spirits and Whispers and get your creepy on.


Friday Finds: Cats Take Over The World

As Internet memes go, this first one has it all:
  1. Snark
  2. Consistently funny (and updated) content
  3. A loyal following
  4. Cats (well, one cat and a dog)
This is Colonel Meow:

Fear the Colonel

Colonel Meow loves Scotch

He will steal your soul

Meow and his trusty minion, Boots
Go visit Colonel Meow on Facebook to learn all about his plans for world domination. I recommend going straight to the "photos" tab and just scrolling through the slideshow. Don't forget to read the captions because that's the funniest part.

For Part Deux of our Cat-Meme Themed post, please to enjoy Henri Le Chat Noir, the existentialist French cat for whom the entire world is a struggle because no one understands him:

These are just the first three of the Henri films. I highly recommend a visit to YouTube to see the rest. Enjoy!

- Alex

A day late and a dollar short.

Hi everyone. I meant to post yesterday but it's been a weird week. Kids ate salmonella tainted granola bars (I'll let you guess what that means), Alex is leaving me to go to Company Y (or as I say "Company Why Why Why??!"), and I've been so sleepy for some reason I need to go to bed at 8:30 every night.

Oh, but there have been lots of bright spots. Like the box of yarn that arrived from Knit Picks for the holiday sweaters for the boys that I wasn't going to make because I am simplifying my life. I know...I know...

Old man sweaters for little boys!

Now that I am done with all the pieced blocks, I've begun the embroidery/applique panels for the big quilt. There is nothing better than working on embroidery to make someone feel happy. Seriously. It works even better than knitting on me.

Block 1 of 6 is 80% finished...

And what do you do when you already have a lot of crafty projects going? Start sewing little pajamas! I have the pattern pieces cut out and hopefully this weekend I will get them all sewn up.

Oliver & S "Bedtime Story" pattern.

And then there is this lingering design project. The good thing is that it resides on the needles that I need to start the boys sweaters! It's the perfect reason to finish this up quickly and cast on for the holidays. Now that the weather is turning cold, my hands have actually been itching to hold some knitting needles.

Shhh...this is the secret project in my bag.

And then I've been cooking. Fall always makes me want to try new recipes. Do you like Broccoli-Cheddar Cream Soup? This recipe was most excellent. I did however add shredded carrot and black pepper to mine. Plus I used a vegetarian stock as opposed to chicken. The next time I make it I am not going to add the 1tsp of salt because it really didn't need it with the saltiness of the cheese.

Lots of irons in the fire. Again, "Mighty Distractible" isn't just a cute name! But hopefully these will turn into finished objects soon...


The Winds of Change are A-Blowin'

Let me apologize in advance...

This is going to be a non-crafty post, again.

Not to belabor the point, but "distractible" is in our name. And, right now, I'm distracted by a big event in my life: a new job.

After 13 years at Company X, I'm moving on. It's surreal for a lot of reasons - not the least of which is that, for the first time in over a decade, I won't be able to see Cassandra nearly every day of the week. Frankly, that makes me infinitely sad.

However, Company Y made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Company X, as much as I love it, had nothing left to offer me. Basically, I qualify for three jobs at Company X and I've done all of them. When the position at Company Y fell in my lap I realized that I had three choices:

1. For the next 15 years I could do the same job I've been doing for the last 6 years.
2. I could commit to Company X's INDUSTRY and cross-train into other departments (learning all new skills). OR...
3. I could take the skills I have (and love) and apply them to a new industry.

Obviously, I picked #3.

So, starting one week from today, I'll be commuting in the opposite direction. I'll be meeting new people, learning a new corporate culture, learning a new job... It's scaring the hell out of me but I'm excited as well.

For the record, this will not, in any way, affect our commitment to Mighty Distractible, our crafting work, or our readers. If anything it might make me a little less flaky about getting my posts done because I'm going to need to plan further in advance. LOL

I'm hoping that it allows Cassandra and I more freedom because, for the first time in six and a half years, I won't be her boss and therefore our friendship can flourish without any concern that she might be getting special treatment. (Which she never did, btw... I swear.)

