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One Of Life's Simple Pleasures--The Colonoscopy

By Pete Whalon
June 18, 2012

Have you had one yet? I recently completed my second colonoscopy, so while the nightmare is still fresh in my mind, let me relate the pros and cons of the preparation and procedure.

Pros: You will probably lose two or three lbs. Now that I've covered the pros, let's move on to the cons.

Cons: The day before preparation: Have a light breakfast then you're done eating for at least 24 hours. Before beginning the regiment of drinking the dirty dishwater tasting solution and dashing to the john, you must prepare your bathroom in advance for those countless visits. Set up a small TV on the counter. Stock with magazines, books, laptop, etc. You will be spending the majority of your "quality" time there over the next six-plus hours. With your super-laxative solution mixed in, you will be consuming enough clear liquid over the first few tortuous hours to fill a small backyard swimming pool (at least it felt like it to me). Guess what happens after about 45 minutes? Correct. This is where the TV comes in handy. Don't forget the remote. By the way, you will not sleep that night due to a simple fact--it is impossible to race to the bathroom while snoring. A little tip--schedule your procedure for first thing in the morning.

Your ride: If your spouse is not working and willing to take you, you're lucky. If not, you will need a good friend to step up. From pick up to drop off will cover about 4 to 5 hours. Now you're indebted to your pal, and if you have buddies like mine you'll pay double. About two months after my first procedure, Monte called on me to help him move--seven back-breaking hours of lifting bulky, cut-rate furniture onto a truck then hauling his tacky furnishings off the truck. Is that fair?

The hospital: The sadistic medical personnel will require you to be there 90 minutes before insertion. It took me three minutes to register. I had to sit in the lobby listening to two behemoth women with matching tattoos on their legs vulgarly discuss their divorces and how all men are rotten dogs. They intentionally raised their voices to make sure I heard the declaration. I think they were starving and just taking it out on me. I digress.

The procedure prep: "Go into the bathroom and take off all your clothes and put this on, leave the opening in back," the perky young nurse instructed. After completing the task I was escorted to a hospital bed where three nurses descended on me like vultures swooping down on a severely wounded wildebeest. They took my blood pressure, inserted an IV, checked my vitals and asked what seemed to be numerous irrelevant questions. "Do you think the Giants can win back-to-back Superbowls?" Actually, I may have asked the nurse that question. I was nervous. Two orderlies rolled me into the procedure room. My doctor made a little small talk as the anesthesiologist injected fluid into my arm. Next thing I knew I'm back in the original cubicle asking for some water. My doctor stopped by, gave me the good news that he had discovered no problems, then spoke the words that were music to my ears--"see you in five or six years Pete!"

The after party: This was a toss-up between a pro or a con. Since I still had a buzz from the anesthesia and extremely hungry, I instructed Monte (my driver) to stop at Joe's Diner in Redondo so I could stuff myself. I recklessly ordered a pastrami sandwich with extra pastrami, extra cheese and a large order of chili fries with a chocolate malt. By the time I returned home I had to sprint to the bathroom once more, barely making the sink before losing my lunch, literally. In hindsight, I believe the nurse warned me to take it slow for a few hours and don't eat anything too heavy, maybe have some soup.

Summary: Colonoscopies are a necessary evil. Do NOT put one off to avoid a little discomfort. As my dear departed mother often told me when I would complain about trivial problems--"Peter Whalon, suffer in silence!"

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About the author: Pete Whalon recently published his first book— “The Saigon Zoo: Vietnam's Other War; Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n Roll.” It's a humorous memoir of his 22 months as an Army Private in Vietnam, 1969-71. Check out his web site: www.SaigonZoo.com The 1st chapter is on the site for your reading pleasure!



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