A 2 for 1 July Special: A COVID Test & a Colonoscopy

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I am always on the lookout for a good deal, like a 2 for 1 special or BOGO. I think Albertson’s Market has boneless, skinless chicken breast on sale this week. Much preferable to my 2 for 1 July special, courtesy of the health care profession.

Just when I thought that 2020 couldn’t get any better, non-essential medical procedures, including colonoscopies, are once again offered in New Mexico. Go figure. Dine-in eating is banned, but walking into a hospital for this dreaded procedure is apparently just fine with our Governor. Well, that’s probably a good thing since the delay in preventive care since the spring has accounted for a sharp rise in deaths from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Without even commenting on the economic toll that total lockdowns have caused, we may never know how many deaths could have been prevented if non-essential medical procedures were not banned for three months. Don’t even get me started about certain Governors, whose reckless policies of forcing nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients may likely have contributed to the premature death of these grandmas and grandpas. Some lives are apparently more important than others. However, all lives — from the moment of conception through the moment of death — matter because all lives are made in the image of God and are worthy of respect and dignity. Perhaps that’s another post for another day.

Back to my impending colonoscopy. When I had another flare-up of diverticulitis back in June, my primary care physician recommended that I consult with a surgeon to determine whether or not a colonoscopy was a good course of action given my medical history. Turning 54 in November, I am past definitely past due for this preventive-care procedure.

After hearing the pros and cons from Dr. V, I acquiesced and agreed to schedule my first colonoscopy. Of course, in the age of COVID-19, even routine medical procedures come with an extra requirement these days — a COVID-19 test. Yikes! One of the first things that popped into my mind was, “Up your nose with a rubber hose.” Vinnie Barbarino obviously never had a hose shoved up his nose, much less a long swab. It might have made him think twice before throwing that retort around so casually.

“Well, maybe the hospital won’t require it by the time you have your procedure,” said the kind receptionist as she filled out the paperwork for my pre-op appointment. Although I don’t believe in luck, I was certainly hoping for good luck or something to happen by the time I made my way to the hospital this morning so that I didn’t have to go through with the test. No such luck.

After an agonizingly longish wait of about 30 minutes, I was finally called back to talk with the pre-op nurse. A very nice lady, she took my blood pressure and checked my oxygen level. But, not wanting to inflict any pain on her patients, she actually didn’t administer the COVID-19 test. She handed me off to the one who would do the deed.

Walking down the hall to the lab, I finally made it to the room with the chair. Although I wasn’t strapped in, it probably would have been a good idea. Given the warning of what to expect when a long Q-tip looking swab is inserted up your nostril as far as it would go, I braced myself for the worst, hoping for the best. “Breathe out of your mouth,” she said. How else am I going to breathe with something shoved up my nose?

In a matter of about five seconds, the test was finished. I can’t say that it hurt, but it was very unpleasant. Something that you don’t really want to endure if you don’t have to. I have a low tolerance for pain anyway, but there was really no pain involved. Even though I was told that my eyes might water, my nose could run, and I might cough when the said instrument was inserted, none of the above happened. Others may have a different experience. Unless you are required to take this kind of COVID test, I would recommend waiting for something better to come along.

As I walked down the hall, the lab tech told me that they would have my results shortly, but I didn’t have to wait. If I tested positive, they would call me and I would not be going forward with my colonoscopy as scheduled. Even though I had already rescheduled the procedure once, I don’t think that I want to get out of it that badly to test positive for the Coronavirus. As I write this, over four hours after my test, no news must mean good news.

With the COVID test out of the way, I will eat normally today and then start on a clear diet tomorrow. Starting Wednesday afternoon, I get to start what everyone has told me is the worst part of the colonoscopy procedure — drinking the GoLYTELY to prepare my bowels for what is coming on Thursday. I’m told the colder the better when drinking and to chug it, not sip it. We’ll see if that makes any difference. I doubt I will ask my doctor for a refill just to have some on hand.

As I look forward to this week, I am learning to be content with the circumstances of COVID tests and colonoscopies. With my commitments to my family and to my church, it only makes sense that I try to stay healthy. One good thing to come out of restrictions to my food choices this week is to jump-start my diet and get back on track to losing weight and getting in shape. There’s got to be an easier way to do it, though.

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