There’s a place where flatulence is funny

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mama always told me to be very discreet when it came to passing gas.

Ridding oneself of excessive gas is something that we humans must endure. It’s a simple fact of life, one that some of us can handle better than others.

What if I told you there was a place where passing gas is not only accepted, but encouraged. Yes, they wholeheartedly want you to engage in the act of flatulence. Apparently, they simply adore the sound of someone breaking wind.

There is such a place. As a matter of fact, it’s located just off Arlington Blvd. in Greenville.

There, located in the back right corner of a sprawling medical complex known as Physicians East is the office of Quadrangle Medical Specialists. I had an appointment last Thursday morning with Dr. Charles H. Barrier who specializes in Gastroenterology.

Let me go back in time just a bit to explain why I, as a man with a sound mind, chose to have Dr. Barrier explore the inner workings of my body.

Twelve years ago my wife, Deborah, was diagnosed with cancer. It was through the grace of God, the skillful hands of Dr. Quershi and her willingness to immediately address the situation that she is alive and well today.

Over the years since her surgery, Deborah has stuck to her doctor’s orders to have a colonoscopy performed on a routine basis. Thank goodness…she has been cancer-free over the past 12 years.

For those of you who are regular readers of this column, you will remember that my mom passed away last year from colon cancer. She never appeared sick a day in her life, but yet when the symptoms did appear, she was gone three months later.

Ever since mom died, Deborah has begged me to have a colonoscopy. Feeling healthy, I politely ignored her requests.

Earlier this year while visiting Dr. Powell at Ahoskie Primary Care, he suggested that I undergo the procedure as a precautionary measure. His suggestion was based on my mom’s cancer.

So I finally gave in and made an appointment. As a matter of fact, Deborah and I had appointments with Dr. Barrier the same day. She has been seeing him for years and always bragged on what a good doctor he was.

She, of course, was right.

I’ve never been a big fan of going to a doctor’s office. It’s perhaps the mystery of the unknown that always seemed to bother me.

But there was something different with Dr. Barrier. I guess it was listening to Deborah sing his praises that made me feel more at ease around him.

He displayed the best bedside manner any doctor can show to a man. He broke the ice talking about football. In particular, he made reference to my God-given name (Calvin Bryant) and that of former UNC football standout Kelvin Bryant.

He asked if I was ready for the procedure n a minimally invasive endoscopic examination of the large colon and the distal part of the small bowel with a fiber optic camera on a flexible tube. I inquired if he was going to administer any type of drug to help me relax. At that precise moment, the nurse appeared to begin fidgeting with the IV placed in my arm.

I woke-up sometime later in the recovery room. I remember nothing about the procedure and experienced no pain at all. I do recall the nurses n along with my wife, who had already recovered from her procedure, and Theressa Joyner, our next-door neighbor and best friend who drove us to and from Greenville n pleading with me to pass gas.

I obliged their requests while adding a few jokes about the situation. I don’t recall a lot of what I said due to still feeling the effects of the anesthesia.

However, I found it fun to break wind in front of others and not be at all embarrassed by the act. As a matter of fact, it was downright hilarious.

The only bit of apprehension I experienced was the final results. Did I have cancer? If so, was it treatable?

Dr. Barrier discovered no cancer, but he did find and remove six polyps – smooth-coated abnormal growths projecting from a mucous membrane. He said the largest of those growths was perhaps 7-9 years-old. If left attached, polyps can develop into cancer.

The only unpleasant thing I experienced had nothing to do with the actual procedure. I love to eat, but I was prohibited from having any solid food for 32 hours prior to the process. Plus I had to twice consume a sodium phosphate solution in order to “clean out” my system. Drinking that stuff on an empty stomach was not very pleasant.

But the end result was pleasing. I am cancer-free and plan to make routine visits to Dr. Barrier to ensure I stay that way.

I urge any man or woman to do the same. Talk to your family doctor and let them advise you on the best course of action. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The life you save may be your own.