I am by nature a modest person. When I was in the third grade, Dr. Baker removed my appendix at Taylor Regional Hospital in Hawkinsville. At some point during my hospital stay, I locked my bathroom door to ensure privacy. An older nurse came by. She threatened that if I locked it again she would get the key and go in with me. From my perspective, she would not have known the door was locked had she not pushed on it. I still believe that I made the right decision.
As a footnote to the story, it turned out my appendix was healthy. It looked so good that we kept it in a jar of alcohol in our farm shop for years. My surgery was due to having some suspicious symptoms during an era when appendectomies were popular.
In the past fifteen years I’ve had two and a half colonoscopies, one Barium X-ray, and two biopsies of the prostate, the first of which was done without anesthesia. When that tissue sampling gun clicked I understood why they had checked me for weapons at the door. It was the worst medical test that I’ve ever had, followed closely by the Barium X-ray.
The Barium ordeal was when I learned the value of anonymity. My approach was gleeful as I entered the room, blissfully unaware of what was in store for me. I still regret having introduced myself to a technician who was the daughter of a friend. I wished I had borrowed the Lone Ranger’s mask.
The reason I report 2.5 colonoscopies is that my first one didn’t take. Dr. Peter Donnan was practicing in Cordele at the time. He gave me a twilight drug that’s not as strong as full anesthesia but works for most people. They gradually gave me ten times the normal dose, but I reportedly kept flinging my arms and kicking my legs. He called the game in the bottom of the second inning and sent me to Barium Village.
Ricky Stevens has been my doctor for a decade or so. Knowing my history with twilight drugs, he uses Propanol, which for me works much better. Doc had me on the calendar for Friday, December 1, 2017, for our second colonoscopy as a team.
He has a good sense of humor, so I figured he and the other folks assisting might enjoy a little break from the usual routine. Early that morning before we left home, Jane used a brown permanent marker and wrote neatly on my rear, “Exit Only.” I wasn’t awake when they rolled me over, but I’ve been told it was a nice diversion to the mundane task at hand.
In case you are interested in entertaining the medical professionals at your next colonoscopy, here are some ideas. For those patients with an artistically inclined spouse, you could draw a smiley face, compass, sun dial, target, or anything that blends naturally with the landscape. For those who prefer the printed word, the following suggestions are loosely arranged by topics.
Just Say No: No Loitering, No On-Ramp, No Trespassing, and No Smoking.
Travel Guide: Scenic Overlook, North-South Connector, Detour Ahead, Next Exit Closed, The Great Divide, The Twin Peaks of Georgia, and “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Product Information: Periscope Not Included, This Side Up, Handle With Care, Slide Card and Enter PIN, By Invitation Only, and Out of Order.
Cautions: Do Not Over Inflate, Crime Scene Area, and, “Don’t look, Ethel!”
Miscellaneous: The End Is Near, Has Anybody Here Seen John? Charter Member of The Bedpan Band, Service Engine Soon, A Split Decision, All Employees Must Wash Hands, and my personal favorite, “Run, Forrest, Run!”
I’m not recommending you follow this path. Your doctor may disapprove, plus there’s probably a disclaimer on permanent markers noting they are not intended for writing on skin. You are, however, welcome to use any of these suggestions. It won’t matter that you weren’t the first to do this. When it’s a matter of health, there’s no shame in bringing up the rear.
P.S. If you think you don’t need a colonoscopy, please talk to my friend and fellow columnist, Clay Mercer, about his difficult but successful battle with cancer. You can contact him at claymercer.com.