There were some pretty cool things to celebrate when I turned 50 a few years ago: a marriage that works, two wonderful kids, an extraordinary circle of friends, and a whole bunch of lessons learned. Felt sort of like getting a second wind.
And speaking of wind, it was also time to get in on one of those “everybody’s doing it” crazes for the middle aged. No, not a BMW – a colonoscopy.
Got the referral and went in for an initial appointment. Nice to meet you, too, doc. Glad that you’ll have a face to associate with my, uh… file.
The appointment, the instructions, the anticipation… The cashier at the drug store smiled when I purchased two bottles of Fleet. “Guess we know what you’ll be doing tonight!” What did she know that I didn’t? It’s just a laxative, right? Yeah – like Katrina was just a hurricane.
Chugged the first little bottle of Fleet and it wasn’t long before my stomach was rumbling and gurgling. What was going on down there?? I still can’t shake the image of calving glaciers.
It’s only six steps from my side of the bed to my porcelain destination. Five trips in less than 20 minutes was the first clue of a long night ahead. By morning I think I may have traveled a quarter of a mile, six steps at a time.
And I had gained a new respect for the power of Fleet. Hard to believe another bottle was necessary, but I wouldn’t want to start over for failure to follow instructions. Down the hatch. A few more short trips and it was time to leave. I was thinking about emergency stops all the way from the house to the clinic.
At the clinic I wasn’t my usual outgoing self, on the lookout for people I know. No need for conversations in this waiting room. “Hey, how’s it goin’? What are you doing here? Oh – would you excuse me for a minute?”
Unlike my good friend Tom, I was not determined to watch the scope’s progress on the video monitor; I’ll take that anesthetic gas. In the recovery area a nurse summed the whole thing up nicely: “After the drama of the bowel prep, the procedure itself is kind of anti-climactic.”
As a guy, I really liked the fact that I had to fart before being allowed to leave. Encouragement like that is all too rare. I think if it was mentioned in the literature and in outreach campaigns, more men would come in for the procedure. We might even see more male nurses; imagine the conversations in recovery: “Good one!” “Wait, wait – don’t miss this!” “Oh, man – this guy was in earlier…”
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I was tempted to revise this traditional Gaelic blessing; perhaps you can see the potential and appreciate the temptation I resisted.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.