I just endured my third colonoscopy today…since turning 40. I started this periodic diagnostic voyage to my bowels earlier than most, due to a family history of cancer that attacked colons first. My father passed at 53, his father not even 47. I have that gene, albeit latent to date. But the doctor recommends you show up in the fetal position for your exam by age 50, male, female, family history or not…get scoped! For me, hearing him proclaim the verdict of NO POLYPS was a new gift of a clean slate. And after 30 hours of preparatory fasting…a clean intestine to boot.
(kick in Uncle Tupelo 1994 St Louis)
But what I really want you to know about is those 30 hours before the procedure, starting the fast upon waking Thursday morning. No special schedule that day, a typical weekday at an NPR station, beginning with a 45-minute cardio workout in my basement, followed by the ol’ shit/shave/shower, then my morning grounding/gratitude meditation…and off to a full day of public radio work. But THIS day was different from others; a choice was upon me to NOT EAT. Clear liquids. Then at 6pm a 16-oz highball of SUPREP, a tonic so vile I had to awaken at 5:30 the next morning for a second cocktail, just to be confirmed in my belief of how distaste-full it is. But at least I got to spend much of the evening in the privy. A few hours later the taste changed more pleasantly as I was treated to a micro-dose of “Twilight” anesthesia. Don’t remember.
However, let’s put this digression aside so I can get us on track. The choice to NOT EAT. Well, I’m expanding the usage of “choice” here. I did choose to volunteer for the colonoscopy, but that entailed a mandatory fasting so the medical team could keep the camera clean for the real-time video adventures. Think of this cleanse as an enema from the top down.
But the satori that struck me, mid-afternoon on the fast day, is how much I eat and how often I eat thoughtlessly. Literally, eating without thinking. Without even experiencing hunger. To prevent the act of popping a bite, I cleared my work space of all edibles. In doing so, I realized that I often blindly dine…if there’s food there I Hoover it up. If my metabolism was any slower I’d be rotund!
So…takeaway…I’ll try a fast, regularly, one day a week, perhaps Monday. Not for dietary purposes , but to enhance mindfulness. By nightfall Thursday I really wasn’t so hungry. Ditto this morning. After the procedure, en route home, we stopped in the freshly opened Creole Kitchen, Chef Henry Butcher’s new dining room on Mt Vernon. I ate, but I could have just as easily not. My body felt good, closer to the bone and more aware, each cell knowing well its own neighborhood. And I am so reminded of how we behave on automatic; I want to rein that in. I want to get back to mindfulness.