Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Conspiracy Theory - The Bums Rush

For one reason or another, when you reach a certain age, Doctors become enthralled with your bum. I'm using the English "Bum" because the real descriptive I want to put here would be sort of degrading and spoil the intent of this missive. It's that inner part of your bum that they are so interested in really, which we won't discuss too much, but suffice to say it's not the cute fleshy part that we've all come to know and love.

I discovered this quite by accident when I started this job I'm currently working. This job came with complete medical benefits and thus I was off for my first complete physical in over 10 years. (yeah, I know, but let's not dwell on that, shall we?) On the same day, this same doctor has scheduled me for a consultation with another doctor who's going to perform a wondrous procedure called a colonoscopy. Oh just the thought brings shivers, but let's get that physical out of the way. 

Now, besides the usual breathing for the stethoscope (aka: sphygmomanometer, for those of you who like to learn a new word each day) and the usual "Fill this up" and the painful and scary "drawing of the blood" (oh my that's another story in itself) - the doctor decided that he has to...well, "probe" the area aforementioned. Probe is a nice word for what they do.

The most unnerving sound in the world at this point is that particular sound that a rubber glove makes as it is snapped into place and the cold quiet sound of the clear slippery goo being applied to his skilled finger tips while you 'drop trou.'  (Notes for the future: When you're bent over the table it's hard to come up with snappy patter while he's delving into the inner reaches of the nether regions.) Thankfully it's over quite quick, I'm cleaned up and off to 'consult' with the other doctor. This is where my story takes a rather odd turn.

Never mind the fact that I just had myself probed by my main doctor, it seems THIS doctor wants to probe me also! What is it with these guys that want to do this to my backside? And they wonder why we all end up so repressed! I'm overtaken by a sense of the ridiculous, and my head is getting light. The giddiness I'm feeling is an overwhelming sense of the absurd as for the second time in one day, I find my pants at my ankles and, 'snaaap!' goes the rubber glove, and squish goes the clear lube and in just seconds, I'm being probed once again. The giddiness takes over and I actually say out loud, "Well, at least you could buy me a drink first." He is not amused.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this whole experience, besides noticing that every doctor I've met recently wants to "probe me" is the fact that once it was over, the doctor immediately left the room. One left so quickly that he forgot to leave me something with which to clean up! (Thank GOD those gowns are made of such thin and absorbent paper!) And where were they going in such a hurry anyway? Ostensibly, it's off to another 'probing', but in reality, I'm thinking it may be just that they meet in the back halls and compare notes and technique.

Regardless, it may at least explain why I'm so darned reluctant to go see the Dentist. I'm not really sure what he means when he says "Open wide."

After a week or so of waiting nervously, I'm now ready for the colonoscopy.

Now for those that are not 'in the know' a colonoscopy is basically where the Doctor along with an incredible number of assistants, anesthesiologists, nurses and technical people (maybe even a couple of homeless guys they pull off the street) run a camera up your butt and take pictures along the way. Sounds like a drive in the park, eh? Not on your life!

Oh, but it all starts the night before, in the privacy of your own home...and privy. As anyone who has had a colonoscopy will tell you , there is this noxious liquid you must drink in order to 'clense' your insides. There are several options in this realm and the option I got to take, was three little bottles of a lovely cherry colored (and supposedly cherry flavored) mixture which in actuality tasted like the soles of an incontinent leper. (Which now that I think on it, is an insult to incontinent lepers everywhere - for which I apologize.) I spent the better part of the evening on the toilet and went through a good 6 rolls of bathroom tissue. (One wonders why the Leper-Sole-Juice doesn't come with a few dozen rolls of tissue in the same package. It may give one an idea of the fun evening in store.) In addition, I am seriously considering suggesting to Charmin that they add that 'lotion' stuff to the bathroom tissue that they put in facial tissue. Seriously.

When I get to the Doctor's there is a light air, an informality which belies the interest of the earnest people working there. They keep things professional and there are very few jokes. (More the pity, this situation calls for more jokes.) The only hard part (for me) was the IV. (Me and needles, not a good combo…) After they give you that flattering gown (you know the one, where it's open in the back and every one can see the scenic route they're about to take) and make you lie down on the gurney, along comes a talented guy who runs a needle into your arm. Ouch. (Now, for those of you like me, who hate needles, this guy was pretty good. Minor pain, and quick taping made it very easy - try not to look at the drops of blood.)

At this point, I have to wait. (Apparently there is a overabundance of people wishing to get pictures of their colon this morning.) I also had fun playing with the staff. I've been exercising a lot lately and my pulse rate at rest is very low, like about 50. If I relax and meditate I can lower it even lower. So I would meditate and lower my pulse until the monitor alarm went off and they came in to check. At which point it would raise up. They'd leave. Repeat as necessary until they figured it out.(As I said before, they need more jokes.)

