All I do is obsess over my “scheduled” colonoscopy. I’m using the word “scheduled” somewhat loosely. You see, I’m not due to get one according to my GP for another three years, at the age of fifty. Yes, I do fear the colonoscopy itself because I’ve read there is the chance that the doctor performing the procedure will by accident insert the colonoscope in the wrong direction, which will rupture or perforate or lacerate one or more of my bowels (my hands are shaking as I type this on my keyboard).
But truth be told, what I really fear is my fear. Past medical procedures have turned into ordeals, not because of the procedures themselves, but because of my psychological over reaction to them. For example, when I donated blood seven years ago as I reclined and let a pint of blood drain from my body, I freaked out and had an anxiety attack, which prompted a seizure, a lowering of body temperature and blood pressure and almost, according to the nurse, I died of anaphylactic shock. Since the incident, the hospital, for legal reasons, has forbidden me from donating blood.
So what I’m trying to say, Herc, is that I fear another Giant Fear Breakout, the day before or morning of the colonoscopy, that will Literally Kill Me! What can I do?
You are wise to acknowledge the power of fear as a self-destructive instrument. The efficacy of voodoo dolls is rooted in the victims’ belief in the black magic, not the black magic itself, which is pure hooey. The power of fear is even more evident when we read Mark Bowden’s masterful essay “The Dark Art of Interrogation” in which we learn that interrogators have superior results instilling the fear of pain than actually causing pain.
What you must do is realize the colonoscopy is a common procedure with statistics on your side though like everything in life it is not without its risks. Also consider that NOT getting a colonoscopy is even more wrought with dangers and may, in the event of late-stage colon cancer, entail far worse procedures.
I’m torn on what kind of advice to give you. Part of me says to “demystify” the procedure by learning more about it, but another part of me says your personality will obsess over the procedure even more, if you know all the intimate details, much to your detriment.
I hope you can find inspiration from true stories of heroes, courageous souls who underwent far more grueling tortures than a colonoscopy and kept their spirits and dignity intact.
A final thought: Don’t be ashamed of your fear. Hospitals mess up all the time, incompetence is rampant, malpractice is not as rare as we'd like to believe. You have every right to be fearful and to walk on eggshells regarding this colonoscopy. Walk into this with wide eyes and protect yourself. Asks lots of questions. Research the record of the proctologist in charge of your procedure. A little fear is good for you, for God’s sake, but learn to season your life with fear, like a pungent spice. Just don’t overdo it.