Colonoscopy Humour

January 7, 2009

Ever had a colonoscopy? This is a test where the inner lining of your intestine is examined by a doctor using a small flexible scope with a camera attached. It’s a highly effective way to screen for abnormalities in the bowel.  It’s also a test that many people dread due to a misplaced sense of modesty.

If your answer to the above question is Yes, then you’re best placed to appreciate the sense of humour in the following journal. If your answer is No, read on anyhow but please don’t be put-off having what could turn out to be a life-saving test.

As regards having a colonoscopy, I’ve ‘been there, done that‘ many times and I can assure you that the feeling of exhilaration when it’s over, and especially when you get the all-clear, is second to none!

This journal was written by Dave Barry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning humour columnist for the Miami Herald. With thanks to Cathy at Cathy’s Place for bringing it to my attention…prepare for a belly laugh!


“I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an
appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy
showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote,


I left Andy’s office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ‘MoviPrep,’ which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America’s enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon. The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ‘a loose, watery bowel movement may result.’

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may
experience contact with the ground.

sitting-on-toilet2MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, ‘What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.


Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was annoyed that I hadn’t thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

Clipart Illustration Image of a Nervous Male Patient Lying On His Stomach With His Butt Up In The Air, Clutching The Side Of A Matress Of A Hospital Bed While A Proctologist Doctor Prepares To Insert A Machine Into The Anus For A Colonoscopy And A Nurse Hangs An IV BagWhen everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the least appropriate.

‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy, from somewhere behind me. ‘Ha ha,’ I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade.. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like…

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,’ and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.”

Test Results

January 4, 2009


Doctor: I have some bad news and some very bad news.

Patient: Well, give me the bad news first.

Doctor: The lab called with your test results. They said you have 24 hours to live.

Patient: 24 HOURS! That’s terrible!  WHAT could be WORSE?  What’s the VERY BAD news?

Doctor: I’ve been trying to reach you since yesterday.

You know, this joke isn’t actually as improbable as it sounds.

This time last year, my 89 year old widowed mother-in-law was admitted to a nursing home having become increasingly withdrawn and difficult to nurse at home. On admission, a routine blood sample was taken by her doctor and sent off to the nearest hospital for analysis.

The following day, the hospital laboratory rang to enquire if the patient was still alive! Her kidney function was apparently so bad, the laboratory thought that the patient would not have survived the night. The family were told to prepare for the worst and we all gathered to say our last goodbyes.

Now one year on, and my mother-in-law is looking forward to celebrating her 90th birthday in the nursing home. Her kidney function is normal for her age.

You have to wonder if this ‘miraculous’ recovery is thanks to lots of TLC at the nursing home or maybe, just maybe, it could have been a laboratory error?

Let’s Get Talking!

November 20, 2008


I wrote a post the other day to highlight the continuing scandal of the unacceptable waiting times in our health service, pointing out that it’s ‘Time for Change’.  The response was a deafening silence bar one comment from an ardent Aussie blogger, Baino, who has the balls and the ability to speak out about injustice whenever she sees it. I know that people are probably sick of listening to me harping on about healthcare problems  but I happen to believe that if you don’t make your voice heard, the scandalous state of our health service will continue unabated. People tend to say nothing until/unless it affects their own lives. Trouble is, by then it’s probably too late.

The point I’m really trying to make is that it’s time we had a proper debate on the way forward for the health service. There seems to be almost universal agreement that our Minister for Health, Mary Harney is going in the wrong direction in her attempts to reform the health service yet no one is shouting STOP! The only people who seem to approve of Harney’s measures, are her buddies in cabinet and the muppets in the HSE and we all know why that is. It’s openly acknowledged that the health portfolio is a bum job and that Harney is the only one willing to tackle it but she’s made a balls of the job and it’s time someone tackled her. Harney’s policies are clearly not working but because no-one else wants the job, she’s allowed to continue. It’s patently obvious that she needs pointing in a new direction but to achieve this, we have to first agree on the best way forward.

For starters, the HSE needs to be disbanded. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare that is soaking up funds intended for frontline services and Harney should have got rid of it years ago. We should instead, utilise the brains of the top entrepreneurs in this country to motivate a change in direction. We need more consultation with those who work at the frontline of healthcare, to help devise tangible ways to solve the problems. Our health service has a fantastic wealth of expertise but it’s being thwarted at every turn by cutbacks and morale has reached an all-time low. It’s time to take the politics out of healthcare and to put back the pride in our health service.

