Jun 01 2007

Breakfast of quadragenarians

Moonrise over the berry-flavored barium ‘smoothie’.


UPDATE, JUNE 2: For those of you following my tiptoe through the garden of cancer, the scans were negative for metastases. One is tempted to hoist cups of wassail, but as it is only 10:30 in the morning, a shot of Patrón will suffice. A shout-out to the excellent Elsa, my oncologist’s nurse, for actually calling me on a Saturday so I wouldn’t have to spend the weekend pulling pins and needles out of my ass.


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  1. LouisaMayAlcott

    The expression on the moon’s face suggests both despair and resignation at have to toss back the smoothy.

    Bon Courage!

  2. curiousgyrl

    good luck. if you have to puke, aim at the doctors.

  3. kiki

    Ah, I hate that shit. I hope you don’t need the other half of that test, as well. It’s still better than the colonoscopy prep. ¡suerte!

  4. Zora

    That was a lovely moon last night.
    I love the way you captured it.

    Suddenly, the tune to “Somewhere Out There” has crept into my mind!

    Nice to know we’re both looking up at the same moon and sky.

  5. Gender Blank

    Mmm. Barium.

  6. yankee,transferred

    Oy. Sorry.

  7. Foilwoman

    Making humor out of horror with a great photo to book. Really, Ms. Twisty, you are the god of my idolatry and I wish there were the magic cancer-cure-all pill so you could have the energy and health to take over the world as you so richly deserve. Good luck and I love this site.

  8. Viveth

    Anything labeled “berry-flavored” is guaranteed to taste horrific, or they wouldn’t bother, and will certainly taste nothing at all like berries. Why lie? Why not just label it “putrid in both taste and texture, but at least we’re honest”?

  9. tinfoil hattie

    Ugh. “Berry-yum,” eh? Love & blessings to you during your next round of bodily heinosity. I hate cancer. But I love you, and your site, and the sanity you & our fellow blamers give me every day.


  10. Mamasquab

    Cancer treatments are so fuckin’ primitive. Sorry your life is so stinky at the moment, though I’m in awe of the way you make art out of nastiness. Rock on, Twisty.

  11. Vera

    Is this diagnostic, or treatment? Oh, How I wish you didn’t have to drink that.

    You are the soul of courage, you know.

  12. Sara

    I am so jealous that you have berry-flavored contrast drink. All I ever got was noxious “orange-pineapple.” I use quotation marks because I know no orange or pineapple never came near it or the lab in New Jersey where the flavoring was -choke- synthesized (euphemism for “excreted into an asbestos jar from the pleasure glands of a balrog”).

  13. schatze

    That looks ominously like the glass of milk Cary Grant carried to Joan Fontaine in “Suspicion”. It should come complete with a creepy soundtrack.

  14. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Kiki, the colonoscopy prep is not so awful, really. At least the swill they give you to drink for the ‘scopy is not so vomiticiously thick as the barium smoothie. Five minutes after you’ve choked it down, you feel the puke begin to rumble up your esophagus like a two-ton Peterbilt shooting through a tunnel.

    Sorry for the graphic image, but I can’t hold that stuff down. It’s the height of nastiness.

  15. pheeno

    Chase it with tequila.

  16. Spinning Liz

    Scan day! Got anxiety?

    You know, you don’t have to drink it all. Go ahead and question authority. I just slam my foot down and refuse. If they insist, I turn green and convince them I’m going to hurl all over them and all their expensive equipment RIGHT NOW, and they back off. The scans don’t require nearly as much contrast as they try to force down your throat, but they never tell you that.

  17. Midgetqueen

    Yum… *cringe*

  18. kiki

    Kiki, the colonoscopy prep is not so awful, really

    Unfortunately, I’ve had a lifetime of these tests because of an inherited condition and I must get a Colonoscopy every two years. I think that the air contrast barium enema is awful and I’ve certainly had to gag down more than my share of shakes but I still think that the colonoscopy prep is the worse,lol.

  19. Lymie

    What is this quadragenarians of which you speak?

  20. Patti

    My son LIKES the barium stuff.

    And if you get a choice, the kid colonscopy prep is much easier on the system than the adult prep. When I did it, I was up all night and utterly miserable. When my son did it, it took 3 days, mostly fasting, and it was much more comfortable.

  21. kiki

    What is this quadragenarians of which you speak?

    I’m guessing those in their forties.

  22. rootlesscosmo

    “Better than the colonoscopy prep:” a perfect illustration of damning with faint praise, like “more soulful than Lawrence Welk.”

