Before you get carried away with tsk-tsking and feeling sorry for me, I have a confession to make: Our hospital “date night” was actually planned in advance. Not only that, we admittedly waited for that scheduled rendezvous for nearly three months!
I was understandably hesitant to share this unconventional episode with you, and I am still experiencing some major misgivings. However, when I mentioned the entire ordeal to one of my closest and wisest friends (for over four-plus decades), she insisted that I should share it widely. So here’s an official call-out to my dear pal since high school days: El, for better or worse, this one’s for you!
First a little background information is in order. I would love to report that my wonderful better half and I are still hopeless romantics in our middle-age, and that we religiously adhere to the much-touted tradition of a sacrosanct weekly date night. How I wish!
Alas, the reality is that my husband is routinely pulled in a million different directions (give or take) between his paying and gratis positions. At this point I am reasonably happy that he returns home eventually and is still semi-coherent (at least some of the time). It is a definite bonus if he has the time and energy to devote a few minutes of his precious time to me for a somewhat intelligible conversation, or even a sincere exchange of greetings.
Date night? Unfortunately that is not even on our radar screen these days. We consider ourselves fortunate if we manage to carve out a couple of blissful hours several times a year to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary.
True, when we still resided in chutz la´aretz we did somehow find the time to go out for a quick no-frills dinner on the main drag once every two weeks or so. (While I’m being honest, I’ll likewise disclose that we shared a felafel and drinks, with the tab being around ten dollars in total.) Those were simple albeit sanity-saving outings for which we were both incredibly grateful.
Life in the Holy Land, however, has proven much more demanding. So, although neither of us is especially thrilled about it, the current reality is that date nights were one of the first casualties of the hustle and bustle that largely define our day-to-day existence. With the notable exception of the recent, scheduled date night at the hospital.
It actually took an inordinate amount of planning and coordination, and I am still rather pleasantly surprised that all the pieces remarkably fell into place so seamlessly.
First, we had joint appointments with our family physician, and later another couple´s meeting with our kuppah´s gastro doctor. The latter explained the standard protocol in graphic detail, and then handed us an instruction sheet, prescriptions, and the coveted referrals we had requested: for our better-late-than-never first ever colonoscopies!
Then I contacted the kuppah hospital with which our doctor is affiliated, and received two back-to-back appointments…in three months´ time! Being that the procedure is performed under anesthesia, it is imperative to have someone accompany you home. It therefore made sense to have our designated driver (a.k.a. our bechor) come once for both of us, rather than scheduling two separate appointments.
I knew it was highly acknowledged as a very worthwhile and indeed lifesaving test, but in all honesty, I cannot say that I was looking forward to it. Everything I had read and heard led me to believe that both the preparation regimen and the test itself were far from appealing. As much as I was committed to going through with it, I was understandably filled with unadulterated dread and distaste.
Well, now that I am a veteran, I can truthfully say that the hype by far exceeds the actuality. Sure, drinking the vile potion (twice!) and having to be in close proximity to a bathroom for hours afterward was not all fun and games. FYI, and this is surely a negative reflection on yours truly´s culinary ability, but my hubby pronounced that much-maligned drink not only drinkable, but ¨DELICIOUS¨!
Moreover, because my husband and I were going through the experience together, we managed to find a significant amount of humor in the situation. (Said delicious drink being one example.) And, as an added bonus, we were finally able to spend some measure of quality time together!
The hospital staff, particularly the nurses, likewise found our somewhat unconventional choice of date night activity amusing in the extreme. They laughingly gave us side-by-side beds in the prep room, and when they pulled the privacy curtain separating us, they inadvertently pulled it a tad too far, reopening it in the process. Remarkably, despite our pent-up tension, we had a hearty laugh as we readjusted it and readied ourselves for the exam.
Despite the fact that my husband and son went to daven Mincha and then Maariv while we awaited our turn, somehow hubby was chosen to be wheeled in first. (I guess the nurses were not familiar with either ¨Ladies first¨ or ¨Beauty before age.¨) Although part of me wanted to be over with it already, the bed and pillow were surprisingly comfortable, and I was able to relax with my eyes shut while I awaited his return.
The nurses wheeled him back in about half an hour later, smilingly sharing that he had, b”H, passed with flying colors.
He was still under sedation, seemingly asleep, but his quip, ¨Will you be posting my video on YouTube?¨ had us all in stitches. Remarkably, after he awoke, he had absolutely no recollection of the exchange.
Typically, when I was wheeled in, the anesthesia did not kick in immediately, and I had a ¨Magic School Bus¨ experience watching my own digestive system in living color on a large screen. The procedure itself was not particularly comfortable, but, b”H, not especially painful either. And our tznius was preserved very admirably from beginning to end.
B´chasdei Hashem, despite a family history of polyps, I too received a clean bill of health and an extended reprieve until the next required exam.
In fact the most disappointing aspect of the entire two-day-long ordeal was our dismay that neither of us had lost any weight! We had consumed so few calories over those two days that we were convinced that the prep could be advertised as a quick weight-loss program, but surprisingly such was not the case.
On a more serious note, my daughter-in-law shared with me after the results were in, and not a moment sooner, that her close friend´s mother in the U.S. had gone for her first colonoscopy at the same age as I had. Unlike me, however, her test revealed advanced stage colon cancer. My daughter-in-law attended her funeral two months later.
So for all of you who, like me, are hesitant to be tested, I urge you to just do it! The inconvenience and slight discomfort are a small price to pay for the very real possibility of saving and/or prolonging your life!
Trust me, this is not child´s play. However it is imperative to follow the directives of Monopoly: Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200, But DO get to your doctor, make this all-important appointment, and be a winner in the true Game of Life!