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I’ll take some nuts, hold the drink

It took me a week to prepare for an exam that burned less than 30 minutes of my doctor’s invaluable time.


So, I guess that makes us even. After all, he spent years studying to become what he is — a gastroenterologist.


I’m wondering if the length of the job title is proportionately related to the time it takes to earn that title. In that case, my job as a hack is revealing.


The exam I took on Aug. 28 was a colonoscopy. You know, where they stick a flexible gadget inside your large intestine to check for cancer, polyps or unidentified floating objects. 


There shouldn’t have been the latter of the three since I totally cleaned out my large intestine as my part of the examination. Any debris left inside, such as peanuts, sunflower seeds or unidentified floating objects would have given me an F on my exam, with orders to prepare even harder next time.


Fortunately for me, I’m a stickler for following directions. My grandsons, after all, say I’m OCD, which stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder, but only because I’m a neat person to their being content to drive around in their mobile dumpsters. But that’s another column.


My instructions had me avoiding nuts and seeds for the week prior to the colonoscopy. After all, those pesky little objects can conceal themselves in the nooks and crannies of the colon.


Wait. Are there nooks and crannies in the colon? There must be or no need for the avoidance rule.


So I abstained from nuts or seeds the week prior to the exam. Then on the Sunday before the Monday exam, I had to get serious. 


As per the colonoscopy prescription, I had a plastic container about as large as the gas tank on a Mack truck with a layer of an unknown powder on the bottom. That morning, I was to fill the container with water, along with a small container of lemon flavoring, shake it up and put it in the refrigerator.  


At 3 p.m., according to the instructions, I was to drink half the liquid in the plastic jug. In preparation, I had walked five miles in the heat to give me an adequate thirst to withstand the excessive imbibing.


“Drink liquids the rest of the day,” said the instructions. No food was allowed because, well, you’re trying to clean out the colon, after all.


Then on Monday, the big exam day, I was to start drinking the rest of the liquid beginning at 6 a.m. Hey, I’m a retiree and don’t get up before 11, but I’ll do it for the team, right?


As it turned out, I got up before 6 since I couldn’t sleep at all that night. I drank that liquid, 8 ounces every 10 minutes, without the benefit of having dehydrated myself by walking five miles.


I don’t know what was in the powder that was about an inch deep in the container but, when you mix it with water, it makes you want to poop every 10 minutes. I set a Guinness World’s Record for time spent on the crapper before the sun rises.


Then I had to wait three more hours before going to the doctor’s office to let him run his light and camera up where the sun don’t shine. I tried to focus on the Weather Channel.


Hey, did you know there’s a hurricane brewing in the Gulf with a better than average chance of puncturing the colon wall?


OK, so choosing a doctor who was a classmate of mine in college more than 50 years ago was weighing on my mind. When I finally see him, he’s walking with the benefit of two canes.


No need to panic. He won’t need his legs for the procedure, right?


I’m on the cot watching the woman lace my IV with a solid-white liquid. Next thing I know, I’m being told everything went well.


There were three polyps found, all benign. 


Then more good news — I won’t have to do this again because of my advanced age.


I initially think “Whoo-hoo!” Then I wonder, what if in the next few years I have polyps that turn into cancer? How will I know?


The reasoning is that at a certain age, preparing for a colonoscopy is more risky than the chance of having colon cancer.


Well, at my age, you’re expected to die sometime, somehow. 


And, despite my chances, I won’t miss having to prepare for another colonoscopy.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.