Today, while everyone is gorging on hot chicken wings, icy cold beers, creamy dips, and spicy chili slathered in onions and cheese, I’ll be guzzling 64 ounces of a pharmaceutical concoction intended to cleanse my bowels in preparation for surgery tomorrow.
Yup, you read that right. Surgery. Tomorrow. Lucky me.
Nothing puts a damper on Super Bowl Festivities quite like pre-operative bowel cleansing, but alas, I am a middle-aged woman who has given birth to three large babies. Internal organs and tissues are not quite where they used to be, and my doctor says it’s time to put them back where they belong.
When I informed my husband of the procedure, he cringed, shook his head, and finally waved me off, saying, “I don’t need to know the details!” Now, he merely explains the procedure as, “Yea, my wife’s going to the hospital to get her female plumbing all buttoned up.”
Apparently, my husband’s reaction is typical of similarly situated men.
Recently I was catching up with my brother on the phone, and asked what my sister-in-law was up to these days. My brother replied, “Well, I guess she’s going to have some surgery done….” Concerned, I interjected, “Surgery? What kind of surgery?” After an uncomfortable pause, my brother responded, “You know, ‘Lady Surgery.’”
Now, when I explain why I’ll be laid up for the next couple weeks, I just say I’m having “Lady Surgery.” If the person I am talking to is female, she usually says “Oh,” tilts her head sympathetically to the side, then offers to cook something for me. Men universally cringe and look for the nearest escape. Either way, no further details are necessary or desired.
I never imagined I’d ever be one of those middle-aged women who needs “Lady Surgery.” In fact, throughout my 20s and 30s, I thought I was invincible.
I was proud of pushing 9-pound babies out of my 5 foot 4 inch frame without drugs (stupid, I know.) I figured I was Western PA “hearty stock” and could handle childbirth, heavy lifting, gutter cleaning, power washing, lawn mowing, and other strenuous activities completely unscathed.
But then, somewhere in my early 40s, I started to notice that women my age behaved quite strangely in certain circumstances.
When the aerobics instructor at our local YMCA demanded that we do jumping jacks, I noticed that, three or four jumps into the exercise, all the 40-something women ran to the restroom. And I was soon fighting them for an empty stall.
I didn’t feel old, and brushed these incidents off as minor inconveniences. But then, a year or two down the road, I noticed the same embarrassing phenomenon happening in other situations.
I used to really enjoy a good sneeze. That tickly feeling in your nose, the slow inhale as you surrender to the natural forces of your own body, and then the spontaneous blast that leaves you feeling cleansed.
However, sneezing in your mid-40s is a whole other ball game. When the tickly sensation hits, I can usually be heard saying “Uh oh” as I scramble to clench my legs together in a defensive posture. Inevitably the sneeze cannot be stopped, and I utter “Terrific” or “Lovely” as I am left to deal with the consequences.
Soon, hearty laughter, coughing, and other normal body movements became risky business. I started to think about my actions like never before. Mowing the lawn? Sure, why not. Moving the couch? Hmm, maybe. Jumping on the trampoline with the kids? Definitely not.
Suddenly, I was accessing my daily activities in terms of whether or not they might cause my internal organs to drop out onto the floor. It was definitely time to get a medical professional involved.
My doctor allayed my fears by clearly explaining the surgical procedure with both words and rubber gloves. That man could take an ordinary surgical glove, and with a few twists and turns, form it into any one of the assorted female reproductive organs in order to explain my condition. It was truly amazing. I started to wonder if he worked at kids’ birthday parties on the side.
So today, while my doctor and every other red-blooded American is out there gobbling gallons of queso dip, I’ll be having an entirely different kind of super bowl party getting ready for tomorrow’s surgery. Unfortunately, the bowl that will have my attention is located in my powder room.
But it’s OK, I’m ready for The Show. I’m at the line of scrimmage, prepared for the blitz, and I’ll go into overtime if necessary. I just hope I’ll make the conversion from Wide Receiver to Tight End without too many stitches.