have been countless jokes, comedy routines and humorous articles written
about colonoscopies, but I'm a firm believer that, like Mexican food
restaurants, there can never be too many. Besides, we now live in
a world where each individual colon has the right to assert its own
unique identity that can't be categorized based on society's stereotyped
definitions of a large intestine. So, here goes.
Ever since I turned 50 and my stylist started charging extra to brush
hog my ear hair, several of my friends and loved ones have encouraged
me to schedule a colonoscopy. At first, I was reluctant, maybe because
the procedure conjured images of alien abductions involving bodily
probing devices the size of Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Or perhaps I was just afraid of what the gastroenterologist might
discover based on my long history of devouring pretty much anything
that the FDA has deemed semi-edible.
My worries were so profound that for the first couple of years of
my 50s, I resorted to the cumbersome, awkward and potentially disastrous
take-home colon cancer screening kits. But as my friend's gastroenterologist
once warned him, "There's really no graceful way to catch a stool."
And, sure enough, when I attempted to use the kits, my juggling performance
usually resulted in a call for back-up from an emergency hazmat team.
But this year, motivated by the fear that I might not live long enough
to become a financial and psychological burden on my three daughters,
I decided to take the plunge (or the prod) and schedule a full-blown
colonoscopy with all the trimmings.
As most of you know, a proper colonoscopy begins with the preparatory
process of fasting and ingesting a regimen of military-grade laxatives
designed to transform you into a human fire hose nozzle set to Armageddon
strength. For me, though, the prep wasn't as traumatic as I anticipated.
Rather than having to set up a campsite next to the toilet, I was
actually able to do some yard work-with the slight inconvenience of
occasionally performing a penguin sprint to the bathroom.
By the end of the day, though, I understood what one of my friends
meant when he advised that, instead of toilet paper, I should have
a snow cone handy.
After a full day of fasting and counting enchiladas to get to sleep
the night before, I was anxious to get the procedure over with in
the morning so I could resume my steady diet of Tex-Mex and Andy's
Frozen Custard. I'm happy to say that the entire medical staff at
the clinic was extremely cordial and accommodating, even though I
couldn't help thinking that they were all trying not to laugh-along
with my wife.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous since this was the first
time I'd ever been put to sleep (when not listening to a sermon in
church), but the nurse anesthetist told me that it would be like taking
a really good napwhile basically on the same drugs that killed
When I woke up, I expected to feel like I had been on the receiving
end of a Build a Bear Workshop stuffing station. Instead, I felt surprisingly
refreshed, well-rested and oddly ventilated.
I'm pleased to report that the doctor found my colon extremely boring
and said that he wasn't interested in seeing it again for ten years.
I did request the bowel portrait family value package with two-8x10s,
three-5x7s and eight wallets. He didn't laugh.
Following the procedure, my wife drove me to the closest Mexican restaurant,
and I experienced a great sense of satisfaction and relief that I
had overcome my anxieties and done what was best for my healthwhile
consuming an obscene amount of chips and salsa.
So, if you've been putting off your own colonoscopy, let me encourage
you to get it done. You'll have a great sleep, you can gorge guilt-free
on your favorite food when it's over, and it just might help you live
long enough to become a financial and psychological burden on those
you love the most.