Colonoscopy is all Behind Me Now

david carroll BeaverDamUSA.comMy latest colonoscopy is behind me now (sorry) and I wanted to share the best part of the adventure with you.  I’ll chat briefly about the prep and procedure, but I want to begin with a celebratory photo of the much-anticipated “First Meal After.”

Due to some family history, I’m in the “every five years” category, which is better than some folks have it, but not as good as others.  As you may know, colorectal cancer — cancer of the colon or rectum — is the second-leading killer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Removing precancerous growths spotted during a colonoscopy can cut the risk of dying from colon cancer in half. More than 95% of tumors are detected during a colonoscopy.  Quite honestly, had my family doctor not made the first appointment for me about ten years ago, I would have never gone to the trouble.  Sure, I’d seen the Katie Couric procedure on live TV, and I’d read the ominous headlines, but you know what I was thinking:  “Oh, that happens to other people, not me.”
food
As I’ve shared a few Facebook comments, Tweets and face-to-face chats with folks about my colonoscopy, I’ve been surprised by the number of my friends who are squeamish about it.  Although it is strongly recommended for adults 50 and over (and younger folks with a family history of colon cancer), people hear the horror stories about an all-nighter on the john, the nasty liquid mixture you have to guzzle, and being probed from behind by total strangers.  So they just say no.  Or they say, “I’ll get around to it, someday.”

The definitive humor column on colonoscopies was written by Dave Barry in 2008, and nothing I could write will top that.  So I’ll just list a few random observations that may be helpful should you decide to take the plunge (there I go again).

1)  If your procedure is scheduled for say, Thursday morning, start tapering off on your meals around Monday.  Lighten up on your portions a little bit.  Let’s just say by Wednesday night, the more is not the merrier.  You’ll thank me later.

2)  The “nasty liquid mixture” you’ve been hearing about is so, 2000-ish.  Most docs now prescribe a clean-out potion that isn’t all that bad.  You can either mix it with clear Gatorade, or take tablets as I did (with LOTS of clear liquid), with no taste at all.  The end result is the same (I never stop, do I?) but getting there isn’t as bad as you’ve heard.  Just don’t stray too far from the bathroom for a few hours.  If you go out to get the mail, you might soon be running in with an express delivery.

3)  Schedule your appointment first thing in the morning.  You do the dirty work starting at 5:00 p.m. the evening before, sleep from about 12:30 to 5:30 a.m. and they do the deed around 7:00.   The anesthesiologist works his magic, you drift off into dreamland, and the next thing you know you’re sipping a cold drink and they send you on your way.  You never feel a thing.  You’re home by 8:30.  You sleep it off for a few hours, and it’s chow time.  What can you eat?  Anything you wish.

My lovely wife warmed up the goodies you see above for my post-colonoscopy homecoming.  It had served as dinner for her and my son while I was otherwise occupied the night before.  It was the forbidden feast while I was on the all-liquid, in-and-out diet.  I was most envious at the time, but I looked at it as my eventual reward for not whining about it.

By the way, I’m happy to report a successful outcome (that’s enough). When the doc inserted that thin, flexible colonoscope up into its intended target area,  the tiny camera sent images back to Earth that showed no polyps, no problems, not even that piece of gum I swallowed when I was in 2nd grade.  I got to hear those magic words: “We’ll see you back here in five years.  Now go get something to eat!”

So if you’re among those who’ve been putting it off, give me a call and I’ll talk you into it.  I enjoy having you around to read my blogs and watch my newscasts.  The folks who perform these colonoscopies are saving lives every day, and yours could be one of them!

When ‘Seinfeld’ Was Must-see TV

david carroll BeaverDamUSA.comI caught a “Seinfeld” rerun the other night.  Between the laughs, I remembered how NBC was reluctant at first: the show was too Jewish, too New York, and of course, it was about nothing.  After the first four episodes aired in the summer of 1989, NBC lost interest for a while. The show was offered to Fox, and in a decision I bet they’d love to have back, they turned it down.  In 1991, NBC gave it another chance and the rest is TV history. I scoured the archives and found this interview I did with Jerry Seinfeld right before the show was re-launched on NBC.

It took a couple of years to really catch on, but from 1993-98, “Seinfeld” was consistently ranked among the top 3 shows on TV.  It gave us George Costanza’s hopeless schemes, Elaine’s bad dancing, nagging parents and the great physical humor of Cosmo Kramer.  There were the unforgettable recurring characters like Newman, Uncle Leo, the Soup Nazi and “George Steinbrenner.”  Endless catchphrases live on to this day: “Yadda yadda yadda,” “No soup for you,” and “Not there’s anything wrong with that,” to name a few.

Jerry Seinfeld is not an actor now, nor was he then, and you won’t find his name on any list of Emmy winners for acting.  In many scenes, it looks like he is struggling to keep a straight face.  He is a stand-up comedian, a great one, and was smart enough to surround himself with excellent comic actors:  Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards created iconic characters, and it could be argued that Alexander and Richards still struggle to escape their “Seinfeld” identities.  They were that good.  They became George and Kramer.  Somehow, Louis-Dreyfus has gone on to other roles, although I still see a little “Elaine” in all of them, don’t you?  From what’s been written over the years, Richards was a perfectionist, and would get frustrated when his cast mates would mess up a scene.  Unlike his Kramer character, he was indeed organized.  But like his Kramer character, he may have been a little, well, off-center.  Here’s a brief, but great blooper reel that shows the cast in full, glorious dysfunction:

One thing I admire about Jerry: he knew when to call it quits.  His show was on top, and he felt like there was nowhere to go but down.  He’d made plenty of money, he knew the reruns would keep the cash pouring in, and he could afford to work when he wanted. He could simply take his stand-up act on the road.  You haven’t seen him try to update the series with a new version (which nearly always fails), there’s been no reunion movie (usually a bad idea), and there were no second-rate spinoff series, like “George” or “Kramer.”  Unlike some TV comic actors I could name, he didn’t go on to make the same bad movie over and over.  He seems comfortable with who he is, and what he accomplished at a particular point in time.  “Seinfeld” was once in a lifetime.  He had seen others who couldn’t stop chasing the fame, trying to stay on top.  In all but a few cases, they weren’t able to recapture the magic.

I’m glad someone at NBC decided to roll the dice and take a chance on some unproven actors and writers who wanted to do a show about nothing.  Unlike today, the network had the patience to endure a few years of unspectacular ratings until it finally came together.  “Seinfeld” reruns hold up well today because they weren’t particularly topical. They were about mundane everyday problems like waiting on a table, or finding your car in a massive parking garage.  Just like “Lucy” having a baby, these shows will still be funny generations from now.  “Seinfeld” could push the envelope at times, but it was never out-and-out gross like almost every current CBS sitcom except “Big Bang Theory.”  Plus there’s a certain nostalgia watching Jerry and his friends navigate the world just before the Internet era exploded.  It may have been our last big sitcom before everyone was attached to a cell phone, blogging, net-surfing, tweeting and texting.  In fact, someone has created a popular “Modern Seinfeld” Twitter account with 653,000 followers speculating on what “Seinfeld” episodes would be like today.  It’s very amusing.

In 1998, the “Seinfeld” cast filmed the show’s final episode, and a photographer captured this moment at the end of the day.  I’m sure they knew it was time to go, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Photo by Wally Gobetz (NYC – Morningside Heights: Tom’s Restaurant) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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