Friday Frivolity – Life’s a gas

This is a story from one of my books.  Each book has 30 such humorous, real life, tales.  If you buy all three by writing to me ( I will not charge shipping.  So, 3 “Laughing…” books, $25.28 (tax incl.)

Life’s a Gas

Last week, a long-time friend of mine was lamenting about growin’ old because her maladies were mounting a considerable assault on her well-being.  Hmmm, my maladies are giving me wonderful opportunities for entertainment and edification.   Each time I see a specialist or go in for some procedure, I marvel at the amazing things modern medicine has to offer.

The other day I had an Esophogram.  What an incredible experience. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly tasty having to drink a concoction with a consistency akin to a Soda Shop Malted (yes I’m THAT old), but the technology of the testing devices was astonishing..

I mean to tell you, this equipment was a lot bigger than Star Trek’s tricorder, but almost as impressive as it peered into my body.  I got a chance to see the monitor as the doctor scanned my swallowing technique.  Yikes!  It looked like a python swallowing one white mouse after the other.

Of course, that thought did have a somewhat detrimental effect.  When it hit me that each gulp I was making coincided with another white mouse heading for my stomach, I had a slight involuntary, convulsive ripple in my stomach.  But, hey, they’ve got people to clean up the little puddle that escaped onto the table.

What did they expect, anyway?  Laying a guy down on his stomach and asking him to imbibe plaster of Paris through a straw is just asking for puddles.  I hope they didn’t let that stuff dry too long.  Late in the afternoon, I was still chiseling remnants of that concoction from my mustache.

But that wasn’t the only stuff I had to drink.  When I first arrived in the examination room, the attendant nurse advised me of what was to come.

“I’m going to mix these crystals in this water and you will need to drink it as quickly as possible.”

“No problem,” I replied.

“I mean you must drink it immediately and completely.  These will act like Alka-Seltzer and put a considerable amount of gas in your stomach and esophagus.  You’ll feel like belching, but please refrain.”

“Wait just a minute.  Hold on there.  You’re going to deprive me of a primal pleasure of Male-dom?  Are you tellin’ me, you’re gonna fill my belly with gas, and I can’t burp?”

“That’s correct.  We need that gas to remain there to expand the stomach and esophagus to enable a clear picture.”

“Well, here’s a little different picture.  You’ve starved me for 18 hours to shrink my stomach.  Now you’re going to induce bloating.  Why didn’t you let me eat a juicy breakfast at my favorite diner?  I could have burped and there’d still be plenty of expansion in there for a clear picture.”

She laughed, but otherwise ignored my plight.  “Then we’ll ask you to slowly, but steadily, swallow the contents of this cup.”

She handed me a large cup containing several pounds of nearly-congealed concrete.

“Are you kidding?  I don’t need to actually swallow this.  My dear, if you pour this into my mouth it WILL go down…swallow or not.”

Again, a chuckle, but no compassion.  “I’m going to raise this table to the upright position and then you can just step up onto the platform, and we can begin.”

Wow, was that slick.  They raised the transporter table to vertical.  I fully expected to see “Bones” McCoy enter the air lock any minute.

Anyway, up on the platform: Lights off, camera on, down with the Alka-Seltzer, and I quickly started sucking on the straw of the other liquid.  Have you ever tried drinking plaster through a straw?  What’s worse is trying to down that triple-thick potion with a belly full of Pop Rocks effervescing more COthan a case of champagne.  Abstinence from belching was the least of my worries.

But, you know what?  That stuff didn’t taste bad at all.  I’m not good at flavors.  It wasn’t exactly pina colada, but kinda fruity.  More like a banana shake.  Hmmm, I think my mind imagined that flavor because it felt like whole bananas slithering down my throat.  But at least the flavoring helped suppress the gag reflex.

All in all, it was a rather exciting morning.  I got a chance to witness some amazing technology, had delightful interactions with some fine people, and came away with a full stomach…. and no aftertaste.

So you see, the maladies associated with growing old aren’t really so bad, providing you have the proper perspective.  Life’s a gas.  …At least that morning it was.

Side Effects

The dictionary defines Side Effect as something which occurs in addition to an intended effect.  The term is mostly applicable to medicines…which is exactly why it came to the forefront of my frivolous thoughts today.

In conjunction with a recent visit to my doctor, I decided to get a renewal on a prescription I had not needed for over a year.  To get the right script, I retrieved the “Pharmacy Prescription Info Sheet”.  True to my nature, I perused the entire text of that document.

It’s a med formulated to “reduce itching, redness and swelling associated with many skin conditions”.  Perfect, that’s the one I need.  Further down the page it revealed possible side effects.  “When applied to the skin (as if anyone would think to squeeze some on a toothbrush) it may cause hives.”

Now, my farm-acology (not to be confused with a phonetically similar word) says the physiological interaction of hives and skin is itching.  Hold on there, Bubba.   I want the prescription ’cause my skin itches, not to cause it to itch.

