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Rated: 18+ · Essay · Military · #1705436
An Air Force Academy Cadet's perspective on Military Medicine
         A few months into the spring semester at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, intramural athletics begin for all of the cadets who do not participate intercollegiate athletics.  Now, springtime in the Rocky Mountains means something a little different to people who have lived around them than it does to those who haven’t had the pleasure.  It’s not uncommon to have a storm or two with more than three feet of snow drop in an evening—in April.  Temperatures are frigid in the morning, warm to almost bearable in the afternoon, and frigid again the instant the sun dips below the Rampart Range.  It’s almost like some kind of stunted desert or a much gentler surface of the moon.

         So every year at about the same time—late February to early March—the cadets in attendance return to their rooms after classes, don the warmest “uniform” items they can get away with, and slowly trickle down the half mile or so of roads and paths that lead from the academic area to the multi-million dollar outdoor athletic fields.  There will be a few motivated individuals who jog down to get warmed up.  There are a few kids who drive down and risk punishment (it’s supposed to be exercise I suppose).  Some ride their mountain bikes down with red hands and faces and runny noses and eyes, their breath trailing in wisps behind them.  But for the most part it’s a slow walk with lowered heads and sparse conversation, the people pre-occupied with assignments and projects and all of the other things that they could be getting done instead of playing intramurals.  Winter break is a dim memory at this point and spring break seems years away.  We called this time period the Dark Ages—not only because the days were short, but also because of the seemingly endless torture we endured at the hands of the athletic department, the dean of the faculty, the commandant of cadets, and, in my case, the Air Force Academy Hospital.

         It was during the first few weeks into January of my three-degree (sophomore) year that I had first begun to notice that something was not right.  In the bathroom I started noticing something coming out of me that in my mind most certainly shouldn’t have been in the toilet—blood.  It wasn’t too bad at first, just some specks on the toilet paper, so I wrote it off as dry skin or the cheap industrial toilet paper I had been using there for almost two years.  I mentioned this in passing to my best friend and roommate at the time, Rick.  In retrospect this probably wasn’t the best idea, you can probably imagine some of the jokes that were made at my expense at the breakfast table in the morning.  At the Academy, the atmosphere is most definitely steeped in machismo.  The Cadet Wing is about 94% male, and those males are for all intents and purposes locked up for four years.  All that confined testosterone makes for a pretty raunchy, locker room type setting.  I took it in good humor though, I wasn’t really that concerned; I had aerodynamics and biology and English and any number of other preoccupations that seemed much more pressing.

         Soon though, things started to get a little out of hand.  Instead of little specks of blood, there were smears.  Eventually those smears developed into drips and soon I could see the blood flowing out of me.  I started thinking the worse, that I had some kind of cancer or disease or that the cadet urban legend named the “Ether Bunny”—a monster who drugged cadets in their sleep and then had his way with them—was not as fictitious as I had hoped.

         “I dunno fatty, I think I’m dying or something,” I told Rick one day on the way down to intramurals.

         “Don’t worry about it man, it’s just the shit they feed us here,” he grunted back at me, pissed off at intramurals again.

         “Yeah, but I’m serious, it’s like Freddy Kruger in the toilet or something man, it’s a massacre in there.”  I replied.  “I think I’m going to the clinic to get checked out.”

         “It’s your ass dude,” He said, “I wouldn’t go down there for that in a million years, they’d do all kinds of fucked up shit to you.”

         It’s a commonly held belief at USAFA that the Cadet Clinic and the USAFA hospital is just a cover for a society of mad scientists who practice their evil techniques on helpless cadets who have no other place to go for their medical problems.  There are all sorts of horror stories about surgeries and procedures gone badly. Athletes go in for knee surgery and get the wrong knee cut.  Cadets returning from spring break in Mazatlan or Cancun who go to the doctor concerned about VD stumble back up to the cadet area bow-legged and with glassy far away looks in their eyes.  Those reading this are shuddering even now with the memory.  I didn’t know if it was possible for a doctor to operate on the wrong ass or not, but I was getting nervous enough about my condition to risk it.  With my luck though, I’d actually come out of there with two asses.

         So in between classes and inspections and parades and training time, I found a few seconds to call the clinic and ask for an appointment.

