Getting a deep cleaning

Things are normal until they’re not.

Normal can slip away before we know it, leaving an abnormality of which we are unaware. It’s best to check your normal from time to time to make sure it’s still active.

I’m about to have my normal checked.

When Gertrude Stein said “there is no there, there,” she was referring to Oakland, California.

In my situation, there is a there. I just want to make sure it’s normal.

As for Oakland, I don’t know if Gertrude is correct or not — I’ve never been there.

In my case, the determination of normal will begin with an examination of a descending portion. From there, the examination’s scope will be guided into and through the transverse section, after which it will descend into that portion that ascends.

The doctor will use a light. Without one, he would be peering into a darkness in what I have been so obliquely describing.

Let me be clear; I’m referring to an examination of my colon. What sort of an exam is that? It’s called a colonoscopy.

It’s an examination my doctor will have completed on Thursday — two days before you read this on Saturday. I’m writing this on Wednesday, and will provide an update to this narrative on Friday.

Why a colonoscopy?

This routine examination will check to confirm that I am colon cancer-free. Colon cancer is treatable, provided it’s found early — before its normal slips away.

Before this examination can occur, I must undergo a deep cleaning. As I write this, that process has begun.

I’m drinking coffee — thank God, that’s allowed — so long as it’s black. Unfortunately, I can consume only clear liquids today — no solid food is allowed, unless you consider Jello a solid food.

Later today, I’ll ingest “The Prep.”

At noon, I’ll take two Dulcolax tablets and mix a 8.3-ounce bottle of Miralax with 64 ounces of Gatorade and put that mixture in the refrigerator.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to leave it there.

Between 5 and 6 p.m., I’ll have to drink 8 ounces of this mixture every 15 minutes until I have consumed 32 ounces. Then, tomorrow — five hours before the exam – I’ll have to polish off the remaining 32 ounces of this Miralax-Gatorade preparation.

I failed to mention a cautionary statement in the instructions I’ve been provided: “STAY NEAR A BATHROOM.”

I shall.

At this point, I will conclude my description of the deep-cleaning process.

Tomorrow — Thursday — two hours before the exam, I can consume nothing by mouth — not even coffee — a brutal stretch.

Then the exam.

I don’t suppose a colonoscopy was within Gertrude Stein’s contemplation when she made her “there” statement. But her observation has caused me to consider other situations where “there is no there there.”

More and more, politicians are making things up, saying something is that isn’t. If they keep it up, they could lose our trust.

One politician tried to invalidate the vote I cast in the last presidential election. He claimed the election had abnormalities — it didn’t.

The results were examined and certified correct by all 83 Michigan counties and by the state. In addition, numerous court challenges found everything normal.

What was abnormal was the lie he told.

At the next congressional election, I’ll be advocating for a deep cleaning of the office he occupies.

Here’s that update:

After I signed in at MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena, and the people in the surgery department affirmed I was who I should be, surgical nurse Brandy attended to my preparation.

Then, they wheeled me in.

When I awoke about an hour later, nurse Zack served me a cup of coffee with a blueberry muffin. Things like that, you never forget.

Soon, surgeon Thomas Thornton arrived to deliver the welcome news that he had removed a couple of polyps — thereby restoring my colon to normal. I thanked him.

Then, nurse Zack reappeared with a wheelchair. While wheeling me away, he cautioned that I should take it easy for the rest of the day — no cleaning or cooking, he said.

My wife took me home, anyway.

Life is good.

Doug Pugh’s “Vignettes” runs weekly on Saturdays. He can be reached at pughda@gmail.com.


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