LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth
CAMPOut:Fay's Rehoboth Journal
|by Fay Jacobs|
|Bringing Up the Rear
It happens to me every few years.
No, not getting a Social Security statement lengthening the time until I can retire with full benefits. But that is a bitch. This is an entirely different kind of getting the shaft.
Eye glass prescription change? Yes, but not as regularly, if you'll excuse the expression.
Guessed yet? It's the every half-decade trip to the doctor for what we shall euphemistically call study hall.
That's right, in the organ recital of life, the colonoscopy is your sonata's fifth movement. Or, as the prep for this procedure goes, probably your fifteenth movement in as many hours.
Ah yes, roto-rooter time.
The reason I'm writing about this scatological subject, is that three times in the last month I've heard of people who have been diagnosed with a preventable cancer, all because they were afraid of, or couldn't be bothered with this test.
And here we are, facing Memorial Day weekend, thinking about fun in the sun and I'm writing about this shitty topic. But let me assure you, it's even crappier to be Queen of Denial with your colon. The damn test is an inconvenience, yes, but not painful at all, and one little rear ender can cure unbelievable future heartache.
I also have it on good authority from the editor of this publication that it's even less of a bother for gay men than for us gals. You figure it out.
So what's the test like? No big deal. But here's some practical advice:
Follow the pre-test directions exactly. If the test is Monday, you are supposed to have only a liquid diet on Sunday. Do it. But on Saturday night you might want to eat enough for the Israeli Army because it will be at least 36 hours before you can have another morsel. This is the only hard part of the test.
As for the liquid diet, it's not Cosmos and Margaritas. But it's survivable. Unfortunately you can only have bouillon, Jello, coffee or juice. A whole day and evening of it. Boring but benign.
Then, around 5 p.m. on Sunday you have to drink a small bottle of liquid that tastes like salt water. Prior to my first exam of this type, my doctor made a terrific suggestion. He told me to get 8 ounces of the strongest (non-alcoholic) liquid I could think of and use it as a chaser for the prep.
I chose Blue Gatorade, which, if you've never tasted it, can make your ears fold up.
I understand that there are now pills you can swallow to avoid this liquid loading, but you have to take more of them in an hour than Liza Minelli takes for a whole week, so it may be a bad trade-off.
Still the rear admirals try to make this process as easy as possible. The prep is manageable.
But here's the important part: whatever stuff you swallow, there are immediate consequences.
Stay close to home. In fact, stay home. Between 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday morning you will be very, very busy. The company making the prep potion isn't called Fleet for nothing. They should include Reeboks.
Thank god I got that new Comcast digital video service where I could pause The L Word every five minutes while I raced to the bathroom. In this case the L in L Word stood for Ladies Room.
But the truth is, if you stay up until about midnight, you might be finished spring cleaning entirely by that time and can sleep through the night.
And now, one of the most disgusting and shameless promos you've ever heard: since one critic actually said that my book, As I Lay Fryinga Rehoboth Beach Memoir made great bathroom reading because it contained short, fun chapters, it might be just the thing to get you through your Colonoscopy prep! Now there's a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one.
Sales pitch aside, my favorite part of this whole medical process happens on the morning of the test, when the doctor's sadistic receptionist says "Good morning!" with a cheery smile to everybody who walks in. This, to haggard people who she knows have been up all night sprinting to the chamber pot. We're all there for the same tailgate party, and not the kind with beer and pretzels. It's galling.
Meanwhile, a nurse sticks her head out a door and into the waiting room. "Fay Jacobs?" she inquires.
"That's me, I say, "I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille."
I changed into a paper dress, layed down on my side and waited for them to put the scope where the sun don't shine. The doctor asked if I wanted sedation.
"Do bears poop in the woods?" I answered, realizing my unfortunate choice of clichs.
Ask for a little sedation, but not too mucha 60s era haze, not a falling down drunk. You want to be relaxed but conscious to watch the incredible journey through your intestines on the 25 inch plasma TV in front of you.
Frankly, a few years ago, I would have found this disturbing, but after the oozing, glowing, pumping stuff we see on CSI, a clean colon is positively charming.
"Well, you should have no discomfort at all, says the doc, you have a pretty straight colon."
"Well, if I do, it's the only thing straight about me."
We laughed and I could see my colon jiggling on TV.
As we viewed the scope rafting its way down the Rio Grande, I'd had enough sedation to start seeing Hans and the Wookie wending their way through space, or Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne rafting towards the waterfall in Rooster Cogburn. Or was this Rear Window?
Within minutes, the rear guard retreated, the Disneyland ride was over, I got a clean bill of health and a Polaroid photo of my guts as a souvenir.
That was it, nothing to it, over and done for five years.
Starving, I went immediately for a Mumbo Jumbo burger.
So please have it done if you've been stalling. I can't stand to hear any more horror stories that didn't have to happen. With just an ounce of intestinal fortitude, they are preventable.
Put that Colonoscopy on your to-do list, in your Blackberry, on a note on the refrigerator door or wherever you write things down now that none of us can remember a damn thing.
And here's to one of the very best things we can do for ourselves, our families and our future. A toast to your next colonoscopy! Cheers, L'Chiam, a Votre Sante, or, as Broadway's Sweet Charity used to toast, "Up yours."
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Fryinga Rehoboth Beach Memoir and can be reached at www.fayjacobs.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 5 May 20, 2005