My philosophy is if I feel ok I am. If I have a headache I
take something, if the headache persists I take more until
the headache goes away. If I get a sinus infection or strep
throat I go to a clinic, pay cash, get some antibiotics,
take them, get well.
Until two weeks ago I had perfect cholesterol (never
tested), a fine prostate (never checked) and was quite
content in relying on the premise that ignorance is bliss.
On the horizon, storm clouds were brewing, soon to impact
my sunny disposition.
Women are much more accepting of the poking, prodding and
various tortures that are administered behind the closed
doors of medical institutions. It starts when they are
teenagers and never ends. Men, on the other hand, are low
maintenance. Women are envious of the male circumstance
and patiently wait until we are either struck down by a
freak occurrence like illness or we turn 50.
Fifty is one of those magical years like 18, 21, 30, 40,
or 62 but the only thing positive about turning 50 is the
alternative of never becoming 50. Health and life
insurance go up, you become eligible to join AARP and the
medical community says you are no longer on warranty.
Mrs. Stupidman not only undergoes regular maintenance
checkups but she is also a nurse and a respiratory
therapist. She constantly harps over my occasional
cigar smoking but increased the pressure after I turned 50
by bringing up the subject of a colonoscopy. What?!?! No
Three months into the colonoscopy harangue a younger, male
in-law (a fireman, no less) finally went to see a doctor
about the red liquid that kept appearing in the toilet
prior to flushing. Turned out he had cancer of the colon
and currently carries a portable toilet in his pocket.
Knowing that he and I share no genetic material I was
prepared to dismiss this as a freak occurrence.
Unfortunately, I am married to a pit bull who ultimately
wrests a promise out of me that if I observe red fluid I
will submit to the physical abuse inflicted by the
My promise was made in good faith but subject to
interpretation. Everyone knows that ingesting a red food
or drink item during the previous week could manifest itself
in the toilet and should not be counted towards the promise.
All was well until I was sharing liquid libation with my
brother-in-law and we somehow started making drunken jokes
about our perception of the invasive nature of the
procedure. We agreed that occasional coloration was no big
deal and that anything less than a pint was no cause for
alarm. Unfortunately, our conversation was overhead and my
life was permanently altered.
Divorce is expensive and I can’t afford to do it a second
time so I made an appointment to see the doctor listed for
me on Mrs Stupidman’s medical insurance. The doctor thought
he should meet me before he referred me to the actual
perpetrator. As I still had hope that the initial
appointment might not result in a referral I took a gift of
a bag of home grown tomatoes.
The doctor thanked me for the tomatoes, advised me that he
had a colonoscopy recently and was clearly not sympathetic
to my plight nor amused by my clever answers to his
questions. “How’s your cholesterol?” “Perfect.” “Huh?”
“It’s never been checked.” “Oh, Nurse Ratchett will draw
blood after I’m done with you.”
“Have you had your prostate checked?” “Only by attractive
women, ha ha.” “Drop your pants, bend over, the further you
bend the less discomfort you’ll feel. Feels okay to me.”
Well, that made one of us.
I found this back door examination of my prostate to be very
unpleasant and it did nothing to improve my attitude about
having a colonoscopy. After I gave a blood sample I went
home and took a long shower.
I guess many potential victims change their minds. I base
this on the speed in which I was scheduled. I was on the
table within ten days.
The day before the “invasive procedure” I had to drink a
gallon of “Go Lightly” (what a misnomer, Go Explosively
would be more accurate) and avoid solid foods. During a
six hour period I drank and discharged the gallon plus the
contents of my gastrointestinal system. After the first
half dozen visits to the bathroom (there were a total of
23) I would drink the evil potion within a few feet of the
bathroom door. (Don’t plan on any other activities while
drinking this stuff.)
I was emptied with twelve hours to go before my appointment
at the hospital. Continuing the fast was no problem as my
soreness had convinced me I never wanted to eat again.
No liquids after midnight. No coffee in the morning! Lost
8 pounds and had to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. The
hospital requires you to bring an adult, ostensibly to drive
you home, but I suspect it’s really so you’ll show up. (Mrs
Stupidman, happily, volunteered to accompany me.)
Every nurse, receptionist, orderly, armed guard and doctor
assured me that the purging was much worse than the
procedure. It might have been more convincing if one of the
nurses had not asked me about my religious affiliation (last
Sat around for an hour before changing into one of those
stupid hospital gowns. An I.V. was stuck in my hand, an
oxygen tube stuck up my nose and sensors stuck on my chest.
The doctor walked in and talked to me for a minute or two.
I opened my eyes and was in a different room.
That was it. It was over. I had no pain. I was a little
groggy and had missed out on two hours of my life. I was
told I sang a song or two during the procedure but I don’t
remember anything. They said they found a polyp and cut it
out (polyps sometime become cancerous but mine turned out
to be benign). I got dressed, went home, watched part of
a movie then used my riding lawnmower for two hours.
The only evidence I had that anything happened was my butt
Because they found a polyp I’m supposed to go back in three
years. Big deal. The worst part, other than the first
doctor giving me the prostate exam, is cleaning yourself
out the day before.
From what I understand, colon cancer is very preventable
but pretty incurable if you ignore symptoms and let it
get a big headstart.
With hindsight (I can joke about it now), I probably should
have done it a couple of years ago when I first rationalized
the occasional redness in my stool. I know my niece, the
fireman and their children wish he had it checked out a few
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