So, that's my big news and the thing that is completely occupying my brain right now. However, I guess I can toss out a couple of things that I've been thinking about lately that you might enjoy:

Looper - If you haven't seen this movie yet, GO. You really should see it in the theater. While it's technically a sci-fi, time-travel thing, I think it has a lot of cross-over appeal. It's amazingly well written, directed, and acted. Everyone I know (including myself) has walked out of the theater saying, "Wow! that was WAY better than I expected!" Seriously, don't miss this.

Pears stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon - I didn't make this, my son's girlfriend did. But, we had it for dinner last night and I simply had to share the recipe with you. They are ridiculously good. Click here for the recipe from Foodnetwork.com.

Bossypants by Tina Fey - I just got done reading this for book club. It's fast and funny and worth every page. It's pretty girly - there were some men in the book club that took exception to some of the chapters on, say, Kotex or breasts - but overall, everyone in the group loved it and I, literally, laughed out loud throughout.

Okay. I have to get back to cleaning out my desk. What a weird experience THAT has proved to be - a walk down memory lane. :)

- Alex the Short-timer

Friday Finds: Wunderpop!

Beware of a toothache when you see these sweet, sweet ribbons from Wunderpop!

I would love to know what "Webbander" means.
Hit up our comments section if you can help with that!

This German company (which ships worldwide) is making me need to use a playful, ribbony accent on an upcoming project - any upcoming project. I will find a use for this!

Bears and Foxes....double squeal!

Love these flowers.

I could think of a millions ways to use this.

How awesomely European is this one?

I want this to trim an apron.

Click through and take a peek!

Happy weekending,


Spookytober Movie Madness!


For those of you who may be fairly new to us, Cassandra and I adore Halloween.

I love giving out candy to the little spooks on the actual day. In Madison, we celebrate Halloween on Halloween - even if it's in the middle of the week. Plus, I live in a neighborhood with tons of kids so it's always a celebration. The toddlers start coming around 5pm and then the kids get older as the night progresses. Usually, around 8:30pm or so, the first teenager with no costume and a pillowcase shows up. That's my cue to shut down the candy train. In my version of Halloween, if you want candy, you have to work for it. It's not hard to pull together a hobo costume now, is it? Seriously.

Cassandra has her own Halloween obsessions which I'm sure she'll talk about at some point this month. I'll just give you a small insight... She gives over her entire dining room to SpookyTown. 'Nuff said.

When it's all said and done, my favorite part of Halloween is the opportunity to wallow in all things horror. No one looks at you sideways when you watch old scary movies in the month of October. And I love a good horror movie - especially ones from the 1970's. As a matter of fact, Cassandra and I just spent a couple of lunch hours watching The Omen from 1976. Religion-based horror is our favorite genre.

In past Spookytobers, we've written posts about our favorite movies, television, podcasts, and books. We'd like to encourage you to go back and check out some of these posts because you might just find the perfect gem of a scare.

Oh the Horror! - Alex's list of favorite scary movies

It was a dark and stormy night... - Cassandra's list of spooky audiobooks

It's Spookytober! - Cassandra's suggestions for spooky podcasts

But for today's post, I'm going to provide a few suggestions of current movies and/or tv that are perfect for the season. As always, this comes with the disclaimer that these are MY favorites. And, while I'm sure I'll have forgotten (or passed over) something you really, really like - that's what the comment section is for!


- Alex

Spooky Television

666 Park Avenue - So far it's not super scary but we've only had two episodes and the premise is promising. A big old NYC Park Avenue apartment building is somehow EVIL (from the DEVIL) and is owned by a couple that's super-rich and also EVIL (from the DEVIL). The couple is played by Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams - both of whom can be super-scary in a "we're beautiful and hiding something" way.

American Horror (The Asylum) - If last season is any indication, this new series is going to be one hairy scary ride. Part way through last season I thought, "How are they going to maintain this story over multiple years?" and now we know that they're doing each season as a separate "mini-series" - new setting, new cast, new scary story. This year, the setting is an asylum (obviously from the title) that is run by NUNS! Woot! Scary nuns! I'm holding out great hope for this one.