“Yes, I need to make an appointment to see a…doctor.” I said to the Staff Sergeant at the front desk.  I was pretty sure there were no proctology specialists at the clinic, a satellite facility in the cadet area that serves mainly cadets and training personnel.  I had hoped to get a quick referral to the hospital itself, which handles the entire base.

         “Sure,” he said, “I just need some information.  What seems to be the problem?”

         Great, I thought, I get to tell this guy all about my ass too.  I had hoped to keep this information confined to the smallest circle of people possible.

         “I’m having some…blood in my stool.”  I replied, trying to sound as much like Bob Dole explaining erectile disfunction as I could. 

         There was a pause, then “Ah, sure.  Ok.”  There was the clack clack of typing, then “Ok, Tuesday at zero seven thirty,” he said.  “This is a mandatory appointment, you need to call if you can’t make it.”  He rattled off.  Even the medical staff had the right to treat cadets like inmates. 

         “Ok, thanks,” I said, then hung up.

         It had all taken less than a minute, but felt like I had just been condemned to death.  I suppose I still could have bailed but at that point, but I really was worried.  I had started having bad dreams about weird shit coming out of me like in Aliens or something.  We got precious little sleep as it was.  So I resolved to go down and get it over with, I mean, Air Force Doctors or not, they were all health care professionals and I was sure they all had to take the same kind of oaths or something.  Two asses or not, I needed to get some sleep.

         Free time to a cadet is better than gold.  If we weren’t in class or on the athletic fields, we were in military training or studying. Cadets don’t usually make their own schedule.  Some changes can be made, but generally you were stuck with what you got based on the classes you had to take. So if a cadet could arrange a class schedule that allowed for a free period in the morning, it was a very pleasant surprise.  That was 50 more minutes of sleep, cramming for tests, working out at the gym, or finishing papers due the next period.

         Needless to say I was usually pissed off when I had to schedule extra activities during my free periods.  During this particular semester I had a free period right after breakfast, which was great—I could get back from breakfast and sleep a little more before class started.  Or better yet, sleep through breakfast (which could get you busted).  Of course, everyone has a copy of your schedule it seems like, and they never schedule your appointments during a sadistic engineering class or philosophy.  Nope they schedule it right during that golden free time.

         Tuesday morning at 0730 I stomped into the clinic with my normal facial scowl.  I was a grouchy bastard just about every day while I was there.  Getting no sleep and being constantly jerked around did that to me.  Anyway, I walked up to the desk and told the enlisted guy there that I was there for my appointment.

         “Didn’t you get your records yet?” He said with an exasperated whine in his voice like everyone knows that they’re supposed to get their records before they come to the desk.

         “No,” I said looking over at the other line I’d have to wait in to check out my medical record before I could check in for my appointment. 

         “Grab them and get back in line here,” he dismissed me like I was a conscript.  Enlisted guys at the academy love playing fucked up mind games with cadets because there isn’t a goddamn thing they can do about it; it’s like they can get back at all the shithead officers they ever served with and suffer no repercussions.  Yes, I was a grouchy bastard.

         “Fine,” I growled and walked over to the records section. 

         There was a young female A1C sitting at a table in the records room in full view of the window I stood at.  I waited for a few moments getting more irritated by the second, then finally cleared my throat with a noise that I hoped sounded much more like a growl. 

         She looked up and said, “Oh, I didn’t see you there, you should have rung the bell.”  I had been standing close enough for her to hear me breathing.  I looked at her hard and squashed the “ring bell for service” bell with the palm of my hand without saying a word.

         After I had procured my records and waited in line again for the front desk, I shoved the folder of paperwork at the desk sergeant.  He looked down at his watch and said “you know that you’re supposed to be here 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.”  I had been standing there five minutes ago—15 minutes before my appointment time.  I wanted to break his nose. 

         “Can the doctor still see me?”  I asked trying very hard to remain calm. 

         “Yes, just have a seat and he’ll call you back.”

         I sat down in the waiting area next to the reception desk and watched 15 minutes of the health network on the television mounted on the wall.  The same middle-aged woman with a Vaseline smile kept droning on about blood pressure and exercise.  The med tech came out with a steel clipboard on his arm and said, “Cadet Stephens?” I just stood up without saying anything and followed him back to the pre-exam room.

