This is what happens to you when your mom dies of colon cancer: doctors start insisting that you get your own colon looked at.

I’ve tried to explain that I’m not the type for procedures like colonoscopies. I’m sure that I don’t LIKE them, I said. And besides that, I feel just fine, colon-wise.

I didn’t get very far with that line of reasoning. Doctors have heard it all before. One of them–my mother’s surgeon, actually–said to me, “You know, your mom would be alive today if she’d had a colonoscopy a few decades ago. Colon cancer is very slow-growing, and we could have nipped that polyp right out of there before it even turned into cancer…you don’t want this to happen to you!”

It’s true. I don’t.

So I signed up and went to a nice gastroenterologist for a consultation appointment. He seemed very calm and he assured me of many things: It won’t hurt. I won’t know anything about it because I’ll go to sleep. The drugs are very, very good–so good that some people actually WANT to come for colonoscopies. AND, best of all, he said they now have a pill you can take rather than drink gallons of horrible liquid…for the, you know, colon-scouring you have to do beforehand.

“It’s nothing, it’s a piece of cake,” he said. “I do ten of these a day, and everyone does great.”

So I made my appointment and then two days later, I suddenly had a great idea about how to get around this colonoscopy business. I called up and canceled my appointment, cleverly rescheduling it for a date so far in advance that surely the world would have ended by then.

But–quelle surprise!–the world did NOT end, and now, unless those California wildfires suddenly engulf the whole nation in the next 24 hours, it looks like I’m really going to have to go through with this.

Today is my last day eating real food. Tomorrow I am to eat ONLY jello, chicken broth, and drink tea all day long. That’s it. And at 5 o’clock, I have to take 20 pills, four at a time, 15 minutes apart, drinking lots and lots of liquid with them.

According to all reports, that’s when the real fun begins.

Then I have to wake up at 6 in the morning on Friday (like I would have been sleeping, who are they kidding?)  and then I’m to take the last 12 pills.

And then…the colonoscopy itself. 

I’ve always gotten myself to do hard stuff by giving myself rewards. A trip to the dentist means that I get to order a black turtleneck shirt from Lands’ End. If I have to get a filling or a crown, I get a skirt, too. Regular doctor visits with blood work mean new earrings and possibly a milk shake.

But I frankly don’t know what will be good enough to get me through a colonoscopy. I think it’s going to take a trip to Europe or something, possibly a stint in the Greek Isles.

Of course, being told I’m not going to get colon cancer anytime soon–that would be good, too. Along with a nice lunch.   


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