Do I Know How to Celebrate or What?

It appears I’ll be “celebrating” Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month by having a colonoscopy. Less than one year after I had the last one.


I was supposed to have it several months ago, but got caught up with a kidney infection and ginormous kidney stone and then I kind of, um, procrastinated.

See, I had this colonoscopy last April, but the doctor apparently didn’t have a scope long enough to reach the end of my colon, so he told me I had to go elsewhere and have another colonoscopy. Just what you want to hear right after you’ve had a colonoscopy: that you need to have another one.

Well, they did find (and remove) nine polyps. And my father has had a cancerous polyp (and part of his colon) removed, so I’m at risk.

It’s not the colonoscopy itself that’s the problem, it’s the prep: liquid diet; very strong laxative.

So, to add to the excitement on this most auspicious month, I’ve been asked to take part in a research study about colonoscopy prep solutions. I passed the telephone questions part and will go next week for a physical and labs and more questions and see if I get to be randomized to one of three prep solutions, one of which is the dreaded GoLYTELY — consisting of a gallon of yucky stuff you have to drink. During which, I’m told, you don’t. “Go” lightly, that is.

(Please don’t let me have to drink a gallon of GoLYTELY.)

Keeping in the celebratory spirit, however, you are encouraged to make your own music after the procedure is over.

On another uncomfortable subject, I’ve been thinking lately about how the cyber world has changed our notions of friends. Was Gonzo ahead of his time when he sang, “There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met,” in the (pre-internet) Muppet Movie song, “I’m Going To Go Back There Someday?”

Thanks to the computer, I have old friends I’ve NEVER met. Chances are you do, too. Back in the day, we lived in communities where friendships were made face-to-face and, when something happened, the community knew about it.

Today, the world is our community and those connections may not be there.

One of the first things my husband said to me after I rejoined the conscious world in the intensive care unit last spring was, “I have NO idea how to get in touch with your ‘people.'”

Goodness knows why he didn’t think to look in the address book on my computer, but whatever.

I was reminded of that a couple of days ago when I finally got up the nerve to call my friend and fellow Lobegoner, Roger. It had been weeks and months since any of the gang had heard from him and that could mean just all kinds of bad stuff. Relief came when he picked up the phone.

“Thank goodness you’re still on this side of the grass!” I exclaimed when he said “hello.”

Roger, who’s had Type 1 diabetes for 60 or so years (his first endocrinologists were Elliott Joslin and Priscilla White), hadn’t called or e-mailed any of us for a while because…he was adding a second story to his house and — oh yeah — had been in the hospital because of a virus.

While we don’t like to admit it — at least, I don’t — we’re fragile people. Unlike most people, we have to work kind of hard at maintaining our good health; we have to always be vigilant to what’s happening with our bodies. We’re at higher risk for…well, seemingly everything.

Another member of the gang, a woman in her 30s, died in her sleep. It’s suspected hypoglycemia was at fault. Her husband was friends with another husband, so that word got out in time for a number of us to attend her funeral. Years later, I still miss her. She kept us all laughing. (Although she was NOT the one who put two huge balloons under her shirt and chanted: “Look at me! I’m Jan!” as she bounced across the lawn, she probably was the instigator.)

(As an aside, while driving to her funeral, I got a phone call from another member of the gang announcing he’d just had an islet transplant — during which he was wearing his Camp Lobegon t-shirt. I was crying with sadness for one and with joy for another. All at the same time.)

But there was another, a retired neurosurgeon, who just…dropped out of sight. No posts to the gang. No posts to the mail list we all belong to. No way to reach him except via e-mail.

It might be a good idea for all of us to give somebody a list of people to contact. Just in case.

Aside from that, I’m planning my garden. (I can plant lettuce, onions, carrots, and turnips this month!) And trying to decide if I want to get a bathing suit for my cruise next month. Do you think people would stare if a fat old lady with one leg that doesn’t go all the way to the ground shows up at the pool? And, if so, should I care? I’ll have to ponder that for a while. Or ask if the pool is accessible. If not, what’s the point, right?

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  • Sheri

    I think if you go to all the work of finding a suit that fits and squeezing yourself into the spandex thing, you deserve to wear it wherever you want. haha. Hope you have a great relaxing time on the cruise!

  • marylittle

    i had two of them in three months polyps both times eeewww…i did ok i can’t do that liquid stuff because of it not staying down it won’t i do liquid fasting for five days and citrate of magnesia the day before with that always works but literally doesn’t all stay down..i must have a sensitive stomach (one of those was christmas week)..anyway i hope you don’t get the golytly the test itself is far more enjoyable than the prep for sure

  • Linda Martin

    Reading this has just reminded me that I am overdue for my 5 year colonoscopy. I have been procrastinating—not because of the test but due to the awful preparation. I hate drinking that stuff. Also, I don’t have anyone to drive me and they will not let me drive home. So I have to try to find a friend who can take me. I suppose I really need to call and make appointment because I had polys 5 years ago and my mom had colon cancer. You would think I would know better than putting this off. Hoping your test goes well.

  • Jan Chait

    Linda, the prep stuff isn’t that bad any more. Depending on what you get. Ask your doctor about Suprep. You get two tiny bottles of stuff that you mix with water — drink one the evening before and one the morning of. It’s nasty-tasting: I found that chugging it down and then eating some Jell-O helps. Of course, you still have the liquid diet. I make spritzers with juice (white grape works) and sugar-free Sprite. Chicken boullion helps alleviate the hunger.

    Most of all, you just take a deep breath, make the appointment, and suck it up. I’m sure it beats dealing with colon cancer.


  • Jawn

    Hey Jan. Your blog put a smile on my face. I think of Dauna often and find it hard to believe she has been gone for so long. It reminds me I should try calling Mike. I too am glad Roger is on this side of the grass! We need that old curmudgeon for the next Lobegone! ūüėČ

    I was thinking the other day if David F. was still with us at camp that you could compare legs and he could show you how to smack people with his artificial one! Just call it batting lessons! ūüėČ


  • Jan Chait

    John, I can’t tell you how many times I wish David F. were still around. I often wish I could talk to him about living with an amputation. Besides, we could joust (with our legs, of course). I still remember the look on the face of one of the Lobegon children when David took his leg off.

    For all of you reading this, John is not only a Lobegon-er, he’s also the author of the article about virtual diabetes management in the current issue of Diabetes Self-Management magazine.