Before I tell you about a recent colonoscopy procedure I had done, I want to tell you about an idea I have for a story that I’d call “Modern Medicine.” There’s this guy (hmmm, this is starting to feel very autobiographical) who had blood in his stool a couple times. He’s pretty sure that he can control this little unpleasant feature of his bathroom life by altering his diet, but to be safe he visits his physician. After a gushy lubricated rectal exam, the physician says that the character’s self diagnosis is likely accurate, but that he—let’s call this guy “Larry”—should have some blood work done and also visit a gastrointestinal (G.I.) physician.
For some reason (and here’s where the fiction begins) Larry thinks his insurance will cover the procedure but it doesn’t. Or he’s between insurances (not a great explanation because if I were in this position I would not be going to the doctor for a “maybe”) and ultimately he receives a $400 dollar bill for the blood work, let’s say another $100 for the initial exam, another $200 for the specialist, and then conservatively, $2,000 for the colonoscopy. Possibly the story ends with Larry happy to receive a clean bill of health but somewhat put out that he is a couple thousand dollars poorer. There are of course alternative outcomes: perhaps Larry is one of the approximately 3% of patients who suffers heavy bleeding or within the smaller percentage of people who suffer a perforation and require immediate major surgery. This would illustrate my thinking that sometimes going to the doctor can send a perfectly healthy person spiraling down a steep hill where their snowball of wellness boulders into a mass of trouble. Although according to various internet sources there seem to be 1 in 3,000 or 1 in 30,000 people who die from a colonoscopy, this wouldn’t have probably served my story very well. An ending of death—plausible if not probable—would be seen by most as overly dramatic. Up next—possibly as a warning to keep you away from this blog—will be the story of my actual procedure.