in-truh–spek-shuhn: from the Latin – to look within.
If you’re not a fan of open discussion about the inner machinations of the human body, it’s probably worth giving this post a miss… No, seriously.
“Is that where they shove a camera up your bum?”
Well, it was an accurate description, if not a pretty one. One of the lads at church heard me talking about my upcoming colonoscopy. That was his take on the procedure. And let’s face it, that’s pretty much what happens. But here’s how it starts:
Well, of course it starts with some weird bowel stuff going on and a family history of bowel cancer… But once you’re on the final approach to the procedure, it’s all about the MoviPrep (other oral solutions are available). This, folks, is a quasi-spiritual experience. It’s quite remarkable. It’s stuff to clear out the colon, so that they can have a good peer around without any, uh, stuff in the way. The most appropriate term for the experience is ‘gushing’. But maybe you didn’t want to know that. Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t a post for the faint-hearted :) Basically, you drink this clearout juice, and it travels straight through and comes out again, at speed.
Once you’re empty, you head to your local hospital. Having had the indignity of spending hours on the loo, this is then compounded by a doffing of fashion (not that fashion has ever ventured into my wardrobe) and a donning of the oh-so-attractive garb of a patient.
Believe it or not, that white bandage-looking contraption in the middle of the shot is some sort of attempt at underwear. Trust me, you don’t want to see the photos of me ‘clothed’ in that particular item… Thankfully, I enjoy rather an active (and perverse) sense of humour.
So, dressed in all my finery, and feeling rather hungry (remember, I am genuinely empty of all sustenance at this point) I’m good to go. I was given the option of having some anesthesia, or going ahead without. As it meant I’d be allowed to drive, I went for the ‘no’ option. I was assured that there wouldn’t be that much in the way of pain, but that there might be discomfort. There was. They also bunged this thing in my hand. Though I can’t recall precisely why (this all happened back in April ish). Maybe it was just for practice. I think it might have been in case I decided that pain control was needed…
Then you’re wheeled off to the prep room, and from there into theatre. Sadly, not the high society sort of theatre. The only thing on show is a grandstand view of my innards. Basically, the aforementioned camera-in-the-bum is relayed to a screen, which allows the doc doing the procedure to have a good view of things. I had front row seats (well, a front row bed) and was allowed to watch the entire thing. Fascinating! They’ve got various other things that potter along your colon with the camera – something to squirt bits that they want to see more clearly, and something to snip ‘polyps‘ off to check them out. (Perhaps I should point out at this stage that I’m absolutely fine. In fact, maybe I should have mentioned that earlier!)
There are a couple of ‘corners’ in your bowel. The camera rounding the corner of the bowel was the only pain I experienced during the procedure. Though I was assured this wasn’t pain, merely ‘stretching’. It was certainly uncomfortable, but not excruciating, by any stretch (ha ha) of the imagination. Sadly I didn’t have my camera phone with me in the theatre (bad planning!) so I don’t have any photos available of my guts. More’s the pity, eh?
The camera (and its accompanying assets) are then removed, and you’re returned to your room (or ward, or whatever). This is where I enjoyed my most precious breakfast in quite some time. But first there was the small matter of a cup of tea. Given that I have a cup of tea every morning, I was feeling somewhat deprived by this stage. This was delivered not a moment too soon, and was something to savour while my (admittedly rather late) breakfast was rustled up.
When the breakfast arrived, it seemed rather small – it was covered with a metal lid (presumably to keep it warm, rather than to inject any sort of element of surprise into the meal, given that I’d placed a fairly precise order). However, on removing the lid, it became instantly clear that the lid was only just holding it all in. If seeing the inside of my colon hadn’t been so much fun, this may well have ranked as my favourite moment of the day.
It’s a funny thing (not really of the ha ha variety) having a colonoscopy. There is, of course, every possibility that it will lead to a cancer diagnosis, and the accompanying feelings, fears and treatments. It was a good chance to brush up on my prayer life, but also to hand things over to God. Whether it was a yes or a no, He is still the same. It’s a chance to consider mortality, death and whether I’m ‘ready for it’. (Which is different from being keen on it!) But I can assure you that the colonoscopy itself is nothing to worry unduly about if you’ve got one coming up. Yes, there’s discomfort, but there’s also pain control as an option, which the majority of people go for.
But alongside the physical introspection, another type of introspection was in order. (See what I’ve done there?) I figured it was also a good time to examine what’s in my heart (while someone else was examining what’s in my colon…). And there’s definitely work to be done there. I might have had the all-clear from the colonoscopy, but an examination of my heart is always liable to show up problems that need to be addressed, and that’s something to work on now :) A spiritual examination can be as important (and urgent, perhaps) as a physical one. But whatever examinations throw up (be they physical or spiritual) I can still trust in God to journey with me through this life, living in me, and working in and through me as I live in this place in which He’s put me.