Some six hundred columns after I penned my first article, I still occasionally find myself searching for a subject to write about. I believe that there is no shortage of topics, but sometimes you must search hard for something, anything that might be of interest to your readers.
I might be a bit distracted because of a planned medical procedure that was scheduled for this past Friday. I was to have an endoscopy, to check out my throat and esophagus. This was not my first time undergoing this procedure and the expected result was that I would have my throat stretched.
I am sure there is a more medically correct term, but that pretty much describes my understanding of what was to happen. Thankfully, I had a successful result with the same procedure several years ago, so I knew what to expect.
A lot has changed since my first endoscopy and “throat stretching”. Mostly, it is the way technology has advanced between the hospital, doctors and patients. I electronically logged in, registered, and gave all my medical and insurance information. Slick as a whistle.
A few days later, I got a text from the hospital about my endoscopy. It confirmed the date and told me to contact my doctor about the prep procedures for my particular process. That is exactly what I did.
The person on the other end of the phone was very helpful and told me that I could come into the office to pick up the instructions or I could go to the doctor’s website and get the instructions online. Wanting to be a willing participant in today’s electronic medical processes, I told her I would just check online.
I did as she told me and found the proper place on the website to download the instructions. I was surprised that it gave me the same instructions for prepping for a colonoscopy. I have had several colonoscopies over the years and realize they are a necessary part of checking my health as I age. However, it is not a walk in the park.
There are only two easy ways to insert a camera into your body. My memory of my first endoscopy was a bit fuzzy and I just assumed I must have had to endure the day long prep for the exam, even if it was from the other end.
After two conversations with the computer about my medical history, allergies and a hundred other things, a nurse called me three days before the scheduled date. We went through every question again, this time with a live person. A bit frustrated, I kept answering questions that I had already answered.
At the end of our conversation, I took the opportunity to ask this real live nurse a question that had been in the back of my mind. I inquired, somewhat hesitantly, if the instructions I had obtained on the website were correct.
I still remember the first colonoscopy I had and the requirement that I drink a gallon of a foul-tasting liquid disguised as lemonade. “Go lightly” is what unsuspecting patients hear, but GOLYTELY is actually its brand name. It is a marketing masterpiece of false advertising as anyone who ever has had the opportunity to sample the liquid can attest.
This nurse, now my greatest hero, laughed and said that I did not have to do anything like that. No MiraLAX either, which was another misguided name on the prep list.
“Just do not drink anything after midnight”, she said. “We will see you at eight o’clock in the morning”. No words had ever been such sweet music to my ears. We laughed as I told her how she had made my day and it was the best news I had received in months. It makes you feel good when a nurse is laughing hysterically on the other end of the phone line.
The next morning, I flew through the procedure with flying colors. My throat is now suitably stretched, and I was eating breakfast just a couple of hours after arriving at the hospital.
I kept thinking what I would have done if I had endured the “Go lightly” procedure only to find out the next morning that it was unnecessary. I would likely have demanded a colonoscopy, even though I had one a year ago. That would have likely been the first and last such demand in my lifetime.
Unexpected blessings come when you least expect them.
Dan Ponder can be reached at email@example.com