I don’t know if this is what is called a “trigger warning,” but this piece deals – quite literally – with bathroom humor.
Before we go there, know that I am not making light of a serious subject.
According to the National Cancer Institute, Colorectal Cancer kills approximately 52,000 people annually in the United States, the second most common cause of cancer death. It is even more alarming when one realizes that the over 150,000 cases each year make it the third most commonly diagnosed cancer (behind lung and breast cancers).
That said, in February, as part of my regular wellness check-up, I took a Cologuard test.
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a less-invasive alternative to a colonoscopy. Instead of spending a day drowning in clear fluids and sports drinks, mountains of Jell-O, and enough industrial-strength laxatives to clean out a county’s entire sewer system; all while spending an entire day captive to the bathroom, the Cologuard test allows you to – um, how do I say this delicately – do your business in a box and mail it to a lab. Once received, they engage in some sort of quasi-chemical-medical magic and inform you of any symptoms that might be associated with Colorectal Cancer. Whereby there’s still a certain weirdness associated with sending “yesterday’s post-processed foods,” through the postal service, it’s less icky than a colonoscopy. (Of course, I can’t help thinking about the poor folks in the Cologuard receiving department; who could actually profess, “Same ‘stuff,’ different day.”)
Anyway, in the topsy-turvy world of medical terminology, a “negative” result is desirable, meaning all is clear; while “positive” indicates potential problems. As you might assume, yes, my test came back positive. Me – being me – went through an initial freak-out mode, running around the house with my hair on fire, expecting this to be the beginning of my unavoidable skid into my demise. Truth be told, I can come unglued over unexpected bruises, but that doesn’t take away from the fear.
My doctor said the next step would be a colonoscopy which was slated for three months hence. That was yesterday.
For the last 90 days – again, me being me – every time my stomach gurgled, cramped, or my regular “lavatory habits” were abnormal (no further detail need be provided; use – or don’t use – your imagination), I became frightened. I talked to my family, consulted with my minister, and reached out to a therapist. I even attended a seminar on end-of-life planning (which at my age is a good idea anyway). Since I have a knack that allows me to reveal the dark cloud behind any silver lining, I was positive it was my end-of-days.
Before I resume the narrative, let me save you some concerns if you ever have to take a Cologuard test. I learned that firstly, and most important, the test doesn’t scan specifically for cancer. Positive results indicate that blood was found in one’s stool; that’s all. Granted, no one is excited about that (I assume), but that can be due to all sorts of minor reasons including what one ate. As a result, over 90% of positive results are either what are termed “false positives” or due to polyps, small growths in one’s colon, which can be easily removed during a colonoscopy.
That out of the way, on with the story: Since I work out of my home and rarely see people in person, I don’t shave daily, instead my routine is I do so on Sundays, appear “rugged” on Mondays; and resume shaving on Tuesdays, continuing as such through the week. Call me hippie. Call me hipster; I don’t care. I wave proudly my furry freak flag high.
Because my procedure was scheduled for the crack of dawn on a Tuesday and I didn’t want to wake up even earlier, I violated my self-imposed shearing decree and shaved on Monday. After all, I didn’t want to look slovenly upon arriving at the hospital at an hour when the angels are still asleep. (That unto itself says something about me.) Anyhow, while looking in the mirror dragging my electric razor across my face, I began chuckling at the silliness of it all.
My intention was to make sure I looked “put together” and dignified for the medical staff, yet the actuality of it was that come tomorrow, I’d be unconscious, laying on an operating table with my nether regions exposed to God and all Creation, a camera inserted in my behind, with a team of medical professionals closely examining where the sun never shines.
Should I forego shaving, my imagination was of the doctor and staff, staring intently at my backside.
Says the doctor to the nurse, “Everything looks great, don’t you agree?”
Nurse: “Yes, I do. But what a slob; the least he could have done was shave.”
Oy… the thoughts that go through my head. Sigh…
Oh yes, the results were negative. There was a teeny-weeny polyp that was removed. I can’t remember feeling so light and alive.
Testing is mandatory. Shaving is optional.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus, RScP, is a life coach and Religious Science Practitioner, as well as a professional speaker and the founder of the inspirational Facebook Group, Intentions Affirmations Manifestations. Stay in touch by signing up for his newsletter at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/signup