Colonoscopies are a necessary evil
Here’s a little peek into the curious, ever-wandering, mischievous mind of a seven-year-old.
The scene: It’s Friday morning and I have just awakened my granddaughter Lexi so that she can eat breakfast and get ready for school. Still in her nightgown, she sits on one side of the kitchen bar eating her bowl of Fruity Pebbles. I am on the other side of the bar, counting out my own breakfast - a feast of five pills for various medical ailments and a cup of much-needed coffee.
Lexi: “Hey Papi, is it going to be cold today?”
Me: “Yes it will, Pickles (My pet name for her). The high is supposed to be 76. Remember we talked yesterday about it being the first day of fall and how the weather was going to get cooler?”
Lexi: “Yeah. Is it going to snow?”
Me: “No, sweetie. It’s not going to be that cold.
Lexi: “Can I wear a jacket to school?”
Me: “Sure thing.”
Lexi: “Have the trees started changing colors?”
Me: “Not yet, honey, but soon.”
Lexi: “But you just went outside a second ago. Couldn’t you see the trees?”
Me: “It’s still dark, silly. I can’t see the trees yet, but I can tell you it will still be a few weeks before the leaves really start to change colors. Maybe we can take a ride to the mountains.”
A few moments of silence follows as she finishes the last few bites of her cereal and ponders the next impish inquiry in her line of questioning.
Lexi: “Hey Papi, are you ready for Monday?
I stare at her, clueless as to why her little mind skipped over the weekend and what possible reason I would have to be ready for Monday.
Me: “I’ve got no clue, hon. What’s happening on Monday.
The slightest of grins began to form on her face.
Lexi: “Liquid food, Papi. Don’t you remember?
Nothing gets past that child, I tell you.
Me: “Ugh! Thanks a lot for the reminder, goofy. Now go get ready school”
I had shared with her the day before that I would be going to the hospital on Tuesday so that doctors could make sure I was healthy and okay. When I told her they were going to do something called a colonoscopy, she asked if it would hurt. I explained that it wasn’t so bad and that I would not even be awake when they did it. With complete honesty, I also told her the hard part was the day before and that it was no fun. She, of course, asked why.
I told her that the doctors said I could not eat any solid food for 24 hours before the procedure and nothing at all after midnight. I said I could only have liquid foods like soup and Jell-O, but that is all.
To prepare her for the horrors of Monday afternoon and evening, I told her I would also have to take some medicine that would make me poop a lot – a whole lot.
Her response: “Ewwww!”
I did not explain to her about the 17-foot tube that would be slithering up my nether regions. You don’t want to give the child nightmares, for goodness sake.
I’m certain that rascal very much enjoyed the early morning jab she took at her Papi, knowing good and well that he was not looking forward to the torment that awaits. She loves me, but she sure has an odd way of showing it sometimes. I can envision her eating something delicious in front on me on Monday evening, teasing me with every bite.
“Mmmmmmmm. Papi, this is soooo good,” she will say. “Don’t you wish you could have some?”
I’ll respond with something like this.
“Ha, ha! Very funny, you little minx. Just wait until you turn 50. Your time is coming. Now get out of the way so Papi can take care of his business. Move!”
As I race by on my way to the bathroom, she’ll probably look at me and, with all of her seven-year-old sarcasm, tell me to “have fun.”
What a lovely child.
You can files colonoscopies under the categories of “necessary evil” and “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” Having turned 60, this will be the second time I’ve had to suck it up and deal with this most unpleasant experience. The first time was 10 years ago when I turned 50. I survived that one, so I suppose I will survive this one as well. I’m sure, however, the pre-op prep will be every bit as unsavory.
The truth is that while colonoscopies are no day at the beach, it’s really not as bad as everybody – including me - makes them out to be. They are very important and no one should put it off.
Consider some of these facts from the
American Cancer Society:
• In the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
• Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S.
• The risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women.
• It is the most easily detectable and preventable form of cancer.
Those statistics are sobering, but the last one is very good news. It should, however, come with an asterisk. If you don’t get checked – if you put off getting a colonoscopy for whatever reason – it is far less detectable.
In the end, pun intended, the rectal rigors far outweigh the risk. If a mere 24 hours of anal anguish is all it takes to ensure I will be healthy and provides me with a greater chance of seeing that pretty little pixie of mine grow up, then it’s totally worth it.
Contact Editor Bob Sloan at editor@florence>