By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
I usually like the idea of the three-day weekend, but I could have skipped the one I had a few days ago. Yes, I know it was for my own good, but this something for my own good can come as infrequently as possible, thank you very much.
I’m past the age of 50, so I have to take care that I don’t develop a problem called colon cancer. There have been some instances of cancer in my family history, so the odds of avoiding it are not exactly 100 percent. My doctor urged me to finally get an examination and I reluctantly agreed.
After visiting a specialist in Princeton and filling out a mini-biography of forms, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy at Princeton Community Hospital. It was scheduled for early Monday morning, and I was told that I had to “cleanse” myself for the procedure.
That meant getting a special kit at my pharmacy and religiously following the instructions on the box the Sunday before the big event. I read the instructions on the box, and one sentence leaped out at me: Do Not Eat Any Food the Day Before the Procedure. I couldn’t have any solid food or even milk. Tea, coffee, Jello with no toppings or fruit, clear soft drinks, fruit juices with no pulp, and bullion were okay. Essentially, I was on a liquid diet for a whole day.
Avoiding solid food for an entire day was bad enough, but this entire day happened to be Super Bowl Sunday.
I settled into the routine and tried to watch television. Do you know how many commercials are about food? The fact it was Super Bowl Sunday made the situation even worse. Pizza and chicken wings were being promoted relentlessly. I finally had to turn off the TV and start reading.
Then the moment came when I had to start the “cleansing” procedure. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it wasn’t any fun. It was agony while wishing for pizza and chicken wings. I had to make do with tea, chicken broth and a shot of cola or two. I went to bed promising myself a big breakfast with sausage gravy after the procedure if I could keep up my willpower.
Monday morning arrived and my subconscious was exploring ways to chicken out, but I went ahead. One of my neighbors was kind enough to give me a ride to the nearby hospital. I had been warned that I was going to need a ride home because I wasn’t going to be in any shape to drive.
I arrived at the hospital, signed in, went to the right clinic and actually managed to find it without getting lost. After changing out of my clothes and into hospital gowns, I took my first ride on a hospital gurney in more than 40 years. An IV was inserted into my hand.
The colonoscopy suite was pretty much what I had expected it to be. Cords were pasted to me and a computer with Star Trek-style graphics assured everyone present that I was actually alive and not just pretending. Then I saw the machine that was going to look inside my body; it had a dark rubber cable about the thickness of my middle finger. A TV camera was mounted on the end of it. The maker’s logo said it was an Olympus machine, but I remarked that it looked like something made by Black & Decker.
Then I was asked to roll over on my side. The anesthesiologist pumped a couple of shots into my IV line, and very quickly it was lights out.
The next thing I knew, I was in a recovery room. I was groggy, but I knew what was happening. A glance at a clock told me that I had been at the hospital for about two hours. The procedure was over and I had a clean bill of health, I managed to get dressed without falling down. One of my other neighbors came for me and made sure I got home. Of course, the first thing I did was call my Mom to tell her that I was fine. I had left a note on my recliner to remind me to make that call.
I’m glad nothing cancerous or pre-cancerous was found, but I’m not eagerly awaiting the next time I have to undergo cleansing and get some hardware poked into me. What will make me go is the fact that the odds of beating cancer go up when you catch it early. That makes up for the inconvenience and the day of going without chicken wings.
My email here at the Daily Telegraph received a message Tuesday that put me on alert. A bank asked me to update my information. However, it wasn’t my bank. I knew immediately that it was another attempt at “phishing,” or putting out official-looking messages in order to get personal information.
Scam artists can create very realistic messages from banks, credit card companies and other entities that urge you to update or review your personal information. I know from previous stories that banks and credit card companies don’t ask for such information. If you’re their customer, they have all the information they need already.
If the message happened to have my bank’s name on it, I would have called my bank or paid a personal visit to see if it was the one that sent the message. I’m sure the managers would want to know that somebody was using their bank’s name for a phishing expedition. As technology changes, you’re more likely to be robbed through your computer than at gunpoint.
Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph’s senior reporter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.