Some Medical Humor (a repost from 2010)

I’m going to have to begin this story with a disclaimer. The purpose of this disclaimer is primarily to appease my mother who is going to have a duck when she realizes the story I am about to tell. (sorry, mom) So, if you have an aversion to stories dealing with bodily functions you may want to skip right over this one. However, I’m hoping that you will give it a try as I can assure you it will be well worth the read. I vow to write this as tastefully as possible. End of disclaimer.

It was a beautiful fall day in East Tennessee and all was right with the world. Well, all that is except for a slight personal issue I had recently developed. I was away at college that fall and I knew that I would have to call my parents for some advice. I gently break the news to my mother. Now there isn’t much that Carolynn and I don’t talk about. We’ve covered God, life, love, sex, friendship, cosmetics, wardrobe, movies and music; but I don’t make a habit of discussing bathroom issues with her. I think most of us consider this to be a relatively private matter. I hear nothing but silence on the other end. After a few moments my mom, who is normally a very calm and rational person, bursts into tears proclaiming that we must get to a doctor immediately. I feel that she is overreacting a bit, but to ease her fears I assure her that an appointment will be made immediately.

She and I worked together the next day or two and got the name of a well-respected proctologist in our area. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a “proctologist” is essentially a butt doctor. He is a doctor of butt sciences. (Hee-hee) This particular doctor’s office was located in Kingsport. Kingsport is the 1/2 way point between where my mother lived and where I was attending school. An appointment for the initial consultation was set up and we were seen almost immediately. Carolynn went with me for moral support. She and I sat patiently in the waiting room until my name was called by an unusually cheerful nurse. I wondered what could make her so happy considering that she works for a butt doctor on a daily basis. Oh well, to each his own.

Carolynn and I are escorted into the doctor’s office. It was a medium-sized room which was very tastefully decorated. Good feng shui. Nice lines and soothing colors. I guess the interior decorator figured that if you were having to sit in that office, that obviously meant you were having some sort of “butt distress”. People who are experiencing butt distress are generally already under a fair amount of anxiety and discomfort. So, props to the decorator for providing that sense of calm.

I was so caught up in examining the room that I hadn’t even taken time to look at the man sitting behind the desk. My doctor. Okay, seriously, are you kidding me? This man couldn’t have been 4 years older than me and was drop-dead gorgeous. Good Lord, I mean was Robert Redford not available to be my caretaker, so they sent in his stunt double?! As if his other-worldly good looks weren’t enough, it hits me- now I’m supposed to talk to this lovely man about my bowel moments. WOULD SOMEONE JUST GO AHEAD AND SHOOT ME IN THE FACE TO PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY?! I wanted to crawl under my chair and disappear.

Skipping forward just a bit to leave out some of the gory details (you’re welcome), it was decided that I needed to come back in a week for a colonoscopy. I had heard of the word “colonoscopy” but really didn’t have any idea what all it entailed. Dr. Gorgeous proceeded to explain to me how the procedure takes place. I would be given a drink the night before which would serve the purpose of cleaning out my colon. Pretty, I know. The following morning I would come to the office, early- like 7 a.m., and they would begin the colonoscopy. Basically, a long rubber-like hose would be placed into my colon. This allows the beautiful doctor to see the interior lining of my large intestine (rectum and colon). Thanks to technology and the miracle of modern science, this tube has a small camera on the end which allows us the good fortune of being able to VIEW the procedure on multiple televisions which would be mounted on the walls of the room. All I could picture in my head as he’s describing this is the scene from “Willy Wonka” with Mike TV and the all-white room when he’s transported overhead in millions of tiny pieces. Mom and I leave the doctor’s office, we have a few good laughs about me asking him out during the colonoscopy, and then we head to the pharmacy to pick up my pre-procedure drinks to have on hand when needed.

Approximately five days later it’s time for me to start preparing. I drink the entire drink. It’s awful. It tasted like a big bunch of chalk dust trying to be Kool-Aid. Gag. Well, needless to say, the drink did it’s job and I was on the potty for most of the rest of the evening. Sadly, I got little sleep that night. Too busy waking up in night sweats picturing Dr. Gorgeous, me on a cold metal table, and the thought of my rear being exposed to the world.

Finally, after sleeping for what felt like 13 minutes, I wake up and it’s time to go. I hit the potty one more time for good luck then Carolynn, my sister Jessica, and I hit the road. It’s only about a 30 minute drive to Kingsport but it felt like it took eons. I was terrified. I don’t really handle pain well and I almost always deal with uncomfortable situations with humor. Humor and humming. I do lots of humming when I’m nervous, just ask Jess. She was actually the first person to point that out to me. But sometimes I’ll hum when I’m eating and I know for a fact I’m not nervous then, so maybe I just like to hum.

We arrive at the doctor’s office, I say my goodbyes, and I’m taken back into a very cold room. Cold, cold, cold. So now I’m tired AND cold. This was not my finest moment. Neither was what happened next. I can’t remember if I was x-rayed or even exactly how this was determined, but according to Nurse Chipper, my drink from the night before had not done it’s job completely. WHAT? I stopped counting potty trips somewhere after number 8 last night, so how could that possibly be? She assured me that this is a common thing and that there was an easy fix- I’d just have to have an enema. In the exact same tone as if she had just said, “You’ll just have to have an ice cream.” WHAT? WHAT?!!! I’ve seen the movie “Sybil”, but that was really my only enema reference. I did not at ALL sign up for this portion of the day and I was a little taken aback to say the least. I think you need a little head’s up for something like this. Well, that wasn’t at all how it happened in my case and before I knew it I was lying sideways on a cold, metal table having it done. Craziest thing. Can’t even describe it. I just know that once it was over, I had to RUN to the bathroom. So, it’s done and I survived it. I’m thinking that this will probably make for good stories to tell my college buddies when I get back. I had no idea how much truth there was to that statement, because not only did I have to have ONE enema, I had to have FIVE enemas. Who has ever even heard of that? Unbelievable. So now, before even going into the room for my procedure, my fanny feels violated on so many levels.