         “So what seems to be the problem?” he asked me as he pulled up my sleeve and fastened the blood pressure cuff to my arm.

         Christ, I thought, I might as well just take out an ad or something

         “Well, I’ve been having blood in my stool lately.”  I said. 

         There was a kind of silence like when someone says they’re gay for the first time.  I was sure that this was what this guy had thought I had just said.  Actually he was pretty bored, probably just thought I was another cadet trying to get out of marching practice or something—he didn’t care as much as I did at any rate.  After he had my blood pressure, he scrawled some notes on the form and asked me to follow him to the exam room where I sat up on the table.  The paper cover crinkled underneath me as he slipped my chart in the cubby outside the door and said, “I’ll let the doctor know you’re here,” and then closed the door.

         I waited a few minutes glancing at the medical reference posters on the wall and wondering if they published a Disorders of the Ass poster for proctologists to post in their offices.  I noticed the box of latex gloves on the desk along with the usual medical accoutrements.  I shuddered a little.  Maybe he’ll just interview me and then give me a prescription, I thought.  I think I pretty much knew what was in store for me though.

         “How are we doing today,” the doctor said as he slipped in.  His tone was cold and the words kind of melted out of his mouth without disturbing his lips a whole lot.  I could tell he would probably much rather be doing just about any other kind of exam right then.

         “I’ve been better,” I said, and proceeded to explain my condition in all its ghastly detail.  His face was a mask; he was good at the doctor/robot thing.

         “Ok,” he said, “I’m going to need to take a look, take your pants down.” 

         The time it took for him to reach out and pull two rubber gloves from the box was slowed like some cheesy action flick.  Right then I knew I wouldn’t be walking out of that office the same Cadet I had been when I went in.  What I didn’t know was that this exam would be the first in a gradually worsening string.

         A week or so went by after that first clinic visit.  Even though it did include the whole “I hope I scrubbed up good this morning” exam, it had just been a prelim.  The doctor actually told me he didn’t think anything was wrong, but that he would refer me to the hospital and the proctologist just in case.  So now after a week of concocting all sorts of terrible scenarios in my mind about what the base proctologist would be doing to me instead of concentrating on studying (actually…I never really did that anyway) I hitched a ride up the hill to the USAFA hospital.

         I walked in through the double glass doors and made my way to the elevator, a pretty nurse stepped in with me and eyed the keypad. 

         “Three,” she said, and I thought I could hear her thoughts.

         Six, that’s proctology—that poor bastard.

         She got off at her floor and I watched her leave as the doors shut.  The elevator traveled the next two floors without stopping and halted at six. 

         I wandered around a little aimlessly until I found the right room to check into.  The nurse took my information and asked me to wait outside until the Doctor called me in.  Now here I was, 15 minutes early, on time according to military medical standards, and I sat in the waiting room for 40 minutes waiting for my appointment.  This still pisses me off to no end.  I hate being early for an appointment and then waiting for somebody to decide that they’ve made me wait long enough past my scheduled time to get off their ass to see to me.

         The doctor called me in and I stepped into his office.  Sitting in the two chairs next to me there were two young men in air force uniforms with no rank.  The doctor, a large balding full bird Colonel, asked me to take a seat. 

         “I hear you’ve been having some problems lately, can you describe them for us,” the doctor asked after I had sat down.

         “Oh, before you begin, this is Doctor Williams and Doctor Jacobs, they are performing their residences here, and they’ll be assisting with the diagnosis,” Col Butt explained.  As he finished the sentence, I had just grabbed the second guy’s hand.  When I realized that the two were budding proctologists, I flinched and thought, I’m a fucking lab rat.  I dropped the guy’s hand and didn’t shake the first’s. 

         I sat back down and all three looked at me.  I took a deep breath, and closed my eyes.

         “Well, recently I’ve noticed some blood in my stool,” I began.

         “Ok,” Dr. Butt interrupted, and then turned to the two ass-students.  “What are some questions we need to ask?” 

         “Well,” Williams began “we need to determine oxygen content of the blood,” he said. 

         “Right,” Doctor Butt concurred. “How do we do that Doctor Jacobs?” He said turning his attention to the other stooge. 

