Friday, May 21, 2010

Fantastic Voyage (I know, I know: TMI)

Years ago, when I was visiting my mother, she got a call from my Aunt Mary in Chicago. Their topic: my mother’s vaginal dryness.

Now I’m not in the least opposed to an occasional stirring conversation about vaginal dryness. But in this case, I had already heard the story both first hand – directly from my mother’s lips to my ear; and second hand, as she recounted it to her stalwart BFF’s Lucille and Ethel. So  - aside from the fact that I was wondering what the big deal about vaginal dryness was for a set of women well into their seventies who were all averaging about 20 years of (chaste) widowhood – I had had it up to my eyeballs and earlobes with my mother’s close encounter with vaginal dryness.

So, I politely took the phone out of my mother’s hand and informed my aunt that they needed to change the topic.

This is by way of introducing the fact that, by the time you get to a certain age, the conversation does tend to drift to things medical.

Which this post is about to do.

Today, I am participating in that swell post-50 ritual: the colonoscopy.

This will be my third. (Oh, how the years fly by between colonoscopies…)

For the first, I refused all but the mildest sedative.

I wanted to be fully alert so that I could watch the fantastic voyage through my colon.

What was I thinking? Did I expect to see a cool little submarine manned by Steven Boyd and Raquel Welch wending its way around my thoroughly cleansed intestine.? (Not that I’d want any movie stars wending their way around my guts – although, if I did have to pick someone, it would be George Clooney, who seems like he’d have a good sense of humor about it. But now that I think of it, the very thought of anyone roaming in my gloaming puts me too, too much in mind of Prince Charles’ wish that he could be Camilla Parker-Bowles tampon. Who said romance and poetry are dead and all that, but ix-nay to any fantastic voyages in my backyard.)

Anyway, about two-thirds through watching the not-so fantastic voyage through my innards – dull, dull, dull; black and white; an almost anesthetizing sameness (kind of like bad performance art) – I realized that I was in far greater pain (both physical and existential) than I had experienced during my mother’s vagina monolog.

So I asked the doctor how much longer I was going to have to endure what had become quite a bit of pain.

He assured me it was not going to take much longer, but that if I wanted some relief, I needed to say but the word. Stoic that I am, I soldiered on. After the procedure was completely, the doctor gave me a clean bill of intestinal health, high marks for intestinal fortitude, and the information that I had an exceedingly kinked and circuitous inner passage that had made my particular procedure take longer than the norm.

Next time out – can it be five years ago already – I requested the full dope-a-rama, and had a pleasant doze during my colonoscopy. (Trust me: this is not a flick you need to see twice. Maybe if there’s some horrible growth in there it gets more interesting, but, in truth, I’d just as soon be out of it when the doctor lets out a gasp. The horror. The horror.)

Today, having subsisted for 24 hours on chicken broth, apple juice, and peach sorbet, I’m off for what I hope (and assume) will be a routine colonoscopy.

With luck, there’ll be nothing to report on Monday.

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