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Mind + Body:

Colonoscopy. The idea of it sends shivers through grown men. Uh, you wanna do what?!? According to my internist, it should be considered criminal neglect for any doctor to NOT recommend this procedure once you reach the age of 50 or if your family has a history of colon cancer. At Cedars Sinai a few months back, I even saw signs proclaiming “Colon Cancer awareness month” With pictures showing the inside of a colon lined with polyps and cancer in various stages. Not to mention statistics, including fatality rates, and the statement that early detection can save lives. Enough already, I’ll do it.

And so I did. And you know what? Except for the prior 24 hours, when you have to “empty your bowels,” the whole thing was quite civilized.

My physician is Dr. Krieger. We had the procedure done at the Endoscopy Center of Southern California on the corner of Santa Monica and Cloverfield Boulevards. Sure, I was a bit sheepish, walking in to the waiting room, knowing that all these people were going to have a probe stuck up their tush to push gas all through their colons so a video probe could examine things closely. Amazingly, no one cracked up over it. Everyone was straight-faced.

I was called in early by Jerome who was very cool and helpful. He handed me a hospital gown and told me I could keep my shirt on, but he did want me in socks (nothing else). I locked my clothes in a closet and walked, again suppressing the urge to laugh hysterically at the thought of it all, to the room where three grinning fellows were awaiting me. For some reason, there was a gaggle of nurses off to the side which finally did embarrass me, though I studiously avoided eye contact (hoping they could not recognize me on the street some day).

When I saw Dr. Krieger studying his computer screens I was not sure if I was supposed to shake his hand, uh, you know what I mean (think about it), but we did and we immediately got into our usual banter about the various hospitals in town ( I tell everyone that I was born at County General downtown, I consider it a badge of honor and notoriety to be a native born Angeleno). He said if anything happened to him, he would want to go to University Hospital. He had nothing to worry about, he gets FREE colonoscopies. Then he introduced me to Greg, the anesthetic nurse, who put a needle into me, along with some solution, then they had me — yep — turn over, and, presto, I was out like a light.The next thing I heard was. “You are clear, we found nothing” (except, I understand, some old pieces of Pastrami). I was wheeled into a draped off area. Nahid came by and offered me some juice. She helped me recover (30-minute nap) and had me sign the final forms. I didn’t ask to see the tape, not really caring what the inside of my stomach looked like as long as it was healthy (lots of fiber, folks, that’s what the doc says). Then it was all over. I did not have colon cancer. They told me to check back in five years. You bet, no problem I’d come back. Now I was off to celebrate with my dad and a chocolate phosphate at Fromin’s.

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