Ever notice how people refer to the bathroom as “the John?” Not me. I call mine “the Jim.” It just sounds more impressive when I tell someone, “First thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning, is go to the Jim.”
I just spent a LOT of time in the Jim, but I’m getting ahead of myself. That will come later in my review of this year’s winter vacation.
The really cool people I know come back from their winter break with exciting details from the ski slopes of Aspen, the bright lights of Las Vegas, or the sunny shores of the Florida beaches.
I’m not nearly that cool, and I use my vacation savings for summer. I consider February to be a bleak, gray sawed-off month. It’s just a time filler until baseball season returns. When I learned I had some February vacation days I could either lose or use, I asked myself: What could I do with those abbreviated days that include about ten minutes of sunshine? And what would I do with all of that indoor time? I decided to schedule some medical work I had been putting off.
My first stop was to the dermatologist. Being of fair skin and English/Irish descent, the sun is not my friend. No one told me this when I was a teen. I was sunbathing constantly in a futile effort to look like my bronzed friends. I kept thinking that my ugly beet-red burn would magically peel into a skin tone somewhere between Bob Barker and George Hamilton. But the only thing it turns into is melanoma.
About twenty years ago, a dermatologist looked first into my family history, then deeply into my skin and laid down the law. He said, “You shouldn't go to the mailbox without sunscreen." He told me my youthful skin damage never goes away. But he said it can be contained if I avoid the sun as much as possible.
For preventive maintenance, every few years he prescribes photodynamic therapy (PDT), also called blue light treatment. A nurse applies an acidic liquid agent on my face. I wait for two hours as it all soaks in. Then comes the fun part. For about 17 minutes, I wear eye coverings and sit totally still while a curved blue fluorescent lamp begins attacking the abnormal cells that are potentially cancerous. I don’t use the word “attacking” lightly. It feels like thousands of tiny arrows are shooting directly into my face. Every time I have this done, I say to myself, “Never again!” But I get over it. The result is what looks and feels like a severe sunburn for about a week. But no pain, no gain. This treatment has helped me fend off any additional skin damage.
Once my skin had healed, the tail end of my vacation featured a colonoscopy, ensuring the end of my holiday would be a real blast. It would be my fourth, so I am a veteran of the prep, the procedure, the nap, and the post-game feast.
As you may know, I’m a music guy. So for my colon prep time, I asked my genius friends on Facebook for a little help. Those frequent trips to “the Jim” (see above) can be a bit lonely. (My wife wisely chooses to spend this time in another zip code.) I needed some music to dance to as I paraded repeatedly to the throne and back. Here are the Top 10 hits from my colonoscopy playlist.
1. Theme from “Rawhide.”
2. “It Keeps You Running” by the Doobie Brothers.
3. Beethoven’s Final Movement.
4. “Wipeout” by the Surfaris.
5. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.
6. “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne.
7. “Oops, I Did It Again” by Britney Spears.
8. “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison.
9. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash.
10. “We May Never Pass This Way Again” by Seals and Crofts.
The grand finale, of course is “Classical Gas.” All kidding aside, this procedure can be a life saver. I’ve done my duty. I hope you will do yours.
David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor, and his new book “I Won’t Be Your Escape Goat” is available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or at RadioTV2020@yahoo.com.