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Tuesday, August 14, 2001

When my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, I wasn't hungry as much as I was sleepy. And I wasn't even sleepy as much as reluctant to get out of bed and get all this started. I didn't think, "Today I'm having a sigmoidoscopy." I thought, "Today I have to give myself two enemas before seven o'clock in the morning."

Nine minutes later, though, when my alarm went off again, I did get up.

Somehow I made it to the doctor's office exactly on time. The nurse showed me into the examining room and took my blood pressure ( a little high, no surprise). Then she handed me a large paper sheet to drape over myself. I was to disrobe from the waist down and lie on my side on the table with my top leg crossed over the other one.

It seemed like forever that I was in that position before the doctor came in. At least I was facing away from him, so I was spared directly confronting some of the humiliation that followed. The redacted version: The doctor had to have the nurse come in and give me another enema, and then I had to wrap the sheet around me as I ran down the hall in search of the rest room.

But enough of that. As of this point, I've already been at the doctor's for half an hour, and the long black tube with the light on the end of it is still lying in a tray next to the table I'm sprawled out on.

The next half hour is pretty much a one-note tune: what little pain there was was brief and mild, but the discomfort, as the doctor wiggled the scope around inside me, was constant. I tried to relax, and I got through it, but at times it seemed it would never be over.

In the end (so to speak), it was worth it. The bottom line (so to speak) is that I'm healthier than I thought I was. For once, I got the results right away. The scope turned up some inflammation, which the doctor told me was consistent with his initial diagnosis of a fast-moving virus, now long gone. He found no polyps, nothing to indicate cancer. He even used the word, cancer, to tell me he didn't see anything that points in that direction.

So was it really worth it? Oh, yeah. It was worth it even though my belly was sore for the next two hours. (I mean, it was sore the way the guy must have felt who got kicked in the stomach by Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible II.) It was worth it even though I spent the rest of the day (and all night) running back and forth to the bathroom.

Shasta Lake

The last sunset, our last night on the lake.

By this afternoon, I was feeling weary but mellow. I was able to forget (mostly) about what I'd gone through and focus on the positive results. I still didn't have any energy, but I think that will come back, too. Tomorrow, maybe. Or the next day.

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