         “Color,” He replied a little cautiously, looking up at the ceiling for his crib notes.  “Bright red indicates lower colon irritation, darker red is an indication of more problematic upper intestinal bleeding.”

         “Correct,” Dr. Butt said.

         I’m right fucking here you goddamned morticians, I screamed in my head.

         The interrogation went on like that for a while, and then the doctor looked at me and said, “Well cadet, I’m going to have to examine you, and to do that I’m going to need to put my finger in your bottom.”

         I looked at him and suddenly saw a big goddamn Muppet trying to explain how to count to five to a toddler.  No shit, Count Dookula, I thought.  “Ok sir,” is what I said, grinding my teeth.

         “Doctors, if you’ll get the scope table ready we’ll move to the exam room.”

         Scope, I thought, you said “finger” pal.  I had a vision of the Hubble Telescope backing into me with its hazard horn beeping.

         I went into the exam room and disrobed, putting on a ridiculous ass-open gown.  Then they had me bend over this table with knee rests that poised my naked ass at scoping level. 

         “Raise the ass to periscope depth.” 

         “Aye aye Cap’n.”

         As I lay there, face down, I caught glimpses of terrible instruments of torture arrayed in cases and on metal, cloth-draped trays.  Dr. Williams picked up one such instrument, a metal dildo-looking thing, and held it in his latex-gloved and said, “This is so it won’t be so cold.”  Like he was doing me a big fucking favor by warming up the ass probe for me before they inserted it.  Oh, that’ll be much more comfortable.

         Now, I’ve had conversations with women about what transpires during an OBGYN exam, and I’m convinced that what transpired in that room that day was nothing less than a vaginal exam on my ass.  I didn’t really see much of what went down, but I could sure feel it.

         They put the steel thing in there, but imagine if you will that at the very tip of this stainless monstrosity there is a small hole.  And through this small hole a wire-bristled pipe cleaner with a camera or a magnifying glass or something on the tip is fished through from the opposite end of the device.  Now, the only way to see anything good is to actually use the wire pipe cleaner to scrape along on the inside of the colon for about a half hour.  I imagined Dr. Butt with a monocle to his eye tethered to the metal banana in my ass, and the other two guys watching intently for technique tips.  It was goddamned torture.  I empathize with women now, and it sucks.

         Well after that ordeal, the Doc had me get dressed and then took me back to his office.  He explained to me that while he couldn’t see anything during the scope that indicated anything serious was wrong, he wanted me to undergo another test in radiology, a barium enema.  He wrote me a prescription and explained that it would be a bottle of liquid and three small pills.  The night before my appointment, I was to drink the entire bottle and take the pills, and then not eat anything until after the exam the next day.  I took the prescription and left the office walking like I had been riding a horse for a week.  I went down to the pharmacy and presented the paper to the young man in white. 

         “Ooh,” he said with raised eyebrows and turned to the shelf.  I waited a minute or so for him to come back.  He returned to the counter and said, “Ok, take all of these the night before your appointment and don’t eat anything at all until you see radiology the next day.”  I acknowledged with one of my grunts.  “Drink a lot of water.  And, oh, this is important--try to stay close to a restroom right after you take this stuff too.”

         I don’t know how long it was between that appointment and the next, only a few days I’m sure.  I know I spent the entire time imagining giant radioactive particle guns pointing nasty little alpha waves or whatever right up my asshole.  Shit, that would have been fantastic compared to what I had in store.  If I would have known I would have just skipped the damned appointment and taken the good cadet grounding for it. 

         The night before the appointment I hadn’t eaten all day.  I don’t think I’m hypoglycemic or anything, but like I said, I was a grouchy bastard as it was, and not eating all day long wasn’t helping.  I stomped into my room at around eight after a study session with a bunch of type-A personality douche bags and sat down in my chair at my desk/bed (cadet bunk bed with a desk underneath).  I realized that something was different.  There was no video game in progress, no music blaring, and my roommate wasn’t passed out on the bed asleep already. 

         “So,” he said as he sat in his chair looking at me.

         “So what?” I shot back.

