Monday, September 23, 2013

Colonoscopy Games

Since I revealed my shocking medical condition in the article, Hospital Cat Scams, scores of Wry Bread readers on various continents have written to inquire about the present status of my health.  Well, maybe not scores, but several of you.  Okay, the word several may give the wrong impression, let’s just say that some of you have---well, you haven’t actually written---you’ve been busy with other things, I’m sure, but I have no doubt you’ve been anxious about my current condition, perhaps subconsciously. Yes, that’s it.  There’s been a lot of subconscious anxiety going on.  So to ease your mind, and to permit you to focus on your daily tasks undistracted, I will bring you up to date on my progress. 

As you may recall, I was driven to an emergency room by severe stomach pain (and for a pain, it drove surprisingly well), where a cat scan revealed that although my intestinal tract was completely cat-free (as I kept insisting), there were diverse ticks in my litis (a segment of the colon, I presume).  The technical name is Diverticulitis.  I was told to follow up with the doctor who had conducted my last colonoscopy.  This seemed an odd choice, because in that procedure, just months before, this “expert” had detected no signs of ticks.  The question before us was a simple one; in light of the new diagnosis, should I schedule another colonoscopy?  I argued for the opposition. 

In case you haven’t yet had the experience, the colonoscopy, as one might guess, involves a colon and a scope.  As the patient reclines face down in a poor-excuse for a robe, the doctor, having previously chosen a convenient point of access, drives a remote-controlled camera through the hairpin turns of the patient’s digestive tract, all the while trying not to collide with the intestinal wall.  If he touches the wall, a buzzer sounds and he loses his turn.  Then the next doctor steps in, but he can’t begin where the first doctor left off.  He has to begin at Start (also called Home). 

In the Sorry™ version of the colonoscopy, before he can enter the colon with his scope, each doctor has to draw either a one or a two from the deck of cards which the nurse has provided.  Furthermore, if while Doctor A is probing the colon, Doctor B draws a Sorry™ card, Doctor A has to go all the way back to start, even if he was almost at the end (you’re right, Pretty Boy, one might say these doctors are always at the end).  This version can take a bit longer than the classic version, but it has the advantage of suspense, in that one can never tell which doctor will complete it first. 

The Monopoly™ version is the Cadillac of colonoscopies.  It is widely regarded as the most thorough, as it can be conducted by several doctors at once.  In this version, each doctor assumes oversight of only particular segments of the colon, and a doctor is penalized when he ventures into another doctor’s territory.  The penalty varies based on the value ascribed to that segment of the colon. (The most valuable segment is blue, followed by green and yellow.)  Unfortunately, this colonoscopy can be quite lengthy.  Some Monopoly™ colonoscopies begun on a Monday morning have reportedly not ended until Tuesday night.  The only other negative is that some patients have reported finding in their stool (sometimes days later) small metal top hats, thimbles and terriers.  FYI: The Monopoly™ version colonoscopy is generally only covered by federal government insurance plans.   

As a former English major, I opted for the Scrabble™ version colonoscopy, also known as the semi-colonoscopy.  It was shorter and less expensive, but apparently it doesn’t always catch everything---sometimes the doctor draws a blank.

To be honest, I don’t really remember the procedure, as just before it took place, I seem to have fallen into a deep sleep while counting backwards from a hundred.  I can only assume that I was hypnotized by hospital staff.  Now that I think of it, the guy that took my blood pressure looked a lot like Rasputin, or David Copperfield, or Charles Dickens.   I’m sure the hypnosis has worn off by now, but there’s one sure way to find out: “One hundred, ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninetyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy   Huh, it still works!  As I was saying, I don’t remember the procedure, but I have a rather distinct recollection of the preparations the day before.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy abstaining from solid food and drinking a few gallons of a horrible gelatinous substance that keeps me near the bathroom all day as much as the next guy, but this was a matter of principle; I clearly recall being told that I would be colonoscopy-free for another several years.  This doctor, however, seemed to think it would be good for me to have another one----if I were his father.
“If you were my father,” he said, “I would advise you to have another.” 

That argument didn’t carry much weight with me, because I was thinking, If I were your father, then surely I’d have some recollection of you.  I would have noticed you around the house, or on family vacations, or at soccer games and such, and I certainly would have tried to dissuade you from going to Med School, an expensive proposition that might well have required some assistance from me. 
I had to straighten out the poor fellow, but I wanted to let him down easy. “I’m pretty sure I’m not your father,” I said; “but I know your father would be proud of you.”

