So, here goes.
Today will mark day number four of 35 days of radiation treatment aimed at shrinking two of my cancerous masses. One is partially blocking my colon. To keep the production lines moving and prevent orders from stacking up in the warehouse, the doctors have prescribed a program of laxatives.
One of them is an item called “Lactulose Solution.” The product insert that came from the pharmacy warns that side effects may include gas and that the medicine may take two to three days to work.
Well. Let me just tell you. The product may take a few days to accomplish its mission, but the side effects are immediate. As in vigorously-shake-a-bottle-of-nitroglycerin-and-see-what-happens immediate. Within five minutes of taking the first dose, I was able to do nothing but lie on the bed, alternately moaning and—well, let’s put it this way. The world has not seen an eruption of flaming gas like this since 1937 in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Combined with the rumbling the solution produced in my gut, the auditory results were quite spectacular. If I were to set the experience to music, I’d choose the 1812 Overture. Da da da da da da da da da-da-da duh-duh. BOOM. Da da da da da da da da da-da-da duh-duh. BOOM. Da-da da-da da-da da-da da da da. BANG. And so on.
Nor was this the harmless kind of gentle breeze one can, say, discreetly and silently emit in an elevator with realistic hopes no one would actually notice. Oh, no. This was the Slim Pickens rushing up to the campfire in Blazing Saddles and shouting “God dang!” while fanning the air with his hat kind. It was the type that that causes the corners of the wallpaper to curl, the paint on the windowsills to crack and flake off, and the cat to scratch at the door demanding to get out of the room. Yes, the very feline who, just two days before, bombed the entire house by dropping a what-the-hell-have-you-been-eating-now atrocity in the litter box and leaving it completely uncovered had the temerity to complain about me—the hypocritical little rat-tailed furball-hacking bastard.
This went on for what seemed like an eternity. I was very grateful for the exhaust fan in the john—until a short time later, when I found a dead bird on the back porch and began to worry about the effects on the environment. No, I am not making that up. In fact, every now and then you’ll hear about an incident where a fire department in some municipality is called out to investigate a mysterious odor that has descended over a neighborhood or college campus. The causes are seldom discovered. I think I’m on to something here.
After a while, it began to occur to me that what I was experiencing may have been a form of karmic payback. You see, the thing is, I have a sense of humor that can, at times, be crude. I’ve told a lot of flatulence jokes in my life. It started at an early age and never really stopped. In fact, I wrote a very tasteless flatulence skit for my radio show fairly recently (I uploaded it simultaneously with this posting, and you can find it here, if you dare). Many years ago I learned to imitate the sound of flatulence quite convincingly (having been taught to do so, let the record reflect, by a TV news reporter), and have been known to indulge in this little prank even in newsroom editorial meetings. Hey, there’s no rule that says one must grow up as one grows older. At any rate, if this is karmic payback and I will now have to work off a lifetime of flatulence jokes, the immediate future is bleak, because right now I estimate I’ve only paid my debt for jokes uttered through about my senior year of high school.
And then there’s this thought: I have told worse jokes than those. I’m trying not to think about the karmic implications of that.
But this can’t be karma, right? I mean, who believes in that stuff? This has to be just the pharmaceutical industry underplaying product advisories, the idea being that if you put a dry legalistic product warning on the label, you’ve done your duty and have no obligation to paint the situation in dire or colorful terms. But since the word “gas” doesn’t begin to describe what I went through, I decided to dig deeper.
Care to guess what I found? Under certain conditions Lactulose can cause you to explode. And no, I do not mean that figuratively. I mean blow up—as in what happened to Krakatoa, the planet Krypton, and Justin Bieber’s career. Oh, the humanity. If you think I’m making it up, check it out for yourself.
Now, I don’t really and truly think something like that could happen to me. But just to be safe, I’ve turned out all the pilot lights in the house, and am wearing only rubber-soled shoes. And by the way, if you’re thinking about dropping by for a visit—be advised the treatments will last another month.
Chemotherapy began yesterday. I can't wait to see what that will do to me. Meanwhile, the program of laxatives will continue.
So, T.S. Eliot, you can take it, insert it, and twist it. No one will be able to say I didn’t go out with a bang.
Or a boom, as the case may be.
Find my complete medical adventures here.
© 2015 by Forrest Carr. All rights reserved.