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Ranger Rich

Today we'll discuss a delicate and personal medical procedure I endured a few days ago, a potentially life-saving exam that began with a highly skilled medical person blowing large amounts of air into my buttocks region until my colon was inflated like a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

(Footnote: If you remain mature and well-behaved during this discussion, I promise not to tell you what it sounded like later when all that air came back out. Although I will say that our dog, Larry, was somehow able to unlock the second-floor patio door and throw himself off the deck.)

The procedure is called a colonoscopy, combining the Latin words colo ("Uh-oh") and noscopy ("the doctor seems to have misplaced his stethoscope. And his Rolex.") And while the description of the exam itself will be exciting, you should also know about the very important colon preparation that takes place a day before the exam.

You start by mixing 238 grams (half a ton) of Miralax-brand laxative with 80 ounces of Gatorade. This will allow you to stay hydrated while you play a few sets of tennis — as long as you can play tennis from a sitting position.

On the day before the exam you cannot eat a single bite of any food whatsoever. Then, at what would normally be dinner time, you drink 8-ounce glasses of the powerful laxative-laced Gatorade every 15 minutes. You do this until the enormous Gatorade bottle is empty or you are — whichever comes first.

Personal note: I actually placed a reporter's notebook on the vanity and kept a tally of my bathroom visits. In journalism, this is known as a "running account." Here now, numbers that I am not making up: Between 5 p.m. and 8:10 p.m., I made 27 visits to the toilet. My previous record for emergency trips to the bathroom in a three-hour span came during a very intelligent political talk by Glenn Beck on FOX News about why they call it the "White House."

Anyway, the colon cleansing was going really well, judging by the way my wife had stopped making eye contact with me when I'd come back down the hallway. Several times she even pretended she was asleep on the couch but I could see one of her eyes barely open, searching frantically for an escape route from the house if I became complacent.

Eventually the prep process ended and I got a few hours of sleep. Not a restful, deep sleep, but more the kind of sleep you get in a tent in Alaska when you know there are grizzly bears around and you've foolishly stashed a salmon in your pillow or have 238 grams of Miralax cross-country skiing through your intestines.

In the morning my lovely and compassionate wife drove me to the hospital. She made me sit in the back seat, on an old blanket, with my window rolled down. She's like a saint.

By 10 a.m. I had a drug called Versed in my veins. It's known as an "amnesia drug" and wipes out much of your memory. For example, if you're reading a newspaper and have the strange feeling that you've read the same stories a day or two earlier in another newspaper, you are probably on Versed. Or you're reading the Gazette.

At Memorial Hospital I met the doctor and we exchanged a handshake and then chatted for a minute about what was about to happen. I felt confident. Then I slipped him $20 and asked if he'd spend a few extra minutes warming up his hands.

The actual exam was a blur, my mind wandering as the video camera snaked its way through my body and sent images to the TV monitor, where Bob Costas talked about ice dancing and tried to keep from moving around so that funny black squirrel wouldn't fall off his head. Although Versed is powerful stuff and I might be confusing my colonoscopy with the Olympics.

Anyway, the good news is that my colon is healthy. Oh, and that Larry came back after three days. Although he won't make eye contact with me, either. And whenever anyone lets the air out of a balloon, he bites them.



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