Today, I am occupied with my second colonoscopy, which I'm sure you're all glad to know. It's just one of those 'passage of life' things, once you get past your 50th birthday. Dave Barry has written most entertainingly, and earnestly, about his own colonoscopy. And, just for the sake of saying so, I have, too (well, I'll leave it to others to decide whether or not it was entertaining; but I did write about it). So today, in honor of the occasion, I am giving you yet another re-post, from September of 2006, on Jen's and my first colonoscopies (and if I may say so myself, I think it's one of my better ones. . .) If all goes well, perhaps I'll even give you an update this afternoon, when it's all said and done. . .
Jen and I both turned 50 this year. It's funny, but 50 seems like a taller psychological hurdle than any of the previous 'decade' birthdays have been. I mean, when I was 49, I could say I was "in my 40s", and that didn't sound so old. But there's no way to make 50 sound younger than it is. Oh, well; I can always say "you're as young as you feel," and I feel pretty darn good. I also have a four-year-old and an eight-year-old, so I can't be all that old, now can I?
Anyway, the thing with these 'decade' birthdays is that they always seem to usher you into some new medical regime; I started doing regular physicals when I turned 40. I did all the blood work, peed in the little cup, had my doc and a couple of nurses poke me, prod me, listen to this, that and the other thing, and then, when it was almost over, the doc starts putting on a rubber glove, and tells me to drop my pants and lean over the exam table. "It's time for your very first prostate exam," he said, and he wasted no time getting down to work.
The good news: I have a very healthy prostate. I also have no latent homosexual tendencies whatsoever; if I was ever 'bi-curious', I'm not any more.
I'm less sure of Jen's after-40 regimen. I think it was around that time that she started getting regular mammograms, but she doesn't talk to me about it much, and that's mainly just fine with me.
So, this year, after the doc slips off his rubber glove at the end of the physical, he says, "Hmmmm; you're turning 50 this year. Time for you to get a colonoscopy." Hmmmm. 'Colon'; 'scope' - I think I see where this is headed, and I'm not altogether sure that I appreciate it quite as fully as my doc does.
For whatever reason, by midsummer, I still hadn't scheduled my colonoscopy. I'm not squeamish, and I don't have some 'complex' about doctors or medical stuff; I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. Then, around her own 50th birthday, Jen goes in for her physical, and she comes back with her own colonoscopy order. And it's at this point that you're going to learn about another of the endearingly goofy things that make my wife wonderful.
"I've got a great idea," she says. "We could get our colonoscopies together! Don't you think that would be romantic?"
His-and-hers colonoscopies. . . No, I don't think 'romantic' is quite the word that comes immediately to mind. I'm not sure exactly what Jen is thinking, but I'm conjuring an image of the two of us lying face-down on adjoining gurneys, holding hands while the technicians poke at our hind ends. Shaking my head to clear my brain of that image, I say, "Sure dear; what the heck - we might as well just get them both out of the way, anyway."
So Jen calls the lab and tells them she wants our appointments scheduled together. The scheduler pauses for a long time before asking, "Who's going to drive? You'll both be doped up after the procedure; you'll need a driver." Um, OK, no problem; we can get 1F to pick us up. Then the scheduler asks, "Um, how many bathrooms do you have?" Huh? Why would it matter how many bathrooms we have? "Well, when you're doing your prep work, you'll both need to have pretty exclusive use of a bathroom." Prep work? "Well, yeah, you need to have your bowel cleared out before the procedure."
Now, I'm starting to get a really bad vibe about this. Anyway, Jen says no problem, we've got two-and-a-half bathrooms, so we can each take one and still have one left over for the kids to use. Hmmm; five kids for a half-bathroom. Okay, I guess, if we really have to. So we schedule both procedures for last Friday.
Now, the prep work for a colonoscopy is outlined in two pages of instructions, which, when properly executed, will result in a completely vacant large intestine. It starts a week or so ahead of time; you have to stop eating things with seeds, like strawberries, tomatos or cucumbers. For a day and a half before the procedure, you eat no solids, only clear liquids. Two days beforehand, you make a trip to the pharmacy; the instructions give you a long list of meds to be taken on a specified schedule. In simplified form, this amounts to, "Go to the pharmacy; find the laxative aisle; get one of everything, except two of the most powerful stuff." Then go home and start consuming them, starting with the mildest stuff and working your way up. When your prep work is complete, there is nothing left inside of you.
Jen chose her bathroom, and I chose mine; if we needed to talk, we called each other on our cell phones.
Friday morning, we show up at the lab and check in. They give us the hospital gowns open down the back (well, what did you expect?), take our vital signs, and hit us with the 'happy meds'. Apparently this is a procedure that goes best when you're not quite fully cognizant of what's going on.
The techs come for Jen first, and wheel her off down the hall, while she cheerfully waves and chirps, "Wish me luck!" A half-hour or so later, I hear her giggling as they wheel her back to the waiting area, and we pass each other in the hall as they wheel me down to the lab room.
They roll me on my side, and there's a TV screen directly in front of me, so I can watch the colon-cam pictures while the doc goes spelunking in my large intestine. It's sort of bizarre to think that the cave on the TV is really somewhere up inside my own ass, but the 'happy meds' make it so that there really aren't any associated physical sensations, so it's sort of like a weird out-of-body thing going on.
The procedure went really well - they found one tiny, benign 'polyp', which they snipped right out while I watched on the live-action butt-cam. Other than that, I have a clean bill of colonic health. And Jen's intestines are even healthier than mine. Which I'm sure you're all happy to hear.
When they were finished, they rolled me back to the waiting area, where Jen was waiting for me with dreamy eyes (either she was really, really into the whole 'romantic' thing, or the 'happy meds' were slow in wearing off). The final stage of the procedure involves 'expelling' all the 'air' that had been pumped into our intestines to keep them 'open' for the colon-cam shots. I will say that Jen's intestines are tuned to a somewhat higher pitch than mine are.
So there you have it. I don't know, maybe Jen was right - maybe it was more romantic than I expected it to be; a real husband/wife bonding experience, you know?
Naaaaah, I don't think so!
(edit, 4:00 PM)
OK, I'm back, and things are all good on the Colon Front. In fact, things are good enough that they told me I don't need to come back for five years this time around, so if we stretch things out just a little, maybe Jen and I can go together again when we're 60. . . ;)
I was a little disappointed that, this time, instead of keeping me awake to watch the proceedings on the colon-cam, they just knocked me out. Which, on the plus side, made it kinda like when I was a kid and we'd drive to Grandma-and-Grandpa's house, and Dad would make us lie down in back, and we'd arrive about five minutes after we left, instead of the three hours of 'real time'. . .