By the grace of God it is time for me to be wheeled back into the Willy Wonka television room. I’m still tired and cold and my rear is under great amounts of distress when he walks in. Dr. Gorgeous. If you will imagine with me him entering into the room with a golden halo radiating over his head and the faint singing of angels in the background. Seriously. It was ridiculous. Dr. Gorgeous walks right over to me and asks me how I’m doing. I lie and tell him that I’m fine. I didn’t want to tell him that I was in love and that I had just had 5 enemas. Not very romantic. He starts explaining in a little more detail about what is about to happen. He tells me that it is “perfectly normal for people to expel gas” during this procedure. SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, COULD THIS GET ANY WORSE? I look him in the face, blink my eyelashes as sweetly as I know how, and explain to him in the most gentle voice I could muster that I would literally explode from the inside out before I would allow myself to expel gas on that table. I didn’t care how bad it got. Expelling gas is just an unacceptable behavior to me. I’ve never found it funny. I can assure you that if I personally have ever done this, it has been completely accidental and has happened fewer times than you could count on two hands in my almost 40 years.

Okay, so now I’m tired, cold, my behind hurts, and I’ve just been told that I may accidentally “poot” in front of Dr. Gorgeous. Just when I think it can’t possibly get any worse- this comedy of errors which has become my life- enter the medical students. Dr. Gorgeous looks at me and says, “Amanda, before we begin I need to ask if you mind if a group of medical students observes the procedure today.” Me- Are you serious? Him- Yes. Me- No, I don’t mind, that’s just wonderful. Do you care if I call up a bunch of MY FRIENDS and invite them to sit in on this?! Him- Ha, ha. He gives a head nod and about 8 medical students enter the room, lining up arm to arm within 6 feet of my metal table. I had been worried about Dr. Gorgeous having to be in such close contact with my hindquarters, but now I had 8 total strangers attending the premier as well. I couldn’t even process it really. Do I say “hello”? Should I introduce myself? No one spoke and the procedure began.

I closed my eyes and immediately began humming trying desperately to forget that behind me was my naked hiney, Dr. Gorgeous, 8 total strangers, and what seemed like a 16-foot-long black tube with a camera attached. As the moments tick by Nurse Chipper offers to hold my hand. I take her up on it. She starts saying in her sing-songy voice, “Look up, Amanda, look at the tv screens. It really is pretty neat to watch.” I tell her “No thank you” but she doesn’t let up. “Oh, just look, just look!” So, much against my better judgment I do look up. I look up to see the inside of colon, all shiny and pink, being projected as if on an IMAX screen in 3D. It was wild. I’d never seen the inside of any of my organs and I hate to admit that I did find it slightly intriguing. The more I watched the more I relaxed, but I never relaxed TOO MUCH. It was taking all of my extra effort not to let happen what my body was so fighting against me to do in front of Dr. Gorgeous. NOT GONNA HAPPEN! It became my mission. I would be the first person in history not to expel gas during a colonoscopy.

After what was probably 7 minutes, but felt more like 7 hours, Dr. Gorgeous explained to me that he was almost finished. I’m still watching the screen. Still amazed at how pink everything looked and how shiny, like it had a coat of clear nail polish on it. Then I see something. I start asking questions- What is that? Out of the bottom left corner of all of the tv screens I see what appears to be a silver, metal object. Huh? Is this a commercial? It looks like a tiny “jaws of life” device and I can’t figure out what it’s doing there. Then I see this devil mechanism on the tv pinch and then pull on the inside of my colon. In perfect unison I feel a tug from inside my body like I’ve never felt before and I see a ribbon of red blood winding around over what used to be my perfectly pink colon. It was a total shock and awe mission. So I guess THIS is what they mean by “biopsy”. I must have missed this part of our consultation. I was too busy planning the names of our future children.

Finally we’re done. I am allowed to cover my hiney and get to sit up on the table…ow. He thanks me for being (and I’m quoting) “such an entertaining patient” and I thank him for the bodily violation. Nurse Chipper takes my arm and begins to lead me to the waiting room where my sweet, non-violating family are waiting. She smiles her toothy smile and says, “I have something for you.” Into my hand she puts a photo taken during my colonoscopy. It was a lovely, full-colored photo of the inside of my colon BEFORE the jaws of life. She said, “I thought you might like to keep this.” I thanked her and took my trophy picture over to Carolynn. Mom has always been squeemish. She didn’t cherish the photo quite as much as I did. I was proud of that thing. I had endured REAL pain for this photo- nasty drinks, 5 enemas, fear of dying from not being able to expel gas, and a herd of medical students.

The best news of this whole story is that everything turned out to be fine. I even got a Thank You card in the mail from my doctor’s office and the nurses there. They thanked me for making them laugh and invited me to come back anytime. Hmmm, thanks, but no thanks. I had no cancer. No worries. And for the next year, anyone who came to visit the Elder house in Rogersville had the opportunity to see the inside of my colon, matted and framed and proudly displayed on my mantle much to my mother’s dismay.


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