Getting to The Bottom of It

Posted on November 9, 2017 under Storytelling with 2 comments

Pre-surgery meal


“ This is the end, beautiful friend,

This is the end , my only friend, the end.”

The End. The Doors

I’m not so certain that Jim Morrison of The Doors was referring to the gluteus maximus when he penned this song in the mid 60’s.

None of us is going to live forever. Most  people don’t want to live a long life if they are going to be plagued with poor health. Most people I know, given their druthers,  would choose “ quality of time over quantity of time.” We are all aware of the things that we can do to mitigate risks and give us a fighting chance at longevity. But no one can make us eat properly or get us to exercise. Our doctor ( and our spouses! ) can advocate moderation in all things, especially vices like alcohol, tobacco and sweets. At the end of the day, we are “ masters of our own destiny.”

In other words, doing our best to prevent illness would seem to be a laudable objective.

We are deluged on a daily basis about advances in medicine, especially when it comes to cures for many cancers. Just about every family has a family member or knows someone who is going through cancer. There are many fundraisers in support of “ the cure.”  Billions and billions of dollars are being spent on research in an effort to eradicate this scourge once and for all. Not many would dispute these efforts  but one wonders about the other side of the equation , namely, prevention. I haven’t seen many fun runs in support of “ the prevention.”

Many years ago, Cancer Care Nova Scotia piloted a colon cancer prevention program. It starts with a “ do it yourself” kit that they send to everyone in Nova Scotia between the ages of 54-74. The program is designed to help find cancerous and pre-cancerous growths. The test is done every two years and I have been doing it since inception. To find out more visit

About 6 weeks ago, I did the test and the results came back as abnormal. I was surprised but not alarmed. My lifestyle is far from perfect but as a non-smoker, non-drinker, an active walker and an adherent  of a reasonably healthy diet, I didn’t think that I would receive this news. Yes, I have been accused on more than one occasion of being full of shit but I thought that that was only a metaphor!

I was strongly urged to have a colonoscopy.

I had an appointment with a nurse at St. Martha’s who walked me through the upcoming procedure. I was told not to worry as, more often than not, cancer is not found. They might have to remove a pre-cancerous polyp but most people come out unscathed.

Do you have a seat belt on your toilet? If you’re going to have a colonoscopy, I would highly recommend one! In the preceding 24 hours  before the day surgery , you’re restricted to clear liquids, starting first thing in the morning. This includes water, black tea or coffee, juices, jello and popsicles. At 4:00 p.m you take four little pills and a fizzy laxative. And then the fun begins. Quickly. I doubt if Mt. Vesuvius experienced eruptions quite like this. And just before going to bed, you consume another glass of the laxative. I can say with utter certainty, that, by sunrise, I had the clearest colon on the planet.

I arrived at the hospital at the appointed hour. After checking in at admitting, I walked down to day surgery and waited to be called. I looked at a chart on the walls seeing what things couldn’t be worn during the test. I sat with the day surgery nurse to complete the last of the paperwork. When she asked me if I had any more questions, I told her that I was quite upset. She looked alarmed but I assured her that I wasn’t one bit worried about the procedure.  I took umbrage that I couldn’t wear make up while the colonoscopy tube was being inserted into my nether regions. We both had a good laugh.

It helps when you know the surgeon who is going to shove a tube up your rectum. We shared a few family stories and even some laughter before the anesthetic was inserted into my IV. I woke up in the recovery room to a good cup of tea and a muffin. I had no recollection whatsoever of the actual procedure. There was a note by my bed from the doctor indicating that they had removed a small polyp from the lining of the colon.

I was picked up by my better half and we drove back to the apartment. En route, I had some fairly serious pains in my abdomen. I wondered if the doctor had taken a detour with the scope . Then I remembered that the colon is inflated during the procedure to give the surgeon a better look.  The gas build up went away quickly.

After no solid food for the better part of 40 hours, I was ravenous. As much as I craved some spicy Indian food, I thought better of that and dined on scrambled eggs and toast… and three Reese’s peanut butter cups, a holdover from Halloween.

I am a big believer in prevention and taking part in this cancer screening program is a great place to start. I received excellent care along the way.

I would like to propose a toast to the health care system: “ Bottoms up.” !




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