Saturday, October 02, 2010



Heirloom tomatoes purchased from the Farmer's Market outside Pseudonymous Major Midwestern Teaching Hospital where I am currently doing my 3rd year clerkship. I get to feel my warm, fuzzy sense of lefty superiority (I'm buying local! No migrant workers were exploited to bring me my tomatoes! They're organic! Good lord, my flight of latte-swilling, Marx reading liberal elitism has led me binge on exclamation points like Lindsay Lohan on cocaine!) and still reap the very selfish rewards of buying heirloom tomatoes. What are heirloom tomatoes? Glad you asked--they're old varieties with names like Brandywine and Big Boy (they don't all sound like strippers or sex toys...) that have fallen out of cultivation since the arrival of big agribusiness and factory farming. Why are they so fabulous? Unlike major commercial varieties, which are bred primarily to be shippable across long distances, these are bred for interesting color patterns, unusual shapes, and freaking awesome flavor. I'm not kidding about the flavor: heirloom tomatoes are to the mealy, wan varieties you find in the produce aisle as black tar heroin is to Pixy Stix.

I take previously mentioned tomatoes and make my (in)famous Asiago, Tomato and Basil Tart.I could give you the recipe. Maybe if you comment I will. Maybe I will enjoy withholding it, as I get to experience so few power trips in my everyday life.

But on to my colonoscopy (hey! great segue!) that I promised to discuss two weeks ago, and for which you've been waiting with baited breath, I'm sure. Results: inflammation of the lower foot or so of my colon. Differential diagnosis: Ulcerative colitis, random infectious nastiness, and ischemic bowel disease. Turns out there are 3 sorts of people who get ischemic bowel--the elderly, because they get everything; folks who are a little too fond of cocaine; and distance runners, particularly women. Well, I'm not that old, and I'm not a coke fiend, but around the time the abdominal pain and bleeding showed up, I had increased my weekly mileage from my standard 35 or so miles per week to 60. Apparently athletic colitis is like runner's trots, but to the 'n'th degree. Deprived of blood for a little while, your intestines freak out a bit, but you have a bout of diarrhea and then everything's cool again. Deprived for a longer period of time (on the order of hour(s), like when I do my 10-mile runs), you can get partial or even full-thickness necrosis (death) of the bowel wall. According to my research, something like 2% of all female marathoners are expelling visible blood when they finish their 26.2. I'm taking anti-inflammatory meds at the moment, and they seem to be helping. Hopefully this is over and done.

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