Have I told you how all this started? (Yeah, I know I have. I do go on. So I’ll be brief when I tell you again.) The first time I saw my general doc after turning fifty, she told me she had a birthday present for me. That turned out to be a colonoscopy. Though I generally prefer chocolate or books, the colonoscopy was one of my best gifts ever because it saved my life.
Before I knew that, of course, I did not like the idea of having a colonoscopy. In fact, I didn’t even want to talk about it. So, conforming to Murphy’s law, I was on the phone at work discussing the procedure with a nurse when a person I had never met came into the silent archives reading room and stood quite near looking at me and waiting for me to finish the call. While I was tempted to throw the phone any distance directly away from me, I went ahead with the full conversation. At times in our lives, there is just no hiding your colon’s needs.
If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, if you’re dreading the thing yourself, I will herewith share my experience.
I had to go without eating any solid food the whole day before. This seemed like an ominous challenge. I’ve never fasted before and wondered just how intense my hunger would grow. As it turned out, I did not find myself driven to distraction by overwhelming cravings. I was hungry in the morning. I really wanted some french fries. But you can fill your stomach with liquids like jello and chicken broth and by afternoon my peckishness was hardly bothering me.
Then I started with the laxatives.
At five o’clock I took a couple Dulcolax. And nothing happened. At seven o’clock, you step it up. In fact, it gets a little silly. At seven I commenced drinking Gatorade laced with Miralax. You drink eight ounces every fifteen minutes until you’ve had eight of those. Horror stories I’d heard from others had me convinced that this part would be like a water-boarding. So I was nearly shocked to discover how easy it is to quaff a cup of liquid. I mean, heck, have you ever seen a Gatorade commercial? Those folks could make drinking one cup look like sipping an espresso. To be completely honest, I did start to feel a little queasy by the end of the drinking part but that pretty much went away.
Somewhere in the middle of the Gator-boarding, I felt the urge to remove to the W.C. Then a miracle happened (I guess that’s why they call it Miralax). Where I had worried about feeling dragged out and sore like you do when you have diarrhea, instead everything in my guts suddenly and magically turned to water. This makes for a gentle, painless purge. By lights out time I was empty and able to sleep.
All that was left was the colonoscopy itself the next day. And all I have to say about that is ‘pshht’. (Does that translate?) It takes about fifteen minutes and you don’t feel a thing because you get a lovely little hit of forget-everything juice. As you come off this stuff, your memory struggles to recover and you do things like repeating yourself without realizing it and having conversations with people who five minutes later you swear were never in your room.
Since I knew this was coming, I decided to prepare. I focused on a line from a funny video that mocks television shows that are mostly a continual recap of what happened in the last episode. This is the video:
I wanted the first thing I said as I became conscious to be, “I’m looking for a gift for my aunt.” The brain is a fascinating thing. After the colonoscopy, I delivered my line so brilliantly, I had everyone in the room (including John who is very familiar with the video) convinced that I needed to do some immediate gift shopping. Then, of course, I repeated the performance without realizing it.
And that, my friends, is all there is to a colonoscopy. So you know what I am going to say next – have one when they tell you to.
An article appeared on the NPR website last week claiming that the number of people getting colon cancer is declining – but, But, BUT, only among those getting screened. You get screened, you don’t get cancer – see? And yes, I linked to that article mainly because it has a picture of a giant, inflatable, colon that you can walk through. Well, you gotta see that, right?
You may be hearing a lot about getting screened right now because March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Just Google it and you will find a wealth of valuable resources, including this absolute gem I am going to leave you with. There is no intro I could write for it that would be worthy.