Running On Empty

by Beth Diane Bradley

Turning 50 is definitely a milestone, and one common rite of passage is the colonoscopy. The procedure is a popular topic of discussion among middle-aged people — both for those who’ve already had one, and those who’ve been prodded by their doctor to schedule one soon.

The conversations often describe the days leading up to the procedure, including a slowly deteriorating diet throughout the week ending with a grand finale of a gallon of salt water laced with explosives guaranteed to make your insides as clean as new.

Some people like to scare the uninitiated with dramatic stories of writhing on the bathroom floor and losing all their innerds in the commode. I prefer to use a gentler approach of assuring my friends they will be just fine. Then I share some of my favorite recipes like chicken broth with a lime Jell-o twist or Popsicle parfait.

The prep is the worst part, as most of us nod off to sleep during the actual procedure, thanks to the amazing drugs they give you.  Some people wake up and see their colon on the monitor, but they are not alert enough to slug the person behind them busy robbing them of their dignity.

Planning the timing of your colonoscopy experience is not unlike planning a vacation. For example, avoiding blizzard season is a good idea, since it would be frustrating to go through the prep — only to find out you can’t get to the hospital. Fortunately packing is quite simple for this trip, as the wardrobe and camera are provided.

After you choose the right time of year, then you need to pick the time of day.  My preference is early morning, as I am usually anxious to eat real food.  One of my friends is more concerned about sleeping in and having her morning dose of caffeine.  So it’s important to get these things across to the travel agent –I mean nurse — who is planning your adventure.

Another important detail is to line up a ride home.  If you have a significant other, this won’t be a problem. Or if you’re single, it could qualify as a date, if witty banter is not a requirement, because the drugs are kind of like Ecstasy for senior citizens.

The bottom line is to get the risk of colon cancer behind you. So there are no buts about it, a colonoscopy is the way to go … and go … and go.

Bon Voyage, my friend.