  23. Pinko Punko

    Oh crap. As if you probably weren’t locked up enough already. At least that is what it did to me. I did get personally insulted by the physician in charge though. He had a nice slang term for my current profession. Thanks, Dr. Chump.

    Hang in there!

  24. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    The prep for the ‘scopy didn’t bother me that badly, honestly. The “cocktail” was no yuckier than Gatorade (more damning with faint praise, I know). I didn’t get crampy; I just stayed in the bathroom with a good book and my pants down (TMI!) After all the sound & fury, I took to my bed with an extra blanket because I was a tad shivery, but that was the worst of it.

    And it’s a good thing, too. Because of my family history, I get treated to one every two years.

  25. lawbitch

    Hope that, by the time you read this, it’s all a bad memory. Hang in there!

  26. tinfoil hattie

    Ha-ha, Antoinette, I did the same thing. I think I finished War and Peace in a day!

    Re: the prep, though — I got PILLS! I had to take about 30 of ’em with quart upon quart of water, and it was tedious, but not so bad, if you can tolerate pills.

    Aaaah, more soulful than Lawrence Welk indeed. (I LOVE, and am officially stealing, that phrase! Thank you, rootlesscosmo.)

  27. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Ew, is it as gross as the stuff they give you for a diabetes test, or worse?

  28. kiki

    I just stayed in the bathroom with a good book and my pants down (TMI!)

    Ack. Been there. This year I actually watched a movie on my laptop. I rented Powwow Highway and cried my eyes out. Sad movie.

    Like you I have a family history of problems and after my last procedure my daughter asked me if she was going to go through this, too. Sadly, the answer is probably yes but I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

    Hope all is well with your child Patti.

  29. thebewilderness

    Part of the process of diagnosis, of my cancer, was a berium swallow. Berium is very heavy. It was thick, metallic, and rather like milk of magnesia. I swallowed a mouthfull and the tech watched it go down as she took pictures, again and again. Finally, I simply could not force myself to permit another drop to pass my lips. It was an odd feeling. The mind was willing, but the body and spirit would not obey.
    I hope your body is able to flush it without too much discomfort.

  30. rafalah

    The simple photo of the brilliant luminance of the moon competing with the horror of the un-natural light from the smoothie.

    Art, Twisty. Lovely Art. Wish you the best.

  31. kcb

    THP, yes, it is infinitely nastier than the supersaturated corn-syrup you get for a diabetes test. Barium is every foul thing the bewilderness calls it, plus a whole lot more. I got the pleasure of trying both during a long-ago series of exploratory procedures designed to find out just what my problem was.

    Of course, the barium I got was “mint” flavored. Perhaps berry is a whole different ball game.

  32. bitchphd

    That picture is deceptively pretty.

  33. Sylvanite

    I suspect that barium is one of the elements that is not generally used by organisms. No reason for it to taste anything other than hideous.

    Of course iron is needed by organisms, but it would still be nasty to lick a rusty nail. Oh, well.

  34. Claire

    Is it actually glowing or is that a camera trick?

  35. Claire

    I’ve already forgotten my username on the message board so I’ll have to get a new one. This is a bit off the subject of this thread but I thought your readers would appreciate this:


    I think these women are incredibly brave and we ought to hear more about them.

  36. thebewilderness

    I checked the box to keep me signed in so I wouldn’t have to do any of that remembering stuff that used to be so easy before menopause.

    Thanks for the link, too.

  37. Pinko Punko


    I had the exact same experience. It wasn’t so much the taste but the “otherness”- my body just said “hell, no” and then [too much information]. Talk about gross!

  38. Miranda

    At Duke hospital, they gave Mom a new, non-smoothie drink for her prep. It was some clear fluid that she could put in any other kind of drink…soda, gatorade, etc. She said it wasn’t great but that it was a lot better than the smoothie. Yours may be for something different, but ask about an alternative.

  39. kathy a

    great news that the scans came back clean!

  40. Cassandra

    Congratulations. As I happen to have an unopened bottle of Patron in the kitchen right now, I join you for a shot. Viva la Twistolution!

  41. MzNicky

    Yay Twisty!! Thanks for the update and congratulations congratulations!! Wonderful news.

  42. rootlesscosmo

    Great news about the negative scans. Here’s to many more years of metastasis-free blaming.

  43. Theriomorph

    Hoisting a petard with patriarchy on it in your honor, Twisty.

    Phew. Glad about the results.

  44. Mar Iguana

    Great news, Twisty!

    I was recently given a bottle of Tevado, Cassandra. It’s early but, hey, it’s my day off so I believe I’ll just join you in a shot. Salud!

