Note: This is fiction. Or mostly fiction. Well, the names and places have been changed to protect the people who wish I would write fiction. It’s also an indelicate subject in places. If you can’t handle suffering, don’t read on. If you don’t like colonoscopies, definitely skip this. If you think TMI is always better left out, go read Ladies Home Journal. If you’re a man, well, it’s fiction.
It’s interesting the way men and women experience things so differently… particularly when it comes to “suffering.” If, say, Dad or Mom needs a colonoscopy—something that moms and dads of a certain age start needing, there will be details to work out. Dad will schedule a date, that works with his calendar. He doesn’t check her calendar; he knows Mom will drive him to the procedure. It’s understood that she wants to be available for that. The fact that she has a few things on the calendar that day, is adjustable. When Mom needs the same procedure, she will check her calendar, knowing that one of her friends (another mom) will drive her there. In fairness, Dad will be working; he doesn’t need to worry about how mom will get there or home— she’s got it covered.
Two days before, the “prep” begins: clear liquids. Mom picks up supplies for dad. “Could you maybe make some Jello?” Dad asks, nicely. “Not red or purple; it has to be another color… um, maybe yellow?” A reasonable question. When it’s her turn, ; Mom picks up supplies for herself. When mom’s on clear liquids, “What’s for dinner?” Dad asks. It’s a reasonable question as well… one that’s asked every day of the year— except on vacation. Then it changes to “What do you think we should do for dinner?”
The night before there is really yucky liquids to drink. It’s not fun; both moms and dads agree on that point. There is mutual compassion and empathy expressed, where Golytle is concerned. Dad will gag a lot, and
bellow exclaim “This stuff is “horrible!” There will be much whining misery expressed, as Dad lets everyone know, that “this is the most unbearable thing” to go through. Mom will think: Hmm, labor was pretty rough too. Mom and kids will eat out— a quick meal, so as not to leave dad alone too long, but to avoid eating in front of him… while he suffers. When mom has her prep, she’ll make a simple dinner for dad and kids, and sit at the table, so as not to leave them alone too long. “Oh, isn’t your colonoscopy tomorrow?” Dad asks, as Mom stirs her prep juice.
The day of the procedure also differs for men and women. Dad schedules his for mid-day. No need to get up early; he’s taken the day off, to rest afterwards. Mom schedules her procedure for first thing in the morning; kids will need picking up come 4pm. Getting there involves some arranging. Girlfriends don’t let girlfriends drive themselves to colonoscopies, so another mom will take Mom to her procedure. Girlfriend dutifully come into the doctor’s office, get the times straight, and then give Mom a nice pat on the back— if she’s a really good friend, a pat and a clever joke. Mom will go back to the pre-op area and wait to get her drugs. It’s a forced nap; she’s ready. For Dad’s big day, Mom will come into the doctor’s office and sit. And sit. And then sit some more. There are a lot of good things to catch up on in the latest car magazine, or the two year old issue of Oprah— pre-retirement, Oprah was still everywhere. In medical offices, she marches on, empowering women. Mom will hold Dad’s hand as he gets his IV, and then slip away when he begins to drift off. She’s dog eared the article about Jump Starting Your Immune System.
In recovery the cubicles with men, all (and I do mean all) have a woman sitting by the bedside. The passing of male gas (the after effect of a colonoscopy, male or female) requires some back patting, hand holding, and a woman’s presence. “Ok, take it easy. Just pull your knees up… good job.” In the cubicles where women are recovering, almost all of them (and I do mean almost all. One older woman’s husband sits, holding her hand) lie alone, eyes closed and looking stoically uncomfortable— hoping to not draw too much attention. “I’m fine; you don’t need to keep checking,” one woman tells the nurse. The nurse smiles, as Dad groans in agony. He is going to live? I mean, it’s only gas, right? Mom
chides asks, laughing worried. Is it always like this? She asks. “Yep, men and women do it a little differently…” the nurse smiles again, and heads out of the cubicle. Dad needs help getting dressed; he’s still shaky. “I’ll wait outside, give you your privacy,” Dad says when it’s Mom’s turn. Dads are very thoughtful that way.
