All's well that begins in the end well, or so I hope

It is amazing at what lengths people will go just to attempt something as trivial as staying alive. Take, for instance, a colonoscopy. Here is how the National Institute of Health describes the gastrointestinal examination:

“A colonoscopy is an internal examination of the colon (large intestine), using an instrument called a colonoscope. The colonoscope is a small camera attached to a flexible tube. Unlike sigmoidoscopy, which examines only the lower third of the colon, colonoscopy examines the entire length of the colon.”

To break that down a bit, it is like taking a photo safari inside a sewage treatment plant only at a most uncomfortable pace.

Tomorrow I begin the two-day process to prepare for the Tuesday test at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Hospital in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. The test in itself is enough to cause great dread and loathing. But the fact that it is at the VA Hospital makes it even more an event I would view with about the same anticipation as being beaten by a gang of street toughs while having Barry Manilow music piped through my brainwaves. The VA is not exactly a hotbed of human kindness.

Back to the procedure, here is sort of in a sanitized nutshell what the next two days will bring for me:

“Thorough cleansing of the bowel is mandatory. Instructions for doing this will be given by the provider. This will include using enemas, not eating solid foods 2 or 3 days before the test, and taking laxatives. Complete emptying of the colon before the examination requires enemas or other purgatives. These must be repeated until no solid matter remains.”

This is like calling a giant meteor striking the earth “an upsetting event.”

And here is how the actual test is performed:

“You will lie on your left side with your knees drawn up toward the chest. After administration of a sedative and pain reliever, the colonoscope is inserted through the and gently advanced to the lowest part of the small bowel. Air will be inserted through the scope to provide a better view. Suction may be used to remove secretions. Since better views are obtained during withdrawal than during insertion, a more careful examination is done during withdrawal of the scope. Tissue samples may be taken with tiny biopsy forceps inserted through the scope. Polyps may be removed with electrocautery snares, and photographs may be taken. Specialized procedures, such as laser therapy, may also be performed.”

Yeow. The simple fact is when such a procedure begins at the very end of the digestive system and works its way back, one must surely know that pleasant will never be used as a descriptive word. It reminds me of the story my dad used to tell about some guy being asked by a judge about a incident of lawlessness.

Judge: It says here you shot the guy in the rectum. Is that correct?

Defendant: Rectum hell, I killed the S.O.B.

The positive side of the colonoscopy is to presumably give one a head start in staving off a serious malady such as colon cancer. There are a number of reasons one may have the test ordered in addition to screening for tumors such as, in my particular instance, finding a reason for lower gastrointestinal bleeding. There are some possible reasons for this that are relatively benign and hopefully those will be the outcome. Either that, or to be given a chance for an early shot at staving off something possibly life-threatening makes all of this dreadful preparation and hellish discomfort worthwhile. Or so I suppose. Oh well, wish me luck.

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