Every five years since I turned forty, part of my annual physical exam involves screening for colorectal cancer. Such screening involves a graduated approach from the simple to the complex, beginning with the Digital Rectal Exam. This cursory exam is less than ten percent effective in finding colorectal cancer.
In concert with the digital exam, you may take the Fecal Test. You do this test at home and return the goodies to the Lab for further testing. If this test comes up positive, the next screening may be a lower G.I. For this test you are given a sandbag size quantity of liquid that makes your colon glow on an X-ray. The doctor looks at the X-rays for abnormalities in your entire colon.
I celebrated a portion of my fiftieth birthday by having a Sigmoidoscopy. For this procedure, the doctor puts a thin, flexible hollow tube with a light on the end into the business end of your exhaust. There is also a tiny video camera so the doctor, you and a group of your closet friends can see if any nasty polyps are hiding in Mr. Colon’s crevasses. I found out later that color photos, suitable for framing are available from the local camera store for a nominal fee in case you want to include them with your annual holiday letter to family and friends.
Now past the age of 65, it was time to go for the “Cadillac” of diagnostic tests the dreaded colonoscopy. Most men do not like going to the doctor. Unless we have one foot in the grave, guys figure they can ignore, endure, or tough out physical maladies and discomfort by self-doctoring with home remedies and/or over-the-counter medicines.
Having the average guy volunteer for a colonoscopy is noteworthy. There is nothing glamorous about having a masked medical stranger inspect your personal plumbing. If that is not daunting enough, there are a series of legal forms one signs giving approval and permission to take samples of whatever suspicious materials are found residing inside the sphincter-guarded opening for further testing.
To be honest, though, the most uncomfortable part of this procedure is the preparation. The patient is instructed what not to eat, when to stop eating solid foods, when to curtail medications, and when to start the cleansing portion of the test. This is the part I call: fun with fluid.
My doctor wrote me a prescription for flavored human drain cleaner I had to drink the night before the test. The jug holds 4 liters of liquid. For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is a little over 33 ounces. Four liters amounts to 132 ounces of fluid. The patient is directed to drink 10 ounces every ten minutes until the jug is empty. It is suggested you refrigerate and shake the mixture well before drinking every glass full to improve the taste. I chose orange flavoring from the selections included with the prescription because I like orange. As a kid I always loved a cold orange NEHI. The bottom line is this: flavored or not, chilled or not, the stuff tastes like rancid sweat wrung from socks worn by someone with a serious case of athlete’s foot.
When you arrive at the medical center, really nice nurses make you feel comfortable as they prep you with the IV and monitors needed for the test. A few minutes later they are wheeling you down the hall to the procedure room. You know the game is on when the nurse asks you to lay on your left side and draw up your knees. Instructions like that make one aware that action time is not far behind (no pun intended). I’d like to tell you the rest but the next thing I remember is being back in the room hearing everything went well and the test turned out fine.
Whatever the name of that happy juice they sent through my IV did the trick. There was no discomfort, anxiety, or after effect. I was so pleased I was inspired to write a song parody about the whole procedure. Initially I was worried about having a tough day at the orifice. Those worries were unfounded. What I experienced was the satisfaction knowing I do not have colorectal cancer. And I have opportunity to encourage others to take this test—especially men past the age of 40.
To help get you in the mood, I want each of you to sing the words of the little ditty that follows:
(To the tune of: Get Me To the church on Time)
I’M GETTING HOSED OUT IN THE MORNING!
I’VE BEEN PREPPING FOR IT ALL DAY LONG,
DRANK ALL THE COLYTE, IT WAS A TOUGH FIGHT,
FOUR LITERS AND IT’S COMING OUT MY EARS!
EACH GLASS OF LIQUID MAKES ME NAUSEOUS,
EVERY SWALLOW FILLS MY EYES WITH TEARS,
STILL I KEEP A-DRINKIN’, AS I‘M A-THINKIN’,
THAT MY STOOL IS WATERY AND CLEAR.
I HAVE THE CLEANEST, PINKEST COLON,
NO SLUDGE IS HIDING AT ALL ANYWHERE,
I HAD IT CHECKED; WITH A HOSE PUSHED PAST MY NECK,
AND I DID IT WITHOUT WEARING UNDERWEAR!
MY BOWEL IS BLOATED LIKE A SAUSAGE,
WITH AIR COMPRESSED THAT’S PUMPED IN FAST,
I HEARD THEM SOUND THE WARNING,
AS ERUPTIONS STARTED FORMING,
AND TURNED AWAY TO AVOID THE BLAST OF GAS!
THE PROCEDURE ONLY TOOK ABOUT AN HOUR,
NOW I’M AS HAPPY AS CAN BE.
BACK I’M IN MY ROOM, WITH A SMILE FOR ALL TO SEE,
I JUST HAD MY COLONOSCOPHY!
CHA, CHA, CHA!
To each of you I wish good health.