I just got home from my fourth colonoscopy. My father had colon cancer years ago. As a result my primary care physician, who’s a big believer in the power of genetics and preventative medicine, he hustled to get me in for one immediately. I had my first colonoscopy at age 40, and I’ve had one every five years since.
Most medical procedures aren’t pleasant, and a colonoscopy is no different. Nobody wants to lie on a table, their keister flapping in the breeze, while a doctor inserts a flexible camera devices up where the sun don’t shine and then probes around in their intestinal tract looking for evidence of cancer. At least for the procedure, though, you’re knocked out.
The worst part of the process is the preparation, when you drink a foul-smelling concoction and then spend a lot of time sitting in the smallest room in the house, waiting for nature to take its course — again, and again, and again. By the time you get to the surgical center for the procedure, your intestines clean as a whistle but feeling somewhat overexercised, you change into a gown and are whisked into a small operating room at one of those pocket hospitals. You awaken in the recovery room, get a quick report, and head out on your way.
As a veteran of four colonoscopies, I can report that they have gotten easier. The clean-out fluid has improved dramatically. The first time I did it, they gave me a gallon of foul-tasting glop that was mixed with over-the-top pineapple flavoring in an effort to mask the awful taste of the glop. It didn’t work. Instead, the pineapple somehow had a catalytic reaction with the glop and formed the most disgusting, smelly sludge you could possibly imagine in your most disturbing, fevered nightmare. Drinking it was almost impossible. Now you drink less of the fluid, it doesn’t have ridiculous flavorings that would ruin your enjoyment of pineapples or grapes forever, and you split your consumption between the night before and the morning of the procedure. As for the procedure itself, it gets quicker and quicker.
We do a lot of things to try to stay healthy. I’m glad having to drink the appalling faux-pineapply laxative is no longer one of them.