Going For a Colonoscopy: Not Fun, But Definitely Important

Last week on Wednesday I took my wife, Mary Esther, for a colonoscopy. The prep is usually the worst part of the procedure and I lost weight watching my wife prepping for the eight days it took to get ready for the procedure.

I swore to myself I would never go through that again and Mary Esther said the same. It was sheer agony and when we got to the hospital, we were both starving and beaten in body and mind.

We arrived at the hospital at 1:30 pm and waited and waited and waited. Finally at a little after 4pm they wheeled her in for the procedure. I went to the waiting room and prayed. Sometimes you pray and God says yes and sometimes you pray and God says no.

After what seemed like an eternity they called me in to her recovery room. The worst was yet to come. It had been five years since her last colonoscopy and as soon as she woke up they came in with the results.

The results were not good at all. Yes, it is true that they could have been worse but after going through everything we were ill-prepared for the pictures that the doctors presented to us. Mary Esther had giant polyps (roughly the size of a silver dollar if they were round) that were both aggressive and pre-cancerous.

It’s been a long week and my column is late enough that my editor, who is always very patient with me, asked me if I was going to submit one. I knew that I should submit a column even though I was tired and forlorn.

At this time Mary Esther and I are waiting to find out when the surgery will be to have the polyps, which they carefully marked, removed. The doctor said it wasn’t an emergency like having in done next week, more likely to have it done by next month. If she didn’t have that colonoscopy she would have died.

I met my wife in 1994 and we became fast friends. In 1999 we started to date and our relationship became quite serious. On April 7th, 2001, I had to rush her to Mt. Auburn Hospital because she was shaking and couldn’t catch her breath.

It’s lucky I took her in when I did because, while she was on the table in the emergency room, all her vitals crashed. The doctors had to intubate her because she could not breathe on her own.

What happened was she had sepsis, a boil of poison on her kidney that started to leak and then burst when she was at the hospital. If we had waited for an ambulance, the story would have had a much more dire outcome.

They actually had a priest come in and administer last rites and for two days we didn’t know whether she was going to make it. As it turns out, she did make it and it was at that point we decided that we should get married because life is shorter than we think.

We were married on June 22nd, 2002 and it was a wonderful ceremony. We’ve had a wonderful life together since then.

We meditate regularly now and are hoping for the best with the upcoming operation. I had convinced myself that I would never have another colonoscopy but now I’m not so sure about that.

Life is short and precious and we treasure every day. In earlier times I was an active drug addict and I’m so glad that I don’t use drugs anymore. I’m aware of my life and I am aware of how precious my wife is to me. At this time we don’t know what is going to happen but, then again, who really does? The only thing we can count on is uncertainty.

Next week we’ll meet the surgeon and find out when the operation is scheduled. Hopefully, by the time you read this, it will have taken place and all will be well. But, the truth is, we are powerless over outcomes. We make plans and the Buddha laughs at our dreams.

When you read this column, please say a prayer for us, even if you don’t believe in a higher power. Today, Sunday, July 15th, my wife and I will meditate and hope for the best. Life is a true treasure and that is why they call it the present!

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.