Sunday, March 25, 2012

All Clear and Quiet on the Western Front (and rear)

(Reprinted from today's Times and News-Star.)

Roughly three hours ago I had a colonoscopy.


At least that is what I’m told. I was, thank goodness, anesthetized.

Sweet. If the guy who invented anesthesia were here right now, I’d pick up the co-pay on his next procedure. He is The Man.

I am writing this love letter of sorts to your colon simply to say that if my colon can do it, your colon can do it. We’re all in this together, so to speak. Statistics reveal colorectal cancer to be the leading nonsmoking-related cancer killer in America. If diagnosed early, the disease is almost always curable.

A preventative measure or screening test is the colonoscopy, which can reveal polyps and other abnormal growths. Most doctors recommend we have one by age 50.

So there you go. The calendar said it was my turn to bat. Granted, regardless of whether you are asleep or awake – being awake during The Procedure is an actual He-Man option – one’s first colonoscopy is, for lack of a better term, an eye-opener. Therefore, this brief play-by-play.

My prelim doctor visit was uneventful. He hit me some grounders, some easy pop flies, scheduled me to come back for the actual game in a week. Candy from a baby.
However, the night before the actual Procedure, that’s a whole different ballgame.
Various colonoscopy veterans of both the male and female variety had told me that the pregame warm-up was by far the most demanding part of the whole deal. No one has ever been more honest with me.

The stuff I drank to kick the cleansing process in gear was called MoviPrep. “Move” is the key sound to be aware of there. It was roughly a quart of white liquid, a bit slick. I drank it at 6 p.m. Sunday evening and another batch of it Monday morning at 4:30ish. By 7:15 when I reported to the doctor’s office, I was hungry and spent, but my colon was clean as a Marine’s Sunday-go-to-meeting belt buckle.

The doctor people were really nice. During the prelim, Becky had taken my insurance information. (The day of The Procedure, you don’t want to walk in there with a lot of stuff to keep up with.) Nurse Gloria took my pulse and stuck the needle in my hand and took my blood pressure.

“It’s a bit high,” she said.

“Just wait ’til I start crying,” I said.

In a cotton gown and on a gurney, about to be invaded by a pencil-thick tube I’ve never even met before, I was surprised it wasn’t a whole lot higher.

Once Mrs. Gloria told me she was a member of First Baptist Farmerville and that her husband’s people came from Swartz and that she’d spent the weekend with her grandbaby, I calmed down a lot. I don’t know why; I just did.

Jeb was my doctor. John gave me the stuff that made me go to sleep. It was like a big party, with me the only person in a gown.

Ten minutes is all it took. They say I was out for 20 or so. Again, that’s been about four hours back; I still have my little band on my wrist that says my birth date and patient number and “Buy One Get One Free.”

I had kept breaking this appointment but was strongly encouraged by some large friends of mine to keep it this time. Or else. Keeping it is what’s key. I’m glad they made me and glad I did. It all turned out well in the end.