Christmas has come and gone. The presents have long been stored away in a closet or taken back to the store and returned. The last of the Christmas cookies and candy have disappeared and the decorations are safe in their boxes for another year.
While it is already well into January as I write this, it is fitting and proper that we look back with fond memories on this past Christmas as well as other Christmas’s past. They are a time of joyous anticipation when families gather, gifts are exchanged and Christmas Carols are sung.
Over the course of my life, Christmas has always produced some of my best recollections. The smell of baking in the kitchen and the sight of the tree with all of its shiny ornaments are just some of the memories that I cherish.
But this past Christmas season, the Christmas of 2016, was clouded by an event that could only be described as one of impending doom.
Waiting for me right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas was a colonoscopy.
Ouch! Talk about deflating the Christmas spirit.
I didn’t even think about the repercussions of scheduling a colonoscopy during Christmas time back in early November when I was sitting in the doctor’s office. The assistant at the desk was staring at her computer screen and waiting to schedule me for the dreaded procedure. All I had to do was tell her when.
“We have an opening next week.” She said.
She began to rattle off days and times as my mind wondered to the nightmarish scenario one encounters the day before a colonoscopy. The fasting and the laxatives, the gurgling stomach and the helter-skelter trips to the bathroom all ran through my head.
“Do you have something the following week?” I interrupted as the visions of doom danced in my head.
She glanced up at me and then turned her attention back to the screen.
“Why yes.” She said, after a moments pause. “There’s several openings.”
Once again she began to name off dates and times as I rummaged through my memory bank of the awful tasting mixture, the shrunken, empty stomach and the helpless feeling of being rung out like a wet wash cloth.
“How about the following week?” I blurted out.
Once again she stopped in mid-sentence and peered at me over the computer screen.
“Well.” She once again looked at the screen. “That’s bumping up close to Thanksgiving and the doctor will not be in the office a whole lot that week.” She bit her lower lip in concentration as her eyes scrolled up and down the screen.
“Well how far beyond that can you go?” I asked.
She glanced up at me again. “Beyond Thanksgiving?”
The visions of running to the bathroom were beginning to take their toll on my psyche and I was desperately trying keep this thing as far away from me as possible.
“Yes, beyond Thanksgiving?”
“Well, let’s take a look.” She breathed out a sigh as she wiggled her mouse around on the mousepad with her right hand. A few moments of awkward silence followed.
“The third week of December is the last week the doctor will be in his office for the year and it looks like there are plenty of _”
“I’ll take it.” I nearly shouted.
The thought of putting this off for nearly six weeks was like a load off my shoulders and I proudly walked out of the doctor’s office with a little card announcing December 21st as the date of my colonoscopy.
Now let me just say that I have nothing against colonoscopies per se. I’ve had one every five years since I was fifty to ward off colon cancer and other problems.
In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, 90% of new cases of colon cancer and 95% of deaths occur in people fifty years of age or older. Every year 135,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer with an average of 50,000 dying from the disease. Early detection is the most effective method of prevention. By finding and removing polyps before they become cancer, survival rates have increased. Since the 1980’s incidences of colon cancer have been going down steadily due to increased awareness and regular screening.
So while I’m not a fan of colonoscopies and the prep involved the day before, I am aware of the importance of regular colon cancer screening.
It’s just the running to the bathroom I don’t like.
Every gift I bought last Christmas season. Every Christmas card that I wrote and stuffed into an envelope. Every Christmas Carol I heard sung and every Christmas light display I drove by had a pall cast over them all.
Instead of Merry Christmas, I heard, “You have a colonoscopy coming up.”
Finally the dreaded day arrived. I struggled through the prep and did my forty yard dash to the bathroom all day long. I got through my colonoscopy with flying colors with no polyps found and I’m good for the next five years.
So to all my retired friends out there on the blogosphere: To prevent colon cancer have a regular screening and consult your doctor about getting a colonoscopy.
However, a word to the wise.
Don’t do it during Christmas.