Guts & Gulp
A year ago I was beginning to learn about my insides as I never had before. And that they and their functions were not normal. Happy first birthday, Celiac diagnosis! Weird, I know, but it’s hard not to mark this milestone, if only mentally, after a year of completely new experiences. And thinking I’d mastered these new experiences only to realize their multi-faceted nature.
Over the last year I have learned so much about the gut in general (sometimes having unlimited access to medical journal databases is a dangerous thing!). I had no clue that the intestines contributed so much to the immune system, or that the small intestines had gloopy little hairs to absorb nutrients, or… well I guess I didn’t know much of anything, beyond the esophagus (FUN FACT as a speech pathologist I also treat swallowing disorders). I also assumed that medical professionals pretty much had the guts figured out. My daily exposure to science focuses primarily on the brain, which I had held to be the most mystical last frontier of the human body. ERRR WRONG.
If you are getting to know and love/hate your gut, there are two recent, great sources of information for you! I am watching Michael Mosley’s “Guts with Michael Mosley” on PBS (and I may finish it, Internet willing. PBS media player is not the best for low bandwidths!). While I got to see some of my barium test (the best part was when the doctor pulled out this crazy tool that looked like a tether ball halved and mounted on a plastic stick and proceeded to press it to my belly, at which point I saw my intestines squirm and fidget like… I dunno, a bed of snakes?), I did not get to see footage of any of my endoscopies. Well, at least I don’t remember it if I did, due to the powerful amnesia meds (anyone else come to talking? FREAKY). ANYHOW. You will see endoscopy footage and other imaging of the gastrointestinal tract. Check out this short documentary narrated by the sassy British doctor/journalist playing guinea pig to gastrointestinal spelunking. The video will be on the PBS website until 5/17/13. Just a preview and excerpt (go to the previous link for the hour-long show):
In other recent gutsy news, one of my all-time favorite nonfiction authors, Mary Roach, has put out a new book called “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal.” I don’t typically salivate in anticipation of an author’s next work, but this lady had me drooling for more after I’d read her first four books: “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers”, “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void”, “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science”, and “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife.” As the titles suggest, Mary Roach digs up some tantalizing topics, researches them so thoroughly to the point that she feels inside a cow’s intestines or enrolls in a medium training camp, and reports the results in a mirthful (my Dad would say “irreverent”) manner. As an avid Roach-convert, I was doubly excited to hear the topic of her latest inquiry. To get a sense of her writing style, you can check out an excerpt from “Gulp”. I purchased her latest, as well as a selection of her essays for Reader’s Digest, and will allow her to steer me down the canal once I’ve finished my current reading commitment (How can some people read more than one book for pleasure at a time? Clearly I’m not up to the challenge).