It's called a colonoscopy, a test you take when you turn 50. Oh, I hear you groan. I know, this procedure gets a bad rap, but if there's one thing that living in California for 11 years has taught me: it's all in the way you present it. Positive spin people! Let's call it a "gift" (The other day I actually heard a radio caller on NPR describe her cancer as a "gift." Oh. Dear.)
This thorough cleanse begins the day beforehand and continues right up until you leave for the hospital. You have to drink two gallons of this globunous yellow liquid rapidly and - not to put too fine a point - stay close to the amenities. What a wonderful opportunity to Netflix all those shows you've been meaning to see. Or indeed, scrub the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush. Special times.
You have to show up at the hospital the next day with a driver who will stay for the two-hour procedure and take you home. I didn't want to put a friend through this and Kevin was away so I hired a driver through a care company.
My driver-carer showed up to the house and ushered me down to her very battered car. (More battered than ours.) No judgement, maybe she just had some bad luck in parking. She seemed very sweet and eager to please and, fair dues, did not have her car lined with bin bags (in case of accident) as you would have expected.
"You look fit for a Mom" she said "I should have got your advice after I had my daughter."
How old is your daughter? I asked.
31, she said.
Inside the car smelled strongly of...what? Of "the wacky baccy" as my Dad would say.
Registering at the hospital waiting room I felt a bit like a Nora No-Friends. All the rest of the patients were chatting and laughing with their "person" who was a friend. I was the only one with a paid-for carer. My carer. Who was....where? Nowhere to be seen. I found her down the hall chatting up a male nurse and gently herded her back to a seat next to me.
Eventually I found myself clad in an airy garment relaxing in a hospital ward. Then, as my friend said: "Basically they stick a hose up your bum and you just pray you stay under."
Gentle readers I did (stay under) and it was a gift...