It’s been about 3 weeks or so since I decided to turn my career [in a different direction.](http://www.momathome.com/viewfromhome/2005/08/new_opportunities.php)
Even though my official employment starts on September 6, I’ve been doing my job as a consultant to fill in the gap between the previous operations chief and me. How’s it going? It amazes me how much I like this job. It suits me. It’s just as creative as what I was doing before, just in a different way. I love being a huge part of a small organization, instead of a small part of a larger one.
I’m due for a colonoscopy, my third. I had my first colonoscopy in 1999, shortly after my father was diagnosed. I was only 32 years old, but my family history puts me in a high-risk category, especially because my father had advanced disease in his mid 50s. It’s a slow growing cancer, which means that he wasn’t that much older than I am now when his ignored cancerous polyp started developing. That’s a very scary thought.
In 1999, in Stamford, I had a wonderful gastroenterologist who didn’t balk at my request for a colonoscopy and agreed that I should be retested every 3 years. I was a little nervous about finding a doctor here that would take the same attitude with a 39 year old otherwise healthy woman with no symptoms. I had nothing to fear. The doctor I found here is one of the most compassionate men I have ever met. I told him what I now did for a living and I gave him a pile of colorectal cancer awareness pins with our information cards that we’re now sending out across the country (if you want some, please [email me](mailto:email@example.com)). He was thrilled to get them. The ladies in his office were all already wearing the pins and he said he was hoping to get more and he was glad to have a connection for them now. In taking my history I mentioned the issues I’ve been having with gastritis-like attacks and he wants to figure out why it’s happening. When I have my colonoscopy next month he’s also going to take a look in the other direction and see what’s going on.
Scheduling a mammogram or PSA or blood test is easy. You can do it on your lunch hour. Scheduling a colonoscopy when you have kids and a job and a life is no easy feat. You have the prep day, which means eating nothing but clear liquids the day before and sitting in the bathroom on massive amounts of laxatives the night before. Not really good for much. I usually try to save the latest John Grisham for throne reading. You need a page turner to distract you from the true task at hand. Then you have the test day where you’re knocked out for most of the test and recovering from it the rest of the day. Test day is easy. Good drugs, great nap. I had to schedule it on a day when I knew the kids would be in school *and* Eric would be working from home to take me back and forth to the hospital for the test. The hospital doesn’t allow me to be dropped off, Eric has to stay and wait for me in the waiting room. The least they could do is have wifi in the lounge so he can get work done.
I mentioned to Nancy (President of [C3](http://www.c-three.org)) that I have my colonscopy scheduled and bemoan what a pain in the a** it is, literally and figuratively. She says, well, of course I expect you to take those two days off. No one understands more than the founder of a colorectal cancer advocacy organization what’s involved, and the importance of, a good screening colonoscopy. Even better, we’re going to put it front of the Board to make it company policy: 2 days paid time off for colonoscopy prep and screening. Right now we’re only two employees so not a big deal, but imagine if other companies adopted this policy. How much does it cost in dollars and cents and productivity to give an employee pay for 2 extra days compared to what it costs for them to have parts of their colon removed followed by chemotherapy?
A colonoscopy is not a vacation no matter how you look at it. However, insurance companies are now paying for the test without a lot of hassle [if you live in the right state](http://www.eifoundation.org/national/nccra/report_card/)…if an employee didn’t have to worry about the time away from work I do believe more folks would have the test and lives will be saved. Even the prep is easier than it used to be. Instead of [Fleet Phosphosoda](http://www.phosphosoda.com/) (ick ick ick) I’ll be taking [Miralax](http://www.miralax.com) this time. I’ve never had the stuff, but it’s what was prescribed for Laini when she had constipation issues at the age of 4. If my preschooler at the time tolerated the stuff, then I know I can handle it.