Sunday, December 05, 2010

What I Learned From My Colonoscopy

I promise not to give you too much information. (T.M. I.), but I wanted to tell a little about my colonoscopy experience.

My doctor had been insistent. "You need a colonoscopy. It's the screening that can save your life."

I'd been reluctant, mostly because of the cost--close to $3,000 including the doctor's fees, anesthesiologist, and hospital. Wow! For that amount, Randy and I could have taken a cruise. Somehow, two colonoscopy procedures just didn't sound like that much fun. When our insurance kicked in for the new benefit period, a screening colonoscopy was now included under preventive care benefits. 

I knew it was time.I scheduled my appointment with the G.I. doctor--one week before Thanksgiving. It's perfect, I thought. An instant weight loss program right before the holidays. 

Friends who had already had the procedure briefed me with important tips. Spend the money on the pills for the prep so you don't have to drink that awful stuff. Buy some Depends--just in case. And you'll want to stay close to home...

O.K., O.K. So how bad could the awful drink be? I refused to pay the $80 for the pills. I thought of many other fun things I could spend the money on--then found out later from another friend, that it would have been worth the money. He was right.

On the morning before my colonoscopy, I could only have liquids. Water, of course, apple juice, broth, even jello, as long as it wasn't cherry or grape-flavored. Later in the day, I started drinking the liquid. What? You mean I have to drink two liters now--and two more in the morning? Ooh, not good. I thought of 2- liter pop bottles and how tough it would be to chug a bottle that size.

The instructions from the doctor's office said the liquid might be easier to swallow using a straw. Don't believe it! I knew the prep would be the tough part, and I'd already mentally prepared. When I started feeling hunger pangs (one of my co-workers unknowingly brought in pumpkin muffins to work that morning), I thought of how blessed I am to never be hungry-- I mean really hungry. Lord, please be with those who are hungry.

I thought of my homeless brother who regularly scavenges food from dumpsters. He lost 50 pounds recently when he became violently ill after eating some bad food. Lord, please provide for him, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I thought of people who have chronic illnesses because they don't have clean drinking water. Lord, don't ever let me forget how blessed I am. And don't let me stop with simply giving thanks. What can I do to help those less fortunate?

It might seem strange, but I tried to use each moment of discomfort during the colonoscopy prep to pray for others. A small action, but a case in point for prayer and fasting. Going without gives opportunity to get back to the basics, having deeper communication with God.

I'm not saying you need to have a colonoscopy to do this--plain old fasting would work just fine. But it was an interesting observation for me.

One week later, I was enjoying our traditional Thanksgiving feast...turkey, mashed potatoes and all the trimmings--but with an even deeper sense of gratitude for our countless blessings. I'm going to use the $80 I saved on those pills to help someone in need.    

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