Most parents enter their twilight years and decide they are going to write a biography of their life to leave for their children. Not my mother. My mother has told me that she’s leaving me a medical journal of sorts. She’s completing a handwritten diary of her aches and pains, “so that I’ll know what sort of hell awaits me.”
This is very typical of my mother.
I think she wanted to be a medical doctor without the work. I have very distinct memories of walking into the bathroom on my mom where she’d be performing some sort of oral surgery on herself. Literally, she’d have some kind of poking tool and a circular mirror – that you can only find at the dentist’s office – deep inside her throat. I’d ask her what she was doing and she’d say, “Well, my tonsils are bothering me. That one, it doesn’t look right.”
Now, this is all pre-internet. Thank god. Because if my mother had been able to WebMD all of her symptoms, I can only suppose instead of a light oral probing, I might have walked in on a self-imposed gall bladder surgery.
My mother has always felt that she knows better than the doctors. For the longest time my mother’s answer to everything was, “Take a seldane.”
Seldane was an antihistamine on the market in the 1980’s. However, mom thought it was good for EVERYTHING. Very often conversations in my childhood house went like this:
Me: Mom, I have cramps.
Mom: Take a seldane.
Brother: Mom, this kid gave me a black-eye at school.
Mom: Take a seldane.
Eventually, the FDA pulled seldane off the market because it was thought to cause heart arrhythmias. My brother and I had a field day. “Mom, they took seldane off the market because it causes heart attacks!” yelled my brother. “Yeah, mom, did you want us dead or what?” I echoed.
Mom never answered. This has always been her way. She finds one remedy and she sticks to it obsessively. Loyally. Like a soldier to her cause. It becomes THE cure-all.
She is obsessive, yet witch-doctor-like about her health.
So, mom writing a medical journal about herself is no surprise to me. At first I thought it was nuts. However, as I’ve aged and jumped on this wagon ride known as senescence, I’ve thought about it and changed my mind. Maybe I should leave behind some kind of medical timeline for my future gayby too. It’s good to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of the human body and what better source to learn this information from than your primary caregiver – Mom.
So, here’s what I’ve compiled for gayby so far:
1972 – 1982: Around this time I broke my arm. I was around 10 and fell down the stairs. It hurt like hell. The doctor put it back together without anesthesia because they were worried I’d be allergic to it. This was unfounded, as I’ve been “put under” many times since then. Once it was set, it was pretty much all okay. The other kids signed it and my only other issue was that it itched. It itched like crazy. When the doctor finally opened it up he found pencils, dried spaghetti strands, and rulers in there because when your momma has an itch, she scratches it.
The only other medical memory I have around this time is of my brother, your uncle. He got his penis caught in his footy pajamas. This was very traumatic for both my brother and my father. Dad called 911 and was talked through freeing his member by a trained official of some sort. Know that if you are born a male, gayby, men will always rally around any injury that involves your penis. It is something only they can understand. I promise to find you an adequate support group of the male species for this purpose, if need be.
1982 – 1990: This comprises most of my junior high and high school years. I was pretty fortunate medically here. As a young child, I had several bouts with bronchitis that allowed me to stay home from school. This was okay because dad (your grandpa) always brought me home comic books and magazines. Later on, the bronchitis became strep throat a couple of times. I always got through it with a course of antibiotics, so you should be fine.
This time period also makes up my first bout with the over-abuse of alcohol. All I remember is that as I threw up, Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” was playing in the background. This experience ruined both rum and dance music for me.
1990 – 1994: College. So, hangovers. Lots of them. Greasy food is the fixer-upper for this. Never drink on an empty stomach. Have a glass of water for every drink you have. Then in the morning when you’re hungover – bacon and eggs and lots more water.
College was also the time that I realized a woman can NOT wear biking shorts for a prolonged period of time. My ladyparts itched so bad, I thought I’d jump out a window. Thankfully, I refrained from sticking pencils up there like I did with the cast. All was restored with a little over-the-counter cream. Your mother learned from this. Now I workout and then immediately shower. I try to keep a constant airflow happening around my undercarriage. Your flower needs oxygen like a plant needs the sunlight. It’s not pretty, but it’s true.
1995 – 2000: Around this time I developed asthma. I suppose that’s what all those bronchitis bouts were leading up to. Don’t worry. If you get this, the medications are very good now and you won’t be left like Che Guevara – alone and infirm in a tent, breathing into an empty, paper bag.
Wisdom teeth. I had my first two wisdom teeth taken out around this time. My advice to you is to get them all out at once. If you need two out, you’ll always need the second two out. The dentist put me under for this with laughing gas. Laughing gas is great. If it is ever offered – TAKE IT. This is my conversation with the dentist, as I remember it, while under the influence:
Dentist: Stop laughing.
(I was convinced that the dentist had abnormally large tools in my mouth. Huge, cartoonish-sized tools. I found this hilarious.)
Me: I will not stop laughing, noooo!
Dentist: But, people think you’re crying.
Me: Well, then shut the door! It’s my party!
2000 – 2004: This was age 28 – 32 for me. I believe for most people, this age bracket is the “sweet spot”. If you’re going to climb Mount Everest, I’d suggest doing it around this time period. Your body is still pretty elastic and can recover from almost anything. I had no noticeable or memorable ailments around this time. I ran my first marathon here too.
2004 – 2012: After age 35, things start to take a turn. Not necessarily for the worse, but definitely towards the more annoying. Now when I clean the house it results in back spasms. I have glasses for driving, though apparently I still have 20/20 vision in one eye. Why is it only in one feckin’ eye? I don’t know. Apparently, lopsided eyes is as common as lopsided boobs.
For the most part and with some luck, your mom is getting through these years relatively unscathed. Every now and again, I have a doctor investigate the old uterus because apparently when you don’t use it, it needs a cleaning every now and again. Everything else is pretty much okay. However, there was one traumatic experience here that I think I should warn you about.
The colonoscopy. Your doctors will call the colonoscopy “routine”. However, you will call it “obscene”. Around a certain age, everyone is supposed to get one. What they won’t tell you is that the procedure involves sticking a length of garden hose up your ass and then filling you with more air then a Thanksgiving Day parade float. They do not tell you about the hose until you are about to go under. Once you see it, you may, as your mom did – frantically try to negotiate the length of hose to go up your derriere. This is futile as you will be passed out and unable to gauge whether your doctor is a man of his word or not. The garden hose will take pictures of your yellow brick road and god willing, it will be pristine. You will leave this procedure feeling both violated and bloated.
You will feel so violated that you will run to your next appointment and immediately call your mother. Your mother will not answer the phone because she is out having margaritas with her brothers and sisters – your great aunts and great uncles.
This is the moment when you will fully become an adult, having to deal with the horror ALL on your own.
Thankfully, your mom was able to do so – mostly – all in one piece.
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Photo creds: broken arm, bike shorts, dentist-tools