I told my doctor that I was having some belly pain, which I thought was probably just constipation.
Fun fact: When you quit smoking, it takes at least a year for your metabolism to get back to normal. That’s why almost everyone who quits gains weight, not because food tastes better.
“You should have a colonoscopy,” says the doc.
“For constipation? Isn’t that a tad drastic?”
“It’s best to be sure. I can recommend a specialist. He’s a good doctor. He studied at Harvard and speaks English.”
Well, OK. I met with him and he explained the procedure. I made an appointment.
The next time I saw my doctor, she said she’d seen him and they’d discussed my case. (Gee, could we get some more people involved in this?) I told her that the problem had resolved itself and I was probably going to cancel the appointment.
She laughed and said, “You just don’t want to do the test.”
“Of course I don’t want to do the test.”
Big, innocent eyes. “Why not?”
Why not? WHY NOT??? If that wasn’t the most dumbass of the dumbass questions I’ve ever heard. For one thing, I don’t think it’s necessary. For another, I will have to purge myself and that can’t possibly be pleasant. Then, I have to get half naked so some guy I’ve met once can stick things in my butt. Who in their right mind would want to do that kind of test, much less specialize in that kind of medicine…is what I wanted to say, but instead I said, “Yada. (Yuck.)”
At which point I was given a lecture about how women of my age commonly develop polyps and such and it’s best to have them taken care of.
So I did the purge, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was twice as bad. You try pooping stomach acid for a couple of hours and let me know how you feel.
My heart rate was off the scale as the nurse did the prep work. Yoga breathing didn’t help. She said, “Relax. I’ve done a thousand of these. It will be fine.” And she was right; it was fine. Turns out I had a tiny polyp which was duly removed and am otherwise pink and healthy.
The thing is, you can tell your brain it’s a medical procedure that is done by professionals on a daily basis, but that doesn’t stop your heart from feeling humiliated and your body violated. It’s how we are socialized: those are private parts that are meant to be kept covered and out of polite conversation. I even used the word “ass” above to imply stupidity and ignorance.
I came home, slept twelve hours and woke up with swollen hands and feet and joints so stiff I could barely move. I must have been wound tighter than a spool of coaxial cable.
I suppose it’s a comfort to know that nothing is wrong, but I take very little pleasure in being right this time.
On a lighter note, this is a real thing.