Not a fun subject, this dastardly topic is surely an attention-getter and not one about which young folks want to read. Death becomes more prevalent a subject as soon as a generation reaches the age of being hounded by AARP to join their organization, which starts at fifty.
How they get the information is beyond this writer, about whom in the country has turned that dreaded corner in life, when youth is just a vivid memory: a residual and much sought-after frame of mind; and the body begins to insult the psyche constantly, consciously making a person wonder what the hell happened; and where did all the time go?
I noticed an obvious change in my mortality at twenty-five. Something clicked, telling me it was now all a matter of finality, like when the mainspring in a clock slowly unwinds with no chance of ever being rewound again, giving me the incentive to find the elusive fountain of youth and live life to the fullest.
Now in this third act of existence, the insults to the body and mind seem like a daily occurrence. Each morning something new develops, it seems, adding to the cacophony of confirmed complaints, chronic aches and continual pains. Fortunately for me many subside and become tolerable, thanks to the mind’s pain-management centers. Where before it was leaps and bounds, it’s walking now as fast as I can, avoiding the ruts on sidewalk and along the beaten paths in the countryside.
Not to get into too much informational detail, I’d like to mention something usually associated with aging, but has been a pain in the butt belligerently on occasion since I was nineteen years old, and now more so recently in this stage of my life: hemorrhoids. That has to be the worst.
The first experience with the horrid affliction took place after my helping a friend install a 426 c.i. rebuilt Hemi engine into his Plymouth Road Runner racing car, using an a-frame hoist in a gravel lot, which must have caused undue strain to where the sun didn’t shine. The resulting pain was so bad, I couldn’t sit upright, but had to recline to one side. Every movement, each muscle contraction, a simple cough, and even laughter caused incredible torment, going straight down to my exploding anal sphincter, putting new meaning to “it hurts even when I laugh.”
OK, I supposed that was too much info, but I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked my friends to take me down to the emergency room at the hospital, hoping for immediate relief. As teenagers, we knew nothing about hemorrhoids. That was a term only old timers spoke about. I thought I had ruptured me rectum. In hindsight, Preparation H was something we joked about after seeing it in our grandparent’s medicine chest.
Once disrobed and wearing a flimsy, green hospital gown—the one that fastened by stings from behind, leaving one’s bare arse for everyone to see—I was told to lay down on the examination table under the big light and wait for the doctor to arrive. Feeling quite embarrassed while climbing up and laying prone in front of the nurse who brought me into the room, I felt more at ease when she put a sheet over my backside, telling me to relax in the meantime. I was very prudish as a young man. Hearing women’s giggling in the emergency-room office didn’t help either.
“What seems to be the trouble, Mr. Slickster?” I looked up to see a striking young woman, wearing a lab coat, about to pull the sheet down.
“Wait, shouldn’t the doctor be doing that?” I said.
“I am the doctor.” she replied, much to my further mortification. She was most likely an intern, not looking any older than twenty-six or twenty-seven. “Now, let me look and see.” With the covering removed, the doctor poked, probed and prodded, saying the only thing short of surgery is to push the hemorrhoids back in, after which she proceeded to do so.
My eyes must have popped out and shot into space, for while she was practicing her seemingly unorthodox treatment, I could have sworn I saw every star in the Milky Way, passing Pluto when it was still classified as a planet. Never had I felt such pain before, but once she was done, it was as if I had passed a watermelon. I was suddenly sympathetic to a woman’s plight during childbirth. Methinks the physician took great pleasure in teaching me that lesson, prescribing a package of glycerine suppositories to be taken once a day, “PRN.”
Amazingly I felt infinitely better after the ordeal, and whenever the malady strikes again, being it from straining, or in the next morning after eating mussels in hot sauce, I remember my first time with that pretty doctor, and the total humiliation felt that summer afternoon in St. Petersburg, Florida’s General Hospital’s emergency room. A tube of Preparation H now resides permanently in my medicine chest for such outrageous events, saving me from further disgrace until my son has children; and they find the medication in the wall cabinet.