Here we are, living in New England, and no one has invited us to a Super Bowl party. Oh well, I’ve had worse Super Bowl Sundays.
Four years ago we were stationed in Florida. And while everyone was gorging on hot chicken wings, icy cold beers, creamy dips, and spicy chili slathered in onions and cheese, I was guzzling a pharmaceutical concoction intended to cleanse my bowels in preparation for surgery the next day.
Yup, you read that right. Surgery. The day after the Super Bowl. Lucky me.
Nothing puts a damper on Super Bowl Festivities quite like pre-operative bowel cleansing. But I was a middle-aged woman who had given birth to three large babies. Internal organs and tissues were not quite where they used to be, and my doctor said it was time to put them back where they belong.
When I informed my husband Francis, he cringed, shook his head, and finally waved me off, saying, “I don’t need to know the details!” So, I started referring to the procedure as “Lady Surgery,” which my female friends reacted to by tilting their heads sympathetically to the side, and offering to cook something for me. Men universally cringed and looked for the nearest escape. Either way, no further details were necessary or desired.
When cornered, Francis explained the surgery by saying, “My wife’s going to the hospital to get her female plumbing all buttoned up.”
I never imagined I’d ever be one of those middle-aged women who needed “Lady Surgery.” In fact, throughout my 20s and 30s, I thought I was invincible. 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 observed 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 to me 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 usually blurt “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.
Eventually, hearty laughter, coughing, and other natural bodily impulses became risky business. I started to think about my actions like never before. Mowing the lawn? Sure, why not. Moving the couch? Hmm, maybe with help. Jumping on the trampoline with the kids? No way.
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 a replica of female reproductive organs. It was truly amazing. I started to wonder if he worked at kids’ birthday parties on the side.
So, on that ill-timed Super Bowl Sunday, while my doctor and every other red-blooded American was gobbling gallons of queso dip, I was experiencing an entirely different kind of super bowl party in preparation for surgery the next morning. Unfortunately, the bowl that had my attention was located in the powder room.
But it was OK, I was ready for The Show. I approached the line of scrimmage, prepared for the blitz, and was ready to go into overtime, if necessary. And thankfully, I made the conversion from Wide Receiver to Tight End without too many stitches.