Time to scratch yet another topic off the ol' Newspaper Columnist Bucket List.
There are a number of specific life events that columnists simply cannot pass up writing about at some point in their careers. The birth of a child. The death of a pet. Anything to do with the good old days, back when we still used to love America/respect our elders/use typewriters.
And right up there near the top of that list of subjects we columnists love to tackle: "Writing a first-person account of a moderately embarrassing medical procedure."
Well, I'd say my inaugural colonoscopy last week definitely falls into that category.
Truth be told, the colonoscopy was an early Christmas gift from my wife. I'm 51 (although, judging by reader comments, you wouldn't know it by the new, youthful-looking photo accompanying this column), and she's been after me to have my colon looked at ever since I hit the big five-oh. Which I just never got around to. So, knowing I was taking a few days off in mid-December, she set up a colonoscopy appointment for me.
Merry Christmas, darling.
"The procedure itself is a breeze," everyone will tell you. "The worst part is the preparation."
Ah, yes. You have to "prep" your colon for the procedure. Preparation is a two-day ordeal involving copious amounts of water, Gatorade and Jell-O, combined with a surprisingly effective laxative and nearly a gallon of this antifreeze-like concoction that does heaven-knows-what to your insides. The result is a regimen that completely cleanses your digestive tract.
And, for the record? No good has ever come from the use of the word "cleanse" in a sentence.
At the hospital, as they were wheeling me away on the gurney, I happened to mention how the procedure was a Christmas gift from my wife, and a nurse pointed out that studies show married men live longer than single men. One of the reasons is that men aren't very good about taking care of themselves, healthwise, and it's good to have a woman around to remind them to get things like health screenings.
"Maybe married men don't live longer," I mumbled in my sedative-induced stupor just before losing consciousness. "Maybe it just feels that way."
The female nurses in the room exchanged sharp glances, and my final panicky thought before blacking out was that I'd wake in the recovery room to discover they'd opted for a completely different procedure than the one I'd gone in for, if you catch my meaning.
The best part about getting a colonoscopy? They won't let you go home until you've repeatedly broken wind for them. Apparently, as part of the procedure, they pump your colon full of air, and you need to eliminate it afterward.
So one of the first things I remember as I was coming out of sedation -- after checking to make sure all of my body parts were still where I'd left them -- was the nurse giving me permission to go ahead and break wind. Often and loudly.
Well, you don't have to tell a guy like me twice. Especially when he's about half-loopy on sedatives.
And each time they'd hear one of these bad boys out at the nurses station, they'd all clap and cheer and make a big fuss like I'd just won the lottery. It was a touching holiday moment, really.
Now, seeing as how it's less than a week to Christmas, I know that many of you -- at least the ones without an actual life -- eagerly look forward to our annual holiday music offering here in this space. So here it is, the Eighth Annual Standard-Examiner Life at the Top o' Utah Holiday Gift o' Music Gala Giveaway and Karaoke Extravaganza.
This year, it's not strictly a holiday tune per se. But certainly, few things say "Merry Christmas" like the gift of a diagnostic gastrointestinal test.
The song is sung to the tune of an old LDS Primary song that used to be called "Genealogy -- I Am Doing It," but now goes by the title "Family History -- I Am Doing It." Sing along, won't you? ...
Colonoscopy, I am getting one/ A colonoscopy/ And the reason I'll let them peer up there/ I'm nearly fifty-three (Composer's note: Married men may opt to substitute this line with "My wife is making me")/ I have put it off, 'cause the colon prep/ is nasty as can be/ Still, I'll get my colonoscopy/ And hope I'm cancer-free.
So, pardon the pun, but what's the bottom line here? Just this: I'm happy to report that my colon is clean as a whistle, and the doctor said I could wait another 10 years before my next colonoscopy.
Which means the wife will have to come up with another gift idea next December.
Christmas catheter, anyone?
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase colonoscopy gift certificates. They make great stocking stuffers!