Spooky Movies

Sinister - A family moves in to a house where the previous family had been murdered. The writer-husband finds an old box of movie reels in the attic and he watches them (has he NEVER seen a horror movie?). Turns out that, by watching the films, he activates a demon who killed all the previous families in the house. And, of course, the demon is now after his family. The trailer looks super-creepy. Plus, it's got little kids doing scary horror things which is always good for a fright.

Paranormal Activity 4 - So... yeah. Generally, I would advise against any fourth sequel but the thing about the Paranormal Activity movies is that they're not at all about the story. You really go to see them just for the frights. And there's something really scary about the "home movie" format. It makes the whole thing more "real" somehow.

Silent Hill: Revelations 3D - You all know that I love an extra D on my movies (if it's appropriate) and I can think of no better use of 3D than this. The trailer looks OVER THE TOP creepy and, weirdly, reminds me of Hellraiser (one of my all-time favorite scary movies). Plus, it's got Sean Bean in it. I think I've made my argument here.

Saving a Light

So, as prolifically crafty as I am, some things do get lost in the shuffle. I hate to admit that one of those things was the light fixture in Little Bear's room. Let me rewind a bit...

About 6 years ago, my husband and I bought two awesome (but in need of love) schoolhouse lights from a flea market for $75. They sat in a dusty old box in the basement for a while because we weren't sure what we were going to do with them. When we had to design a room for our last baby, one of those lights turned out to be the perfect thing.

My husband took the smaller light apart and we carefully cleaned the globe (thank goodness for Magic Erasers) and put it somewhere safe. We (this is the Royal "we", my husband actually did this) dismantled the workings of the light and separated the metal parts from the "electricity guts".

The metal parts before refinishing.

The metal parts were then taken to a local metal plater who stripped off the old rusty finish and applied a beautiful antiqued bronze coating. It looked good as new when we picked it up...3 years ago. Yeah, we got busy and never finished this light.

Close-up of the new finish.
 But a few weeks ago we got the notion to finally get this light together. We pulled out all the bits (made a quick stop at the hardware store for some solid brass screws and bolts) and got assembling.

My husband completely rewired the light with period correct cloth-covered wire that he purchased years ago on the Internet from a factory that actually still makes it. (See photo below.)

The prettiest wire in the world.

And voila, we had a period-restored 70 year old light. Another cool thing is that we installed a 100% LED 11 watt bulb that lights the room perfectly. 70 year old technology meets brand new technology...and works better than ever!

The new light in action. Now, I need to going on the rest of the room!

Friday Finds: The Best Sugar High

You are, of course, all aware of my predilection for cooking. However, I'm not sure that I've ever truly express the depth of my sweet tooth. I also have a "fat tooth" but that's another blog post...

Today I'd like to introduce you to two things:

1. My wonderful friend John's awesome cartoon strip, Dork Tower, and
2. Igor Bars

Named for the character Igor, from Dork Tower, these diabetes-inducing treats include:

flower bullet chocolate chip cookie dough (from recipe on bag of chocolate chips or purchase pre-fab dough in a tube)
flower bullet peanuts, 1.5 cups
flower bullet caramels, 100
flower bullet milk, 3 teaspoons
flower bullet semi-sweet chocolate chips, 16 oz.
flower bullet Rice Krispies, 6 cups
flower bullet marshmallows, 10 oz. (or one very large jar of marshmallow creme)
flower bullet margarine (eliminate if using marshmallow creme)
flower bullet M&Ms, any variety
flower bullet toffee chips or bars
flower bullet anything else you think is excessive

Here's the link to the original recipe. If you scroll down on the page, you'll find a number of ridiculous and yummy variations.

And here's the original comic with a pretty perfect representation of what happens when you eat Igor Bars:


If you end up making these, please write me and let me know how you like them! Also, please read Dork Tower. It's consistently one of the funniest commentaries on all things dorky and popular culture.

