Let’s talk colonoscopy.
It’s a language most people don’t speak, especially men.
Three reasons according to me: the self-consciousness of being naked in front of strangers; the perceptions of possible pain; and the paralyzing fear of what the look-see will reveal, the doctor coming in and saying, “Well, Mr. Cothern, you won’t have to buy any Christmas presents this year.”
Again, speaking for myself, I feel extremely vulnerable when in the room with two nurses who really could care less what my flabby body looks like and with my doctor standing near and putting on gardening gloves. My penis usually shrinks to the size of a two-chamber unshelled peanut.
No pain. Something akin to Michael Jackson’s doctor sending me to Never-never Land but with no terminal results, whatever they gave me floated me away so quickly I didn’t have time to even think of any lyric to Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”—much less count backwards.
Having two brothers who had prostate cancer, one eventually succumbing to Cancer of the Everything for (perhaps) not learning the language of regular checkups, having had glaucoma and going totally blind in my left eye, having had RA for four decades and diverticulosis to go along with that as a steady and painful companion—not until old age avoiding seeds and such and great spicy foods and cigarettes and alcohol and wild women (I wished as a much younger man)—I did fear what the doctor would find. I feared not being strong enough while losing everything. I had put off getting answers for years. Ignoring my pain and stomach problems meant I didn’t have anything serious. My gastroenterologist did find and removed four pre-cancerous polyps, which was good news, but he also found some scar tissue from the diverticulosis that is blocking some of the lower reaches of The River Bowel and no doubt had been causing a lot of my pain over the years. Still, not really horrible news, and after dealing with the blockade, Christmas shopping (online) is still on my schedule.
So why this public service post?
Maybe to get one friend to have any kind of checkup?
Perhaps. But I know how difficult it is to begin language acquisition so late in life.
But these few paragraphs also just serve to illustrate that as humans we build up expectations so high that nothing can meet our good wishes. Everything we fear has us dead by morning. Like most things encountered in the boat being rowed upstream, the truth of it all lies somewhere in between.