I firmly believe that it’s not too late to stop the rot but this won’t happen unless people put their heads together to turn the situation around. The only way to get the health service back on track is if everyone pulls together to make it happen. I urge you to make your voice heard but please don’t wait until it’s too late!

Thanks Baino for stimulating me to shout a bit louder today.

Time For Change

November 17, 2008


I’m sure most people reading this will remember the tragic case of Susie Long from Kilkenny, who died from bowel cancer last year. Susie made headlines when she went public to highlight how she had to wait seven months for a test to her diagnose her illness because she was a public patient. Susie was 41 when she died and her death was directly attributable to a long delay on a waiting list. Shortly afterwards, our Minister for Health admitted that the health service had failed Susie. So why, a year after Susie’s death, do new figures show that patients still have to wait up to nine months for crucial tests to determine if they have bowel cancer?

“The figures released by the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) yesterday indicate patients can be waiting up to nine months for colonoscopies at Dublin’s Mater hospital, up to eight months at Cork University Hospital, and up to seven months at Sligo and Letterkenny general hospitals.

The data is based on returns provided by the hospitals to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which now manages waiting lists.

Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in Ireland after lung cancer. There were 2,184 new cases diagnosed and 924 deaths from the disease in 2005.

The Irish Cancer Society expressed serious concern at the waiting times. It said patients should have a colonoscopy within six weeks of being referred by their GP.

The full Irish Times article can be found here.

Susie Long did her utmost to bring about change.  She bravely used her own personal tragedy to highlight the inequities in the system and her courage was not in vain. A trust fund, called the Susie Long Hospice Fund, has been set up to raise funds to build a hospice in Kilkenny. The trust aims to help as many people as possible to have a calm, peaceful and supportive environment at the end of their lives.  Here’s how you can help.

These latest figures on the waiting lists for colonoscopies, show that little has changed since Susie’s death. People’s lives are still being put at risk by long delays in treatment. Our health service is in disarray and we need agreement on a plan to put it right. It’s time we had a proper debate on the way forward.

The Intelligent Pill

November 13, 2008


Let me introduce you to the next generation of pills. Electronics maker Philips has announced the development of an intelligent pill, the iPill, that has the potential to release drugs exactly where they are needed in the gut. The iPill is a capsule, the same size as a camera pill, that has been designed to be swallowed and to pass through the digestive track naturally. The purpose of the pill is to release medication closer to the source of the problem, in a specific area of the body, resulting in more effective treatment. This development has great future potential.

Digestive tract disorders such as Crohn’s disease, colitis and colon cancer are becoming increasingly common, particularly in the western world. Crohn’s disease and colitis can be treated with drugs, notably steroids, but many of these drugs have adverse and unpleasant side-effects for patients when administered systemically. While capsules containing miniature cameras are already used as diagnostic tools, they lack the ability to deliver drugs. The iPill uses a tiny microprocessor, battery and wireless radio to control a built-in medication reservoir. It has a sensor that gauges acidity in the stomach to determine it’s exact location and can be electronically programmed to control the delivery of medication. By delivering the required drugs directly to the site of disease, dose levels may be lowered and many of the side effects reduced.

Philips, which is one of the world’s biggest hospital equipment providers, will officially present it’s intelligent pill capsule later this month at a scientific meeting in Atlanta. According to the company, the iPill is ready for serial manufacturing despite still being demonstrated as a prototype.

This fascinating new development brings great hope for the future. For years, I’ve been struggling with recurrent sinus infections and abscess formation (chronic osteomyelitis) in the frontal bone of my skull. When an infection erupts, high dose systemic antibiotics are required to deliver treatment to a tiny area of my head. Doctors have often commented that one day hopefully, there will be a breakthrough in medical research which will allow for direct drug treatment in specific target areas of the body. This new iPill is the beginning of such technology and while it’s still a long way off solving my problem, it’s a step in the right direction.

Harney’s Sick Experiment (HSE)

November 7, 2008

patient-safety-first1Back in the days of smog-filled Dublin, Mary Harney was a much admired politician.  She tackled the problem of pollution by introducing smokeless fuel and with one small stroke of her pen, many lives were changed for the better.  This week, with another small stroke of her pen, she has put value-for-money ahead of people’s lives.  Mary Harney, our Minister for Health, has lost the plot.  It’s time for her to go.

