This is an offshoot of the original Liam & Janet blog. That blog has become overrun by Liam's inability to keep his mouth shut when something annoys him. The serious rants there seemed incongruous with the humor columns. The plan for the humor columns continues to be to post a new one every Friday, plus occasional extras when the mood strikes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ah, Shove It Up Yer... Melvin

So, it's that time again.

About eleven years ago, one of the members of my immediate family had to have a tumor removed from a sensitive area of the body, one which we do not like to discuss, but which acts as the body's "laundry chute" and which for the purposes of keeping this essay family friendly, we shall hereinafter refer to as "Melvin". This family member had stage one Melvin cancer.

Now, if you're going to have cancer, particularly in your Melvin, stage one is a fine stage to have, because it means that it's fairly small and localized and generally easy to remove and requires neither the use of chemicals toxic enough to declare your Melvin a SuperFund site, nor sufficient radiation to transform insects into giant hideous mutant monsters (as demonstrated in a series of fine documentaries produced in the 1950s and 1960s). This member of my family is fine, thanks for asking.

However, when someone in your family has Melvin cancer of any form, the doctors begin suggesting that you have some screenings done ("suggesting" in much the same way that if you chug a gallon of water, your bladder "suggests" you might not want to move too far from a toilet for a little while).

So it's time for me to have my "family portraits" done again, although oddly this particular photographer does not refer to the session as a "sitting".

I'll continue telling you about the procedure for having a Melvinoscopy in a short while, but first I want to relay a little interchange that went on between me and one of my coworkers, Chris, largely because A) it made us both laugh very hard, and B) without that interchange, I would probably not have been inspired to write today's essay.

Chris stopped by my office, and we were both lamenting the fact that it's the first Monday after the start of Daylight Savings Time, meaning that we're both dragging worse than a frat boy hauled to church by his parents on Sunday morning after a kegger on Saturday. Chris said "That's not the worst of it, I have a dentist appointment today", and so because we have the sort of relationship in which neither of us can let even the smallest item of our personal lives go unchallenged in an "oh, you think YOU have it bad, check this out…" kind of way, I had to tell him about my impending procedure, scheduled for Friday.

So Chris thinks about this for a while and says "Yeah, I guess I'd rather go to the dentist than that."

To which I responded, in all oblivious innocence, "I guess it depends on whether there are fillings involved." Honestly, as someone who fancies themselves something of a humorist, it shouldn't have taken Chris convulsing like an epileptic and turning all sorts of bright shades of red for me to recognize the greater meaning of what I had just said. I can't really imagine what such a filling would entail, but I have a horrible image of a toilet plunger filled with quick-hardening silvery glop.

Anyway, back to the procedure. Starting on Thursday of this week, once the lunch hour passes, I will be restricted to a "clear liquids" diet. This means I'll be able to drink water and chicken broth (which, if you've never had it, is essentially water with enough salt to pickle an ostrich egg and just enough chicken essence to render it the same pleasing color as a urinalysis specimen, but with a less attractive odor).

Then, starting Thursday evening, I'll have to start drinking copious amounts of a drink that, for legal reasons involving truth in advertising laws, is no longer called "GoLytely". Really, after drinking this, you'll "go lytely" in much the same way that a mosquito "lands gently" on the windshield of your car on the highway on a summer's night. But it certainly does accomplish the job of cleaning you out, which is what you're trying to accomplish, I guess. Plus, you get the added benefit that if you, like me, have an ex-spouse or two lying around, any of whom happen to like to accuse you of being full of, well,
it, then for at least 24 hours you can know definitively that medically, at least, they could not be more wrong.

Really, though, the "going lytely" and the hunger are the worst of the whole experience. And I'm quite sure that members of my reading audience who have not experienced this particular procedure are now saying "Well wait a moment, how can that be? I know there are certain portions of the body which are not designed for entrance by a camera, and I can only imagine that THAT part of the procedure, the 'up the down staircase' part, must be the worst part, right?" But you only say this because you aren't aware of the miraculous substance called "Versed" which they pump into your blood stream along with "Demerol".

Now, Demerol you've probably heard of, as it is a pain reliever that attacks pain in much the same way a rabid wolverine attacks a wounded rabbit. It is also a narcotic and would probably be a lot of fun in other circumstances.

The Versed (pronounced "Verse Said", after the tendency of people on this drug to recite mis-remembered music lyrics) is a drug similar to the Valium which is no longer prescribed to housewives in handfuls large enough to be technically classified as "snack food". Versed will not merely relax you, Versed will make it so that you feel as though you could not, under any circumstances, ever be tense again. Really, if Jack Bauer from the fine television show "24" had been given Versed at any point in the series, the fictional U.S. in that series would long since have been destroyed, and the last words heard in the series would have been Bauer looking at a mushroom cloud and saying "Really, it's kind of pretty."

Versed has another side effect, though, which is that it suppresses the transition of memory from short to long term. By which I mean that my first Melvinoscopy, I recall clearly getting dressed in the paper gown and lying on the gurney. I recall the nurse putting the needle from an IV bag into my arm, and then shortly before the procedure I recall another nurse coming in and inserting a needle into the IV feed. I remember watching interestedly as the differently-colored fluid flowed into my arm… and then I remember being on the phone with a friend, telling her that the procedure was over and having her tell me "Yeah, I know, you already called and told me that."

Now, this might be disconcerting to some, but believe me, it's come in very useful. When I was married, if I'd forget an anniversary, I'd just act as though I thought it was tomorrow, act surprised and say that it must have been a Versed flashback. Honestly, the only negative part to the Versed is that you don't get to remember the Demerol.

Really, though, I understand the necessity of this procedure, and I think it's a good thing to have, just in case. Still, I think after this, I'll go back to having my family portraits done at the Olin Mills portrait studio. And it'll be so nice to have my kids IN the portrait with me, rather than having to "drop them off at the pool" first.

Copyright © March 12, 2012 by Liam Johnson.



Anonymous Linda said...

Say, speaking of demoralizing procedures....I've been expecting to see some Liam comments about the new VP procedure that's all the buzz. :) ... nice seeing your stories, even if the laughs are at your expense.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:27:00 AM

Blogger Ross said...

Interesting fact: the prep medicine which you said was no longer referred to as GoLytely ... is polyethylene glycol. Yep, antifreeze. The thing they say is dangerous to leave around because animals might drink it. And here they're making you drink it on purpose.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 11:58:00 AM

Blogger Liam said...

Ross: Close, but not quite. Antifreeze is propylene glycol. GoLytely is polyethylene glycol.

Different chemicals. Not that I really like the idea of drinking either, but I just want to make sure no one tries to cheap out by mixing up some antifreeze with a few electrolytes...

In other words, yes, it is definitely possible to freeze to death while preparing for a "Melvinoscopy".

Linda: Thanks for the comment! What's "VP"? It's probably obvious, but it's not coming to me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 12:11:00 PM


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