“But, you’re old enough to be my father,” he replied. 
Evidently he wasn’t going to let this go.  Now I have no doubt that it was hard for him to go through life not knowing his father, but suspecting every male of a sufficient age who entered his office was no way to track down his dad, and it was liable to alienate his patients.  Then it occurred to me that he might have some DNA information to which I was not privy (which, like his “hospital privileges,” was an advantage he had over me just because he was a “physician,” and technically, I was “not.”). The problem was, there was no scenario I could envision that would account for me having a son I couldn’t recall.  Pro-basketball players, we are told, have unknown children pop up willy-nilly from time to time, but I didn’t remember ever actually playing in the NBA.   I thought, perhaps a serious blow to the head left me with no memory of my playing days.  Then it occurred to me that I can’t dribble, shoot, jump, or run fast.  Yes, the head injury could account for that, but could a former NBA player be utterly tattoo-less?  Clearly, the basketball explanation seemed far-fetched.   No, I was fairly certain I was not his father.   I didn’t want to be insensitive, but I felt I had to speak plainly at this point, so I made another attempt.

“Frankly, Doctor, lots of people are old enough to be your father, but that’s not much to go on.  You might want to start with people who have---you know, the same last name---or maybe those who look vaguely familiar, or those who at least know your mother.” 
These things seemed self-evident to me.  I didn’t tell him this, but I wondered that a physician could be so confused on such elementary matters.  Then I remembered that he was part of the same system that recommends scanning for cats at the first sign of any internal trouble.  Clearly, sometime during the arduous medical training, basic common sense goes out the window.  Maybe it’s a result of all that sleep-deprivation we hear about during hospital internships.  It’s no wonder many doctors simply stop practicing medicine, and end up writing children’s books (Dr. Seuss), focusing on time-travel (Dr. Who), or plotting world domination (Dr. No).  

Anyway, you’ll be happy to hear that the doctor eventually dropped the whole “Are you my father?” issue, and tried to convince me that he never really thought I was his dad (of course I was there, and I know what he said).  He didn’t insist on another colonoscopy either, for which I was grateful.  He did however refer me to a colleague.  This doctor just invited me to relax in his plush office while he asked me a lot of questions like, did I ever hear voices, did I ever think people were following me, and did I ever see messages  that I thought were directed just to me in public places, like stadiums.  I didn’t see what any of this had to do with my digestive tract, but of course I answered “Yes,” to all those questions.  (If I didn’t hear voices, how would I know what he was saying?  Sometimes people invited for lunch after church follow me to our home; at those times I think people are following me.  And at Oriole games, sometimes I’ve received text messages directed just to me from my brother Kenny after home runs and such.) 
The doctor excused himself after I answered yes to his questions, a nurse came in and gave me a pill, and the next thing I knew, I was in another hospital.  Curiously, this one has soft walls.  I’ve been here several days now, and no one has told me why.  I think it must be serious.  I suspect that one of those diverse ticks in my colon may be carrying something bad.  Maybe I’ve picked up Mad Tick Disease.  These ticks are going to be the death of me.  I’ve decided that my next colonoscopy will be a thorough Monopoly™ one, even if the procedure takes a couple days and I have to pass a thimble.

It would in fact be a great trial for a person to go through life without ever knowing his father.  Not only would he have persistent unanswered questions about his own origin, his characteristics, his personality, etc., he would have, I imagine, a certain void at the core of his being, having never experienced a father’s love and approbation.  He would have a perpetual longing for something difficult to describe or quantify, but nonetheless quite real. 
But there is something much worse; it is going through life not knowing your creator, the one who formed you in His image, and placed you here for His purposes.   It is living without a heavenly father, and the assurance of his forgiveness, mercy and grace.  It is living without any knowledge of who you are, and why you’re here---or why anyone else is here---or for that matter, why there is something here, rather than nothing.  That “something” was either planned and created by a preexistent being, or it sprang out of nothing with no designer and no creator.  If the latter, then the creation of the universe, and life itself, violates everything we know and experience about how things come about.  If the former, then it is incumbent upon us to seek to know the one who created us. 

Jesus of Nazareth declared himself to be the Son of God, and he said that he revealed the Father to us.  He said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”  [John 14:9]  You may read the eyewitness accounts of him in what we call the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and it is possible you will conclude that He is not the Son of God.  You may conclude that He lied, or was mistaken, or was misquoted, when you read that He said things like, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]  But to refuse to read his words---to not even consider his claims---that seems to me to be the course of madness.  If you are mad, you are liable to find yourself in a padded room one day.  Wait---this hospital has padded rooms!  So that’s why I’m here! I’m not dying; I’m just crazy.  This is great news.  I may not need another colonoscopy after all.

1 comment:

  1. Things are pretty boring here in the hospital. If any of you come to visit, maybe you could bring a game or something.