Oh, but wait…just to clarify hives pharmacologically, it went on: “may cause burning, itching and redness”.  No, I’m not making that up.  The same cream that I wipe on a skin rash may cause a bigger rash…not to mention “difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth, face, lips or tongue.”

Well, there you have it.  No more itching on my arm, but my tongue swells up enough to choke me.  They really didn’t need to tell me to seek immediate medical attention if that occurred.

It seems that every medication now comes with disclaimers of detrimental side effects.  I’m quite certain most of you have heard about the classic “…lasting more than 4 hours…” side effect.  But, I think I’ll not go there.

I’m not sure why side-effect disclaimers need to be the propriety of medications.  Considering the recent barrage of political TV ads, I kept waiting for small print at the bottom to declare: “May cause headache, nausea and vomiting”, which, ironically, seems to be just about the most common side effect of prescription drugs.

Many meds warn: “May cause drowsiness”.  I once got a script to help me overcome insomnia.  It had the warning: “Do not operate machinery or drive as it may cause drowsiness”.  Darn…you mean mowing the lawn is no longer an option when I can’t sleep?

And why are all side effects negative?  Just once I’d like to read a disclaimer that’s favorable.  Wouldn’t it be great if Lopressor® reduced stomach acid build up in conjunction with its expressed purpose of reducing blood pressure?  Oh, no, no, no…its side effects include both diarrhea AND constipation.  That’s kinda like a weather report of possible intermittent showers.

I take an anti-cholesterol pill every night.  It would be nice if it had a positive side effect of drowsiness.  Even better — the ultimate complementary side effect might be: “Taking this medication may cause euphoria”.  Now there’s a side effect I’d like to see on all my Prescription Info Sheets.

Oh, oh, but wait…Would the delightful side effect of euphoria become adverse if it lasts more than 4 hours?

Why me…Why here?

This is a story which originated in 2007.  It is included in my 2015 book, “Laughing in Stitches“.  If you get a chuckle from my Friday Frivolity humor, you should contact me: to purchase either or both of my ” “Laughing…” books.  30 stories each and only $8 apiece.

Okay, can someone tell me why my medical maladies so often lead me to women’s clinics? A couple of years ago, I spent the night in a hospital’s Woman’s Care Unit following my sinus surgery. Just what link there might be between my nose and the maternity ward is beyond my comprehension.

Now, this morning my doctor once again sent me into a sanctum of women’s care. He scheduled me to visit the Sparrow Neo Natal Clinic. Why?

No…, not why was I there. Ultrasound…neo natal…makes sense. But why send a man to a woman’s clinic for anything. Isn’t there a men’s clinic that has an ultrasound machine? Really! Set one up in a garage somewhere. Hang some tools on the wall. Put some sawdust in bowls for aroma, tune in ESPN and set out a pot of day-old coffee on a bench. Yeah, that’s an environment where a man could be comfortable.

Women’s clinics are not set up for men. Floral arrangements, latte, soothing Muzak™. Transcendent ambiance for many patients, but me?…Lemme hear the roar of a V-8 while I wait.

It’s not just the atmosphere of a Neo Natal Clinic that’s a bit out of my comfort zone. I was the first patient on the docket. Nevertheless, I still had to wait a half hour. Women who go there are used to waiting. They’re on a nine-month schedule. What’s another half hour.

But I hadn’t eaten since supper the night before. And that meal had to be fat free. How long does non-fat anything stay in a man’s stomach. I wanted to get in and get out and be off to breakfast. I was hungry. My stomach was making enough noise to distort the ultrasound. Not only did I have to wait, they didn’t have “Sports Illustrated”, “Car & Driver” or “Outdoor Life”. I’m tellin’ ya, “Babies Home Journal” didn’t captivate my attention for long.

Then, I finally get the call. The technician…a woman, of course, led me down the hall. It was lined with Vital Pregnancy Practice posters, a few warm, fuzzy, mother and child pictures, plus an array of pretty pastel paintings with distinctly feminine counsel superimposed.

There was not even one picture of a grizzled old man battling a lunker bass. Not a single male-identity item visible anywhere. And every attendant we passed did a double take. They seemed as surprised at a man’s presence as I was at the absence of masculinity in the corridor. When I mentioned this to my technician, she admitted, “We don’t get very many men here.”

“Oh, Really?” I remarked with a hint of sarcasm. “It can’t be that unusual for a man to have his gall bladder scoped?”

“No. I scope men often. Just not here.”

“Ahhh, so tell me…,” I suggestively inquired, “where do you scope men?”

“Ohhhh, not like that. I also work at the other radiology lab here at the hospital.   I must say, I’m not sure why your doctor didn’t send you there.”

That made two of us wondering why my doctor sent me to a women’s clinic. Come to think of it, my personal physician didn’t have any influence on where I should have the ultrasound. Rather, it was his scheduling nurse. Ah, ha…I shall have to get even with her for this. Of course, there’s the distinct possibility that this was a case of her getting even with me. Maybe, I’d better let it go.