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It is difficult to express the dread with which I approached my first colonoscopy. To understand it fully, you have to appreciate my almost preternatural capacity for dread. I inherited it from my mother, who won the Olympic gold medal in freestyle dread at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and spent the rest of her life waiting for the phone call informing her she had failed the drug test and would have to give the medal back. The phone call never came, and Mom’s medal now hangs from the rear view mirror of my wife’s car, reminding us that a meteor could crush us at any moment. But Mom soldiered on. She spent the rest of her life searching out -clouds for every silver lining, somewhat bemused by the fact her existence had not yet been interrupted by what she regarded as the inevitable market crashes, typhoons, and plague outbreaks to come.[ 1] Despite what the geneticists may say about it, I am convinced I have inherited this trait as surely as Secretariat inherited speed from Bold Ruler and stamina from Nasrulla. I dread at a chromosomal level. I am capable of Rooseveltian dread: I can actually fear the fear I will feel when I start fearing something. So when I tell you I was dreading my colonoscopy, it means something. I’m not talking here about your basic, ordinary garden-variety bar exam dread. I’m not talking about letter from the IRS asking you to bring with you your tax records for the preceding seven years dread. I’m talking about full-on, under the theater seat with your eyes closed, screaming at Sigourney Weaver not to open that airlock because the scariest monster in the history of the universe is on the other side, thus embarrassing your wife so much she refuses to help you get the jujubes off the back of your shirt and threatens never to go to the movies with you ever again dread. I did not want to go. I am told most men react similarly � though less spectacularly. I’m told, for instance that most of them don’t actually obtain a false birth certificate and make an appointment to have their fingerprints burned off with acid so they can deny they’ve reached the age when a colonoscopy is recommended. And apparently my gastroenterologist had never previously had a patient ask if he could avoid the need for a colonoscopy by merely “putting a cork in it and taking all my meals intravenously for the rest of my life.” But this is clearly one of the areas in which we guys fully live up to our reputation as the “weaker sex.” It turns out I can actually whimper; I had no idea. My buddies didn’t help. The procedure apparently includes the injection of some kind of sadism-inducing drug that causes men who undergo it to feel obliged to describe it in terms previously reserved for tales of Civil War amputations and sports cars driven under eighteen-wheelers at 95 miles per hour. They had me convinced the instrument in question was constructed of Alyeska pipeline remnants � a size required to accommodate the camera, which was “the exact same one they use for the Angel games, you know, the one in the well behind the third-base dugout.” And of course all of them knew a friend of a friend’s cousin’s neighbor who had “had one go wrong.” Fortunately, my friend Cliff Roberts was also a little overdue for the procedure and had decided his fear of his wife was greater than his fear of pain.[ 2] Apparently Jill had conjured up a parade of horribles about Cliff’s life withher and withouta colonoscopy that was worse than the ones Cliff had been able to devise about the procedure itself, and so � because of his feebleand inadequateimagination[ 3] � he had agreed that he AND I would have it done. Presumably the lawyers among you are as confused by this syllogism as I was. It seems to g Cliff is afraid of his wife. His wife wants him to get a colonoscopy. Therefore Beds is going to get a colonoscopy. But Jill, who is slightly larger than a fox terrier and, as near as I can determine, knows not a single profanity, was � despite those handicaps � somehow able to convey to me as clearly as she had conveyed to Cliff the absolute necessity of this procedure to my continued enjoyment of life. Suffice it to say Sigourney Weaver would not have opened the airlock if an angry Jill Roberts were on the other side. Nor would she have done so if it meant she had to prep for a colonoscopy. I will not dwell on this. You all know what I’m talking about, and my editor is utterly terrified by the prospect of me describing it in his publication. [ Jess, I'll leave it to you and Scott which gender should be used in this sentence;or if you want to pass it off on Chris Braun and say my publisher is terrified] Let’s just say I spent an evening taking pills and drinking Gatorade. Let’s just say I slept on the floor of my bathroom because I was unable to take the five steps to my bed without needing to two-step back to the porcelain. Let’s just say I can now tell you, should you ask, how many tiles there are on any surface of that room. And let’s have a round of applause for the chemists who were able to put together a drug so powerful that it not only emptied every part of my digestive system � every nook, every cranny, every minute diverticulum[ 4] � but also somehow sucked into and through my lower tract a collection of unswallowed objects that included my wedding ring, two marbles, and an old Eddie Mathews baseball card I hadn’t seen in years. If we could somehow apply this stuff to U. S. foreign policy, we’d be out of Iraq in a week.