I’d like to first thank Allison Brennan for stepping in for me two weeks ago.  Her excitement about Justified is infectious and I can hardly wait for the day I can finally start watching Season II.  Not only did she do a kick ass post but she was gracious too.  She said that I allowed her to take my blog turn because I was in deep deadline.

Allison, it was more like I was in deep doo-doo up to my eye bags, and you provided a straw through which I could breathe.  Thank you, friend.

Although The End of this latest book is in sight, it’s still pages away so I ask that you permit me to rebroadcast in part a post (edited) from nearly 2 years ago.  It’s not as clever as Pari’s PSA from last Monday but I’m hoping it might persuade some of my fellow 50-ish friends to get off their butts, literally, and take action. In the past several weeks, the importance of good health has been made painfully clear to me.

100 Feet of Joy

I had been putting it off for several years. 

Not that I was afraid, mind you. Such things don’t really scare me a whole lot. But most of the people I spoke to who had been through it told me that the truly awful part was not even the event itself.

No, they said, it’s the preparation that will kill you…

I went for a check-up several months ago and was ordered by my doctor to get a blood test.  A few days later, my doctor’s office calls and the nurse says, “Your tests were all fine, except you’re anemic. The doctor wants you to get a colonoscopy.”

Oh, joy.

But I was overdue. As I said, I’d been putting it off for several years.

I went in to see the gastroentronologist and he described the procedure to me, and for those who don’t know, a colonoscopy is basically when the doctor sticks a camera up your ass and takes movies of your colon. All of it. From top to bottom.

But no sweat, right? I’ve known people who have had one, and they all said they were put to sleep. Didn’t feel a thing.

“We won’t be putting you to sleep,” the doctor tells me.

“Say what?”

“You’ll be given a mild sedative that will calm you and make you a little drowsy, but I’d prefer you to be awake so we don’t have to worry that you’ll stop breathing.”

“Say what?”

“Oh, and don’t worry. I very, very rarely puncture the colon wall. My track record is quite good.”

“Say the fuck what?”

That isn’t the conversation verbatim, but that’s pretty much how it felt. 

I was really not looking forward to prep night. The worst thing, I was told, is that the stuff you have to drink tastes so awful that it’s nearly impossible to choke it down. And you have no choice but to drink it. The doc needs you COMPLETELY cleaned out or he can’t go forward with the procedure.

Finally, prep night came and I dutifully mixed up a liter of MoviPrep and, as instructed, I downed a glass of it every fifteen minutes until it was gone.

And you know what? It wasn’t bad at all. I’ve tasted much worse, believe me. Hell, a gin and tonic tastes worse to me.

So I had no trouble at all downing the liquid other than the simple fact that I felt like a bloated buffalo. The last glass was chugged in one gynormous gulp and I gagged a little toward the end, but a quick mouth rinse and I was fine. It was certainly not even close to being as bad as everyone said it was.

The next morning, at 4:30 am, I had to drink another liter of the stuff and spend more alone time. Then around noonish, feeling clean as a whistle, it was off to the clinic for my date with destiny.

I wasn’t really nervous. The nurse who took my blood pressure will attest to that. For some reason hospitals and clinics and the like don’t really scare me. I figure I’m there for something that could potentially save my life, so what’s to be nervous about?

A few minutes later, they finally wheeled me into the operating room (or whatever the hell you call it) and hooked me up to a couple machines. Then the nurse gave me a couple shots of some stuff that was supposed to make me sleepy.

Which it didn’t. Not one bit. And as I turned, I saw this technician walk into the room carrying a coil of what, I swear to God, looked like about a hundred feet of black garden hose.

And that’s when I REALLY got scared. Holy shit, I thought. THAT’S what’s going up my ass.

It’s a miracle I didn’t faint. But what’s even more of a miracle is that, despite the fact that I was wide awake, I did not feel a thing.

Oh, a slight bit of cramping and discomfort when they had to turn a corner or two, but for the most part, it was the proverbial walk in the park and — get this — I watched it all on TV.

I don’t know what drug they gave me, but it was certainly made by someone who knew his stuff. And I can say, without hestitation, that I have one of the most handsome colons I’ve ever seen.

