OLYMPIA WASHINGTON

Frank Zappa died because he did not get a timely check up. That does not mean I think of me and Frank, it means the world lost Frank Zappa due to this oversight. Some kinds of cancer have no symptoms until it’s too late, and the early stages are usually most successfully treatable. Frank left way too soon. Now you all are stuck with me instead.

Agreeing to do it was probably the hardest part, I did it because of Frank. I did it because the insurance covered it. I did it because I had no conflicts to argue with. I did it to get it over with.

The next hardest part is the preparation. They gave me two pieces of paper, detailing what needed to be done. Acquire specific and inexpensive laxatives and gatorade, no red gatorade no red dye anything and there is fasting so the system is empty and most easily examined. I put some effort into considering the aftermath, what I would do after the procedure, what I would eat after such a long fast, I do not fast often. I decided on yogurt and nuts and berries for my first meal after its over.

Three days out: no more nuts and berries. Certain meds get discontinued. You tend to wonder what is going to happen, but nothing short of cancelling will halt the countdown. I waited and distracted myself. Working is best for that. There are other options, I tried my favorites. Writing. Sleeping perchance to dreaming.

Two days out: dinner tonight will be the last meal I eat. Sounds final doesn’t it. The Last Meal.

One day out: no solid food, instead drink salty broth. The salt causes water retention, that will be handy later in the laxi-fast when things are flooding out. Next comes the beginning of the laxative regiment. Three PM take the two tiny laxative pills. Four PM mix the powder laxative with the gatoraid. Chugalug one of the two bottles.

The morning of the procedure: There Must be a Designated Driver Present. The patient will not be able to drive or navigate reliably after the procedure, so there must be someone to get The Patient safely home. At 7 AM comes the second round of powder laxative and gatoraid. I felt no specific discomfort, but there was lots of talk to read in my instructions about nausea and how to get that gatoraid laced with laxative down the hatch. I rushed it, it was done in 30 minutes, and they allowed two hours. There was no advantage in chugging it in 30 minutes.

Belly feels full, and there is lots of pooping starting shortly after the first laxatives were taken, and it just keeps on going but not in a messy way. I had no close calls because I stayed close to the you know what. They suggest a moist “wipe” rather than paper to ease the skin around the opening. The Opening. The procedure is to send a camera with special tools up through The Opening. I hope it’s a small camera. What about lights?

The doctor needs a clear view, hence the massive laxatives so things will be clean and simple in there. The procedure I experienced started with a long wait in the waiting room after check-in at the desk. I was light headed from the fasting, so I pity my poor driver, I probably chattered like a nervous monkey between long silent staring trances. They called my name and I went with them.

They put me to bed and attached stuff, most notably a needle and tube taped to my arm, try not to think about bumping it or tearing it out, or having it accidentally caught on someone passing by. They added the drug through that portal and I actually remember the whole thing. The doctor introduced herself, she seemed perfect for the role. She was magnificent. I seem to have survived, unless of course all this is just a dream as I now lie there dying.

I watched it all on TV as I lay on my side and they drove the camera and tool pack up the dark wet tunnel. I felt nothing THANK GOD. To get a better view they inflate the entire chamber (the colon) which is painless but does require extensive expulsion for the next twelve hours or so. Who is counting? It’s noisy.

I got home and enjoyed that yogurt with nuts and berries. I listened to Peaches En Regalia. Now I am all weepy, I miss Frank.

UPDATE Mr Zappa died of prostate cancer, not colon cancer, same neighborhood, different house. The lesson remains, get that check-up! Thanks HMV for this correction.