It was perhaps foolish to take a weightlifting class on the same day I’m restricted to a clear-liquid diet, but oh well. I’m already hungry, and the zero hour isn’t for another 20. Sigh. Gonna be a long day.
I briefed Kate on mom’s upcoming procedure, and she thinks it’s simply hilarious. “You have to drink ALL THAT? And it has LAXATIVES in it?” Then she falls out laughing, perhaps at the joy of being 11 years old and 39 years away from her first routine colonoscopy. Who can blame her? And speaking of being 50 and having an 11-year-old daughter, thanks to LAMary for passing along some handy visual aids to show why Hollywood stars keep Photoshop geniuses on retainer (and why the paps work so hard to get the unguarded shot). Jesus, cheek implants, Madge — whose idea was that?
Well, I hope she enjoys her colonoscopy.
As you can imagine, I’ve been thinking a lot about bowels today. (And I haven’t even started with the magic drink.) They really are a mystery to too many people. One day when Alan’s mom and Aunt Dorothy were still alive, we went to Defiance one day, only to be told, “Dorothy’s bowel is dead.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“The doctors say it’s just dead. Everything she eats, it just goes straight through her.”
I can’t recall how close this was to the decline and fall of my own parents, but it must have been close, because I snapped a little. I’d grown a little tired of calling mom and dad, asking about their latest medical appointments, and being told, essentially: [Shrug.] I don’t know if they didn’t know the questions to ask or failed to remember the answers, but their attitude was always, “Ah, well. There’s nothing to be done.” It was like living in a 19th-century novel, where people were always “in a decline,” after which they’d either take to their beds and die or visit a sanitarium and recover, but there was rarely anything more to be done.
“Well, if Dorothy’s bowel is dead, you’d all better say goodbye, because the rest of her will soon be following,” I said, a little sharper than I’d intended. “You really can’t live without a bowel.”
We saw Dorothy later that day, and while she seemed to be in some pain, her color was good and she didn’t look like a person who wasn’t digesting anything, although, once again, she claimed that anything she ate would come out the other end, more or less untouched, within minutes. I kept my self-control this time and settled for muttering, under my breath, “That’s impossible.”
Dorothy lived another decade at least. I meditated on the subject for a while. The mysteries of what happens below the navel have been a source of fascination — and money-making opportunities — for as long as we’ve been self-aware. (Warning: Much grossness at that last link. Best leave it untouched. You’ve been warned.) Dogs just sniff and, occasionally, taste. We analyze.
A couple years ago, we had a marvelous discussion here about the 37-pounds-of-impacted-feces urban legend, which is said to be the postmortem fate of either Elvis Presley or John Wayne, and turns up from time to time in places it shouldn’t. Not the celebrity angle, but the standard line peddled by the colonics industry, which I still find in publications that should know better. A few months ago, a medical magazine asked me for story ideas. I replied with a few, and added a P.S.: “By the way — the colonics story in this issue? Where the writer says that all meat eaters carry three to five pounds of mucous-covered decaying meat in their intestines? That’s not true.”
I never got an assignment from the magazine, although one of my ideas turned up under a different writer’s byline a few months later. The secrets of my success, revealed!
Anyway, here’s a line I’ve been waiting my whole life to write: By the time some of you read this, I’ll have a 17,000-foot-long tube up my butt. Try to contain your excitement.
I’ll be back when I’m able, but I don’t think I’ll be able to improve on Dave Barry’s account (HT: Jen), so let’s leave it at that, eh? Fingers crossed for pink and healthy, and a 10-year break before the next one.