Last year, Mary Harney approved the introduction of a cervical cancer vaccination (HPV) programme for all 12-year old girls in Ireland.  We were told that the programme would significantly reduce overall cervical cancer rates. The cervical cancer vaccination protects against infection by a virus that leads to cervical pre-cancer which ultimately leads to cervical cancer.  This programme was seen as complimentary to the cervical screening programme introduced earlier this year for all women in the 25-50 age bracket. Harney has now decided to put the cervical cancer vaccination programme on-hold. She is prepared to put the health of 27,000 young girls at risk in order to balance her books. Our Minister for Health wants a health service that is based on cost effectiveness. People no longer matter, she is driven by her ideology to privatise healthcare in this country. Harney also announced that the annual health-spending increase of 8-10% per year since 1997, is due to decrease to just over 3% next year. So if you think things are bad now, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Yesterday, a listener on the Ray D’Arcy show suggested a way to let Mary Harney know what we think of her policy.  She suggested that we send emails to the Minister with photos of our daughters expressing our dismay over this decision to deny these girls a vaccine which may prevent them getting cervical cancer in later years.

If you’d like to send a photo of your daughter, the address is minister’ or the Ray D’Arcy show has a link at Today FM where you can send an email directly.

If these pictures don’t make Mary Harney change her mind, then nothing will.  Well done! Gingerpixel.

UPDATE: I omitted to say congrats to Red Mum for getting this campaign off the ground.  Red Mum has some more ideas here on what action you can take to keep this campaign live.  Keep up the pressure on Harney!

Listen-up guys!

November 6, 2008


If you are aged 40 or more, you may have become aware of some changes in your physical appearance and general health such as increased weight gain, feeling depressed, disturbed sleep, loss of interest in sex. Recent studies have revealed that Irish men are reluctant to visit their GP with the these symptoms as they believe their symptoms aren’t serious enough to warrant treatment. Have you lost your lust for life?

Testosterone is the principle male hormone and while production declines naturally with age, some men’s testosterone levels decline to a level that may affect their overall health and well-being. When this occurs medical advice should be sought as it may lead to testosterone deficiency (TD). An early diagnosis of TD may mean that many of the early symptoms can be reversed and the more serious effects of non-treatment can be avoided. If left untreated, testosterone deficiency can lead to:

• Decreased bone mass that may lead to osteoporosis
• Decreased muscle size and strength, and increased weight gain
• Decreased virility
• Decreased facial hair/the need for regular shaving decreases
• Sparse or absent pubic hair
• Smaller/softer testes
• An increase in breast size

Testosterone deficiency is treated by administering testosterone, which is available in a number of forms including a colourless, odourless gel or an injection. Treatment of TD is proven to reduce the symptoms of testosterone deficiency and return testosterone levels to normal levels.

So guys, if you find you’ve lost your lust for life and these symptoms sound familiar to you, speak to your doctor and get yourself checked out. Get back on track. Life is too short to suffer needlessly.

Pay Attention!

November 3, 2008

Do you have a child who was born between 2nd September 2006 and 30th June 2008? If so, they will need to receive the pneumococcal vaccine. The Health Service Executive (HSE) is presently running a Catch-Up Campaign for the Pneumococcal Vaccination for all children aged less than two years of age.  Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial disease spread by close contact with an infected person or carrier and causes pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) and it’s most common in the under-2 age group.

The HSE National Immunisation Office (NIO) has produced a range of information materials about the catch-up campaign for parents and health professionals and is also running a media campaign. Radio and print advertisements started in September asking parents of children born in particular months to attend their GP. Here is the radio announcement as broadcast last week:

“Was your child born in December 2006, January or September 2007, or April 2008?  The HSE recommends that they are vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.  Please contact your GP and have your child vaccinated now.  Visit  Other children under 2 will be called at a later date.”

You can listen to the October 2008 HSE Pneumococcal Catch-Up Campaign Radio announcement here.

Did you get those dates? I hope you were paying attention! And as if that’s not complicated enough, the HSE plans to change the dates on the advertisement each month until all children of less than two years of age, have been called for vaccination.

Each time I heard this radio advertisement last week, I couldn’t believe the complicated series of dates I was hearing.  By the time the ad had finished, I was totally confused as to who should bring their children to be vaccinated and who should not. I would imagine that GP surgeries all over the country are being bombarded with calls from worried parents ringing to enquire about the vaccination.

