I was waist deep in the Gulf of Mexico, fishing for redfish when the first gnawing pain hit me in the stomach. To be more accurate it was my lower abdomen. Like all dedicated fishermen, I ignored the pain and kept right on throwing my silver spoon between the oyster beds off St. George Island off Florida’s Gulf Coast.
I’d had a slight burning sensation in my lower abdomen for a couple of days, but this time it got my attention, but not enough to quit fishing. Later that afternoon, after a shower, I curled up on the couch with some iced tea and thought about my predicament. I had an idea of the problem because I thought I’d had the same thing about 4 years earlier. It turned out to be diverticulitus, an inflammation of the large intestine. I also thought I knew what had caused my body to rebel this time; the same as the last. Beef Jerky!
I love the stuff! I make some of the best jerky on the planet and I’m stingy with it. I’ll share just about anything except jerky made with my own two hands! Over the last couple of days I had probably eaten two pounds of the dried meat and now I was paying the price. Probably my intestine had become infected by bits of meat that had not been thoroughly eradicated from my system. I took some Advil and went on about my business of having great time fishing!
The next week my doctor poked and muttered to himself and asked me how much beef jerky I had eaten this time, then scheduled me for a colonoscopy. His explanation as to why he was doing this was because I had never had one and that he got a cut of the surgeon’s fee. That was the best explanation I had heard, so I said why not? He also gave me some antibiotics which eventually eliminated the pain.
About one in four men over the age 50 gets colon cancer. Those are high enough odds to make such a test as this necessary and my friends all said it was a piece of cake. They didn’t tell me that the preparation part of the test was worse than the exam itself. It was horrible!
The morning before the actual test, forget about ham and eggs for breakfast. Juice or beef or chicken broth, is the menu for the day. Apple juice was the recommended juice! Guess what an abundance of apple juice will do for you? That’s right! Diarrhea! There’s only so much apple juice you can drink before you burst, so I alternated between iced tea and apple juice all day with a healthy spoonful of beef bouillon dissolved in a cup of boiling water. Delicious as it sounds, I wished I could have had a steak!
At 4:00 that afternoon, after a day of consuming liquids and going to the bathroom an astonishing amount of times, the serious stuff began. I took 4 pills and waited two hours before drinking a mixture concocted by the devil himself. It tasted awful and I still have no idea what those 4 pills were for!
This part of the test was supposed to take care of what the apple juice and other liquids missed. I was furnished a kit containing a gallon jug with a suspicious looking powder in the bottom. There were 5 packets of flavoring in the kit and I could choose between Lemon-Lime, Mountain Berry, Cola, Pineapple and Pina’ Colada! I chose Pineapple. Bad Choice! One of these mixed with the powder and then dissolved in a gallon of water was supposed to make the brew taste better. It didn’t! I had to drink at least a half gallon of the liquid over an hour’s time. The last half gallon in the jug was to be used if I threw up the first half of the bottle. The results weren’t pretty but it served its purpose!
The next morning, stomach empty, I was wheeled into a small room with monitors chirping, nurses fiddling with IV tubes and a smiling doctor asking me if I’d had this done before. Not likely, or I wouldn’t be here this time, I told him. He just laughed and said that the worst was over. It was! Those were last words I heard before I was awakened from the best sleep I had had in years. Except for the sting of the IV needle, I knew nothing of the test.
Thankfully, the test was negative in all aspects and I suggest that all men have the exam. It’s not at all like the tests of previous years and it’s very important if you want to catch colon cancer in its early stages. I’ll do it next year, but the next time I’ll choose Mountain Berry mix.