A couple of months ago I celebrated my fiftieth birthday. Ever since, all sorts of people, some I barely even know, have felt it their duty to remind me it’s colonoscopy time, which incidentally is like hammer time – minus the silk vest and genie pants – because it makes me want to scream YOU CAN’T TOUCH THIS.
Anyway, these folks are nowhere to be found when it’s time to get your teethed cleaned, or time for a tetanus booster, or time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, but turn fifty and they’re crawling out of the woodwork, clanging the colonoscopy bell. They’re the same impertinent types who think it’s okay to touch a woman’s belly just because she’s pregnant. NEWS FLASH: it’s not…and stop being so pushy. My colon is my business.
People who’ve had colonoscopies (and apparently this includes everyone over the age of fifty except me) wear it like a badge of honor. They love to recount their own colonoscopic adventures, and while the details may vary from person to person, one thing remains constant. These wistful editorials always and inevitably conclude with, “You know,” nudge, nudge, wink, wink, “the colonoscopy itself really isn’t that bad. The worst part is the prep.”
Are you kidding? THE WORST PART IS THE PREP? Am I expected to believe two or three days on a liquid diet and some laxatives, even the really super-industrial-strong-enough-to-clean-out-a-septic-tank prescription variety, is worse than someone sticking a camera (attached, mind you, to the end of a tube long enough to circumvent the globe) in my butt? I may be gullible, but I’m not THAT gullible.
I don’t care how small the camera is. I don’t care how thin and flexible the tubing is. I don’t care if the laxatives are strong enough to propel me into the stratosphere. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care. There simply is no way you are going to convince me the prep is worse than the procedure. Call me crazy, but I don’t like people sticking things in my butt, even if it is medically necessary.
It’s a conspiracy, I tell you, concocted by smug colonoscopy alumni with their we-had-to-do-it-so-you-have-to-do-it-too attitudes. I recently told an over-fifty friend of mine as much when she started nagging, and do you know what she said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SAID? She said QUIT BEING MELODRAMATIC.
“Look, either you have cancer or you don’t,” she argued. “If you’ve got it, having a colonoscopy will save your life, and if you don’t, well, you’ll be relieved. So make the appointment and QUIT BEING MELODRAMATIC.”
Melodramatic? Moi? I suppose she had a point. I certainly don’t want to be a statistic, one of those should’ve-had-a-colonoscopy-could’ve-avoided-colon-cancer statistics. Turn fifty and a colonoscopy is a necessary evil. I was poised to agree when unfortunately she added, “Plus you’re asleep the whole time anyway. You won’t even remember it.”
WHAT? ASLEEP THE WHOLE TIME? A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and a little more knowledge is even more dangerous. I knew about the camera and the long, flexible tubing and the point of entry, but I DID NOT KNOW I WOULD BE ASLEEP.
Go ahead, drop a healthy glob of shaving cream in my hand and tickle my nose with a feather when I’m asleep, but stay the heck away from my butt if you know what’s good for you.
I may sound paranoid, but once the work is done, what’s to stop the doc from slapping a tattoo back there just for the fun of it? Or taking a few extra snapshots and posting them on facebook? If you ask me, anybody who chooses to be a gastroenterologist is sporting a fairly perverted sense of humor in the first place. Once you think about it, I’m not so crazy after all, now am I?
(Sigh.) I suppose I need to schedule the darn thing. I’ll do the prep and I’ll sign the consent form, but I will not consent to sleeping through it. No one, I repeat NO ONE, including some top of his med-school class anesthesiologist is going to force me to sleep through my colonoscopy. If it takes washing down my preparatory laxatives with 5 Hour Energy Drinks every five hours, dangnabbit, I’ll be awake during my colonoscopy…and I’ll be back to tell you about it. You can count on me for the truth about colonoscopies.
*Coming soon, The Prep – Part Two in a Three Part Series.
Have you had a colonoscopy? Share you story in the comment section.