Well, it seems just like yesterday when I had my last colonoscopy. I remember all the gory details oh-so-well: the shoe-box-sized package of product wittily named “Moviprep”, spending a cold lonely evening stuck on the commode, and apprehensively waiting in the murky bowels of the clinic where technicians stroll around with what look like rolled-up black garden hoses.
And now, five short years later, I’ve been nailed again.
I tried, as usual, to talk my way out of it. There must be a mathematical error. She had promised only every 10 years. No history of colon cancer in my family. My favourite food is muesli. She was having none of it, and retaliated with her own stories concerning family members fainting because of the needle in the back of the hand.
When asked point-blank whether she had actually had one herself, the reply was negative of course.
Intensive international research (a phone call to my sister) has revealed serious cultural discrepancies in the prevention of colon cancer. In Canada you just have to avoid Vitamin C and aspirins and send three-days-worth-of-poo samples off in the mail from the comfort of your own home. After that, no news is good news. Scurvy is a possible side-effect if one procrastinates too long.
If some medical emergency rudely requires a real “colo” then you go on a delicious popsicle, jelly, liquid diet for three days. Here, on the other hand, you are not allowed to eat any fibre food (fruit and vegetables strictly forbidden) for five whole days.
Then there is the trauma of the evening before your procedure. You fix your first litre of Moviprep (“colo-cola” in local flash medical parlance), drink (with a straw), and wait. Canadian instructions focus on creating a calming environment with soothing music, scented candles, feather-soft toilet paper, and humorous and diverting reading material. My instructions from the Swiss clinic were to avoid social entertaining on that particular evening as I would be otherwise engaged; and to call an ambulance if nothing happened within two hours.
Anyway, I have a few months in front of me to prepare as the colo doctor has not bought her 2017 agenda yet. I will find the softest eiderdown toilet paper, the loudest Wagnerian thunder-box music, and the most beautiful candles.
Colo-cola cocktails will be served with small paper parasols and black straws. But what I’m really looking forward to is the day after when I will be basking in the sure and certain knowledge of a lovely, healthy, Swiss-clean colo.