Friday, June 14, 2013

Colonoscopy Day

A lot of you are going to think me crazy when I tell you that yesterday was my favorite day of the year.  Its not because I randomly have a favorite day that you might question my sanity, but because it was Colonoscopy Day.  That is correct.  I have not made a typo.  And yes, I know you probably would have really questioned my touch with reality had you been here the day before.  Drinking one gallon of liquid laxative "as quickly" as one can within a three hour time span, does not qualify in the field of things to do for fun.  But (and I hesitate to use that word), it is a necessary prerequisite to completion of the process for the following day.  I keep hoping that when I call to make an appointment for the procedure, the person on the other end will tell me that something new has been invented and how lucky I am that I didn't book earlier.  Alas, that did not happen and I went through the prep day cursing everything and everyone and drinking, drinking, drinking all the while trying new additives to make the thick clear liquid more palatable.  Sorry Ocean Spray, I have to abandon your product line.  I will never feel the same about you.

I am not going to go into details about "My Colonoscopy" here so you can feel free and safe to keep on reading.  I will explain why I consider "The Day" to be a favorite.  I have risk factors for colon cancer, lots of them.  My mother had not one colon cancer, but two different growths.  I watched her die just as she did her own father.  His colon cancer was unavoidable.  Technology had not yet allowed for early detection.  My mother was never given the proper encouragement and did not avail herself of that technology.  She needed that encouragement but was allowed to avoid testing until symptoms appeared. She was embarrassed to death. Not only did her father succumb to colon cancer but at least two of his brothers also did.  I'm thinking there were more but I never needed to know more.  Mother, maternal grandfather.  I'm on board.

Sure, I was totally terrified when it became my turn to have my first invasive procedure.  It took all of the bravery I could muster.  I had been on the other (excuse me but this fits) end of similar procedures many times. My colleague, Howard Leaman, and I made lots of money for our hospital when we put sigmoidoscopies on the menu of Occupational Health Services and we trained our nurses in how to assist. We rarely had happy patients and we did not use conscious sedation let alone total anesthesia.  Ouch!
I remember crying to the kind nurse as I readied myself  that first time. I totally broke down with emotion, so scared that a tumor would be found and my fate would soon be sealed.  She was sympathetic and encouraging and after she stopped crying when she heard that I was an R.N. who worked weekdays only in a beautiful office in Manhattan, she told me this and I have never forgotten it: "This test saves lives, there isn't anything better:" And as the years went by in my professional life, I repeated those words countless times as I encouraged my clients. " Just do it!"

So, when the prepping is over and it's time for me, I lie back on the gurney in the pre-procedure room and I accept every offer.  Warm blankets?  Oxygen?  I.V. to get that line open for the anesthesia?  Remote control for the T.V.?  Call button for the nurses?  "Yes, thank you" to all.  I love nurses.  And anesthesiologists, they really rock and while I am not exactly Michael Jackson, I do love Propofol.  No more waking up dopey, no more hangovers.  Wide awake following the procedure to hear the lovely words "see you in five years, nothing found"   I love Colonoscopy Day. Yesterday was an exceptionally nice one when I topped it off with a call to my father.  Good news for a change.  Yes!!

Prevention.  Early detection and intervention.  Words to live by.

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