Tuesday, April 24, 2012

alimentary, my dear

On a chilly, grim and dark April morning you get up at 4 am and drink a liter of noxious salt and sweet substance and then, by 5:30,
finish topping that off with half a liter of lukewarm water.
That’s a lot of liquid, Honey.
Virginia dogwood and tulips are blooming. It's spring, and time, perhaps, for spring cleaning.
Then you doze, gurgling and sloshing, before rousing yourself to shower and travel – with your immune system depleted – to the hospital. There you are prepped by nurses who take time out from early morning chat and snacks to slam widgets into your veins and string you like an Easter bunny with colorful plastics in preparation for the doctor, who will make sure you are probed via your nether regions to within an inch of your life in an attempt to make sure you are not the victim of horrid diseases.

For a week now you– or perhaps it's me – have been eating things we don’t normally eat. Apparently that 7-day-diet should consist of soft and white substances. I say apparently, because the hand-out exhorts you to eat a low-fiber diet, but neglects to list the foods you should eat, only the foods you must NOT eat: no beans or other legumes, nothing crispy, no nuts, seeds, or whole grains, no corn, oatmeal or granola, no dried fruits, raw fruits, or vegetables from the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or Brussels sprouts.  Ironically, this boils down to Eat Nothing Local! To my limited imagination, it boils down to eating mashed potatoes and wonder bread, perhaps some boiled white rice. 

Eat these foods for the whole week before the day before our procedure, which happens this year to fall on Easter Sunday, usually a feast day, a day of sociability with friends and family, of chocolate bunnies and locker ham – the day on which you are not allowed to eat anything at all but only to swallow white grape juice and water (and, in my case, if I were to be truthful, several sips of white wine), until at 5 pm we are directed to consume the first liter of that salt and sweet substance. And to stay near the toilet if we know what’s good for us.

I follow this regimen as faithfully and as truly and as purely as I can. There is only a moment, on the day itself, as we near the hospital, that I am tempted, as I never am, to stop at McBurger’s and wolf down all the McCrap that I can. To ruin all my hard work. It is almost like the times, as children sitting in the movie theater balcony, that we felt the draw of that balcony railing. But McBurger’s sails safely on by.

As the nurses prepped me I may’ve wondered aloud if this colon cleanse has been refined to a much lauded science or are we directed to drink half again as much as we need, over half again as much time as needed? Must it be swallowed at 4 am? Must the fast day be scheduled on a feast day for much of the world?

Well, er, ah... no, that would be my fault, the nurse reminds me. And it’s true, I didn’t realize when I made the appointment that the 8th of April, which would  turn out to be my fast day, was the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, namely, everybody else’s Easter feastival.

Pondering aside, at 4:35 a.m. there is still evidence that I am not sufficiently purified! I had defied directions and eaten mashed potatoes (good girl) with the skins in the mash (Bad! Bad person!) a few days before. So drink the potion! Clean it allll out!

About this time it begins to seem to be all about morality. Goodness and badness. Being judged. Cleanth and filth. Oh the ire of that doctor if she finds potato peel from two nights ago plastering the pocks and polyps of your colon. She’ll swear and she’ll yank. And well she should, because you will have ruined all your good preparations. How is she to pronounce you well or ill if your insides are still coated with goo?

The potion drunk, the directions read, “Nothing more should pass by your lips until your appointment.” (How very very Biblical!) That takes care of the hours 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. By the time you come out from under it will be noon and you will be ravenous.

But the morality lingers on: After your procedure, you should take it easy, the directions say, eat some rice pudding or other soft white stuff, flan, anything your heart desires so long as it doesn’t desire a hamburger.

Dear God, Don’t cram a rare hamburger –  bloodied with catsup, creamed with cheddar, sweet with crisp onions –  down your immaculate craw. Don’t smoke. Don’t drink. Don’t muddy it up, Girl. Don’t think a smutty thought. Don’t, don’t, don’t!

A ravening mind muses about what is smutty about the synergy of the good sun-made beef fat and texture, the crisp phenerols, sweet and juicy, of the onion? What happens when they get down into your digestive tract and meet your digestive juices and begin to ferment – which is a part of life, like rot only in a good way?

Life happens then, and that – come to think of it – is the difference between good food and bad food -- even my own mind makes the moral distinction -- Good food from the ground and the pure air and the water and the fire of the sun – that is what makes us good(!) and healthy,  like cheese, like sauerkraut, like soy sauce and honey.

It’s when the industrial, the chemical, the commercialized, the deadened, the invented, the GM’d,  meet in your colon that bad things start to happen, for they do not meet and greet – they rot, separately, and they rot the inside of a person, too.

But there’s nothing morally good about being spick and span clean. You’d be dead, your exudations cleaned out of you by a forensicer, not a part of earth anymore, of natural processes.  Embalmed.

Of course, on the other hand,  there’s nothing that guarantees that good, whole, able-to-ferment food is certain to make you healthy, either. Which makes it important to jump through the hoops every once in awhile and get that colonoscopy behind you! No pun, of course, intended.

You only have to do it every five or ten years... Maybe never again, really, depending upon your luck.