Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Feeling the Ceiling from the Bottom Up

“If you're not gonna tell the truth, then why start talking?” —Gene Wilder


And then humbly, from the mouths of babes:

"Daddy's going to die first, you know," said Beatrice.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Because you're the oldest."

"Yeah," agreed Bryce.

"Daddy's going to live a long time," said the Mama.

"Yes I am."

Yes, I am. I feel great. 

Maybe it's self-deceit, feeling the proverbial ceiling of my life as I do now than ever before, primarily because of my age more than how I actually feel. And deceive ourselves we do, whether we feel good or not. My sister can attest to that, but she's thankfully a lot better today than she was just three months ago. And I feel pretty good myself after all these 50 years.

In fact, after all the millennia of evolution that helped us recognize patterns in the world that maybe kept us alive, even if the patterns didn't always play out, hence the deceiving ourselves just in case. Because if we didn't adapt quickly enough, we were dead.

This from a fascinating NPR TED Radio Hour episode all about Why We Lie. How up until the advent of written communication about 5,000 years ago, everything we shared our ancestors shared orally just disappeared in thin air. No record of truths or lies or all in between -- and the reality is a lot of us lie a little bit to ourselves and others -- all the time.

Today everything is documented all the time and that harsh fluorescent reality light shines on our lives nearly 24/7. You put something in an email or post it on Twitter and Facebook or look it up online via your browser of choice -- even if you delete it all -- the ghost of it all is fossilized forever. No take backs. Ever.

There's another form of this "written" record as well, our physical documentation, that we can never escape. That of which is inside each of us, and of what modern medicine can tell us about ourselves (or at least, tries too via tests and procedures and vast array of fantastical techno gadgetry -- even doctors self-deceive and directly deceive when they need to).

Recently I finally made time to take that magical test you take when you hit 50, the one that checks you out from the bottom up, if you know what I mean. Days before the test I joked with my wife that my bowels were having Braxton Hicks contractions. Thankfully she laughed. While the girls played nearby, we continued to discuss my pending preventative colonoscopy screening, and she asked me what I had to do to prep for the procedure.

"An all liquid diet 24 hours before and then that industrial sludge the night before. Ugh," I said.

"I know, but it'll be over before you know it," said the Mama.

"Is Daddy getting his blood taken?" asked Bryce.

"No, not exactly, Sweetie," said the Mama.

"Is he getting a shot?"

"No, not a shot. Sort of a surgical procedure."

"It's not a surgical procedure," said Daddy. "Should I tell them what it is?"

"Nope."

"But it's a horrible alien probe."

"Nope."

Sigh.

After a night of human Drano (what I drank was called GoLYTELY® -- it had a mild salt water taste), I laid on the examination table the next day under the influence of fentanyl looking inside myself on a TV monitor,  like Dennis Quaid injected into Martin Short in the old movie Interspace.

"Wow, you've got a big large intestine," said my Gastroenterologist. "Looking good so far."

"Great," I said. Big large intestine? What was that -- a double positive? 

At this point (and in that place, laying there as I was) there's no where to hide after 50 years of living, just like my knee surgery from two years ago that I watched in its entirety. Once the surgeon was inside my knee, he had to clean out loose cartilage he couldn't see in my MRI, and then drill holes in the head of my femur in order to draw blood and eventually create scar tissue, all after trimming my torn meniscus.

The body is a span of sped up geological time, with trace elements of everything ever inhaled, ingested, damaged and released internally by one precipitating factor or another, trapped forever, layer after layer, in cellular walls like hardened subatomic sediment. Although about 5 percent of adult men and women are diagnosed with colon cancer at some point in their lifetime, thankfully that wasn't something that ran in my family. Other cancers and auto-immune genetic anomalies may still lay dormant, but to date I continue to be in good shape.

So today I've gone from feeling the road as I do to feeling the ceiling from the bottom up, but the good news was that I got a A+ on my test. A big large double positive A+. Amen.

Take care of yourselves -- Dads, Moms and Kids -- and get any and all your preventative screenings when recommended. The body always tells the truth, even when we don't.

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