Friday, August 13, 2004
So the day before yesterday when Médecin-sans-frontières who was to undergo a screening colonoscopy kept excusing himself to go to the little boys room kept apologizing, I had to tell him to stop worrying about grossing me out. I’d already seen it all (on that topic, at least). Everyone over the age of fifty needs to screen for colorectal cancer every four or five years with a simple fecal test. My friend, who is very much younger than fifty and has a history of colorectal cancer in his family, had to start screening with a colonoscopy when he was fifteen years younger than the age his closest family member was when they were diagnosed.
Part of the preparation for this procedure is to drink a vile, gag-inducing potion that cleans out every nook and cranny of ones digestive tract. Along with this concoction comes a forty-eight-hour fast during which you may drink nothing but clear liquids and eat nothing but jello, which is congealed clear liquid. From what I could tell, this is even more fun than it sounds. Observing my friend that afternoon as he oscillated between hunger-induced hallucinations and wrenching bowel movements, I could hardly wait for my own, very first colonoscopy.
We did, however, have a very good, very surreal conversation on the nature of life, love, and the universe that would have made Bergman proud. Neither of us discussed the possible results of the procedure he was about to undergo.
The next morning little fluffy pink clouds flounced in tiny puffs around his head as he sat in the recovery room when I arrived at the hospital to pick him up. Now of all my smiley friends, Médecin-sans-frontières is the one with the biggest, brightest smile. I can see it across the room in a dark bar when I arrive late. I hear it when we speak on the phone. The smile that greeted me was probably the largest I have ever seen, but it wasn’t big enough to mask his dilated pupils.
“Hey there!” Up went his arms into the air.
“Hey. How’s it going?”
“Great! Well, they pumped me full of air so I really really have to fart . . . oops!” he tittered through his fingers like a child who’d just said a dirty word in front of Teacher. “I’m on valium and demerol”, he explained.
“I can hardly notice. And did they give you your results?”
“Oh yeah. I’m fine.” He shook is head knowingly. “I knew I’d be fine. I’m a doctor.”
“Well, that’s great then!”
“Oh yeah! It’s been a great morning! I am so hungry!”
A great morning, eh. Well, sign me up for my colonoscopy because I want to have a great morning too.
To celebrate his healthy colon, he selected the ever-health conscious MacDonald’s as the first solid food to pass his lips in over two days. We munched on warm worm’n’grease burgers as we floated back to his place, both of us healthy and happy. The breeze was warm and the burgers were tasty. He glided through the sunlight along the sidewalk and I strolled beside him and I didn’t much care where we were going. It was a good morning.
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