Now Where Did I Leave That Bone Again?
I got a look at my colon the other day and it wasn't a pretty sight. No, I didn't stick my head into a place where other people often say I already have it. Neither did I commit hari-kari and watch it spill out like so many chitlins waiting for someone crazy enough to cook them up and eat them. What I did get was a chance to see the inside of my colon thanks to a modern medical technique where a doctor sticks a camera up your butt. And gets paid to do it. Wow, talk about a dream job.
The procedure's called a sigmoidoscopy, and while the doctor was poking around my insides with a disposable camera I watched the action on a color monitor. Just kidding about the disposable camera, though if I were the one doing the procedure I'd dispose of it in a heartbeat. I won't gross you out by telling you just how smooth, slick, pink and clean as a proverbial whistle my colon was, and well it should have been. Lets just say I'd be perfectly happy if my first adventure with a laxative and two first-thing-in-the-morning enemas were also my last.
Not only did I discover what my colon looks like, I also discovered that I'm not masochistic enough to enjoy giving myself a big case of diarrhea on purpose. This is a good thing to know, especially since my mother always told me that learning boundaries was an important part of growing up. Okay, she didn't really say that. In fact, she never said anything even close to it. What she did say was that I shouldn't run with an enema in my hand or I'd poke my eye out.
It was nice to know I had a healthy colon. And a normal size one too. Just a few weeks before, in what I'd hoped wasn't a classic case of foreshadowing, I visited the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and saw a human colon which was 27 feet long and 8 feet in circumference. To put that into perspective, the average colon is about six feet long. The average semicolon, on the other hand, is about the width of a human hair. I'm not positive, but I think I stole that line from Henny Youngman.
The oversize colon had been removed from a man who died of constipation around the turn of the century. Surprising, isn't it? When they did the autopsy they found -- now hold onto your barf bag -- two-and-a-half "pails of excrement." And people tell me I'm full of crap. But as huge and ridiculous as that colon was, it was nowhere near as large as the Colossal Colon I saw a few months ago. It wasn't real, which was a shame, but you could crawl through it, which is something you couldn't do at the Mütter Museum. It was 40 feet long and 4 feet high which, come to think of it, isn't that much larger than the guy's colon in the museum. While it was exponentially larger than mine, it definitely wasn't as good looking. It was diseased, being peppered with polyps, cancer and arrows which read: "Your lunch was here." Don't you hate it when education gets in the way of a nice colon crawl?
The Colossal Colon also had diverticula, which are little pockets in the lining, much like the one that's above the right front pocket of your jeans which you haven't found a good use for yet. Diverticula would be good places to hide things except that you have to wait to retrieve them naturally. Unless, that is, you know a doctor like Chevalier Jackson. Downstairs in the Mütter Museum, not far from the body cast of Eng and Chang, the original Siamese Twins, the tumor removed from Grover Cleveland, and the woman whose body turned to soap after she was buried, they have a collection of over 2,000 items which Dr. Jackson removed from people's bodies, all without resorting to surgery. I don't know which is more amazing, that he got all the objects out or that he had so many patients who would stick things in their orifices. Most doctors probably see a handful of cases like this in their career. If they're lucky. Then again, it may have been Jackson's specialty. "I'm going to refer you to Dr. Jackson. He's the best around at removing coffee beans from your upper sinuses."
Among the objects the good doctor removed were seeds, shells, coins, "dental material," and bones. While it might seem odd for someone to stash a bone internally, it's not really that unusual. Supposedly Roy Horn of "Siegfried and" fame has a piece of his skull in his stomach. It's true. Doctors taking care of Horn, who was mauled by a tiger in Las Vegas recently, have reportedly removed one-fourth of the right side of his skull to relieve pressure in the brain. They stuck it in a pouch and implanted it in his stomach until the swelling in his brain goes down, at which time they'll put it back.
It's a good thing this was reported in the news. I'd hate to think that one of the doctors might be absentminded and forget where he left it. "Damn....I know I put that piece of skull somewhere for safekeeping but it's nowhere around. Hmmmmm......where would I have put it? I know it was some place where I'd be sure to remember it. Oh.....that's right....it's in a pouch in his stomach! Hey, maybe that's where I left that pair of sunglasses, the Jack Johnson CD, and the TV remote I've been looking for for the past month!"
That's why I'm glad I got to see my colon live and in person. Aside from knowing it's fine and healthy, I can sleep better at night knowing there aren't any buttons, coins, or pieces of my skull hiding in there. I know because I saw for myself.
Mad Dog's compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org