[FOR THE RECORD: There is nothing conclusive that explains why February got Black History Month and March got Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Frankly, I’d prefer spending more time (if only three days) discussing Black History than my colon. However, most of the people I asked said that you had to put Colon Awareness Month somewhere and no place would make everybody happy. This is the same answer I got when I asked about the placement of hemmeroids.]
One of the advantages of being on the leading edge of the baby boom generation is that I get to tell those who came after me about some of the wonderful things they have to look forward to as they move into a new and wonderful phase of their lives.
Total organic breakdown.
This is a condition that will strike you somewhere between your first pair of bifocals and senior citizen pricing at movie theaters, although it begins harmlessly enough.
One day, when you are feeling so good about yourself you might actually rehang all your mirrors, your doctor will tell you that it’s time for your first colonoscopy.
He or she will keep a straight face when discussing this but, and this is the sort of wisdom that comes with being a Baby Boomer, deep inside your doctor is laughing harder than a pack of hyenas on nitrous oxide.
Your doctor will then explain the procedure to you in medical terms which, when translated into English, roughly mean that one day soon, a total stranger will do to you what you’ve always wanted to do to your boss but couldn’t because you lacked the required medical license.
For your own peace of mind, it is best to accept this explanation and get on with your life. (IMPORTANT: Never, ever look up colonoscopy on Google. Hey, you heard what I said. Get your hand off that mouse.)
As grim as this may sound, I have just described the easy part.
Your doctor will also give you a prescription for a medication that I’m sure won second place in a C.I.A. grant competition. (FOR THE RECORD: The winner of the competiton was waterboarding.)
The prescription is for a colorless, odorless and pretty much tasteless liquid you will drink every ten minutes the night before your colonoscopy. By the time you’re ready for bed, your colonoscopy will be the last thing on your mind.
It will take about six hours to finish every drop of the stuff. This is long enough to thoroughly hydrate every organ in your body, including your eardrums, without providing you with the welcome relief that comes with kidney failure.
At the same time, something called your electrolyte balance will be in as much disarray as an R. Kelly interview. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself waddling around the house screaming, “I never wanted to be pregnant.” It’s just the electrolytes talking.
What is all this for?
Sorry, as a licensed Baby Boomer I’m not allowed to spoil the surprise. I can, however, suggest you set your phone’s GPS to BATHROOM. Also, bring lots of reading material.
It’s difficult to write about an actual colonoscopy without using terms such as rectum, anus, tushi, butt and Gateway to the Ileum — none of which tested well at the dinner table. I was inclined to try substitutes such as weasel hole, gerbil burrow, Mr. Whipple and the names of several east coast cities. Unfortunately, writing about what it’s like to have a medical device inserted up your Seacaucus seemed to detract from its importance.
The best I can do, then, is describe how my first colonoscopy felt.
At least once the drugs kicked in. Nobody was talking, but I suspect what they gave me won last prize in the C.I.A. competition.
I remember firing off several zingers (“Wow, does that hose say Return to Parks Department?” and “Don’t forget to remove that thing or I’m going to walk like John Wayne for the rest of my life.”) before waking up in the recovery room.
“Good news,” said the nurse. “The doctor says you don’t have to come back for five years.”
I was relieved and, according to the nurse, so was the doctor.
“Don’t forget these,” the nurse said, handing me what I can only describe as colon selfies. I took them home and dropped them in some electrolytes.
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