  45. secondwaver

    So wonderful! Have been thinking about you, so great to hear the result. — sw

  46. ComradeComrade

    Excellent! No metastases is one of life’s little victories. I’m guessing that shot was, too.

  47. Betsy

    Hey Twisty, great news. I am glad to hear it and glad you are relieved and I’m hoping for more good news as time goes on.

    Loving the news, loving the blaming. This blog is a bright star in my sky!

  48. Ron Sullivan

    Well, good on the results. Bad enough to have to ingest nasty stuff without getting bad news out of it too.

    Be fun if it really did glow like that, tho’. Couple days’ worth of fun, for certain admittedly sidewise values of “fun.” Might shed some light on those plumbing problems Chez Twist, too.

  49. Vera

    Ron, when you make a joke like that, aren’t you supposed to add “as it were” or “so to speak” or similar words?

  50. Patti

    That’s great! And good karma to Elsa.

    I’m curious – what do you think of the message board and how it’s developing? Did you expect it to take on such a life of its own so soon? I haven’t registered yet, but I like it there.

  51. Joanna

    Yes! Great news. I’ll raise a glass to Elsa and to you.

  52. lawbitch

    Great news! Round of virtual margaritas on me!

  53. Twisty

    Hey Patti,

    I confess that I haven’t looked in on the message board too much since the Day 2, but I see that today, Day 4, it has already swelled up like a sponge in bar slop, and that it is being well-received. I’ll have to go over there and throw my weight around.

  54. Cathy

    I’m so glad for you and for us the scans were negative.
    Nice photography.

  55. Tigs

    It’s after 5pm local! Go a-wassail-ing! I will toast you with sangria this eve!

  56. WhatLadder

    I just wanted to recommend to you the blog of Humanities Researcher, who writes about her cancer (and other interesting things), in a really cool way.

  57. Feminist Avatar

    Congrats on the good results. I know it’s a bit late but does berry flavour barium = berriyum!

  58. David

    Excellent news. Live long and blame.

  59. Twisty

    Y’all will be interested to know that my poop is white today.

    I am drunk. Thanks.

  60. Adairdevil

    Wonderful news, white poop and all. Blame on!

  61. Claire

    Better out than in.

  62. Anastasia B.

    Here’s to whatever color poop you happen to have. I’m just glad you’re drunk and here to tell about it.

  63. Pinko Punko

    Oh Twisty! That’s what I used the [too much information] tags for up above! White and like a very heavy rock. Good ol’ barium! If they can make shakes, can’t they make onion rings too?

    Gonna have a cocktail in your honor tomorrow night, stay sucker free/cancer free as long as you can!

  64. Catherine Martell

    I’d match everyone else for margaritas, cocktails, wassail, barium smoothies, etc, but this thread is fast becoming the IBTP drinking game and the world may not be ready for the party carnage that would reap.

    So I’ll settle for a hearty congratulations. Hooray for no cancer! And here’s hoping you survive the tequila hangover. You’ll need eggs, scrambled, with more butter and cream than is conscionable.

  65. Mar Iguana

    “You’ll need eggs, scrambled, with more butter and cream than is conscionable.” Catherine Martell

    Or menudo, breakfast of champions.

  66. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Yay for the negatory on such short notice! WOW! I wish my HMO were that good, but I think they send all lab samples on a slow boat to China and call us from Beijing.

    White Poopies = Barium Gone. Yay!

  67. The Hedonistic Pleasureseeker

    Oh, and I’ll be in Atlantic City today, so my posse will offer up a toast for cancerfreeness with every round.

  68. Ron Sullivan

    Vera: as Joe tells me, back in the day there was a grafitto in a PoliSci restroom at UCB: “Tell it as it were.”

    I try to live up to the high standards of our elephantine civic neighbor.

  69. mg_65

    Twisty, I’m glad the tests were negative. Long may you blame.

  70. weeza

    That stuff is disgusting. Mine was like week-old strawberry custard with added gravel. I raise a glass of something much nicer to your continued health.

  71. mAndrea

    For some reason that pic insinuated twinge-inducing vibes so I couldn’t read the text until today.

    Very good news!

  72. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    It’s way late, but in the halcyon days of college boozery, I discovered spicy (re: makes you break a sweat on your upper lip) barbecued pulled pork sandwiches to be the most effective of hangover cures. And I learned it right quick, because I had a 9-5 job.

  73. A

    Yay! And 3 cheers to health and more Twisty Faster blogs!

  74. bigbalagan

    Very good news—the big C word has always seemed a bit less scary to me than the big M word. We need you to stick around and keep blaming.

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