 So I'm laying there and in comes the crew. Doctor, nurses and the anesthesiologist (maybe a priest and a rabbi would have been nice, too). Yeah, that's right, I get to sleep through the photo session with a dose of some major drugs while an entire entourage gets to snap a few tour photos.

They hook up the plungers and in what seems like only moments they are waking me to tell me it's ok, everything went well. A quick and relatively easy procedure – if you forget about the needles. So, why am I telling you all this? Besides the fact of my conspiracy theory about Doctors wanting to probe my backside? (Which is true, by the way. I tell you this to warn you always walk into the Doctor’s office with your butt to the wall!) 

The real reason is of course: Drugs. It's a story of a guy who can get loopy on one beer being given a major amount of powerful prescription drugs WHICH they tell you afterward, will stay in your system for up to 24 hours. Most of the following I've gleaned from my own fuzzy memories and from my wife, who loves to tell these stories like they are from some old Abbott and Costello routine. I can’t tell whether she’s laughing at me, with me or asking me to apologize yet again. Either way she laughs all the way along.

The first thing that they did while I was laying there staring up at the ceiling, was to give me a drink. “What would you like?” they ask.
"uhhhhhh" (College graduate here.)
"We have diet coke or sprite..?"
"uhhhhhh" (Geez, what a great conversationalist!)
"How about diet?"
"uhhhhhh ohhhh kayyy, diet" - now for the next five minutes I repeat the word Diet like it's a foreign word for "bathroom" and I'm learning a new language. "DIE -ehhhht", "DIEEEEEEE UUUUUT" While I'm doing this, for some strange reason, my hand can't feel the can they put in it and, without realizing it, I keep squeezing harder and harder until it crushes completely, at which point they pry the can from my grip and make me set it down. I’m still saying “Dye ehhhhht” as perhaps my brain has undergone a pre-frontal lobotomy and only this one word is left.

The Doctor comes over to tell me that the procedure went well and shakes my hand. This is when I look at him and say loud and clear "It was nice being probed by you." Those that know me will tell you emphatically I do NOT whisper. 4 years of College Voice Lessons has given me a permanent Stage voice. Everyone in ear shot covers their grin and turns away. The doctor simply shakes his head and extracts his hand from my grip so it won't join the can in the crusher.

I have no idea how I got dressed, but they say I dressed myself. They also say they heard me fall down three times. (at which point I curse “Diet!”) If I did, no one came in to help. Amazingly, my clothes are all on properly, and they are ready to release me to my wife. Then they showed me a set of photos they took inside my colon (yeah, I have them at home) and are about to explain that I’m quite healthy when I exclaim (again, loud and clear for everyone in the office to hear, "Oh good! I can make Christmas Cards out of this one!" The woman behind the counter gives my wife a look - my wife smiles in return. One of those long suffering smiles that only wives can give or read. We continue.

Now comes the part which is interesting and which makes the story all worthwhile. They explain to both me and my wife that the drugs will stick around for 24 hours and they are so powerful that you can't drive a car, operate heavy machinery and not to make any life altering decisions. Not to make any life altering decisions? 24 Hours? Who's going to take me seriously when I'm in this condition anyway? After my screaming this out loud (honestly, I thought I was just speaking normally) they calmed me down and decided that I would be escorted out in a wheelchair. The first person ever to be forced to take a wheel chair out of a colonoscopy. (Such an honor, but no certificate for the wall…rats….) We're not done yet. Just a couple more drug induced episodes.

At the office, they told us to go get something to eat (I'd been fasting for nearly 36 hours, except for a delightfully short spate of leper-sole-juice) and we went to our favorite Mexican Restaurant. (The irony of going to a Mexican restaurant after a colonoscopy is not lost on me, but let's not go there.) On the way in, I couldn't get my foot higher than the curb. It was like I had forgotten how to lift it up, even though I had just gotten in and out of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I kept hitting it as I stepped forward like Tim Conway doing his old man routine bumping my foot into the curb with each try. I kept exclaiming 'Dang this is hard -(bump)-...hard - (bump) - ....real hard..-(bump)..." My wife says that she almost had to lift me completely up on the curb and she nearly thought we should just go home. We made it into the restaurant with a minimum of problems and even got to a table without me accosting the other patrons.

When we were ordering, I wanted some of their cheese sauce and kept saying to the waitress "I want a BARD of cheese...you know a bard? BAAARRRRRDDD? a BARD of cheeeeese saaaaaauce?" Apparently I couldn't get my mouth to say "bowl". On the way out, I leaned over the counter and said to the owner, "I love you man, now can I have a beer?" and then laughed like I had just told the joke of the century. They didn't think that was too funny either. We're not sure they will let us in the next time we go.

When I got home, I fell asleep for 6 hours. I woke up to the sunset and I felt great. I had no recollections of the really silly things I had said and to this day my wife will look at me and say "It was nice being probed by you." after which she laughs loud and long.

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