Bon Appetite!

- Alex

Fox Embroidery Pattern

Greetings! Today we are happy to have another new embroidery pattern available for free download. I would like to introduce you to Fox:

Fox joins his friends Bear, Hare, and Owl from our series of Woodland Embroidery Patterns.

Click on me to download!

Because I can't leave anything alone, there are a few content/design changes to this pattern that were not a part of the first 3 releases. (I am actually updating Bear, Hare, and Owl and will let you know when they are ready...hopefully very soon!) The most noticeable change is the addition of an optional circular version of the pattern.

We hope you download our Fox and give him a try! And if you do, please send us a picture :)


Spoiler Alert! This Post May Offend

If medical procedures and/or bodily functions really gross you out, I'd recommend that you skip today's post and, maybe, just wait to see what Cassandra has in store on Wednesday.

You've been warned.

No one would guess it by looking at me but I'm officially old. I turned a certain age on my last birthday which triggered all manner of new tests and procedures that doctors deem necessary to ensure that old age is entered in a healthy way.

Last week it was a colonoscopy.

Of all the indignities that one can suffer, this one ranks right up there at the top. Having a camera snaked up your butt so that a doctor can check out your colon and large intestine is, by definition, crappy. (rimshot!) But, from what I've learned, it's also one of the most important tests anyone (male or female) can have done. Early detection of colon problems can mean the difference between a normal life and, either, a shortened one or one with some even more indignity-laden problems.

So, I thought it might be good to describe (not in too much detail) what I went through last week and what my feelings are about the process overall. If this convinces even one of you to make your appointment, I'll feel like I've contributed something to the health of our readers. :)

The process starts with a call from the nurse a week before the procedure. They're really big on setting expectations. I must have been given the same information about six times - either by phone or by mail. Reiteration of the time of the procedure and directions to the hospital happened a bunch of times. Also, reiteration of the "cleaning out" procedure and what I could expect throughout the day happened a lot.

The interesting information I gleaned from that early phone call was some dietary recommendations for the seven days prior. I was restricted from eating nuts, beans, peas, etc. (basically anything that might hang on in there for a long while) for a whole week. I was a bit taken aback because a LOT of what was on that list are things I eat regularly. And, of course, I suddenly couldn't imagine going a whole week without any of them! It was also recommended that I switch over to easily digestible foods for at least a couple of days before the procedure.

Because my appointment was in the afternoon, I had to "split" my cleaning-out procedure - half on Tuesday night and half on Wednesday morning. For those of you who do not know, the victim patient has to drink a HUGE amount of laxative and clear liquids in order to ensure the cleanest possible insides for the doctor to look at. I was given the option of a pre-mixed solution that required me to drink more or packets that I had to mix that required me to drink less (but also required me to drink an additional 16oz of clear liquid on top of it.) I picked the one that required less volume be consumed. So, here's how it went:

  • Before I left for work, I prepared the solution that I would need to drink that night so that I could refrigerate it. The solution was easy to mix and they provided a container with 8oz marks on it so I could measure my drinking. I could tell during the mixing that the solution would be a little thicker than water and slightly viscose. It also smelled nicely of lemon.
  • Breakfast on Tuesday morning was restricted to a few, decent items. I picked bagel with cream cheese and a mocha latte because this seemed like the most filling option.
  • After 10a on Tuesday, I was allowed nothing by mouth except for clear liquids (broth, certain juices, jello and Popsicles (only certain colors!), and tea) and no dairy at all. I went to the grocery and loaded up on broths and jello so that I had some items that felt like real food.
  • At 6p on Tuesday, I had to start drinking my laxative. The process is to drink 8oz of solution every 15 minutes until the container is empty (takes an hour), and then drink 16oz of clear liquid to wash it through.I'd set a timer so I had a goal to meet and would gauge how much I'd consumed and how much time was left. I found it tough to get 8oz in me in 15 minutes but I'd come close. Also, the drink tasted pretty good.
  • The laxative was said to take approximately two hours from the time you started drinking it to take effect and this was EXACTLY my experience. However, once it started, there was no leaving close proximity to the bathroom. So... imagine the worst diarrhea you've ever had (usually associated with a flu or something, right?) and then multiply that by, like, five and take away any other flu symptoms. SO WEIRD! After a number of hours (I started worrying about what time I'd be able to go to bed!) I finally felt like there was nothing left in there.
  • I made the solution for the morning, refrigerated it, and went to bed. Whew!
  • The next morning, I had to start my drink early because the entire process had to be done with no less than two hours before the procedure. So, at 7a, I started drinking the laxative again.
  • This time, there was no delay. As soon as I'd drink anything, laxative or clear liquid, it would pass through me in minutes. In short order, everything that was coming out was nearly clear.

