Colonoscopy Number 4

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.

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The TV Din At Mealtime

Recently Kish and I went to a new restaurant near our home. It had gotten some good buzz, and we were looking forward to checking it out.

When we got to the place and sat at our table, our spirits sank. On every wall of the restaurant, including right above the booth where we we sat, there were TVs set to different stations. It’s part of a disturbing trend in which TV invades every nook and cranny of our existence, from doctor waiting rooms to elevators to restaurants.

When I was a kid, I liked to eat while watching the TV. Whether it was cereal and cartoons on Saturday morning or a Swanson’s TV dinner and sitcoms on a Thursday night, TV seemed a lot more exciting and interesting than a conversational meal with my family. Now I’m at the other end of the spectrum. If Kish and I are going out for dinner, we’d like a nice, quiet place where we can have a good talk and enjoy our food. We don’t mind a little background music, but being bombarded with the sounds and flickering images of banks of TV sets totally interferes with our enjoyment of the evening. And, I always wonder whether the TVs are designed to distract patrons from the quality of their meal.

In my view, restaurants need to make a choice. If you want to be a sports bar that shoots no higher than chicken wings, pizzas, and pitchers of beer, TV sets are fine. If you have pretenses of being a fine dining establishment, you should focus on the food — and expect and allow your diners to do so, too. That means no TVs.