On having my first colonoscopy


When I get out of the rhythm of blogging, it’s hard to get back in sync. The first blog backs seems momentous. I’ve been posting sermons that I’ve worked over carefully. Daily blogging is a bit more risky, in so far as taking the time to carefully choose my words isn’t so practical, and the likelihood of saying something I might later regret more likely. But since life requires risk, let me plunge ahead.
I had my first ever colonoscopy yesterday, succumbing finally to the earnest requests of my wife, not to mention Fred Coleman, who feels so strongly about the importance of regular colonoscopies that he makes public service announcements promoting them at the end of our worship services. I am 52, and once you pass 50, doctors say a person should have them done regularly.
Tuesday morning at my men’s breakfast the three other men present had all undergone several such procedures, and when I announced I was having my first the next day, they were happy to share their experiences. I felt like I was being initiated into a secret society of older men who have submitted themselves to the humiliation that is having a scope stuck up one’s rectum. It was a nice sense of camaraderie.
I wasn’t aware of being especially afraid of the procedure (or the possibilities that such a procedure might reveal.) Mostly it seemed I had put it off because I assume myself to be in good health with both parents still living into their late 80s, and setting aside the necessary time seemed inconvenient.
Nonetheless, there is something about finding myself essentially naked (except for the hospital gown) on a hospital gurney with nurses attending to me that lends itself to a strong sense of being in the moment, and an awareness of my mortality. It seemed clear to me that should something come out of left field to usher me towards an early exit from this world, it wouldn’t be so much fear of the unknown of death that would consume me as a basic anxiety about the care of the persons I love and how they would manage without me. I trust that in the journey into unknown beyond this life I would be safe in God’s hands. The safety of those who rely upon me; that is the one that is harder to feel at ease with.
Apparently my body is all right, but a sense does remain of having been initiated into the society of those who are compelled to ponder their mortality and submit to the humbling of being a patient. The nurse who cared for me mentioned that she had these procedures done on herself every three years, so in the end, the caretakers take turns being those who are cared for, and this mortality is shared by us all.

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