In the US, one is recommended to do his/her colonoscopy at the age of 50.  And the doctors are very good at reminding everyone just before they reach their fiftieth birthday.  In Singapore and Indonesia, they will not ask you to do and and most folks I know in Singapore has never done it.  Here, it is a routine checkup and for most of us who were healthy, it is probably not necessary, but this must be a lot of money for the Surgery Center and so they try to push it.

Our Colon

My wife went through it six months ago and seeing how she complained and suffered on the day before the colonoscopy with her prep, I was prepared for it.  The day before the procedure, I was only allowed water and liquid diet with no milk or even creamy soup.  I was kinda “looking forward” to it as I have never (in my life) suffer any hunger nor skip a meal.  When I was young, my family had about 5 meals a day.  Even when I was sick, my granny would make sure, I have biscuits and warm milk.  When I was studying oversea, I got so obsessed with good food, I lived to eat and aet till I became overweight.  When I got married, my wife will make sure I have 3 square meals a day and count my protein, calories and veggies even after I became a vegetarian.

Religiously, I was looking forward to it.  I was told as a (Buddhist) practitioner that if I could go through a predicament (for instance not given any food for a day or two, or be bombarded by nasty people) without getting angry, suffering or craving, then I have succeeded a certain level in cultivating my practice.  And it must be done without frowning or complaining and one must take it in one’s stride.  Being someone who believed that a normal human with no food (but water) for three days is non-threatening to one’s health, I was excited to try it. Both physically and spiritually.

So I started Monday morning with my routine at 4AM and had no breakfast but liquid.  Then I went to school and do my morning 8AM lecturing on function of many variables ($z=f(x,y)$ ) and felt absolutely normal.  At lunchtime (which is usually 10 or 11AM), I had some more apple juice and felt fine.  In fact, I felt energetic and very strong.  Then I have two more hours of Differential Equations which I gave some pretty inspiring and lively lecture on solving Non-homogeneous Equations with Undetermined Coefficients using the annihilator method.  Students often wonder where I got the energy when I talked about Differential Equations.

Until I took my SU-PREP (a prescription medicine)

SU-PREP is the medicine I have to take that will give me a diarrhea and clear my colon.  For an hour, I anticipated going to the toilet but nothing happened.  So I drove home.  But on my way home, my stomach started rumbling.  But I was still in good control and was still smiling to my wife and kid when I reached the door and greeted them with “Ta da ima” (something the Japanese says).  I smelled food, but that did not give me any craving and I slowly walked in.  My wife started telling me what I have to do for my daughter’s ONLINE school for that day.  I listened attentively, then went to get change and go to the toilet.  So the first part of the SU-PREP went well and when the effect subsided at 5PM, I went to the swimming pool with my daughter for her daily swim practice.

When we returned home, I was glad I was officially allowed to skip dinner and just have clear veggie broth.  Then I prepared my second SU-PREP.  That’s 6 oz of magnesium sulfate, sodium sulfate and potassium sulfate together with 48 oz of water to be drank in one hour.  I easily down them all in ten minutes.  Then I realized it would be past my sleeping time (9PM) when the diarrhea effect kick in.  So I prepared myself and stayed awake going in and out of the toilet between 9PM and 10:30PM.

At just before 11PM, I fell asleep on the upstair futon.  When I woke up and 3AM, my sleeping sweatpants was soiled.  So was the futon.  I wasn’t exactly strong or wide awake that time, but I slowly pushed myself to change and  clean up the mess.  I removed the futon cover all my myself and put everything in the washing machine in the basement.  After that, I used some Martha Stewart Carpet Washing liquid to remove the soil stain on the futon.  Then I found some more time to do Zazen on my self-made Zafu but was interrupted (on and off) by calls to go to the toilet a few times because the effect of SU-PREP lasted longer than I thought this time.

By 6:30AM, I headed towards the Surgery Center on 2nd Street.  When I arrived, the person behind the counter told me I was not on the computer and she can do nothing about it, until the chief nurse come in at 7AM.  I must say that was a “shenpa” that hit.  But that moment, I remembered all the teachings I learnt from Pema Chodron’s book and avoided it.  Instead I smiled and remained calm and patient.  And it paid off, the chief nurse came and put me for 7:30AM colonoscopy.  The last endoscopy I had a few years ago in that same place, I was nervous.  This one, I chanted the 往生咒 all the time in the Surgery Center and it helped.  I was more busy thinking all the animals I hurt by eating them in my past, I don’t have time to be nervous.  Maybe I already know I am healthy and I had no symptom of colon problems.  But let’s see what happened in my next colonoscopy.

Now I have to find more vipassana or retreats to go to so that I may officially put myself again in hunger and loneliness.