The whole thing was completely fascinating.

And, fortunately, I was given a clean bill of health.

So, what, you may ask, does any of this grossness have to do with writing? Well, I can guarantee that this material will, at some point, wind up in one of my books. I don’t know when or where, but it’s bound to work its way into a story somehow.

That night, I started thinking about possible scenarios. Imagine if they hadn’t given me any drugs before uncoiling that 100 feet of joy?

Anyone remember the dentist scene from Marathon Man?

What if, instead of a dentist, the interrogator was a gastroentronologist?  I can just see him hovering over the hero, the nozzle of that hose poised and ready to make entry as he says:

“Is it safe?”

26 thoughts on “PSA RERUN

  1. J.D. Rhoades

    Now try to imagine a metal tube going somewhere else in that general vicinity. That's what I had to go through last year. But hey, I don't have bladder cancer, so I got that goin' for me.

  2. Shiloh Walker

    "What if, instead of a dentist, the interrogator was a gastroentronologist? I can just see him hovering over the hero, the nozzle of that hose poised and ready to make entry as he says:

    "Is it safe?""

    Now that's one hell of an image to have in your head…LOL

  3. Dana King

    People make fun of me, but my first colonoscopy was a pleasure. Lightly sedated, I got to watch on the monitor (like viewing a very personal edition of the Discovery channel), and floated through the rest of the day, occasionally dozing, while the drugs wore off.

    My second had full anesthesia–against my wishes–and I felt like crud the rest of the day.

    Anyone who is icked out my the idea of a colonoscopy should ponder a sigmoidoscope, which I've also had. No anesthesia, and they pump air up your butt to inflate the colon so a less sophisticated camera can check you out. You feel like you have enough gas to float the Goodyear blimp.

    Take the colonoscopy.

  4. Karen in Ohio

    Good for you, Rob, for sharing this experience. And congratulations on such a good outcome. Now you're good to go for a few years.

    Dr. Mehmet Oz–yes, that guy–recently turned 50 and had a colonoscopy that had a different outcome. Now I would venture to say he's one of the healthiest men on the planet, but the test showed a polyp, which had to be removed. I searched for the interview where he talked about it (but was unable to find it), but the gist of what he said was that he did NOT do the prep as diligently as you did, and so he had to undergo a second test to make sure that's all there was. I love that he admitted that.

    I've had three of them now, but was conked out all three times, and so was my husband for his (which did show abnormalities). However, I was able to see inside my own throat via a tiny camera. It's way cool to see how your larynx snaps shut when you breathe and swallow. The tissues are such a lovely, healthy color. It's like living in the world of the Magic School Bus!

  5. Karen in Ohio

    Inside my throat: Different test. Just wanted to make sure you all understood that. LOL

  6. TerriMolina

    As I get older I'm having to do more tests and procedures to "rule out" whatever…it's amazing my veins haven't collapsed. About seven years ago I had to do the colonoscopy. It wasn't too bad and I got a clean bill of health. The worst part was, I made the mistake of drinking the gunk before starting a two hour drive from my cousin's house to my house. It was a smooth trip until traffic stopped an hour from my house (because of a wreck that turned three lanes into one). Needless to say, I haven't done that test again.

  7. Barbie

    Oh, I'm SO glad to be 22 and not to have to take any of these tests for a long time. Hopefully, by the time I get there, they'll have come up with something (much) less invasive *fingers crossed*

    But, really, this totally cracked me up. You're funny.

    Karen in Ohio, for a second, reading your post, you made me think, "Holy Cow, that's a LONG way to go!!!" 😛

  8. Gayle Carline

    My hubby had his first colonoscopy recently and reported the worst part was the prep. They didn't put him all the way under, but he fell asleep anyway during the procedure and didn't remember a thing.
    My friend, Gordon, said he didn't mind the camera being shoved up there, it was the tripod they used to steady the picture.
    I haven't had mine yet. Yet. Hmm. Nope, not today either. Maybe tomorrow…

  9. Pauline

    Thanks for the chuckle Rob. I needed that today.
    I slept through that procedure. That was the easiest part for me.
    It was the "alone time" that I hated.
    I spent most of my time in the "library."