[ 5] Next thing I know, the limousine is picking me up outside my home at five in the morning[ 6] to take me to UCLA.[ 7] Unfortunately, the Amazing Fantastic Intestinal Cleaning Solution is not yet done. We get as far as my boyhood neighborhood near Lennox and have to pull into a gas station. Now picture this, if you will. It’s 7 in the morning, a big, black stretch limo pulls into a Mobil station in one of the least savory high-crime areas in Los Angeles and three[ 8] seriously white people exit � seriatim � go into the restroom, come back and get into the limo and then drive away. What does that sound like to you? Of course. That’s clearly a drug transaction. Any cop worth his badge could have gotten a search warrant for our limo on those facts alone. I think subconsciously Cliff and I were hoping to be stopped and arrested. But that was the end of our battle with the Amazing Fantastic Intestinal Cleaning Solution, and that battle turned out to be the worst part of the whole experience. The procedure itself is a piece of cake. Or at least, as far as I can remember, it is. I can’t really say this with the same certainty with which I usually pontificate because part of the anesthesia is a drug called Versed � a benzodiazepine that not only relaxes your muscles but also wipes out a couple hours of memory. In fairness to modern medicine, the level of drug necessary to relax my sphincter five minutes before a colonoscopy is probably so high I’m lucky I can remember anything that happened after my fifteenth birthday. But it is a little disconcerting to expend so much energy being afraid of something and then not even be able to remember it afterward. And except for being a little groggy, there are no after-effects. No pain, no intestinal distress, nothing. We stopped to get doughnuts on the way home. Sigourney Weaver did not stop for doughnuts on the way home. Which is my main reason for writing this piece: I want to try to convey to you how utterly ordinary and routine this procedure is and encourage you to get it done. I’m a reasonably intelligent guy. And, all kidding aside, having been through brain surgery, heart surgery, and several kidney stones, you wouldn’t have expected me to be inordinately put off by the prospect of a colonoscopy. But I was. I put if off until I was 55. Somehow, the disabling panic I felt whenever I contemplated this particular procedure kept me from doing something I knew I should have. And being a “busy guy” with “an important job” enabled me to keep making excuses. I don’t know how it is for women � Jill Roberts never seemed the least bit nervous about it � but I’ve talked to enough of my male peers to know I am not the only one who gets queasy about medical procedures that involve taking off our underwear. And I’ve actually had to yell at a couple of friends who gave me that “I’m gonna do it soon; I’m just really busy right now” stuff. So I write this month to say, “Get over it.” This article actually recounts an episode of five years ago, and last week I repeated the same benign experience.[ 9] So I now know I didn’t just get lucky five years ago; they’re ALL this easy. This time they added an endoscopy to my shopping cart. They put one camera in from one end and another one in from the other end and stopped when they saw each other. They biopsied stomach tissue. They examined my stomach, my colon, both intestines, my esophagus and my back molars. It was still painless. WE STILL STOPPED FOR DOUGHNUTS ON THE WAY HOME. This is a no-brainer. The only way you can screw this up � the only way it can hurt you � is if you don’t do it. So stop making excuses about your calendar. Stop fretting about the firm or the office or the staff. You can do this on a Saturday and not miss a minute of work, so all those work-related excuses . . . well, they’re all that stuff the Amazing Fantastic Intestinal Cleaning Solution will get rid of . . . and they aren’t fooling anybody. Stop promising yourself � and your loved ones � that you’ll “get around to it” soon . . . AND DO IT. Have your “colonoscopy party” and stop worrying about it. Stop being a busylawyer and start being a smartone. Trust me, it’s a walk in the park. Do it. Call two friends and rent a limo. Contributing writerWilliam W. Bedsworth is an associate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana. He writes this column to get it out of his system. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can read more columns like this in “A Criminal Waste of Time,” a book fromThe Recorder featuring more than 30 of the best columns from Justice Bedsworth. Order by calling( 800) 587-9288 or visiting www.lawcatalog.com/bedsworth.

[ 1] And meteors. Did I mention meteors? [ 2] A conclusion only a married man can understand. [ 3] A character trait inexplicably unremarked upon by any of the many judges before whom Cliff had argued law and motion matters. [ 4] Too few people fully appreciate the opportunity for vocabulary enhancement presented by a colonoscopy . [ 5] Iraq, Guantanamo, Puerto Rico, the entire eastern seaboard, and most of the Great Lakes region. [ 6] Yeah, a limo. Apparently Cliff won a few cases here and there. [ 7] Cliff chose the doctor. I can only assume Christian Barnhard, Charles Mayo and Derek “McDreamy” Sheppard were unavailable. [ 8] Jill came along to make sure we didn’t tell the limo driver to just take us to Vegas instead. [ 9] Sans gas station visit; prep was much easier this time. So even that excuse may have fallen by the wayside.

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