Inside Out


For reasons of health and age I get scanned ad nauseam. Literally, since it often involves drinking a disgusting chalk "smoothie" and getting shot up with a vomit inducing substance. In the end I wind up finding out what's in there and how it's doing. And realizing that our opaque skin is a kindness.

Do I really want to know about a "small hiatal hernia", even if it's "stable." Or a liver cyst that is also stable and supposedly harmless. Never mind the sundry manifestations of arthritis I don't need to be scanned to feel them when I move. And those are the good things. The bad ones read worse.

As a child I was fascinated by the anatomy charts in a big book my parents had. The transparencies created a clinical strip tease that went down to the bone. Of course, I was most fascinated with the reproductive system. But it was all terrific. How cool it would be to have either Superman's X-Ray vision or a see-through body that would allow me to penetrate my transparencies and see what was going on inside.

Well, now I know and am not so sure I want to know, at least in that much detail. For along with that curiosity, as soon as I studied physiology I discovered what delicate equilibrium my body needed to sustain life. So many things could go wrong! Like the ones in my scan report -- mercifully, nothing tragically wrong, at least not yet, though I can foresee the not so distant future day when the transparencies will begin to shred.

For the moment, though, some of it is cool. Prints of X-Rays showed me my skeleton. Instead of being frightened by an image culture has designated a harbinger of death, I was enthralled. That's a fine looking skeleton, I thought. Because the X-ray showed the outline of my body, the image made me look rather well endowed. No point pretending I am. It was an optical illusion of sorts, not unlike the time I went to the year-end sale of a trendy men's shop and tried on an Armani tuxedo jacket, seeing in the mirror the gently muscled shape of a Renaissance merchant prince. Tailoring did the trick, for when I slipped it off, the mirror returned my undefined slouchy self.

My skeletal pride was somewhat deflated when my doctor said it was fine, other than the erosion of my advancing years. What? I thought that was a downright jacked skeleton. Oh well.

I owe a lot to medical science. My life, for one. But there's a bit too much information for a non-medical mind to process. Still, I must soldier on. Lie down time and again to enter the scanning tubes (Once more unto the breach, dear friends!), drink the chalk smoothies, get shot up with essence of nausea. Read the report of what my fragile organs and crumbling bones are up to. Renew my optimism with my doctor's plans for my longevity.

And let that sexy skeleton rock on.