An Ode to the Colon
And paean sounded too renal-ish. Ok, maybe more homage.
We take our bodies for granted - oh yes we do. All of us. All the things they do and are supposed to do. All the systems and subsystems, pieces, parts, processes.
We generally give the details little thought. How many things could go wrong, how delicate the balance is for each and every one of them. Too much of this, not enough of that and whammo.
Even folks with known issues tend to take all the rest as normal and for granted , except for their own particular issues.
I’m generally a healthy guy. You all know what I do for fun. Other than a little high cholesterol and low iron, I’m lucky and mostly tip-top.
So what kind of gastric distress sends a guy like me to an ER at 2AM? First, where I was, there was no urgent care open. And second I was 8 out of ten on the discomfort scale. A small third was a 5 hour car ride the next morning and then a 3 hour flight the next day.
Abdominal pain, nausea to light up a small city and….other… digestive issues you can guess so I don’t have to detail.
Basic blood work and they ruled out seriousness pretty quickly, so no scans or x-rays etc. Some fluids, anti-nausea meds and they managed to ease most of the discomfort. Back to the hotel by 4:30 and then off by 10. I had a brutal and miserable car ride; lots of pit stops. Still we made it. No I didn’t drive. Not possible. And I was able to fly home. Composing this on the plane, still in fair discomfort that is no longer totally distracting or mind-fogging.
Home in familiar surroundings is comforting.
Whether it was a bug, stomach flu, food borne, something else or a combination, …it…was…severe. Then it ended up causing a total deterioration, then arrest, then reset, then polar swing to the other extreme and, well, enough of that.
It was the most miserable, brutal 18 hour episode of digestive distress I could otherwise have ever imagined. Annoying, painful and other words. As with all nausea, the despair is not in the wishing you’d die to end it, it’s knowing that you won’t.
Mostly though we take all this for granted. I run every day, I tend to eat well and take care of myself generally. So I started thinking. Digestive system gets a curve ball and this is the result. Just one episode; nothing chronic. And then all the other things that can go wrong.
Heart, lungs, circulation, skin, bones, eyes, ears..well you get it. Everything hums along. Mostly. Until it doesn’t, and then I wonder why I wasn’t more grateful more of the time for the relentless, silent and normal workings.
For example consider the anal sphincter - (or don’t). One part of the body that can identify and separate solid from liquid from gas almost all the time. Consider how the ‘convenience’ of life would be different if it didn’t work that way. Consider how your life would be different if it didn’t work that way just one time - and the ‘wrong’ way.
Or consider all the stuff you put into your mouth and expect, assume, that the entire digestive system will just ‘naturally’ process it all into a consistent (see what did there) output - hot, cold, spice, bland, gluten, meat, veg, whatever solid, liquid or gas. The spectrum is well, amazing, that off a bit one way and literally all hell breaks loose, and the other way, no hell breaks loose at all.
So daily, when you give thanks for food and family or whatever you give thanks for, take a moment and give a nod to the incredibly complex system of systems that is your body.
You’re nothing without them. This is obviously not quite literally true. Everyone functions while we deteriorate over time. And some folks with actual losses of pieces or parts or functions (recall Mrs DM lost 1/2 a lung last year). Still, you know what I mean.
P.S. - What kind of intelligent being would create such a Rube Goldberg kludge of solution? To teach humility? Create a health care industry 6,000 [sic] years hence? Just a wicked sense of humor? Another topic for another time