Friday, December 30, 2011

An Introspection

We’ve all noticed it.  As we age, the passage of time seems to speed up, as if in a hurry to bring us to the end of our journey.  It’s just a mirage.  The passage of time later in life is no swifter than the day we were born.
Not everything in life progresses in a linear fashion, some things do accelerate with age.  Since passing my fortieth birthday, I’ve noticed that the frequency of my visits to various doctors, as well as the thickness of my medical file, are both increasing at an exponential rate.  Maybe it's these and other accelerating phenomena that contribute to the illusion of time’s quickening pace.
I already have enough excuses of my own for seeking medical attention, but my doctors seem intent on looking for still more.  Over the past year, I have received at least four letters from Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton reminding me that I’m over 50 (thanks), and trying to persuade me to get a colonoscopy (no thanks).  I find their persistence in this matter a little bit disturbing.  I made an appointment with my physician to discuss the need for this asinine procedure.
When I arrived at my doctor’s office, he wasted no time drilling into the core reason for my visit. “So you want a colonoscopy?” he inquired.
“No, I don’t want a colonoscopy,” I objected. “Nobody wants a colonoscopy.”
“Okay, let me rephrase that then.  You’ll submit to a colonoscopy.”
I guess submitting to a colonoscopy is better than wanting one, but not by much.  The word submit makes me think of my friend’s dog, Charlie, an ugly little submissive white mutt that rolls over on her back and cowers in fear at the sight of another canine even half her size.  Submitting to a colonoscopy sounds like it should be a statutory offense.
My aversion to the procedure is not unfounded, the risk is not insignificant.  The serious complication rate is 5 in every 1000 procedures; perforation of the colon occurs in 1 out of every 1000 procedures, and it takes 1250 colonoscopies just to prevent one cancer death. There is no way that I’m going to tolerate getting that many colonoscopies.  Which begs the question, what are the doctors doing up there during the first 1249 visits? Sightseeing?  
Given the risk, if I have to undergo this procedure, I want it done by the best experts available.  My plan is to go to Roswell, New Mexico, and wait for aliens.  People abducted by extraterrestrials report that while in custody, they underwent a complete physical examination that included a thorough inspection of all body cavities.  If an alien civilization has invested the time and resources necessary to provide interstellar colonoscopy house calls, they must know what they are doing.
My doctor did not concur with my treatment plan.