Experimenting Again

       You would think a certified professional science teacher who taught in the U.S. public education system to the leaders of tomorrow for a gazillion years would be interested in my real-life biometric experiment, but no, she wasn’t. She just rolled her eyes, a movement I’ve not only learned to recognize but even predict.

       It all started when we arrived at the Midland Memorial Hospital at 5:45 am and navigated labyrinthian hallways to the third-floor Endoscopy Department, named apparently because that is where they scope your end. We walked in the waiting room and were greeted by other people we knew, people too healthy to be in the hospital except for this particular age-triggered procedure. Smart humans get their first colonoscopy at age fifty, and then every ten years thereafter. Of course, I stalled for two years and got mine at fifty-two, so here I am, ten years later, doing my family duty.

       Young people who’ve never experienced a colonoscopy flinch when you tell them about it, but the procedure itself is painless and – other than going to the hospital at 6:00 am – trouble free. Experienced colonoscopites know the real discomfort is the foul potion they make you drink the day before.

       The evil brew comes in an almost empty gallon jug with about two inches of powder at the bottom, consisting of polyethylene glycol, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chlorate, and potassium chloride. In effect, salty antifreeze. You mix it with a gallon of water and then drink it one glass every ten minutes. They also include a small package of lemon flavoring, but it’s effect is marginal. I imagine the assembly-line workers laughed as they attached the packets to the jugs.

       I am usually skeptical of products advertised to cleanse organs. Maybe they work, but there isn’t a sure way to know. That isn’t the case with GaviLyte-N colonoscopy potion. It acts on the human body quickly and its effectiveness as a thorough cleaner is obvious.


       My first time for this endoscopic adventure, they let me watch the procedure on a TV screen. It was fascinating to see inside my own insides, and I remember noticing how effectively I’d been cleansed. This time I stared at the screen waiting for the procedure to start and then the nurse said I was finished and it was time to wheel me out. I slept through the whole thing.

       When they first started the poking and sticking and measuring that goes with any hospital procedure the nurse put a cuff on my arm, took my blood pressure, and wrote down his results. Since high blood pressure is one of my risk factors, I measure mine every morning, write it down, and, of course, enter it into Excel so I can plot a graph for my doctor. So this morning, naturally curious, I asked the nurse, “What did you get?”

       “Oh, its normal.”

       That was a completely unsatisfactory answer. Even though he was kind and competent, I knew I could never be best friends with someone who wouldn’t tell me the actual numbers when he had hard data in front of him.

       But later, when they wheeled me into the endoscopy room and attached an EKG, I could see the digital readout. Nice touch, making the real time data visible. I was with my people. My heart rate was lower than usual, 47 bpm, which told me the whole hospital experience hadn’t made me nervous. That’s good to know.

       And then I had an idea, which brings me to the experiment I referred to earlier that Cyndi should have engaged with but didn’t. Since I could see the digital heartrate readout and since I was laying on the bed completely relaxed and since I had nothing else to do until they rolled me over to get started, the game was on. How low could I push my heartrate?

       In fact, I settled it down to 38 bpm, a personal record, before the alarm sounded and the nurses interfered with my game, or rather, experiment.

       Later I tried to tell Cyndi how cool it was that I could change my body metrics by altering behavior, but like I said, she wasn’t interested. It’s a good thing she retired from teaching science so long ago or else I would worry about the quality of future leaders.


(Note: I know the photo has nothing to do with my story, but there is nothing photogenic about a colonoscopy.)



“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32