Like many baby boomer men, I was long overdue in seeking out a colonoscopy. I often thought of it as a procedure that means exactly what is sounds like and far from how it is presented over cocktails as ‘taking it up the ass for your own good’. Now my perception of a routine, yet carefully managed pipe inspection was gradually evolving into a project that would require planning, expertise and a camera that you are not likely to find at Best Buy.
For this vast undertaking (and I use ‘undertaking’ as the most appropriate term here), my regular doctor referred me to a specialist, a master of gastroenterology or as I consider him, a master of gastroexitology, or better still a true backdoor man.
In advance of my appointment with the esteemed Dr. O, I took it upon myself to watch a YouTube video of a colonoscopy being administered to Harry Smith, formerly of CBS’s Early Show. Harry was magnificent. He chronicled the process from the necessary system flush the night before, to an informative, narrative chat while the procedure was taking place. After viewing Harry’s colonoscopy, I concluded that there should be nothing to it. Why did I put it off for so long?
I arrived at the office of Dr. O. for my pre-colonoscopy meeting/exam armed with a newfound confidence and swagger. The receptionist/bouncer was the ideal office steward. She was cordial, yet firm. I do not feel that I am any less of a man by admitting that I would probably lose to her in a street fight. She just had that way about her. As the apparent sole gatekeeper of this enterprise, she had instantaneously brought me back down to the patient level by handing me a pen and a clipboard with a questionnaire to fill out about my health history. Taking a seat in the empty waiting area, I sped right through this task and proudly handed the clipboard right back to her, eagerly seeking her approval for a job well done.
The receptionist/bouncer did not even take a glance at my handiwork. She tossed my questionnaire aside and nonchalantly mumbled, “I’ll let you know when the doctor is ready to see you”.
I went back to my seat and sat quietly. A mere 3 minutes later and without any warning, she stood up and with the exuberance of a ‘Heeeeere’s Johnny!’ she announced, “Dr. O. is ready to see you now!”
With that proclamation, the interior door swung open and a beaming Dr. O. walked out. Ready to shake my hand he said, “Hello, I’m Dr. O., glad to meet you”.
I jumped out of my seat, shook his hand and said, “It’s good to meet you, doctor. I’m Bob”.
The doctor had a calm intellectual bearing, a sort of university chancellor persona. In keeping with this persona, he was rocking the hell out of a nifty bowtie. He welcomed me into his office and closed the door behind us. He gestured me toward a seat and got comfortable in a high-back chair behind his large, mahogany desk. His office had the feel of a Hollywood movie set for a doctor’s office. It was furnished with rich oak bookcases, elegantly filled with leather-bound medical texts. The walls were adorned with awards, diplomas, travel photos and expensive artwork. I thought to myself, “If I’m going to have medical equipment shoved up my ass, I want this guy doing it”.
“So,” he said, “what brings you to see me today?”
Avoiding any smart-aleck remarks about a contraption with four wheels on it, I replied, “Well, doctor, I’m at the age where it’s time for me to have my first colonoscopy”.
“Do you have any issues that you are concerned about?” he worried.
“Nope”, I shook my head, “I just think it’s time”.
Dr. O nodded and asked, “And, you were referred to me by whom?”
“You came highly recommended by Dr. C.”. I answered.
“Dr. C. . . .” he nodded, “a very fine doctor”.
“Yes, he is”, I added.
“Are you familiar with the procedure?” he wondered.
“Absolutely”. I said. “In fact, I just watched Harry Smith’s colonoscopy video on YouTube”.
The doctor stiffened up a bit, as if to convey, “Who the fuck is Harry Smith?”
To elaborate, I said, “The former anchor of the CBS Early Show. They did it as a special feature”.
“Good for you”, Dr. O. surmised, “You understand the process. Good”.
He spun himself around and began shuffling through a planner resting atop an oversized console. Speaking directly at the planner, he said, “The first available opening is next Tuesday at 1:15pm”.
Without hesitation, I accepted by saying, “I’ll take it!” (Yeah, I’ll take it up the ass).
Dr. O. spun back around to face me and said, “Good. Now I’m going to write you a prescription for your body flush kit. You can pick it up at any pharmacy. You’re going to start taking the solution at about 6pm next Monday, the night before. Don’t drink it all at once. Some people like to get it out of the way, but you’ll have a better experience if you drink it slowly over the next 4 hours. All of the waste will be out of your system by the time you go to bed”.
He opened one of his desk drawers, pulled out an informational worksheet and said, “Just follow these instructions. They’ll tell you everything you need to do. The hospital where we’ll perform the colonoscopy is right across the street from here. You’ll arrive about 45 minutes earlier and check in at the 4th floor service desk. Sound good?”
Taking it all in, I replied right back, “Yes, doctor, I think I’ve got it”.
“Excellent”, he chimed in cheerfully.
Dr. O. scribbled out my prescription and handed it out to me. He shook my hand and assured me, “You’ll do fine. See you next week”.
I answered back, “Thank you, doctor. I’ll see you next week”.
Walking out of Dr. O’s office with my prescription in hand, I came to understand that I was about to experience what most people joke about, but is unequivocally and quite literally a shit storm.
(Part 4 will be posted after my colonoscopy)