Content note: medical grossness.
It’s colonoscopy day. Oh, joy.
Today, I eat nothing but clear liquids all day: ginger ale, apple juice, broth, Jell-o (but not red, orange, or purple). This afternoon I take laxatives that should be banned by the Geneva Convention, laxatives that taste like citrus-flavored poison and feel like your insides have been sucked into a black hole and shot out the other side. This evening I spend all evening coping with the inevitable result. Tonight I sleep on the sofa, since it’s close to the bathroom. Tomorrow morning I take one more round of torture laxatives, and then go in for the colonoscopy itself, which is by far the least unpleasant part of this process. Tomorrow afternoon and evening I collapse on the sofa and feel sorry for myself.
And then I pencil in a reminder to make another appointment next year. I do this every year. Not every ten years, or every five. Every. Fucking. Year.
On the other hand:
I get to not have cancer.
For me, colon cancer is not a matter of If. It’s a matter of When. I have Lynch Syndrome, which means I have about a fifty percent chance of getting colon cancer — and in my case, it’s closer to a hundred percent. Every time I’ve had a colonoscopy, I’ve had pre-cancerous doodads identified and scooped out. For me, colonoscopies are not preventive medicine — they’re treatment.
Colonoscopy day is a major annoyance, physically grueling and gross. Colonoscopy day is a reminder of mortality and fragility. Colonoscopy day is an annual reminder of my mother, who died of colon cancer at age forty-five. Colonoscopy day is also why I’m alive. I had my first pre-cancerous doodads scooped out several years ago; if I hadn’t, the chances are excellent that I would now have colon cancer. Colonoscopy day is why I’m alive, and why I stand a reasonably good chance of living for several more decades.