Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super Colon Blow

Ah, the joys of middle age and bad genes! 

There are many sign posts on the road of life and as we continue to tick off those forty-something mile markers, many of us begin the ritual of the colonoscopy.  Some of the luckier among us were plagued with gastrointestinal tract problems early in life and thus are introduced to the pleasures of this procedure well before the AARP brochures start arriving in the mail and Discovery Health channel displaces ESPN as our channel surfing Wiamea Bay.

But eventually, if we're smart and closing in on (or pulling away from) fifty, we all should probably be taking the plunge every five to ten years.

It starts with the preparation.  And really, it's this, and not the actual procedure itself, that's at the heart of it all.  You'd think nothing would 'top' having a cold metal scope snaked up your ass flapping in the breeze out of that goofy gown, you lying bent over in the fetal position on a gurney under bright lights surrounded by a group of old ugly doctors and young pretty nurses (or worse, old ugly nurses and pretty young doctors - usually some mix therein).  To be sure, that's a highlight. Hey, baby - you and I should grab a drink sometime.  How about it, sugar?  You think my ass is sweet, you should see the rest of me! Wink, wink. Wince, wince.  But that isn't the main course, at least not for me.

It starts with the preparation, the night before.  You gotta scrub those bowels shiny clean prior to the big event.  You don't get to eat anything .  But you do get to drink.  Primarily, Phospho soda.  Some of the foulest shit you'll ever choke down, like drinking a shaker of liquid salt.  They usually try and 'flavor' this poison with lemon-lime or something similar, making it all the worse.  Once you make it past this hurdle, you'll be spending the rest of the evening tethered to a porcelain throne.
Gather up plenty of reading material, though be sure it's something light because your concentration for weightier material will be wrecked by the freight train roaring through your bowels into the bowl.  And God (and Depends) help you should you stray very far from the john that evening.  Ever eat some wickedly spicy Mexican food or five-alarm hot wings and then have a nasty case of the runs?  That will have given you a taste of the fun in store for you here.

Why lead you through this?  Education, of course.  I'm sure many of you are on the young side of 45 and haven't taken this particular Pepsi challenge yet and I wanted you to be aware of what will soon be a regular part of preventive care for you as you drift into your golden years.  And I wanted to be sure you're going into it with your eyes open.  Of course, I hope for your sake not literally open - ask your doctor about the anesthesia and if he replies with "local" you fire back: "No, no, no - I wanna be in la la land, doc."  I've done it both ways and strongly favor the knock out drops to singing Moon River.  Sometimes there are medical reasons why you need to be awake ("Does it hurt when I do this?  How about this here?"); however, that's not the norm.  But to each his own. 

I went through the procedure this morning and wanted to get this out there while the memories were fresh.  As you've no doubt surmised, this wasn't my first: I am one of those lucky few GI tract dysfunction trust fund babies who inherited my misfortune from dear old Dad and had my first colonoscopy at 23 years of age.  My doctor has me go through this misery every five years or so, depending on my symptoms.

A colleague recommended I watch Sublime, but only after the my procedure was over.  Alas, I'd already caught the flick - a parable of the process gone horribly wrong (well, not exactly - the protagonist goes in for a colonoscopy but ends up on the receiving end of another procedure altogether, plunging him into a medical nightmare).  An interesting film.  But his advice was sound: watch it only afterward.

Remember, it'll behoove ya to care for your uvula.  Er, sorry - wrong  public service announcement.  "You'll keep rollin' with a scoped out colon!"  There, that's it.