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To colonoscopy or not to colonoscopy

Published April 06. 2013 09:03AM

*What we do for our health.

Our doctor has been encouraging Harry and I for years to go have colonoscopies. I kept putting it off. Harry just plain had no intentions of going for one. He hates hospitals and he's of the firm conviction that what he doesn't know can't hurt him.

So when I got this press release from the Pocono Medical Center for a free Colorectal Cancer Screening I thought here's my chance to kill two birds with one stone. I felt sure I could talk Harry into it if it was 1. Free and 2. We did it together. It was a Win-Win situation if I ever heard of one.

That night I told him we were scheduled for free colorectal cancer screenings. The deer-in-the-headlight-look flashed upon his face. But after telling him we didn't have to drink any vile-tasting stuff we've heard horror stories about and that we'd be in and out of there in less than 15 minutes, and, (this was the biggie,) it was FREE, his white knuckles gripping the edge of the island began to return to their natural flesh color.

*Ignorance is bliss.

A couple of weeks before the event, we received a letter informing us what to do to prepare for the "flexible sigmoidoscopy." Let me just say, you should never schedule anything to be done to your body you can't pronounce.

Second of all, if you've ever taken a literature course, you've heard the term "foreshadowing" used. This is a literary device in which an author gives hints through certain plot developments that perhaps will come to be later in the story.

This letter was fraught with foreshadowing.

The letter said we didn't have to fast and we didn't need to limit our diet for the procedure. So far, so good.

Then it told us what was required to prepare for the exam. "Purchase two fleets enemas at the pharmacy. On the day of the procedure, administer both of those enemas one hour before coming for the procedure."


The next thing it said ..."What to expect: You may experience some abdominal cramping during or immediately after the procedure. This is usually very brief and resolves quickly."

At this point, Harry was ready to run for the hills. Good thing I had tied him to the chair before I opened the letter.

*Operation: Preparation H (which stands for h-e-double hockey sticks.)

The fleets enemas had been purchased. The hour had arrived. It was like a Laurel and Hardy movie. All I'll say is, it's a good thing we have two bathrooms. The thought crossed my mind, "What was I thinking scheduling us both for the same day and time?"

*Proceeding with the procedure.

We arrived at the Short Procedure unit at the hospital. Forms were filled out and then we were each led to separate rooms.

The nurse said, "Linda, you can leave your clothing on at the top, but drop your pants and underwear to your knees and then climb on the table and lay on your left side. You can cover yourself with this sheet." She left the room.

Drop my pants and underwear down around my knees then climb up on the table? Is that even possible, I wondered?

It wasn't. Not for me, anyway. Why not just take them off and hang them on the hook that was right there on the wall, just waiting for my pants and underwear? I was able to finally get up on the table, with my pants and underwear down around my ankles. I worried maybe they wouldn't do the procedure if they weren't around my knees but took a chance.

The doctor came in. No white coat, no surgical scrubs. No sirree. I got me a real class act. He was dressed in a nice blue and white striped shirt with a pretty red tie and pressed and creased navy blue slacks. A real spiffy dresser. I thought, "Man, this has got to be really quick and painless if he's just in his dress clothes. Maybe he's planning on taking me out to dinner afterwards." He introduced himself, shook my hand and proceeded to tell me how this would just take a few minutes and how smart I was to do this because colon rectal cancer is the second leading killer in this country.

I thought, well, how cool am I to do this, and how cool am I laying here with my naked butt exposed and my pants and underwear down around my ankles. When he lifted the sheet, I prayed he wouldn't scold me because my pants and underwear weren't where they were supposed to be ... down around my knees.

Guess it was OK because the next thing I knew, he was trying to insert the Statue of Liberty's torch up my rear.

*Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Now I know why this procedure was FREE! No one would pay to have someone go drilling for oil in your nether parts without ANESTHESIA!!!

"Linda, watch the monitor. Linda, take deep breaths. Linda, you're doing great. Linda, we're almost there. Linda, take deep breaths. Linda, you've got hemorrhoids, that's why you're feeling some discomfort. Linda, why are you gripping the sidebars so tightly your bending the metal?"

Harry later told me that while he was being prepped for the procedure, he could hear someone moaning and groaning and whimpering. He said he wondered if that was his wife and the nurse said, "Why don't I just close the door." He thinks she did that because she was afraid my screams might have scared him into pulling up his pants and wave "Adios Amigo."

*Shades of third grade.

Then came the clincher.

"Linda, we're blowing air into your colon. So if you want to fart, go ahead."

It was like a cartoon. You know how Wiley Coyote is chasing the Roadrunner and all of sudden the Roadrunner comes to the edge of the clift and he screeches to a halt? Well, when the doctor said I could go ahead and fart, my mind came to a screeching halt.

My inner third grader kicked in. First of all, when you're a kid, fart is just the funniest word ever. Second, to hear this well-dressed doctor say the word in such a serious setting, released the giggly kid in me. Then I heard my mother's voice. "Proper young ladies do not say that word. Proper young ladies do not leave stinkers in public." Oh gosh! What to do? My body and my doctor says I can fart but my mom says I can't. All those years of trying to be a proper young lady inhibited me so much, I just couldn't ... you know ... leave a stinker.

*The end justifies the means.

Finally, the excruciating procedure was over. The light at the end of the tunnel (pun pun) was a clean bill of health. Which, I suppose, made going through it worthwhile. But I do have some advice for anyone who has been told to get a colonoscopy ... DO IT! DO NOT SUBSTITUTE WITH A FLEXIBLE SIGMOIDOSCOPY! DO THE COLONOSCOPY BECAUSE THEY KNOCK YOU OUT!


On the ride home, we compared notes, agreed we were glad we did the thing together as we filled the car with the sounds of a flatulent musical duet and laughed like a couple of third graders.

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