         “Are you going to take that stuff?” He said, pointing to the bottle of liquid and the pills that the doctor had prescribed to me sitting on my desk.  I noticed he looked a little like a kid waiting for the next present on Christmas morning with that sublime anticipation twinkling in his eye. 

“Yep, I probably should,” I said, filling up my water bottle and pushing the little pills through their foil backing. 

         Tiny little goddamned things, I thought, how is this going to give me the shits? I put them in my mouth and unscrewed the bottle of liquid.  I could barely taste the sugary coating on the pill before I took a big swig of the green juice, which ended up tasting like seltzer water with lemon added and chalk stirred in.  It was disgusting.

         I noticed Rick looking at me hopefully.  “I’m not going to shoot shit out of my nose right away or anything,” I told him, and he grinned at me.  I sat down and took some books out to study.  Normally I didn’t study at all, but I wanted to do something that would help me ignore him looking at me like a vulture. 

         30-45 minutes expired, the amount of time the bottle told me I should expect full results.  Nothing.  I looked at Rick and said “I don’t think this stuff is working man.” 

         “Don’t worry, It’ll work,” he said with a grin.

         5 minutes later, I ran from the room.  This wasn’t the kind of nasty chili and tequila runs you sometimes get where you politely excuse yourself from the table and walk to the bathroom calmly before making a mess.  This was the most intense diarrhea in the universe and it demanded immediate satisfaction.  I ran to the bathroom and barely managed to get my shorts down before the water works started. 

         What I had in there at first I have no idea, I hadn’t eaten anything all day so it must have been reserves or something.  After that first batch though, the water I drank from my sports bottle pretty much just ran straight through me.  It was like sitting on the toilet and turning on the ass faucet.  I thought morbidly about what they actually did put in those bottles of natural spring water. 

         I shat and shat, ran and shat, and shat some more for about an hour and a half that night.  I am never going to that fucking clinic again I swore to myself.  Towards the tail end of the whole process, I had one last torrential purge.  I’m sure I moaned something unintelligible in my misery and I just wanted to go to bed.  I heard a snicker in the stall next to me and then somebody just exploding with laughter for the hilarity of it all.  I hadn’t heard Rick sneak in behind me on this last jog to the shitter.

         The morning was slow.  I still had to stand in morning formation and go to breakfast, even though the clinic told me I couldn’t eat.  Everyone at the table knew I had another butt appointment and they all just kind of looked at me all the way through the meal.  I left after dismissal (yup just like in pre-school), and went to find my ride to the hospital.  Guy didn’t say a word, I kind of felt like I was going off to The Nam or something. 

I walked back towards radiology, or where I thought it was.  I got a bit turned around and had to ask a passing med tech where to go.  “Hey can you tell me where radiology is?”  I asked.

         “Well,” he said, “Depends on what you need, it’s split up a bit.”  He said with a genuine interest and a keen desire to help me out shining in his eyes.  This is rare in the world of Air Force customer service and I was a little surpised.

         “Uh, I’m having a B.E done,” I said, trying to sound professional and aloof.

         His eyes widened and I could see his mouth go dry.  He dropped his gaze to the floor and pointed down the hall.  “Ooh…uhm, head straight back that way and take a left.  You’ll find them at the end of that wing.”

         I looked up to see where he was pointing, and when I looked back he was gone, scurrying through the lobby with his head down.  I shook my head, this was not sounding good.  I had the idea in my head that nothing could be worse than The Scope, and now the frightening notion that I was heading down a more painful path was pushing in on my psyche, threatening to burst the little bubble I had created for myself.  I should have known when they pulled that fucking I-beam out of me on the scoping table that this shit just gets progressively worse. 

         I made it to the radiology reception desk, and the receptionist was on the phone.  Two young doctors were standing there chatting and looked at me while I waited for her to finish.  I don’t know why they needed to make conversation.

         “What’re you in for,”  One of the docs asked casually.

         None of your business you asshole.  “Uhm, got a B.E. scheduled for this morning sir.”

         “Ooh…uhm, well, good luck with that,”  He said, and he and his friend slipped out of the reception area.  I was starting to feel like a leper or something.  A black cloud drifted over the lights and I really started to feel a little queasy. 

         The receptionist got off the phone and I walked up to the counter.  “What can I help you with,” she asked.

