Up periscope! Have a happy colonoscopy

Just having undergone a colonoscopy, I thought I should share the experience with my readers. I share most everything else, so why not this?

The problem is, some of the terms which must necessarily be used when describing bodily parts, events and, ah, products associated with the nether regions might be disquieting to readers of tender sensibilities. This is a family newspaper, after all.

So, I shall substitute other words and trust that you will get my meaning through context.

Now, to begin with, I should stipulate that I had no symptoms, such as blood in my, ah, small three-legged chair. It was a routine preventive medical procedure prompted by my upcoming 70th birthday. At age 50 I had a rear-end-o-scopy, so by my reckoning I should have another in 20 years when I’m 90 and then again at 110, if I’m feeling up to it. (The doctors want a bit more frequency, but then they are in business, aren’t they?)

In this procedure they would be looking for, ah, dingles and tubers, because dingles may eventually turn into tubers, and you do not want tubers. They are very, very bad.

THE DOCTORS don’t like to go looking around in a person’s, ah, exhaust pipe, any more than you or I would, and of course it would be hard to see anything in such an examination if bits of flotsam and jetsam are washing around in there.

So the first imperative is an exhaust pipe that is as clean as a whistle. Cleaner, if possible.

In a doctor’s perfect world, the patient would not eat anything for, say, two weeks before the exam. Doctors have found this causes starvation, so they have compromised and allow a breakfast on the day before the ‘scope. If you violate the rules and eat something, they will know it and add a surcharge for flushing.

They do allow you to drink “clear liquids,” which they say includes coffee without cream and Jello, which I would not call a liquid, but what do I know? No Jello colored red or purple, for unknown reasons.

Now comes the part that people complain about: the purging. (I think “purging” is okay to say, don’t you?) My purgative drug came in two innocent-looking little bottles, one to be drunk at noon on the day before, the second at 10:30 p.m.

“Stay close to the bathroom,” Honey urged me. Because she is a veterinarian, I always follow my wife’s medical advice. Woof!

As to what happens shortly after drinking the little bottles, I think a metaphor will give you the idea. Picture yourself as a Saturn V rocket on the launching pad at the moment of ignition, lifting off for a mission to the moon, and for repeated and seemingly endless roaring liftoffs to the moon at 15-minute intervals.

Let’s skip ahead to the hospital part.

A PRETTY NURSE who looked just out of high school had me strip naked and put on an airy hospital gown. This is a psychological tactic which makes one feel vulnerable so the pre-op questions will be answered honestly.

Because I am in perfect health, my answers were, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no…” until she asked, “Have you had any recent surgeries?”

“I had a craniotomy last June,” I answered, overjoyed at the opportunity to tell someone about my brain surgery.

The nurse listened politely, then asked a final question. “Because of the anesthesia, someone will have to drive you home. Is a responsible adult here with you?”

“No,” I answered, “but my son Worshrag is here. And don’t let him try to place a do-not-resuscitate order on me.”

They wheeled me into an operating room, where an anesthetist attached a large syringe to my IV line.

“That’s propofol, isn’t it? The stuff that killed Michael Jackson,” I said.

“You’ll love it,” he assured me. “Nighty-night.”

When I woke up, Worshrag told me the surgeon gave him a good report. “He found only one little dingle and snipped it off. He said see you again in seven years.”

Today, two days after my rear-end-o-scopy, I have a little soreness in my, ah, exhaust port, but otherwise I’m my usual annoyingly healthy self.

I still wonder, did I dream it, or as I drifted off did the surgeon really say, “Up periscope!”


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