Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cleaning House

As a boy, we learn that to be a man, you need to shave.  A kid who shaves is mature, worldly and in the eyes of his peers, all grown up.  Many discourage the boy from shaving too soon.  “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up,” we are told.  We do not listen.  We do not fear the potential nicks and cuts.  Our fear is overcome by the desire to be a man.  Some boys may heed the advice and wait until the last possible second to take a dangerous sharp blade to the neck.  Not me.  I wanted to grow up.  “Let’s get on with it.”
With slightly less enthusiasm, I approach my routine colonoscopy tomorrow.  Like that first shave, it is a rite of passage, not from boy to man but from man to old man.  When I turned 50, I knew that this procedure would be on the menu, and I vowed to be ready and face it like a man.  Technically, I guess “face it” would be directionally incorrect, but you get the point.
“Mr. De Ville, I’m ready for my close up.”
I know men that put this particular rite of passage off for as long as possible and that is completely understandable.  It is what doctors call “invasive’.  I imagined that it might hurt and cause some post-procedural discomfort, but it couldn’t hurt any more than getting that AARP application in the mail.  A colonoscopy might hurt for a day or two.  That application has been causing me a slow burn, sitting in my in box, for weeks now.  My insides are cramping just thinking about those senior discounts on travel and medical aids.
It was my belief that as soon after my 50th birthday as is reasonable, I should get this procedure done.  If insurance will cover it 100% as a preventative measure, it must be good.  With the trusty referral in hand, I called the physician’s office about 3 weeks before my actual birthday for an available appointment.  I would not procrastinate.  I was kindly informed that the doctor’s office does not set any appointments until the patient has reached 50 years of age.  I had to call back in a few weeks and then schedule the date.
This concerned me a little.  I was curious as to how many appointments were made by patients before their 50th birthdays but never lived to actually show up for the appointment.  Had to be a big number of no shows, otherwise, why couldn’t I get on their calendar now?  What did they know that I didn’t?  I wondered if their scheduling system was hard coded with the option for “No Show – Deceased Before 50th”.  My sphincter reflexively tightened.
Appointment Set
The preparatory instructions had some unusual restrictions.  No vegetables or nuts 2 days before the procedure.  I hate when you’re told that there is something that you cannot have.  You’ll never guess what I spend the whole day craving.  Now I know how tough it must have been on poor Adam and Eve.  They could have eaten anything they wanted, but Yahweh had to mention that the apple was part of their dietary restrictions.  Of course they craved apples after that.  No wonder they cracked.  Today, even lima beans sound good.
While some of the restrictions played with my food-deprived mind, the specificity of the instructions was comforting.  The worksheet took me through each day step by step.  What did trouble me however were the egregious spelling mistakes.  There were two that I could not countenance (or you might say, I couldn’t incontinence).   One was the word drinking spelled “dinking”, and the other was the word two spelled as “tow”  There was even a numeric ‘2’ after the word “tow”, just to be sure.  This lack of attention to detail from an organization that would soon insert a camera into my rectum gave me pause.  If they were this casual with their spelling, could I be confident that they could handle such a delicate procedure?  I needed a focused staff that took pride in their work, not some knucklehead who couldn’t diagram a sentence.
Moving Day
Well, tomorrow is the Big Day, so today is officially called Moving Day (in a manner of speaking).       
It was important to me that I weigh myself before the fasting and then soon after the procedure, before I resume a normal eating regime.  That way, when someone tells me that I am full of shit, I’ll know exactly how to quantify that statement by calculating the difference.  This may sound silly to you, but perhaps you are not told that you are full of shit as often as I am.  I need a number.
If there is one part of the process that I was looking forward to it was the house cleaning.  I was looking forward to having a colon so clean you could eat off of it.  It’s a small benefit that I know won’t last long given the demands of metabolism, but for a few hours anyway, I’ll have that new car smell.
Since the power wash was coming, I was confident that I could indulge myself a little without guilt. I had to completely overwhelm my intestinal track before the full house cleaning.  I needed a pork roll sandwich.
If you are not from New Jersey or those parts, you cannot appreciate the culinary delight of a grilled pork roll sandwich.  I prefer mine with cheddar cheese, mustard, and Classen pickle slices.  I ate that sandwich last night and it was delicious.  I ate it with the confidence of knowing that by 6 PM today, all traces of that pork roll would be washed away in the flood.  Should (God forbid) they discover any issues during the fantastic voyage, I promise you that Cherie will blame the pork roll.
Before I drink the magic potion however and stop using this keyboard for the evening, I read this:
From MSNBC today:
Colonoscopies could be made a bit more comfortable for people if they involved lying in a CT scanner, rather than being probed with an endoscope, and at the same time didn't require drinking upward of a gallon of laxative fluid beforehand — current requirements that most consider unpleasant.
A new type of "virtual colonoscopy" that uses CT scans to construct images of the colon, as well as to virtually "clean" the organ, was just as effective as a standard colonoscopy in finding colon polyps 1 centimeter or larger in size, a new study finds. Most polyps, or growths on the lining of the colon, are benign, but some can turn cancerous.
This is better than discovering the painless convenience of the electric Norelco shaver instead of the bloody inconvenience of the facially intrusive double edged blades, but the virtual colonoscopy news comes too late for me.  Soon, the light of day will shine on my crystal clean interior, and I will finally feel my age. 
Wish me luck.


  1. Joe, just think of Chuckles the Clown, 'cept the seltzer is going up your pants. Great post.

    And... I have awarded you...


  2. I'd like to thank all the little people who made this award possible.

    1. well, you can when you pass on the award, if you want to do that. i realized sheepishly that it was a chain letter, albeit the nice kind, and i appreciated the kudos. if you don't have a blog to nominate then there it is! :) you deserve though. you work hard and you make me laugh out loud or want to hurl the computer out the window (which would be expensive, actually, so i don't do that) and that's saying something.