Monday, December 04, 2006

"I am Larry's colon. . ."

"So, at 56-years-old and with colon cancer in my family history, I enjoyed my first colonoscopy last Thursday morning.

Before I reflect on my experience a bit, let me give you some good, but free, advice.

If you are 50 or older and if you have not had the procedure, schedule it now. Colon cancer is not only highly responsive to treatment leading to a cure, it is also preventable. Talk to your doctor if you are in my age bracket.

Back to my experience.

Those who say the “preparation” for the exam is the worst part of the deal are absolutely correct! Different physicians approach the pre-test “cleansing” differently. Mine prescribed two 1.5 ounce bottles of "magic" fleet. From late afternoon until midnight I was focused on drinking the medication and following it with lots and lots of clear liquid. And, of course, dealing with the delightful brew’s effects! Let’s just say that by sunrise I was completely purged and ready for step two.

Of course, I was scared as I headed into the test itself.

My mom had colon cancer in her late 60s. Thankfully, she is still with us at 85! So, I suppose I had reason to be concerned about what the doc might find.

Lying there waiting to be wheeled off into the “procedure room,” allowed my mind to range wide and wild. The experience forced me to come to grips with my age, my mortality and with the fact that life is lived one second at a time and we all must live into the moments.

The test itself was a breeze.

The new meds they have perfected to let you snooze while the medical team is checking you out are wonderful! I fell asleep quickly—about 10 seconds! Next thing I know, I am back in a holding area talking to a nurse who informed me that I was “clean as a whistle”—no polyps, no tumors, no more of this until 2011.

I am very fortunate. Very fortunate.

And, I am thankful. Or, as one witty friend said, "Good to have it behind you, huh?" Terrible pun! Thankfully, I can smile.

I came out of the experience with a number of impressions.

For one thing, racism is not only morally reprehensible, evil and always offensive, it is downright stupid and fundamentally unworkable. Of course, that has always been true, but it is so easy to experience personally these days. The medical staff from check-in to wheelchair out looked just like. . .er, . . .America! You thought I was going to say the United Nations, didn’t you?

Wonderful, devoted, talented, compassionate, generous human beings from every background and nationality taking care of me. It was wonderful. I needed the help and they delivered it. It was a community of caring. Why would anyone want to miss out on the wonderful human diversity available to us in this country today?

On the “patient satisfaction/exit” survey I filled out, the last question was something like, “What one thing do you think we should work on based on your experience.”

That was easy to answer: “See to it that everyone gets this kind of efficient, tender, kind, high-quality care as standard operating procedure.”

My wait time was very short, though it took several weeks to get an appointment; but then, my test was routine and preventative in nature rather than urgent.

My insurance card opened every door. I even deferred having to satisfy the annual deductible a second time by informing the check-in person that I had paid that to the physician several weeks earlier. She took my word for it and I paid a very small fee.

The medical staff took care of everything with a smile and good cheer. Even the needles didn’t hurt and I received a blanket for the ice-cold exam room that came fresh out of a heated storage cabinet!

I could go on and on. My point is real simple. If I received this kind of care, so should everyone else. I am not special.

I planned to upload the digital photos of the inside of my colon for your inspection. But, Brenda thought that might be a bit much. My motive for doing that would have been to encourage you to go get you a set of these delightful photos of your own colon. You won’t regret it.

In the meantime, I hope we can continue to work on a movement to see that everyone in our nation receives the kind of health care we are capable of delivering—just like what I enjoyed last Thursday.


Anonymous said...

We have a full photo album filled with pictures of the inside of Tatum's stomach and colon. Imagine drinking that wonderful cocktail and endure that procedure 6 times in 6 weeks. She did...ugh!
I have to AMEN! your comments about medical treatment. It's a beautifully diverse community down at Children's hospital and we watch nurses and doctors from all backgrounds work on kids from all backgrounds. It's an even playing field down there and we all depend on each other to survive it.


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say a hearty Amen to your recommendation to have this test if you are over 50. I have had at least 8. Polyps were found in earlier one and removed and I have been clear since. Prevention is the way to go! Maybe one day they will come up with a way to avoid that wonderful gallon of liquid...surly they can find a pill for that!

MarkS said...

Larry: I've had three of those wonderful tests and I must say, they get better each time. Glad you're well and wish you many years of health and peace.

Steve Sr.

mom23 said...

OK, I had that crappy test a few months ago and when I came out I was not thinking about how much I loathe racism. I was just thankful it was over and that I was given the 'all clear'. Kudos to you for giving it greater meaning and significance.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda!

Anonymous said...

A M E N ! ! Every person should be able to have these tests! We truly need a socialized medical program in the United States.

Anonymous said...

I don’t know anyone who comes out of a colonoscopy with such joy and perspective. Thanks for keeping your respect for life, all lives, in perspective in addition to some very important dimensions of living in this great land.