I assumed the tales were exaggerated, but I traveled to meet my future father-in-law for the first time with a healthy dose of caution.
I just had a colonoscopy. I was five years late, but I did it. During breast cancer awareness month. Everywhere you go this month you see pink ribbons for the cause. Don’t get me wrong, breast cancer awareness saves lives and, yes, I had a mammogram too. But, I wonder why colon cancer screening doesn’t get as much attention. I think it has something to do with the marketing.
There are pretty pink ribbons on hats, car bumpers, and yogurt cartons. There are walks for the cure. There’s even a pink ribbon pie. Strawberry and chocolate with pink candy ribbon sprinkles. For every pie sold, a dollar is donated to the Susan B Kolman Breast Cancer Foundation. I was happy to help out, but how about some marketing for colonoscopy screening? Where are the colon cancer awareness ribbons? What color are they? When is colon cancer awareness month? What flavor of pie do they offer?
I wanted to get to the bottom of this, pun intended, so I did a little research. It turns out the “cure colon cancer” ribbon is blue. But so is childhood cancer, prostate cancer and, autism. Having had a colonoscopy, I can tell you there’s nothing blue involved. There’s a lot of brown. Why isn’t the ribbon brown?Colon cancer awareness month is March. It’s too cold here in Minnesota in March to walk for a cure. Maybe, we could ice fish. There’s no colon cancer ribbon pie, by the way.
I hear that some women are setting up girl’s day out mammograms and some medical establishments are offering spa days mammograms. You get a massage, a glass of champagne, a piece of chocolate, and a little “me time” all while getting screened for cancer.
What does the colonoscopy offer? A few days of a “special” diet, which is all white, soft, and boring. Then there’s a day of clear liquids only. Broth, jello, popsicles, and juice. It sounds ok at first. After all, when is the last time you had jello for breakfast? But, after breakfast, it gets old quick. And none of the liquids can be red. That rules out strawberry, cherry and raspberry. What else is there? Who wants lime jello? We send men to the moon. Can’t we make a clear liquid diet with a little variety? I’ll have cheeseburger flavored broth with French fry jello. All clear, please. And, how about a chocolate chip cookie popsicle for dessert. Make that clear too.
Then there’s the prep. While the ladies are getting dressed up for their spa day, lucky colonoscopy patients, get the “cleansing”. Lots of “me” time in the bathroom. I have felt almost this bad before, but it was a hangover, so at least I had some fun beforehand. I could describe the prep further, but I will just quote my nurse. She asked the standard medical question “ Are you being hurt or abused at home?” Then she felt compelled to add “other than the prep?”
You finally get to the big day. First, there’s the robes. The ladies at the mammo spa have pink gowns and fluffy robes. The colon clinic has your basic hospital gown, thin, no color, open in the back, please. How about something a bit more fitting the occasion? Brown velour, maybe.
Once you’re dressed, they take you into a darkened room and you get something called twilight sleep. Sounds pretty good. Sorta sexy with the mood lighting and all. There’s a warm blanket and a T.V. monitor. Is there a movie? No, it’s not that kinda T.V screen. Even at the dentist, you get T.V. with your nitrous. The ladies at the mammo spa are getting orchids and kittens, the colon folks see a pulsing pink tunnel peeking through the haze of their twilight sleep sedation. It’s a bad trip. If you can even remember it.
If you can’t remember, it’s a nice nap, but it’s over too soon. Sit up, the nurse says, but which one of her said it? I see three. Then they ask inappropriate questions – Have you passed gas yet? They want to be sure the air that gets blown “up there” during the procedure comes back out. Remember, there’s a roomful of us recovering in cubicles together. I was told it would be musical. “Don’t worry” they say “it’s the only time you are allowed to pass gas freely. Don’t be embarrassed, it’s only room air. There’s no smell. ”
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe there’s a way to perk up the colonoscopy experience and make the atmosphere more spa-like. Instead of boring old room air, the docs could offer a choice of fragrances to the air they blow up there. Now the horn section smells like strawberries. Or raspberries.
Until they make some improvements, I’m glad I have it behind me.