The Colonoscopy … I Hope You Don’t Mind …

“& … I hope you don’t mind … ”

It is recommended that people 50 years of age and older undergo a periodic medical procedure called The Colonoscopy. I’m fairly sure most everyone knows some of the basics. A camera is snaked up one’s fundamental posterior aperture, assessing the condition of the colon. Quite difficult for the recipient to maintain even a modicum of dignity, to be sure.

I finally relented. There was one doctor I knew in particular who had lost his father shortly after the mid-century mark, and every time I visited him — for an altogether different medical condition — he would ask if I’d gone and done it yet. And each time he’d glower, and I guess I decided I could not bear a subsequent glowering.

An appointment was made, a date set, I visited a different doctor’s office the day before and received the instructions. Again, most everyone can guess the basics of the preparation. Mainly: make sure that there is NOTHING in your system. I don’t remember the names of the concoctions one has to drink, but it’s a sure bet that you’ll get most the Sunday paper read or a big chunk out of whatever book you’re working on while the procedure produces the desired result. Yes, a lot of time with a short tether to the commode.

Betty drove me to the hospital early the next morning. Of course I felt weird — gastro-intestinal system completely devoid of anything and you’re not supposed to have even coffee before the procedure.

The doctor’s daughter and mine had been on the same tennis team a few years before and we chatted about that. An IV was inserted, and I was wearing ONLY the open-in-back thin hospital gown. It was chilly in the pre-operating/waiting room and I kind of felt like I was a slowly-cooling corpse in the morgue.

Wheeled into the operating room. No, this isn’t an “operation” with scalpels or laser-scopes invading, puncturing the sanctity of the body, but, yes, it WAS an operation where the body gets violated anyway. The doctor was front and center, constantly chatting and checking on equipment. There was a nurse also bustling nearby, and I was aware of the anesthesiologist standing quietly mostly out of my narrow field of vision.

The anesthesia was injected into the IV tube and the doctor gave his final speech. “Okay, we’re going to begin and soon you’ll be unconscious and won’t feel a thing. Again, I’m Doctor Pacini, assisting me is Nurse …” (I don’t remember her name, nor the knock-out doctor, but …) what I do remember, and I’m not 100% sure if this actually happened, but again, I’m 99% sure it did happen, because …

as the Doctor continued his monologue of instructions and introductions, the operating-room curtains parted and

” … and I hope you don’t mind,” he continued, as a dozen or more young nervous-looking women, girls, actually, were revealed by the opening curtains

“… the nursing students at Mesa State have to witness two or three procedures a month …” and the next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room. Betty had an appointment somewhere, and my brother, Ricardo, was there to take me home.

After the procedure, and the sleepy-time medicine, and my gastro-intestinal system’s recent traumas, I felt weird, loopy. Driving would have been dangerous.

Great timing on the Doctor’s part, I reflected — “hope you don’t mind” just as the anesthesia takes total effect. It was like some nagging fragment of a dream, but imprinted in my memory and senses was the brief sight of perhaps 12 or 15 mostly young women (there may have been a couple boys) — body-piercings, spiky hair, casual skate-boarder clothing. The faces I remembered from my less-than-a-second imprint displayed nervous smiles. They were probably feeling a little sorry for the mostly naked old man. I felt a little sorry for them — I’m sure they would have preferred a young athlete’s posterior, instead, for the presumed educational close scrutiny. There was nothing I could do about it and I felt no identification with being, in a sense, a cadaver donated for medical research.

I also plan on maintaining as much alertness as possible before being ‘put under’ during the next procedure, and asking pertinent questions — such as, “will there be any surprizes?”