I ended the year off right - with a colonoscopy. This is apparently part of the ceremonial initiation into the horror of turning 50. Because I'm changing insurance (thanks, Obama), I wanted to get the colonoscopy done before the end of the year, so I scheduled it for December 29th.
If you haven't experienced the joy of prepping for a colonoscopy, you haven't lived. I'll spare you the details, except to say that I would compare it to a firehose of shit exploding from your anus, but I wouldn't want to belittle firehoses. This happens twice: once the night before the procedure and once the day of. My friend Ken Weinstock recommended that I "Golytely" into the procedure, and if you don't understand the horror of that statement, consider yourself lucky. Oh, and while you're prepping, you can't eat or drink anything except for clear liquids. And I was thinking, no problem, I can survive on clear liquids, until I read the following in the directions: "And yes, while beer and vodka are technically clear liquids, they are contraindicated for this purpose." Fuuuuuccccckkkkk.
On the day of the procedure, my wife Kate drove me to the hospital. It was all very quick and orderly. I arrived at 12:45 pm, and by 1:00 pm, I was in the exam room in a hospital gown (I was told to leave my socks on; apparently, this was going to be a quickie), and was wheeled into the colonoscopy room at 1:30 pm.
The room was unremarkable except that is had a big screen on the wall. I had been told I would be given Fentanyl and Versed for sedation, which might make my memory of the procedure foggy, as if in a dream. "Wait, I'm going to be awake???!!" "Yes, but the medication will make it all worthwhile."
The doctor came in and explained the procedure to me, including all the horror stories of what could go wrong - bleeding, perforated colon, Trump presidency - but he assured me that these were unlikely to lead to death. I signed the release and was directed to roll on my side, look at the screen, and welcome the incoming probe. Apparently sensing my discomfort, the nurse rolled up a towel and put it under my head.
The nurse administered the drugs with three shots into the IV. One second, I was wondering if they were having any effect at all, the next I was floating off into a beautiful, peaceful, happy state staring at the drama unfolding on the screen before me. Actually, I should mention that before the insertion of the probe, the doctor did a "manual exam" and remarked on the exceptional smoothness of my prostate.
I was awake and aware for the entire procedure. While that might seem horrifying, I was blissfully unaware of any discomfort or pain. When the doctor first stuck in the probe, he remarked on how well I had done with the prep. Apparently there was not a trace of fecal matter to be found, just smooth, unobstructed colon as far as the eye could see. In this moment, I was extremely proud.
As the horror unfolded behind my anus, with the probe rammed further and further in with each passing moment, I experienced each high-speed twist and turn on the screen as if it were some extreme-sports GoPro helmet-cam exploration of my colon. The doctor was narrating the whole procedure, and I remember one moment vividly where we hit an especially precarious turn that he said polyps often hide behind. The probe careened its way around the turn, only to find the area polyp-free. It was exhilarating.
When the procedure was completed and the probe fully extracted, the doctor remarked on how extraordinary my colon was. Clear, smooth, a fantastic colon. Really exceptional, best he had ever seen. Which made me think of Donald Trump.
As I look back at the shitshow that was 2016, and look forward to the horrors of the year to come, I can't help but think that the Trump presidency is America's colonoscopy. America did what it could to prep for the election, with the deepest, darkest recesses of American shit exploding from the mouth of Donald Trump daily in wave after wave of mindless degradation, leaving us empty and void of even the slightest trace of dignity. Soon we will arrive at the hospital that is the inauguration, where Donald Trump will begin the procedure, ramming the Trump agenda into America's anus with the brutal force of a thousand gallons of Golytely. Except that for this procedure, there will be no towel placed under America's head to make us more comfortable, no Fentanyl or Versed to make America blissfully unaware, no socks left on to keep America's feet warm and keep us from slipping. And now we are told by America's nurse, the media (stick with me here), that the best we can hope to do is lie back and welcome the probe.
But is it? What if we fought back against the indignity of the probe. What if we took a stand against the colonoscopy? What if we said to Donald Trump, "Enough! America's anus and no further!!!" What if we stood up, each and every one of us, and prevented the colonoscopy from happening at all??!!!*
As I'm writing this, my phone is flashing the headline: "Welcome to Chillicothe, Ohio, where you can get heroin quicker... than pizza!" It's going to be an interesting year. Happy 2017.
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*Nothing in this post was intended to be anti-colonoscopy. If you're over 50 and you haven't had a colonoscopy, get yours today!