Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007

Dear Diary:

Thursday is the big day, the day when a camera will boldly go where no camera has gone before.

Oh, if only I was a ventriloquist. You have no idea how desperately I wish I could make my sphincter announce, "All right, Mr. DeMille, I�m ready for my close-up."

Yes, I'm about to have my first colonoscopy. Do they make souvenir t-shirts for this?

Normally I don't traffic much in common sense. Common sense and I tend to pass each other in the hall, nod politely and barely make eye contact. But when my mom-in-law came down with her bowel cancer, the surgeon told her sons there's a genetic component there and they need to be screened.

Then I remembered that my maternal grandfather died of colon cancer when I was a teenager. His son, my uncle, lost a sizable hunk of his inner tubing to the same illness.

As distasteful as I find the notion of a video tour of what we will delicately call the poop chute, I had to admit that the whole ounce of prevention versus pound of cure is just common sense. So I had my doctor put me in the colonoscopy queue. And now my number has come up.

When they called me from the hospital to set things up, the secretary told me I needed to bring a housecoat, slippers and someone to drive me because I would be given a mild sedative. Driving would be out of the question post anal probing. I also had to pick up a colonoscopy kit at my local drugstore.

Her voice, heretofore brisk and business-like, grew softer and sympathetic. Wednesday would be a day of liquid foods only, ending with a fast from midnight on. The stuff in the colonoscopy kit that I would have to drink to clear out my bowels was � her voice dropped more � well some people said drinking it with pop helped.


So I went to the drugstore and asked the druggist for a colonoscopy kit. Normally this woman is very brisk and no nonsense. Today she actually reached over the counter and patted my hand as she handed me the two small boxes and the vial with four tiny pills. "I've heard that if you put the liquid in the fridge it helps," she said.

Hmmmmm. How bad is this stuff? Oh, if only I could keep myself in blissful ignorance �

One of my friends has recently had bowel surgery. Things are not healing properly. He's back in the hospital. When I walked into his room to visit him today, another mutual friend was already there. Since bowels were the topic du jour, I mentioned my upcoming colonoscopy.

Life's a raucous party when you attain my august years.

Both my friends have had multiple colonoscopies. My friends and I have entered the age bracket wherein our original manufacturer's warranties have lapsed. Any of the regularly scheduled maintenance we should have done when we were younger and didn't do � well, that's coming back to bite us on the, uh, buttal region.

Since they were colonoscopy veterans, I asked them about the pre-colonoscopy beverage. They exchanged a look. I know that look. It's the look that women sometimes share as they weigh how frank to be with a woman who's in her final weeks of pregnancy, a woman who's just asked, "Tell me the truth. How painful is labour?"

There was a pause. The woman decided truth was best. The taste is foul, she admitted. So foul, in fact, that she deeply regretted trying to use tomato juice to mask said taste. To this day, she said, she cannot drink tomato juice.


So that's my tomorrow. A liquid diet. Drinking a foul tasting beverage, popping pills and staying within a few feet of a commode. That's followed by about 15 hours of starvation capped by an anal probing.

Oh man. Suddenly that ounce of prevention is looking more like a ton of prevention. On the other hand, I've seen up close and personal what a pound of cure looks like, especially when it doesn't work.

Gagging, starving and probing, here I come.


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