Clean Slate Club

The implications of the 50th birthday are hard to ignore and difficult to embrace.  One by one friends are starting to undergo joint replacements and drop out of my tennis and paddle tennis groups to pursue more forgiving sports like golf.  I have been lucky to avoid any obvious physical limitations as I chug my way through this decade, but my entire philosophy towards sports is incrementally changing.  Ten years ago, I looked forward to each new paddle tennis season with the promise of getting better, based not on improving my physical fitness, but mastering some basic mechanical skills, like learning how to put a spin on the ball or positioning myself correctly.  While I consider myself athletic, I do not consider myself an athlete in whom the effects of waning physical prowess would be immediately noticeable.  For me, a slowed reaction time could be more than compensated for by being in the right place at the right time, and huffing and puffing through a long point could be addressed by finishing the point with the deft placement of a spin in the corner.  However, this strategy may have run its course and my goals for each new season have become more realistic – I just wanted to maintain my level and not get worse, particularly since my social life is built around sports.  As my friend once said, “Lose your legs, lose your friends.”

Other health messages for 50 year olds come fast and furious with advice on how to maintain breast, prostate, heart and bone health and the marketing geniuses at the drug companies try to reposition aging as a disease.  For example, the inevitable loss of bone that comes with aging has been repositioned as the “disease” osteoporosis, and diseases, of course need treatment, and lucky for big pharma aging is a life long disease needing life long treatment.   Most ominously, age 50 triggers a multitude of  cancer screening recommendations.  While breast cancer screening is considered optional at age 40, at age 50 it is strongly recommended.  Millions of women make the yearly migration to the tit squisher and just keep their fingers crossed that they won’t hear the sound of the other shoe dropping, at least for this year.  Men have their blood test for prostate cancer, but of course colonoscopies are for everyone. 

For obvious reasons, I put off a colonoscopy for several years.  However I would have to say that this has been one of the more rewarding experiences of this transitional decade.  First of all, it was easy and the bowel prep that makes everyone cringe was no biggie.  I just did it and the next morning I felt clean, cleansed and purified.  I felt like I should waft through the house in a flowing virginal white gown singing that enduring Presbyterian hymn of renewal,

“When the morning wakens, then may I arise,

Pure and fresh and sinless, in thine holy eyes.” 

And the colonoscopy itself – also no biggie.  The nurse will just slip you an IV mickey and then next thing you know you are getting ready to go home.  When the doctor came in to tell me that everything looked fine he added, “I must say you did a wonderful job with your bowel prep.  It really made my life easier.”  I was giddy with pleasure over this compliment, because like most patients I wanted the doctor to really like me.  Plus this was one of the nicest things that anybody had said to me in a long time.  I blushed in response and mumbled, “thanks, no problem.” 

Based on my experience there are a lot of things worse than a colonoscopy and one of them is taking the dogs for a walk.  Now lest you think that I have developed an eccentric habit of pleasure purging, I want you to know that this comparison primarily reflects not my love for Fleet, but my distaste for walking the dogs.  I like a nice contemplative walk as much as the next guy, but the mood is seriously undermined by tugging dogs, winding leashes around trees and confronting other dogs.   And as long as we are talking about effluent, there is nothing more distasteful in my mind than walking around with a steaming pocket full of pooh.  One time a particularly distasteful pick-up job prompted such a strong spasmodic gag response that I pulled a muscle in my neck.  Furthermore, when I go for a walk, I would like to do some birdwatching, but I have found that these are totally incompatible activities.  Not only are the dogs apt to scare the birds away, but it is also very difficult to focus binoculars while the dugs are tugging on the leash.  One time I spotted a particularly captivating bird, and with the doody bag in hand, raised the binoculars to get a better look.  As I tried to focus, the dogs strained at the leash causing my hand to jerk around.  The warm and odorous bag started swaying and rhythmically tapped me in the nose.  Bring on the colonoscopy!

The missing words in the following poem are anagrams (like post, stop, spot) and the number of dashes indicates the number of letters.  One of the missing words will rhyme with either the preceding or following lines.  Your job is to solve the missing words based on context of the pome.  Scroll down for answers.

A colonoscopy is supposed to be the way you mark your 50th birthday,

 Recommended so that some evil polyp won’t —– your life away.

Yes the bowl prep is nasty, and I’ll spare you details that are graphic,

 But at —– I’ll say the old porcelain throne saw some heavy traffic.

 However, it’s not bad, and the grisly stories you hear are just scurrilous scuttlebutt,

 The truth is that I loved flushing out old —– food, and all the bacteria in my gut,

 And at the end I felt as clean as a newborn babe, in a purified and exalted state,

 As if starting life both fresh and anew with a momentarily clean colonic —–.

 Okay, I have overstated the case, and I put it off for more than three years for sure.

 But don’t end up among the cautionary —– of those who missed their chance for cure.








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