You can get into big trouble trying to diagnose your own ailments on the computer. As tempting as it is, there is no substitute for a medical degree, a cold stethoscope and a scale that adds 10 lbs. However, one night recently, I turned to the dark-side and read up on the residual pain from my gall bladder surgery. Of all the crazy things it could be, the one I settled in on was: A plugged, spasming bile sphincter.
Oddly, this diagnosis soothed me and I went to sleep.
Later, the next day, I attended a water aerobics class for the first time in many months. The two male lifeguards who were on duty that night I knew from years past. One was a college kid; another man was nearly my age. They asked how I was doing.
“Much better, but I had some complications after my surgery.” I said. I should have said, “Fine”, but I felt compelled to give more details. It’s what old people do.
“Oh? What kind of complications?”
This was an unexpected question. Men in wet shorts were curious about my health! In my mind, I was waving my hands around like the Robot on “Lost in Space” repeating, “this does not compute.” A combination of odd flattery and anxiety clouded my cerebral cortex. I was standing in the water, they were both on deck. This is what I actually said:
To which both men said in unison:
Two male acquaintances are now under the mistaken impression I was complaining about my asshole.
“Oh, no, not that kind of sphincter…” I sputtered out, but it was way too late for any kind of recovery. I have never spoken the word “sphincter” before in my ENTIRE life. And now, it was clear I couldn’t stop saying it.
“I wasn’t talking about “THAT” sphincter.” I called to them as they coiled up the swim lanes, their eyes open wide, eyebrows raised. “I was talking about a spasming sphincter.”
“You do realize you have more than one sphincter, right?” I called to them, this time plowing through the water to get closer to them. By the time I got near them again, class had started, and the lifeguard shift changed……and so had my social life at the Y.