Wednesday, January 18, 2012


One of life's great privileges when you reach my age is being able to look forward, every few years, to the colonoscopy. Mine is today. The "procedure," as it is delicately called, involves inserting a camera at the end of a long, flexible probe into the rectum and sending it on a winding journey through the colon. The probe is equipped, as I understand it, not only with a camera but also with a device that will snip off any harmless little polyps it encounters along the way and collect a biopsy sample from anything that looks more threatening.

It's a good thing. Last time I went through this, I watched the whole thing live, in real time, on TV. Great entertainment, as you might imagine. Well, I was in one of those drug-induced twilight zones where nothing seems to matter very much--and there's no pain. It was a curiously compelling visual experience, to watch this journey into the interior of the body. It's at once rather revolting and strangely beautiful--and it's certainly a fine lesson in non-attachment to the physical being. A good meditative study. That time, the doctors discovered a small tumor on the duodenum, which needed to be removed by surgery. It proved to have been benign, but could have developed into something nastier, so it was good to get rid of it.

This time... well, I'm not looking forward to it. There's always that mortal concern that hovers somewhere in the mind's hinterland. Another useful lesson. And last night I endured the preparation. If you haven't done this, it involves downing an eight-ounce dose of unpleasant-tasting liquid at intervals of ten minutes until your huge gallon jar is empty. It takes hours. The purpose, of course, is to completely clean out the colon and leave it spic-and-span for the examination.

Why am I telling you all this? I'm quite sure you don't want to hear it. Habit, I guess. And writing it down is my way of processing it, as with every other experience, to help me integrate it into all the other aspects of my life. It's a way of not letting things pass me by without paying attention and listening to what I need to hear. It's all Mind Work, isn't it? (Sorry, I couldn't resist the opportunity for a commercial plug!) All grist for the slow, relentless mill of learning. Soon, who knows, enlightenment! See you tomorrow...


CHI SPHERE said...

I have also experienced the colon cleansing procedure and subsequent video while in a semi numb state of mind and body. I recall thinking "this is not me" strangely remembering your words grossly out of place (please excuse the pun) during the viewing of the probe. It was a solemn reminder of how advances in medicine give us the opportunity to choose participation in the discovery process. This year I have chosen not be a viewer and will simply speak with the doctor about the results for it left me with strange journey to the center of the earth/self dreams that were very unwanted.

robin andrea said...

I haven't done the full procedure, but I did do a "virtual colonoscopy" once. It required the same prep, but instead of the invasive aspect, a CT scan was done. I probably should do the real thing, but I keep putting it off.

I hope everything went well and you won't need another for ten more years.

Anonymous said...

the preparation is the worst part, but I can't watch the procedure in real time.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks, Gary. Those strange journeys can be both fascinating and disturbing. I find them worth taking, even when I least want to go there.

It all went well, thanks, Robin. Five years is all they'll give me till the nest one.

Anon, maybe I'm just a secret masochist!