Most of us like to know what we are in for or what to expect. Generally, we seek to avoid surprises, unless it’s a winning-the-lottery type of surprise. We research, scope things out, with the intention of minimizing a downside surprise. Still, surprises are a surprise at some point, whether we scope them out or not.
This past Friday I submitted to a deep scope. Not something pleasant to write about, but screening scopes are recommended after middle age hits — its purpose to eliminate potential future surprises. Our bodies have a tendency to manifest weird stuff after we turn 50. So resilient is our biological machine that it takes decades of abuse (from inability of coping with stress to eating oreo cookies) before abnormalities start showing up to surprise us.
After 50 we are reminded that a periodic (every 10 years) colonoscopy is a proactive scope job to have done. The downside of the scope job is a slight bother of time. The upside is a good cleansing and peace of mind. Not a bad investment. Still, I put this off for a decade as the idea of this scope job was less appealing then it turned out to be.
The last time I submitted to a deep scope job, it was down my throat through the mouth. I’ve been scoped plenty of times through the nose to the throat, but to get to the stomach, it’s through the mouth. Three years ago I was working in Colombia while trying to determine why my throat was sore even though I felt good. This, after a couple of smart doctors mis-diagnosed the base of tongue tumor, after repeated scope-through-the-nose-down-the-throat jobs. One doctor recommended a stomach scope job — a longer, thicker scope than the nose scopes. When I arrived to the scoping facility, I was informed I could submit to the job asleep or awake. The caveat with anesthesia is having someone there to take you home. Since I was alone I elected the awake option. Not much longer and I was looking at the inside of my esophagus on a TV monitor, mouth wide open, as I was in the process of swallowing a tube with no end. They saw nothing irregular, evidently missing the large bulge on the base of my tongue.
For the scope job this week there was no awake option. It was asleep or no scope job. Fortunately all went well and the clinic sent me home complete with photos as proof that they did their job, although the photos could have been an internal canal of just about anything.
The person who does the scoping, from either end, is usually a gastroenterologist. And if you are going to be scoped out, you want it to be by someone who has done lots of scoping. My guy calculated he’s done well over 10,000. He seemed too young to have done so many, but if he does 20 per week (his schedule) and works a full year, a decade of practice would yield him about 10 thousand scope jobs. The driving incentive for a person to get into this type of scoping profession is something I’m not likely to scope out. But if it weren’t for scopers, we’d live with more doubt and rely more on guesswork.
The only pain of the entire operation is the IV. It’s not like I don’t have good veins for needle poking, but some nurses seem to fiddle and have a hard time. The person you want inserting an IV is someone who has done it 10,000 times, but you can’t screen for the IV giver. The nurse for some reason was fiddling too long and the vein barked back. It was a small price to pay for an otherwise uneventful and painless experience.
GV had a scope job a few years ago as her family is predisposed to the big C. She reminded me of the scope job benefits — elimination of unwanted surprise and an opportunity for a top-to-bottom cleansing.
There are things we can scope and things we can’t. If it’s reasonably scope-able and it makes sense, then a harmless scope-job test has nothing but upside benefits.