They Call It A Procedure

I did a very grown-up thing this afternoon. I went to see a gastroenterologist in anticipation of getting a colonoscopy.

I didn’t want to be a grown-up about this (or much of anything). I suppose I have no choice. My wife, my doctor, my mother, even my sister have said the time is right. It’s been put off for years.

People have these all the time, and I have no reason to believe there will be a problem for me, but it’s still freaky. It’s freaky before the procedure&#185 and doesn’t end there.

I met Dr. Chang at his office, not far from where I live. I liked him right away. First of all, my friend/physician (aka Steve) had already vouched for him. Second, he seemed confident and smart. I like smart when it comes to medicine.

The obvious question is, why would anyone choose this less than glamorous specialty? He said, and I believe him, he was fascinated by the body’s digestive process… and then he went to explain what he meant. He sold me.

Then we went into what’s expected of me. I’ll have to limit my diet as I approach the procedure. Early that week, no more aspirin or ibuprofen. During the last day, clear liquids (though thankfully, I can continue to drink coffee).

The night before, I’ll down what I now call ‘the potion.’ You mix ‘the potion’ into a 2-liter bottle of soda and then down it all. He said it’s best served really cold and with a straw, so you can aim it beyond your taste buds.

Without going into details, I’m guessing it will start coming out as it’s going in! Maybe that’s an exaggeration. One of my co-workers offered up it sounded like a radiator flush for a car.

The doctor walked me through their facility, on the top floor of what used to be an IBM sales office building. It’s a hospital now. They might not call it that, but it’s a hospital nonetheless.

During the procedure, Dr. Chang will be looking at a TV monitor – seeing my innards through a camera. He showed me the tiny camera lens and light.

As he continued talking about the camera, all I could see was the length of the cable connected to it. Along the cable were marks and numbers. It was calibrated, much like that thing you strike with a sledge hammer at a carnival (except this didn’t have a final mark reading “Superman”).

I will go, because it’s the right thing to do. In the end (play on words unintended) I’m the beneficiary. Many of my fears are irrational. Certainly my fear of this. But, irrational or not, right now it’s real.

&#185 – In using the word procedure, I’m reminded of Bill Crystal in City Slickers. It’s the beginning of the movie and he’s in the midst of seeing his life crumble. Standing before a room of grade school kids, he says:

Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “What happened to my twenties?” Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery.

7 thoughts on “They Call It A Procedure”

  1. The best part of the procedure is the drugs. Well, that depends somewhat on the procedure. I had a lower one done along with an endoscopy (down the throat into the stomach). I counted back from 99 and I remember 95. The next thing I know I am awake and wondering how long it had been. I still have no recollection of the time between 95 and waking up. All a blur.

    And remember, if you took a man’s intestines and laid them out in a straight line, that man would be dead.

  2. My husband has had 4 colonoscopies, beginning at age 31….it’s not that bad. He claims the worst part was drinking the stuff the night before. The actual procedure was no sweat. Good luck – and remember – anticipation is usually worse than reality!

  3. I’ve done it twice and the flushing of the system the day before is the worst I have ever felt without being sick. The procedure itself is a piece of cake. I wish they could have given me a local so I could have watched it on the monitor, too.

    First time, four years ago, they found a polyp and zapped it during the procedure. Second time, this summer, they found nothing, which was a relief considering the history of colon cancer in my family.

    Good luck and enjoy the show while it lasts!


    Stan, WA1LOU

  4. Hey, Geoff, relax. My family has had generations of experience with Dean, and he’s the best. As a matter of fact, I had long delayed the procedure myself, so last Valentine’s Day morning my wife and I had His and Hers colonoscopys there. It’s no big deal.

  5. I call it “Riding ET’s Finger” but can assure you you must take all drugs they offer you. Then ask for more. You will not be doing the weather that night! Contrary to what is written above, I found the procedure painful and without the drugs couldn’t have made it!

  6. The procedure itself is nothing. Have had both an endoscopy and colonoscopy and the worse part is the prep on the previous day and all the paperwork involved. I think it took longer to register and answer all the insurance questions, etc. than it did to complete both procedures.

  7. Geoff, I made myself nuts the night before mine… I read EVERYTHING on line about it. I loved finding people who said it was a breeze. I didn’t think the prep was totally horrible–they gave me a thing called Fleets Acu-prep–it’s better than the phospho soda… but I was so terrified that when I got there my blood pressure was off the wall. They gave me TONS of drugs and I still kept talking…but NO pain.. (I’m worried about Bob a couple of posts back.. you shouldn’t have that much discomfort. Get a new GI doc!!!) When I was done I realized it wasn’t as bad as what I imagined…You’ll do fine..Just tell them DRUGS…..Evi

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