Rites of Passage

In my reckoning, there is not much fiction written about what has become the gateway of late middle-age, a rite of passage more unpleasant than most others, except maybe graduation, your first heartbreak, and possibly childbirth. However, for each of these others, there is a pay-off in the form of something—a piece of paper that opens doors, a grain of wisdom, and the very reality of a squealing, wrinkled person in your arms.

Colonoscopy, on the other hand takes the longest, is arguably the most miserable, and in the best outcome, you end up with less and nothing. Once you reach a certain age, your doctors will start to hint at the necessity and the benefits, and when you postpone and procrastinate, eventually, will point out the risks with increasing doom in their voice, until you relent and submit.

It is incomprehensible to me that there are folks who regularly and voluntarily submit to “cleansing”, and they must be in the millions, as there are many websites advertising products for the purpose and towards better health. The fasting is bad, the purging is worse, and the embarrassment, even with the friendliest and most professional of staff, is unspeakable.

When you wake up from sleeping, you know you have slept. I once got drunk enough that I woke up with a memory gap that kept me off balance and disturbed for days. It was the gap, not what I had done, which by the way was rather ordinary but silly, that kept me unbalanced. And even though I did not remember the experience, I remembered having done the thing. The first time I had my internals inspected, I ended up with a hole in my mind so big, it threatened to swallow my sanity. It took weeks before the gaping memory of Nothing faded into the background.

After I wrote the paragraphs above, it was time to leave for my appointment. I was determined to remember. I paid attention to everything I did, committing it to memory. The drive to the clinic, collecting XM and recharging portals to distract myself. Filling out and signing insurance, release, and privacy forms. Conversing with the nurse on choosing the best IV vein and her son’s recent wedding. And she said I looked good, which made me smile and relax. Rolled into surgery, I noticed a contrast of modern displays and a wall of electronic equipment from the eighties. The doctor, short, with delicate hands, smiled with eager anticipation. The anesthesiologist started dripping Demerol/Versed. Within seconds, I felt unable to move and comfortably detached. I also felt the beginning of the procedure. I glued my eyes to the monitor and followed the probe as it transversed my insides. They looked like Shai-Hulud turned outside-in. I wondered whether the weird windings and white spots I saw were bad news. I reassured myself with the absence of red tennis balls and giant tentacled polyps. I was asked to turn or move a few times, which I did clumsily. Once, the technician pressed down on my belly. It hurt a lot in the distance, and I complained, I think, quite loudly.

“All done,” someone said, and I was rolled to recovery. Shortly after, the doctor came, still smiling, waving a printout, telling me everything was normal. “I’ll see you in five years.”

That, of course is rather unnewsworthy. More exciting is that I remember! And so this blog post, after all, is not a meditation on holes in the mind. It is to let you know, “It’s not that bad. So get it done, because it could save your life!”