Perchance to Dream: My First Colonoscopy

Don’t worry, Geoffrey Philp says. His first colonoscopy was like a day at the beach.

If going under anesthesia is like slipping into that other life, then, I think, I’ve lost my fear of crossing over. For as I saw the white liquid rushing through the IV drip, the next thing I knew was walking along white, sandy beach lined with coconut trees and with an ocean so blue I had to turn away.

And then, a voice, “Everything went fine.” It was my anesthesiologist, Dr. Cantor, awakening me from my dream.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

When I turned fifty, I decided to keep a promise that I made to my sister, who died from colon cancer, that I’d begin to get regular screenings. I try to keep my word on many things, and because colon cancer is such a sneaky disease that can go undetected for years, and when it is discovered, it’s almost too late, I thought I’d better get myself screened. And especially since black men and women have a higher incidence of colorectal cancer, it seemed the only prudent thing to do—even as I “rage against the dying of the light”

As with most things medical, the worst part is the prep. For a week before the screening, I was advised to stop taking multivitamins, aspirin, and any other blood thinning medications. Then, a day before the procedure, I had to be on clear liquids (flavored water, chicken broth) all day while taking two bisacodyl delayed-release tablets to clear the pipes–so to speak. Later in the evening, I had to drink a Half LYTELY solution every ten minutes. Although by ten o’clock, I could have eaten cardboard, I didn’t eat or drink anything after midnight and slept on and off for the next few hours.

The next morning I went to Aventura Hospital where I was greeted by the surgical team,  and in no time my doctor, Gordon Souaid, was there. The team prepped me for the screening with the embarrassing gown and booties, and then wheeled me into the room. Next, they hooked me up to the machines that checked my blood pressure and other vital information. And the game began.

Dr. Cantor came over to the side of the gurney and said, “This will numb the vein and the next one will put you to sleep.”

I was on my Caribbean beach.


“You’re okay,” said Dr. Cantor as he roused me from deep sleep. I was kinda upset. I was loving that dream.

I was wheeled from post-op into a recovery room, and then, I had the strangest craving for fruit. And not just any fruit: mangoes, pineapples, and watermelons. I wanted that fresh, syrupy taste in my mouth. Something natural.

So, on my way home, I stopped at Publix and bought myself a fruit salad of pineapples, mangoes, and watermelons. I couldn’t wait to get home and sink my teeth into those fruit.

Although it was raining when I got home, I rushed through the door and opened the plastic container with the fruit salad. Dr. Cantor had roused me from that dream of paradise, but after a day of fasting, biting into that watermelon was pure bliss.


—Photo credit:  thinboyfatter/Flickr

About Geoffrey Philp

Geoffrey Philp, author of the e-book, Bob Marley and Bradford’s iPod, has also written, five collections of poetry, a children's e-book, Marcus and the Amazons, and a short story collection, Who's Your Daddy? An award winning writer, whose work explores the themes of masculinity and fatherhood in a Caribbean context, Geoffrey is one of the few writers whose work has been published in the Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories and the Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. His popular blog,, covers literary events in the Caribbean and Miami, where lives with wife, Nadia and their three children, Anna, Christina, and Andrew.


  1. Erik, I’ll never forget the day when they told me my sister had died. Never. It made me resolve to get the colonoscopy and to spread the word. Yes, simple procedures like this can save lives & I also gives thanks that you liked the article.

    One Love,

  2. Thanks, Erik.

    This is one of those articles that I’m glad I wrote. it make me feel as if I am doing good in the world.

    Take care of yourself and your loved ones


  3. Erik, check your pockets and you’ll know for sure.

    • Thanks Geoffrey – I suspect they cost about the same. Considering that buying a colonoscopy can also get you a walk on a white, sandy beach – yet purchasing a beach vacation won’t give you a moment of colonoscopy – it appears the medical procedure is the better deal.

    • Geoffrey –

      Actually I did not mean to sound flip about it – it IS a procedure of serous consequence, but your description of the beach really tickled me (and when when I’m tickled, I get silly – but there’s apparently no procedure to correct THAT). I love the way you wrote this – I was hooked through the whole article.

      I have also lost family members to cancer where procedures like this could have made a big difference. I appreciate what you have written here. Despite the delightful way you describe a not-so-delightful experience, if it encourages one more person to have this procedure, your article has proven it’s true worth.

  4. Now you’ve got me wondering. How scary to think that trip I made last year to the Caribbean may have actually been a colonoscopy.

  5. Ely, I trusted Dr. Cantor completely and would “go under” again with his team.


  6. elysummers says:

    They never have been able to “put me under.” I’ve always been awake during the procedure, which actually I would prefer anyway. I don’t like the idea of going under.

  7. Dave, it’s always a relief when the doctor says you’re clean. hope you make it beyond the next 10 years because I know some very sprite 76 year olds.


  8. Dave Mickler says:


    At 66 I was instructed by my doctor to have a colonoscopy. After going thru the test and hearing from my doctor i was clean and wouldn’t need to take another test for ten years I said I wouldn’t see him then because I didn’t plan to livinge that long!

  9. Rob, I wish!
    I was so grateful that the procedure went so well and Dr. Cantor was so helpful, I had to write this.& as I said, so many black men and women don’t know the risks. So if I can do it, so can they

    Cal, my sister’s death still haunts me & I made a promise I had to keep & will continue keeping.

    Chuck, hehehe. Yeah, I forgot that part.

  10. Chuck Millar says:

    One thing the article does not mention is that when they wake you up the nurses tell you to expel the air they blew up your colon. This gives you free range to fart your hearts content. Ah the pleasure of farting for the next hour. The sheer delight and pleasure on your face when you let a good one rip and its with permission. The bad part is when your still doing it that night and the wife tells you to stop. At least its worth the prep time.

  11. Nice story. You had me at the beach. However, lost me with the prep. I can match your tale with cautionary stories that I can’t shake. I know the alternative is worse…until researchers develop a less miserable prep intake and invasive procedure I’m not too eager to hear the sound of waves.

  12. Did my doctor pay you to write this?


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