  10. Mikaela

    Rob, you just described the reason I haven't visited gastroentronologist for way to long. I had to do it once. And I am overdue to do it again. But if I don't visit the doctor….. ( I should, I know. sigh)

  11. Rob Gregory Browne

    Barbie, you may only be twenty-two, but time moves fast, so you should at least start preparing yourself for the inevitable. You're supposed to have the procedure at 50 and most people wait. That's a dangerous thing to do.

    And, honestly, it really isn't bad at all.

  12. Rob Gregory Browne

    Dusty, I had that same procedure done several years ago when they wanted to check out my kidneys. They put me out for it, but the last thing I remember is the doctor with my, er, johnson in his hand, getting ready to insert something that looked about the size of a pencil.

    I'm not sure if the drugs kicked in or I just passed out.

  13. Zoë Sharp

    Reine – sorry, but you should expect this kind of thing from me by now ;-]

    Rob – "Zoe, my wife says she enjoys the smear test procedure and doesn't understand why you don't."

    Can I please have the name of your wife's doctor?

  14. Rob Gregory Browne

    Gayle, don't put it off. I'll tell you a story that will hopefully scare you into getting it done ASAP.

    While I was being prepped in the clinic, the nurse came to me and apologized that it was taking so long for me to go into the operating room. That there was a delay with the patient before me.

    Well, a few minutes later, I heard the doctor come out and talk to a woman waiting nearby. Her husband was the delay—and the reason? They had discovered a polyp the size of a golf ball, which had about a 70% chance of being cancer. Had the husband gone in when he was supposed to, they could have caught it early.

    Go in for the procedure.

  15. Sylvia

    I'm loving your version of this as it is quite likely the same "say the fuck what???" that most people have.

    As someone who has been through two of these lovely procedures (colonoscopy + sigmoidoscopy) before the age of 40 and has to get them every two years, my doc and I have become quite close. The last time I went in the Giants were in the playoffs and we discussed the bullpen, fielding all while giving my colon a good look-see.

    I will note that I do get loopy on the drugs and did say to the doc when he first walked in "are you ready for this because I've probably got the colon of an 18 year-old, the hippist and best colon you're going to see today – ascending, descending and transverse – let's take a roadtrip." He still kids me about this. I run into him at Starbucks quite often early in the morning…can be quite the awkward situation to stand behind a guy inline ordering a latte knowing he's had a hose up your ass.

    And if you want really fun fodder for your book – let the character ingest red jello a few days before. Even if you do the prep the red dye from the jello is enough to give those looking at the movie a flipping heart attack. My doc was once swearing like a sailor about an earlier patient that thought they were doing the right thing by eating light the day before – light as in red jello and to quote him "Jesus fucking Christ, it was like looking at Normandy and Tianamen in there."

    Congrats on your oh-so-gorgeous colon. Keep up the good work!

  16. Sylvia

    Ah! An ex-boyfriend from long ago did the prep to get his colonoscopy done and went in for the procedure only to find out that the doc had been called to the hospital for an emergency. They had to reschedule. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy but he sure seemed fresh and light that day!

  17. Reine

    Oh and Rob, I did have one of those with the twilight drugs. When I arrived at the clinic I had to do 3 more hours of prep before my exudate ran clear enough for the powers that were. Awful. Awful. Awful. But good on anyone who does it. It saves lives. I'd rather have a smear taken by your wife's doctor, though.

  18. Murderati fan

    You are all grossing me. Not grossing me out. Making me gross. I've laughed my ass off so it'll be easier to do a colonoscopy.

    But you're right Rob to encourage everyone. The alternative is not pretty and so avoidable.

  19. Kate

    Hi all,
    I'd like to second the advice about 'get it done!' Had a colonoscopy myself on Tuesday after on-and-off minor bleeding for a couple of months, no pain, no nausea. They found something, and I'm seeing a surgeon tomorrow. It's likely not cancer but if it is we've caught it good and early.
    The prep tastes bad, the loo time sucks, the whole thing's kind of embarrassing, but in comparison to life and health?? No contest.

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