Jewish boys have their bar mitzva. Native Americans have their vision quest. Hell, even Jesus had 40 days in the desert. As a middle-aged man, I thought I was done with rites of passage. Boy was I wrong.
It’s called a colonoscopy, and it’s a rite of passage from the carefree days of family life into post-50, get-off-my-lawn phase of curmudgeonhood.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of having your innards viewed via a GoPro on a hose, let me take you on this fantastic voyage.
The modern colonoscopy is actually a revival of a torture technique first employed by the ancient Assyrians. When the Assyrian army would capture a Summarian spy, Assyrian wise guys with crooked noses and names like Abdhul the Rat would tie the spy to a stone altar and run rabid ferrets up his anus until the spy would reveal the secrets of the ziggurat. Though barbaric. It was highly effective.
The practice was eventually banned when stone carvings of prisoners with undergarments on their heads surfaced in the Assyrian media. This sparked outrage in the liberal faction of the government and led to the end of all forms of torture.
The practice briefly resurfaced during the Spanish Inquisition. Tomas de Torquemada replaced the rabid ferret with oversized rosary beads and inadvertently invented ben-wah balls.
Today, the procedure itself pales in comparison to the preparation for the procedure. First, one must refrain from eating for 36 hours. But that will be the least of your worries as you undertake this rite of passage.
About 20 hours before your doctor lubes you up, he will ask you to drink a “cleansing” concoction. It smells like concentrated cherry syrup. It tastes like concentrated ball sweat. You may want to drink this in the bathroom. It acts quickly.
And bring something to read. I suggest something like War and Peace, otherwise you risk running out of reading material before your insides are “clean.” I sat so long that my elbows rubbed my thighs raw. Oh, and before starting, you may want to line your walls with plastic wrap a la a Dexter kill room or risk ruining your paint job.
My first journey into the loo lasted more than an hour, and I made many similar trips over the next six hours. Just as I thought my innards were returning to normal, I was reminded I had another course of that vile concoction to swallow. By the end of the 36 hours, I was crapping something that looked like lemonade and smelled like mildewed socks soaked in fish heads.
I crapped more than 4.5 pounds.
By the time you hit your surgeon’s table, you will be tired, dehydrated, and your starfish will glow like Rudolph’s red nose. But alas, your misery is about to come to an end. Your anesthesiologist is about to hook you up. It’s called Propofol, and if it’s good enough to kill the King of Pop, it’s sure to put your ass under.
After that, there aint much vision left in your quest. What the doctor puts where, and what jokes the attending staff make at your naked back door’s expense will be the last thing on your mind. You’ll awaken about an hour later none the wiser and with an insatiable urge for food, booze, and an ice bucket challenge for your bum.
In the end (and that’s where you get it), it’s not an unbearable experience. And if you’re lucky, you’ll only have to do it once every five years until you die. . . which is still better than a rabid ferret.