Al Batt: There’s no “Ewww” in enema

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

My body’s check engine light came on.

It happens a couple of times a year.

Al Batt

I’d fallen victim to a self-inflicted enema before finding a seat in a packed clinic waiting room. The concept of time stretched to moving as slow as snail poop. “Peas and carrots” is a phrase mumbled by background extras in movies to make it look and sound as if they’re involved in a conversation. I heard no “peas and carrots.” I detected only whispers and mutterings other than when a nurse called out the name of the next person getting a blood test.

 I took the local elevator. An elevator brings me up when I am down. I boarded the wrong elevator once and ended up in Bolivia. I imagined I’d heard the First Edition singing, “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.” I was pleased the elevator hadn’t played Guy Mitchell singing, “Heartaches by the number, troubles by the score.“

Joni Mitchell’s wonderful song said, “That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” That’s not always true. You can know what you’ve got before it’s gone. Old coaches told me to walk every disorder off, but I couldn’t hike this one away.

 “What kind of Yelp rating do you give your pain?” asked a bringer of hope. She asked if I had any concerns. I told her I’d named my persistent ear hair Earl. That concerned me. 

Between tests, I walked. I wore a Patagonia jacket. So did many others in the big clinic. “What part of Patagonia are you from?” I asked one. 

I’ve played a cameo role in several operations. I encountered a member of one surgical team. “I remember you,” he said. “You’re the one who told me to measure twice, cut once.”

It wasn’t long before I was summoned to meet the structural engineers who would determine my salvage value. But first, I joined another waiting room already in progress. “Cancer” can be a conversation stopper, but not with this waiting bunch. We’d heard the word too often. Four of us, gowned and robed, had come from one waiting room to sit in another that became our bounded world. It’s difficult to maintain a bemused detachment while waiting to be put on a hoist and inspected thoroughly. We’d be properly poked and prodded. If we were ticklish, we’d get over it. I don’t know what age it is when we realize we’ve become our parents, but we’d all reached it. We’d learned we couldn’t match another’s pain. A TV blared, but no one watched it. The thumb of the day pressed down. We’d had the rug pulled out from under our feet, sometimes by our own doing. Perhaps we hadn’t read the fine print or we’d agreed to terms and conditions without reading them. No tiny violins played. Expectations upended and burdened with care, each man smiled and laughed readily. Getting better was our collective North Star.

“How are you doing?” was something no one asked. The memory of having that question answered in excruciating detail restrained us. I had answers ready just in case someone asked. I’d reply, “Fair to partly cloudy” or “Fair to middlin’.”

Women wonder what men talk about. Life is short and we didn’t want to spend precious time talking about politics. We talked about grandchildren, the weather and how long it took to get to the clinic. We talked about the shoes we liked to wear to these procedures. Slip-ons were favored. One guy had worked from home for so many years he couldn’t remember the last time he’d tied a shoe.

 My foot went to sleep. It didn’t appreciate the cruel way I’d crossed one knee over the other. The numb appendage caused me to get in my own way. It was good practice. I’m hoping to become an old geezer getting in the way.

I was inspected from A to Z. I could use a new alphabet, but otherwise I’m gratefully swell.

How do you study for an enema? The five P’s are important: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

The doctor’s narrative read: “The quality of the bowel preparation was good.” 

I’m thinking of having that made into a wall hanging.

Al Batt’s column appears in the Tribune every Wednesday.