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A Journey Down the Pink Corridor

By Jim Caruso

It’s that time again. Every three years I subject myself to an investigation on the condition of my colon. It’s a family thing, some families leave their children lot’s of money, a summer home, a name in the community, RRSP’s, but no, I get to see if I’ve inherited colon cancer.

This adventure actually started three years when I finished my last colonoscopy. It was then I said, "Oh no! there are only 1095 days until I’ll have to do this again. It’s really exciting if you happen to be in between the leap year, then you get an extra day. It begins with the pre-examination by the doctor which helps your memory significantly. Flashbacks to the future, yes I know what I am saying, flashbacks of what has happened and what is about to happen again. D-Day, which to those who have been through this, is defined as that dreaded day. It usually happens on a Friday, giving the doctor plenty of time to get away from the scene, before you wake up.

Thursday can be a busy day of preparation, if you know what I mean. The prescription is for two bottles of fleet, but since a soft drink producer decided to invest in the removal business, we now have a new product called Citro-Mag. Can you just see the commercial on TV for this product, "Citro-Mag, now lemon flavored, serve chilled. Take one at 7:00 pm before the big day. Stay home, read lots and get plenty of sleep, at least until four in the morning, when you need to get up drink another full bottle and then resume you sleep." If you buy our product in packs of 12, we will give you a T-Shirt with the logo, "THINK PINK."

Well, now it’s 7:30 and time for me to check in at the hospital. Have you ever noticed the people who are not having tests done, as compared to those who are? The very nice receptionist says with a smile, "Yes, I see you are here for a colonoscopy," and you know that they know that you have been home all night. On the positive side, if there are any crimes committed in your city from 7:00pm until 7:30am the next day, you have a solid alibi. Maybe solid is not the word, by you do have air tight alibi anyway.

The nurse is very nice. But you would be if it wasn’t you who was about to go through this next 20 minutes of adventure for the inner person. She takes your blood pressure and then say please put on this gown, leaving only your socks on if you choose. The gowns are great, three ties on the back of which you can only reach the top one. You know from experience that it doesn’t matter about covering up with the gown anyway because it’s like trying to cover your BBQ with a sandwich bag. Next, I remember being wheeled into the examining room, as I entered I saw the storage cupboard slightly open. I couldn’t believe it. The nurse said they were going to send a “wire” up with a camera on it to look at my colon. The “wires” I saw in the cupboard looked like the place where the local fire department dried their hoses after a fire. There were long thick black hoses that you could mount a palmcorder on the end of.

Told to turn on my side, I see the TV with my name on the screen. I feel like it’s the beginning of a movie, and hope that Shaw cable is not in the building. It’s now when the uselessness of the gown becomes evident. I know of people who have been charged with what I did to that doctor and those two nurses just then. “Knees up here please, No this way, No that way, Okay, now just relax.” Sure. Next comes the valium, this is the best part. A trip into another world, funded completely by the government. They have taken drugs off the street.

I’m now in a comatose state. For most people who know me, they would probably not notice the difference. I occasional focus on the TV screen, there it is, the pink corridor. The “wire” is moving up, then a puff of air, which helps move this boa constrictor sized cable around the corner. The colon for reasons unknown to me and others, is shaped like an “n”, making the trip down the corridor more of an obstacle course than an examination. Pain. Pain that is not usually allowed in my body at this level, shoots, explodes, rips and generally makes me feel very uncomfortable. I groaned and suggested that we finish this someday, maybe during my postmortem exam. One more corner and we come to the end. I see a nurse out of my obscured peripheral vision, sneak out of the room. She is hooking the “wire” to a truck in the parking lot to pull it from my body. I feel it coming out, not very fast, which I am happy about. Until I see why they slowed down. Now the procedure stops, and out of the boa constrictor size “wire”, with the camera still attached, (which I am thankful they never lost), a shiny steel head of a miniature Tyrannosaurus Rex comes out to attack the dreaded polyps. I am now an official polyp-bearer. There are three polyps. They look like bran muffins that have been run over by a highway truck. The shiny T-Rex head consumes these polyps in four ravenous attacks. This done, they start the truck and the “wire” is removed. Much pain is left in its place. We seem have a foot valve which is located at the extreme end of our colon. My experience is this valve allows the “wire” and the puffs of air in, but only the “wire” out. (More of this later)

It is also very interesting when I was admitted early that morning, the form stated my reason for admission was abdominal pain. I didn’t have any when I signed the paper, but now I realize why they wrote this, it was stating that I would have abdominal pain when I left.

Finally I am wheeled out. Left to sleep it off; still with all the pain of nuclear meltdown in my lower intestines, I continue to groan with words that couldn’t be uttered, joining with others just a few beds over. An hour later I am on my way home, not able to sit or stand or lie down, even crawling was difficult. And I was very tired.

I am so happy that my wife picked me up and drove me home, as I am considered impaired now that I have had the valium. I realize that to take public transit at this time might prove very embarrassing. I could just see it now: the bus pulls to the side of the road, everyone is let off, and the SWAT Team arrives and storms the bus. I hear the leader of the team yell, “Okay, we know that you have a chainsaw in there, and you have been trying to start it for the last half hour. Throw it out and come out with you hands in the air.

Finally at home, I get a chance to sleep it off. Four hours later I am now Awake and feel a lot better. Just think, another 1095 days and we get to do this all over again. I wonder if I should form a support group in the mean-time. Maybe we could call it, Survivors of the Pink Corridor. I am sure the Citro-Mag Company would sponsor us.

Jim Caruso
Parksville, BC

The views and opinions of the author do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or goals of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada.

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