When Mom’s all done, friends come back and pick her up. They joke; they laugh. “Now I’ve seen your bum,” they giggle. Give me a minute, I’ll be right out, Mom says. The friend is waiting to help her out to the car; Mom’s still a bit loopy too. This crosses the sexes. Drugs are drugs. At home, Mom gets out of the car and heads into the house. Thanks a million! She tells her friend, and sends her on her way, grateful for good friends. She goes inside, makes some toast, and lies down to watch recorded episodes of stupid TV, and naps.
Let me get the door, Mom says to Dad as he lies back in the car seat. She comes around the car to help him out, as he struggles with the door knob. He leans a bit as they walk in. He settles on the sofa, and Mom tries to sneak out of the room. It’s just gas, he won’t die, she thinks, as she heads for the stairs. “Could you please make me some toast?” He asks, his voice thin and weak. “Maybe some water… or tea.” Mom starts out of the room again to make toast. “Uh, could you hand me a blanket on your way out? I’m freezing,” Dad whispers. She grabs the throw, and he turns on How It’s Made. He’s napping when Mom comes back with the toast.
Colds are a very complicated issue with the sexes. For some ancient reason, that is scientifically beyond this writer, colds seem to hit men much harder than women. Headache and runny nose kicks in on Wednesday for Mom. She runs a few errands and then takes the middle part of the day off. “What’s for dinner Mom?”
Little Man The son ask. I don’t know; I don’t feel so great… Mom’s on the sofa, watching Bravo, shivering. When Dad gets home, same question: “What’s for dinner?” “Mom’s sick,” boy pipes up. “Oh, I’m sorry… let’s have something easy.” Dad goes to his office to do some work, and 45 minutes later, Mom puts spaghetti on the table. Easy dinner. My throat is killing me; I can’t tell, but I think I have a fever, Mom repeats over dinner. Mom goes to bed early.
Three days later, Dad has
the same a bug. “I’m really sick,” he tells Mom when she gets home. Really? What’s up? “I’ve got the most horrible sore throat and headache.” I’m sorry, Mom soothes, as she put the grocery bags down. “My head is killing me.” Yeah, Sounds like the bug I had last week. “No, I’m really sick.” Uh, yeah, I know; it sucks. I felt awful. She tells him, as they head downstairs. Dad lies down on the sofa and wraps himself in blankets, shaking violently. “No, I think I really have something bad. This may be the flu.” As Mom shifts on the other chair, she reigns in her voice: Right; I know; I felt horrible. “Yeah, but you still did things. If you had this, you wouldn’t have been able to do anything. This is really bad…Could you get me some Tylenol?” Riiiiight. Poor little bunny, Mom mocks says as she goes upstairs. (Watch this video, to understand what rabbits have to do with the man cold.)
With other injuries and hardships, roles shift and change. If Dad falls while mountain biking or doing something athletic, he is stoic and calm. Scabs down his legs and knuckles go uncommented on, while Mom
winges and whines tells Dad about the deep paper cut she got earlier in the day. It really burns, she says again and again notes, as she makes dinner. When Dad looks at the gauge cut there might be a slight roll of the eyes, but he’s smart enough to say “That sounds painful.” No complaints about his own wounds, to his credit. Mom gets a wave of woozy when she looks at Dad’s raw knuckles. Doesn’t that hurt? “A little,” he answers, distracted by dinner. Mom nurses her paper cut for a few days.
Men and women are wired differently. Not all men are
big babies more sensitive to illness or pain issues, and not all women are more stoic. Not all moms cook all of the meals, and not all dads whine. Maybe this fictional Mom doesn’t even do all of the cooking, and this fictional Dad doesn’t necessarily whine all this much. Maybe he does. But, where there’s smoke, there generally a BBQ, at least. The man cold didn’t come out of nowhere, right? And when you Google images of “men sick” or “women sick,” the images are very different! Interesting…
Do you suffer well? Are you stoic? Are you a woman? Or are you a
baby man? Share your thoughts in the comment section, and if this helped inform you, or made you laugh out loud, please hit like.