I had a colonoscopy this morning, which required me to spend all day yesterday "prepping" for it. That means that in the past day-and-a-half, a heck of a lot more has come out of me than has gone in. In fact, post-procedure, the only thing I'm full of right now is air, although even that is beginning to make its way out of me and I am very grateful that I am home alone.
As humiliating medical procedures go, a colonoscopy ranks right up there, but it does have a few things going for it in my opinion. For one, it is an equal opportunity humiliater. Unlike the mammogram and pelvic exam which assault parts only women have, a colonoscopy is no respecter of gender. Both the object of its scrutiny as well as its point of entry are, like opinions, things everyone has.
Second, you at least get some pay-off for the crappy prep day in the form of a wonderful, drug-induced nap. As both a skilled napper and a veteran of four "scopings," I speak with some authority when I say this is one of the highest quality naps your insurance dollars can buy. You are out immediately and completely, no tossing, no turning, no counting of sheep. True, you are violated with a couple of feet of flexible tubing while you are asleep, but that seems a fair exchange, especially if it gets you out of work for a day or two.
Third, as unpleasant as the prep process is, when it's over, you feel oddly invigorated -- once the post-anesthesia goofiness passes, that is. You are, intestinally speaking, as clean as a whistle, purged of all the debris that was weighing you down and ready to make a fresh start. The physical sensation of newness might even motivate you to renew commitments in other areas of your life. You could use the prep process as a sort of reset button for all your flagging New Year's resolutions. Or you could just use it to justify eating a whole pint of chocolate gelato the next day; that's good too.
With a family history of colon cancer, regular colonoscopies are something I take very seriously. Getting hit from behind, so to speak, every few years is a small price to pay for preventing a deadly disease. Even so, such an intimate encounter, especially the first time around, can leave you and your dignity feeling a little compromised. A bit embarrassed after his initial experience, my friend told his doctor, "Jeez, you could at least offer to buy me to lunch after that." Yes, and cab fare home with a promise to call soon would be nice gestures as well, but dream on. Such expectations are unrealistic in today's "stick 'em and street 'em" society, so, you just gotta put on -- well, take off, actually -- your big girl panties/big boy pants and roll over on your side.
My doctor may never have bought me lunch or supplied my cab fare, but she has given me many a reassuring hug as well as her word that together she and I are doing all the right things to keep my bowels unobstructed and open for business. And, occasionally, like today, she even gives me a little bonus. Waking from my propofol slumber this morning, I found tucked into my hand a special reminder of our time together -- a souvenir photograph of my internal hemorrhoid. Now that alone, my friends, was worth the price of submission!
Photo: Caraman via Depositphotos
This article originally appeared on www.leegaitan.com