VOICES: The dreaded Roto-Rooter, the coming of age…

They say “better late than never.” I had been procrastinating about this day for many years. I finally had the dreaded Roto-Rooter procedure, commonly known as “the coming of age for seniors,” or best known as the colonoscopy.

Fasting and drinking the gallon of the prep solution and living on the toilet the day prior to the Roto-Rooter procedure was the toughest part. There is a joke that says it all: “If 2020 was a drink it would be a colonoscopy prep.”

These days at Wilcox Medical Center you are required to get a COVID test three days prior to any invasive surgery or procedure. What are the odds that three days prior to my coming of age, my paratransit bus driver told me he, too, was having a Roto-Rooter done the same day as me (the beauty of a small town, island)? I am proud to say this past week I had instruments going up through parts of my body where no man has ever been before.

The vast majority of people arriving for a COVID test stay in their cars and the testing crew comes to them when it’s their turn. I do not drive, therefore took the bus to the rear of Wilcox Medical Center, where they do the testing, and a nurse saw me and immediately said, “Unko let me get a chair for you under the shade of the tent!” (The sign said “COVID tests in the rear.” I thought they were in the nostrils?)

I sat patiently until my turn when another nurse swabbed my left nostril, after five spins of the swab, I sneezed before she got to the right nostril. The sneeze triggered a cramp in the stomach and I told the nurse I must get up and walk it out. This would not have been so bad, however, I was the only walk-up amongst over 20 vehicles in line, and all seemed focused on me.

They must have thought I had a reaction to the test. I’m jumping around like a crazy man trying to walk off a stomach cramp. I believe a few vehicles got it on their smartphones. I still haven’t seen it posted anywhere on social media. Finally, my right nostril was swabbed. Both the nurse and I smiled. Two days later my test results came back negative.

Propofol, the drug rock legend Michael Jackson overdosed on, is the pharmaceutical of choice for anesthesiologists to anesthetize patients during Roto-Rooter procedures, and can be deadly when not monitored by an anesthesiologist.

Once I was under propofol the colonoscopy was over in what seemed like three seconds.

The prep ain’t fun. I wound up calling the hospital two hours into my preparation after drinking almost a half-gallon of the solution. Usually, it takes 15 minutes for takeoff.

The nurse told me that diabetics’ GI systems sometimes take longer, and to drink some hot chicken broth, which was allowed on the limited fast. Sure enough, three minutes after that it was like a hurricane and an evacuation was ordered, then ordered numerous more times before the night ended.

Don’t be like me and put off this potentially lifesaving procedure. The procedure itself truly surprised me, and went like clockwork. However, the event itself was a real experience and adventure.

The day before I got my will in order and called one of my beneficiaries to tell them where everything is hidden should I not make it for some reason.

By age 50, you should start getting a colonoscopy every 10 years, no matter your gender or overall health. The best news for this guy in his mid- 60’s: no polyps or cancers.

I have learned to live with the many pains that come with age, or as they say, “it’s better than the alternative of reading of your obituary in the morning paper.”


James ‘Kimo’ Rosen lives in Kapa‘a with his dog and blogs as a hobby at www.dakinetalk.blogspot.com

  1. Judy December 9, 2020 8:52 am Reply

    Glad you made it through with good results. Always good for a couple lbs off the scale😀

  2. Steven McMacken December 10, 2020 11:02 am Reply

    Fascinating. Just fascinating, Kimo. You are such a wealth of knowledge . . . and we are s-o-o-o-o lucky that you’re willing to share it!

  3. Pete Antonson December 10, 2020 12:44 pm Reply

    Looks like it’s make over time in Kapaa. How about a column about your gracious acceptance of being dead wrong about the election and the (it’s going away”) initial response to COVID 19.

  4. Wil Welsh December 10, 2020 1:03 pm Reply

    Enjoyed your humorous account of a procedure that’s no fun until it’s done!
    Another “roto-rooter” hopefully you won’t need to experience involves prostate enlargement and the common “old man” experience associated with that. This getting old has many surprises, most of them unwelcome. On the flip side, appreciation for friends and family and the incredibly wondrous luck of being alive is reinforced every day we live on this planet!
    Happy Holidays!

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