         “Cadet Stephens Ma’am,” I replied.  I wasn’t about to say B.E. again. “I have an 11 o’clock.” 

         “Ok, just a moment.”  She looked at the computer screen and clacked away for a second.  “Things are so slow…” She murmured, and I smiled to be polite. 

         She stopped typing and said “Ooh” under her breath, but by now I was tuned in for the “Ooh” and I heard it like it had been thundered down from the heavens.  She looked up at me with sincere pity in her eyes and asked me to sit down.  A tech would be out shortly to get me.

A pretty Senior Airman came out in medical whites holding a gown in her hand, she looked a little uncomfortable, but not terrorized like everyone else.  She called my name and I followed her down the hall.  She showed me the room where the procedure would be done, then led me to a changing room.  I disrobed, put on the ass happy gown again and come back out.

         The tech was waiting for me in the hall with a sympathetic smile, she really was pretty and I found myself wondering how much of my anatomy she'd be privy to in the next hour or so.

         "We'll head down to the exam room now."  She said.  "Oh, and this is the restroom here," she added as we passed the bathrooms, "You'll need to remember where this is for after we're done." 

         So now I started wondering two things, the first being what in the hell they were going to be doing to me that would require the bathroom post-op, and the second being what in the hell were they going to be doing to me that could possible induce me to forget where the hell the bathroom was.  I started to  go a little numb.

         The tech led me into a small boxy radiation exam room with the shielded wall on on side, an Arthur C. Clark looking x-ray arm apparatus hanging from the ceiling and an enormous stainless steel rectangle standing vertically from the center of the floor.  I stopped and stared at the rectangle and thought the myself what the hell?  Turned out it was the table they'd be doing the exam on.  The tech led me up to it and asked me to stand on a small ledge jutting from the bottom of the table.  I did and once she was satisfied I was centered on the thing, she gently pressed her hand to my chest and reached down to a control panel and pressed a button.  The table started whirring like a butcher's saw or something and it slowly reclined me to the horizontal position.

         I thought to myself that this was the most dramatic scare tactic ever conceived.  I mean why not just ask me to come in and lay down on a goddamned table.  No, come in and we'll put you on this multimillion dollar lowering thingy and make you feel like you're being lowered into your grave plot.  My heart started racing a little and my mouth went really dry.  This was starting to look like a major procedure and not just some easy pictures like Col Ass Commander had led me to believe. 

         Now I honestly can't tell you if the drop dead georgous lab tech actually did the next prep step or not.  I tell myself she did, because it makes for a better story, but it's entirely possible they had a male come in and do it for propriety's sake.  The Air Force is pretty big on propriety most times.  Either way, what came next was invasive.

         The girl (or new guy as the case may be) held up what looked like a dentists' suction tube, you know, the one he puts in there while he's drilling and says "close" to suck all the spit out of his way.  This little tube was straight though, and had what looked like a deflated latex balloon on the tip of it.  The tech explained the procedure to me. 

         "Basically, we put this tube in and inflate the balloon, then pump a bunch of fluid with barium in it inside you.  Then we take pictures with the machine and the barium highlights any irregularities,"  The tech explained.  "Once we're done, we'll remove the wand and you'll have to clamp down, you'll have a lot of fluid inside you and you'll have to run to the restroom and take care of it."

         Ah, ok, remember the movie The Right Stuff?  The scene where the astronauts were  hobbling down the hallway in the ass gowns much like what I was wearing at the time?  That's the scene that flashed into my mind then and I thought a little taste of the space program.  This all sounded to me like something you'd do to someone only if you were convinced they were dying or getting ready to erupt or something.  The procedure itself was nasty but I started to wonder if what was wrong with me really was worse.

         Then the tech inserted the probe, and I was pretty much convinced that not much could be worse that what they were doing to me then and there.  With no real warning or anything, my gown was lifted and the wand was brandished, lubed and warmed for my comfort I'm sure, and in it went.  The tech pulled off latex gloves, washed his/her hands a little too vigorously for my pride, and said "the doctors will be in soon, try to relax a little."  Stainless steel mortuary table, naked ass on said steel, rubber balloon wand tickling my pancreas from the inside...relax? Fuck.

