If the word colonoscopy scares you to death, keep reading because it might save your life.

Truth is, potentially millions of lives are saved every year because this unpopular procedure has become rather routine in this age of enlightenment.

In the old days, nobody knew they had colon cancer until it was too late. Unfortunately, my father was one of those.

In 1976 he was diagnosed with this deadly disease, underwent surgery, was told they got it all, and died a year later at the age of 57.

In retrospect, I knew he died young, but didn't know how young until I reached that age a few years ago.

Because of this family history, my brother and I have been watched closely, which means regular colonoscopies.

Mine was Tuesday.

Human Drano

The night before your scheduled colonoscopy, which is an outpatient procedure, you drink the human equivalent of Drano and spend the evening in the bathroom ridding your system of everything.

This is the part everybody complains about. It's never been fun. Now it's even worse.

In the old days, you had to drink a jug of the cleansing junk until the pipes were clean. Now they recommend you drink half the evening before, then get up in the middle of the night and drink the rest, just to make sure.

As a frequent flier, I've learned the secret to this prep is not to eat anything the day before and not much the day before that. The less luggage you bring on this flight the better.

One other piece of advice -- no whining. Colonoscopies are for your own good. Nobody wants to hear you complain. Just shut up and do what you're told.

It's a piece of cake.

Oops, sorry, no cake yet.

Grandchildren

The next morning at the clinic, you'll see it's an assembly line of folks with their heinies hanging out of their hospital gowns.

The brave and curious insist on mild sedations, allowing them to follow the procedure on television. Cowards like me want the best anesthesia you've got, and plenty of it.

Basically, I remember speaking to the nice nurse and smiling at the pretty lady who pushed the drugs into my system and then … I woke up in recovery.

Technically, I understand what went on during my nap, but all I wanted to know was if they found anything bad. Good news. They didn't.

I went home, took the rest of the day off, didn't operate any heavy machinery and ate like a lumberjack.

That, in a nutshell, is all there is to it.

I'm sure my father would have gladly endured this inconvenience if it meant knowing his grandchildren, which he never did.