As I was finishing my second round of goo around 10a, I got a call from the hospital. They'd had a cancellation and wanted to know if I could (I kid you not), "hop in the car and come over to the hospital right now." Now, the instructions had been VERY clear - the morning routine had to be finished two hours prior to the procedure. Turns out that's not exactly true. If I immediately stopped consuming anything and could get there within 45 minutes, they could do my procedure at 11:30a instead of 1:30p, which sounded good to me. So, I called my driver (you're not allowed to drive yourself home) and confirmed that she could move up the schedule. Then I got cleaned up, changed, and headed out.

Because my "at the hospital" time was shortened by a technically-late arrival (40 minutes before instead of one hour before), I got whisked through the administrative and pre-procedure prep. I would highly recommend this. There was barely time to think so I couldn't get worked up about what was going to happen. Because of the 24-hour lack of food, I was really cold and they kept bringing me warm blankets and piling them on top of each other. I felt like a reverse Princess and the Pea, but it was really nice to be so warm and enveloped. Then a nurse came in and did all the "records" stuff (name, date of birth, instructions for my driver, etc.), then another nurse came in and put in an IV, then the doctor came in and explained what was going to happen (he was really cute which was kind of embarrassing), then the anesthesiologist came in and explained how I would be put to sleep. Through all of this, I kept having to get up and go to the bathroom. Not fun - especially when two, separate nurses told me, "don't worry... we have a suction so it won't matter." UGH!! So gross.

One point that everyone kept pounding on was that I would "have no memory" for hours. That I would repeat myself over and over.That I would forget that I'd done something or asked something. All because of this particular anesthesia. I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least four people brought this up. They insisted that my driver was going to have to "be my memory" for the rest of the day and that I couldn't be trusted to do/say anything normal for hours.

Finally, they wheeled me down the hall to the procedure room, shot some stuff in my IV, asked me to roll over onto my left side, and....that was it. A couple of hours later, someone was shaking me to wake up.

Now...here's the interesting thing. The anesthesia was  hardcore. I, quite literally, had no memory of the procedure at all and it was brutal trying to wake up from it. All I wanted to do was sleep. However, I had no memory loss other than the muddled memory that a sleepy person would experience. I got home and ate some homemade mac & cheese (thanks to my thoughtful friend and driver) and promptly took a nap. And that was the rest of my day - up for a bit, asleep for a bit. By the time 5p rolled around, I was pretty functional. The only side effect that I experienced from the anesthesia was a weird issue with the language center of my brain. I would insert non sequitur words into the middle of sentences or I'd mash up two multi-syllable words to make two completely new, incomprehensible words. This went on for hours and, for a word nerd like me, was very embarrassing.

I had no physical side effects from the procedure at all. I was a little gassy but had been told to expect that. I had no soreness or weird feelings either inside or at the entry point. If I hadn't been told, I wouldn't have even known they'd done anything, honestly. When it was all said and done, the preparation (and anticipation) was the worst part of the whole process and, frankly, it wasn't really that bad. A bit unpleasant but nothing that I wasn't expecting.

So... if your doctor is suggesting you need to have a colonoscopy, just do it. Don't delay it because you've heard how "horrible" it is. It's not that bad. And, if nothing else, you get to have a day or so to lay around and sleep. :)

- Alex