So I had a look at the HSE website to see if the situation was any clearer there and found the following information:

“Was your child born in February 2007, March 2007, October 2008 or May 2008? If so the HSE recommends that you contact your GP and have your child vaccinated now.”

Notice anything? The dates are different. The HSE hasn’t updated it’s website in line with the advertisement.

I’d love someone to explain to me why it is that this immunisation programme has been made so ridiculously complicated for parents to follow? I’m sure there’s probably a very plausible explanation as to why the children are called in this order but there must be a simpler way to run the campaign without causing confusion and anxiety to parents across the country. Or could it be that this is exactly what was intended, to get parent’s attention? It’s much more likely that the HSE never gave a thought to the impact of their campaign. I wonder how many managers it took to dream up the scheme?

On looking at the HSE website, I noticed that the National Immunisation Office is funded entirely by the HSE and receives no funding from any external commercial source. In other words, it’s being funded by your money and mine. I bet you’re paying attention now!

A Grave Decision

November 1, 2008

As a young teenager, I remember being horrified to learn that my parents had decided to donate their bodies to medical science after death. A light-hearted family discussion took place at the time and then the subject was never mentioned again. Donating your body for the advancement of medical knowledge is a wonderful gesture but it’s a huge decision to make and consideration is required for those who will be left behind to carry out the request.

Bodies donated to medical science are used in universities to help to train the next generation of doctors. Not every person who registers for a donation can be sure that he or she will be accepted in the end. There are a number of factors which preclude the university from accepting certain bodies, including contagious diseases, extreme emaciation or obesity, or whether or not a post-mortem has been carried out on the body. Organ donors whose organs are used for transplant are also excluded. Those who do decide to register with any of the universities, receive an information pack detailing how things will operate in the event of their death, and a donation form to be signed by the donor and his/her next of kin. The procedure varies little between the institutions involved, usually requiring the remains to be picked up within a short space of time after the donor’s death and taken to the academic institution of choice. Bodies can then be kept there for up to three years. During this time, they are used primarily to help undergraduate healthcare students to learn the systems and physicality of the human body.  Many postgraduates also use the subjects donated for further study in a number of areas, including ear, nose and throat surgery and endoscopic surgery.  From time to time, the dissecting room is also used by surgeons who want to try out a new incision or a new technique before embarking on surgery on a living human.

Once an institution wants to release the person’s remains, their family is contacted and arrangements made to transport the body of the deceased to the final resting place. This can be one of the private plots in Glasnevin cemetery maintained by the universities for burial, with the cost of this burial or cremation covered by the relevant institution.  If the family wishes to bury their loved one at an alternative location, the university will cover the costs of transport, providing it is within a specified radius of the institution, while the opening of the grave and other expenses involved are borne by the deceased’s estate. Despite the possible financial advantages to such an outcome, the universities involved are at pains to stress that the financial considerations are not usually what compel those on their books to donate their bodies. Ireland is not experiencing any difficulty in finding donors. Indeed, such has been the response from the public here that one college has temporarily halted registering new donors.

People who register to donate their bodies can change their minds. Relatives of prospective donors can also decide against going through with the process once the donor has passed away, given that the registration form is not considered a legally binding document. As it turned out, my parents subsequently withdrew their registration to “advance medical science” having given further thought to the full implications of their decision. I was more than grateful for this change of heart when some years later, I found myself working in the dissection room as part of my physiotherapy training and now that my undergraduate daughter is also doing time there, I’ve every reason to be thankful that my parents (now in their 80’s) took great care in making this important decision.

The information supplied in this post was found at the Irish Times online.

A Laugh A Day

October 28, 2008

A good laugh will do just as much for your health as a mini-workout in the gym.  Did you realise that 20 seconds of intense laughter can double your heart rate for 3 to 5 minutes, a feat that would normally involve rigorous exercise? There is a symbiotic relationship between health and humour. Humour has an impact on most physiological systems of the body.

The medical world started taking note of the possibilities of therapeutic laughter after Norman Cousin’s book, Anatomy of an Illness, came out in the late 1970’s.  In it, he described how watching comedies and reading funny books and articles helped him recover from a life-threatening tissue disease which left him in chronic pain.

So in keeping with the theory that laughter is the best medicine, here is your laugh for today…