Monday, October 19, 2009

The Science Experiment

I’m not sure that I want to be buried, because it seems inevitable that after a thousand years or so you become someone’s science experiment. As in: “this is the remains of a man of somewhat advanced age; the skeleton and jaws show normal degenerative changes; he was a Caucasian male, with the typical tiny mouth and crooked teeth of the Celtic race, showing also the bony accretions on the palms of the hands that also characterize that race; the skull displays dolichocephalism, with a huge frontal lobe area and a narrow face; he was not particularly handsome.” I suppose it’s up to the living to decide, so I don’t put too fine a point on it.

Today I had the definite feeling that I had become, in life, someone’s science experiment, and I’m sure that in life it is a more disagreeable experience. In this case, I went to a big public hospital in Thailand, a hospital with a well earned, good reputation, a teaching hospital attached to the best university in the country. I suffered through a Barium Enema, also euphemistically referred to as a “Lower GI,” at the hands of a mixed-sex group of very, very young Thai medical professionals.

So young, in fact, that it felt more like a high school science lab experiment, and, with the typical good cheer and loud, gossipy camaraderie that is common to Thai people of all ages, the room really felt like a fun house. For everybody but me, I’m afraid, although I’m sure that they did a fine job and accomplished the stated intention.

For one thing, it went on forever, about an hour and a half, and by the end I was dizzy and begging silently for it to all be over, even at the cost of my death. For another, they filed me so far up with the substance that my stomach was as tight as a drum and after the first hour or so I literally didn’t know whether to shit, piss or throw up. I was all the way on the verge of doing the first and the last thing simultaneously.

Afterwards, things did not get better in any particular hurry. My after-procedure trip to the bathroom was not the cleansing, comforting experience that it had been after my previous lower GI, a party held at the Santa Monica Hospital in Los Angeles. This trip was inconclusive, and left me with a huge bubble of something deep in my insides, a bubble that released itself with loud, raucous violence over the course of the next six or seven hours, most of which time I spent lying on my bed dreaming lazily of the time that I would feel better again, in between trips to the bathroom to serenade the ships at sea. I wouldn’t complain, having lived through he experience, but I’m pretty sure that the job is supposed to fill you up with the barium solution and not with air. During the taxi ride home from the hospital, my belt was still tight around my waist, and I felt like I was sparing with a talented Middle-Weight who was practicing punching people below the belt.

These are the days of our lives, my friends, these are the experiences that make a life interesting, as in: the curse of living in interesting times. But all’s well that ends well, and since I am here to tell the tale it was a good day, above ground, a gift from God, and I am humbly grateful. All for about sixty dollars, American, which goes a long way to validating the decision to take the treatment in the first place.


Anonymous said...

You get old. Nicely written piece.


fred c said...

Let's recall too that one only gets old if one is lucky. (Shout out to Flippy, 23, and my best-friend-in-high-school, Hiliary, 19)