         So I waited for a while, time seems to slow down when you have appliances with so much negative potential energy protruding from your orifices.  It could have be 5 minutes or it could have been an hour.  The doctor finally came in, and everything went pretty much the way the tech had explained.  He inflated the balloon, shot me full of white barium juice, and I got to watch my insides light up and move around on the monitor.  I could see my intestines and stomach floating around in there, and a real sense of my own mortality sort of came to me.  I was 19 years old and had the perspective on life of a 19 year old.  Everything was external and I had a misguided sense of the permanence of life, a faux immortality.  This was almost like having someone remove your guts and splay them out on the table for you to examine.  Very sobering.

         The exam finished up and the doctor told me that the initial look didn't show anything abnormal, but that he would forward the results to Colonel Butt who would follow up with me in a week or so.  Then he left and the tech came back in to describe how the extraction would happen.  He/she was going to remove the baloon stick and I'd have to immediately clench up down there to prevent an eruption of Mt. St. Helens proportions.  They'd raise the platform again and then I'd have to hobble my puckered butt down to the restroom and "evacuate" the barrium.  The distance to that bathroom suddenly doubled in my mind as I worked out the logistics.  He asked me if I was ready and without really waiting for an answer the Doctor Evil exam table contraption started whirring and raising back up to its apex.  It clicked into place and the tech grabbed my tether and started counting.  At "three" he/she pulled out the wand and I clenched up like a penitentiary prisoner in his first incarcerated shower.  I then proceeded to grunt and hobble like a two-legged crab down the hall to the restroom.  I worked so hard to keep that junk from spewing all over the hospital walls that sweat started to bead down my forehead and neck.  I reached the little room with something like a whoop of triumph and then blessed the open ass gown with a religious sincerity I was certainly not known for.  What followed was so gassy, splashy, comic and lengthy that I was even laughing-partly from the pure joy of actually finally being done with this idiotic procedure, but mostly because the whole evacuation process was funny as hell.

         Col Butt called me in about a week later and I did the standard 15 minutes early wait for an hour routine in the lobby.  Things had actually gotten a little better.  I'd discovered the joys of a high fiber diet and my plumbing was working like a clock.  I hadn't been noticing the blood either, which was a relief.

         The doctor came out to greet me and brought me into his office.  As we sat he cleared his throat and it made me a little nervous listening to the phlegm rattle around in is jowls.  As he settled in his seat though, he let a little chuckle slip like he was thinking of something outrageously funny that sort of took over for a second.  He came back to himself and looked at me with what I thought was a sheepish butt doctor grin.

"Well cadet," he started, shuffling some papers from one spot on the desk to another, "it looks like everything checks out just fine."  I could feel something start smoldering behind my eyes.  "Turns out it was what I initially suspected, you just had a small external hemorrhoid.  Very benign, nothing to worry about. Dietary probably, the dining facility does it's best, but sometimes it's a little much for the digestive tract.  I take it the higher fiber foods are helping?  That's all you really needed at the outset" 

         The smoldering part behind my eyes started burning.  I nodded my head a little and clenched my teeth to keep from being insubordinate.  While he talked it was like when Charlie Brown talks to his teacher "WHA  WHA WHA WHA just a small hemmorrhoid WHA WHA WHA very benign WHA WHA WHA fiber all you really needed."  I had gone through a back-ended radioactive pressure wash and it hadn't really been necessary.  And Col Butt hadn't thought it was really necessary since the first time he scoped me out. 

         I ticked off all of the terrible things that had been done to me since I started this moronic adventure, having post traumatic flashes of the scope, the cleansing routine the pretty butt nurses, the radioactive balloon wand, and so on.  Without saying a word, I got up, turned around and left.  I probably should have saluted or asked to be dismissed.  But this guy wasn't really a Colonel, he was an underpaid proctologist hiding in the Air Force to keep from getting sued for malpractice for doing the kind of shit he had just put me through.  I could feel him blinking at me as I left.

My buddy Rick just shook his head at me when I told him about my results. 

         "I told you man, you're a dumb ass for going there in the first place."  He grinned "At least I have a badass story to tell everyone now."

         That's ok, I have plenty of stories to tell about him too.  But another time maybe...





                   
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