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The Box

Cologuard is a company that sends an unmarked box to your home. Inside the box is an empty plastic container for you to drop a stool sample into.
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April 11, 2024
Md Babul Hosen/Getty Images

Deuteronomy 4:15
 “And you shall very carefully watch your bodies.”

God wants us to take care of our health and that’s what I’ve been doing.

My last colonoscopy did not start well. It was at a teaching hospital, and the intern, a nice young doctor mistakenly — I later learned — went down my throat. Am I that bad-looking that he could not tell the difference between my top and my bottom? 

A few years earlier, I had a colonoscopy performed by a colorectal surgeon friend. Because I am a comedian, he thought it would be funny that as I was drifting off after the anesthesiologist released the drug, he said, “Let me just get my pants off and I’ll be right with you.” His timing was impeccable. 

How people handle medical procedures solely depends on that person. I had an uncle who loved being operated on; he felt it was an opportunity for him to get a few minutes of quiet time away from my aunt. I have another friend who had surgery for melanoma on his nose and acted no different than when he was purchasing elotes from a food truck on Olvera Street. 

Surgery scares the stuffing out of me which is not bad if you’re getting a colonoscopy. My doctor, who knows me well and knows how nervous I am, and because of the slight possibility of something going wrong, during a colonoscopy gave me a choice. I could now skip the ancient Roto-Rooter method which in some parts of the world is used to get information out of captives, and instead consider the Cologuard method.

Cologuard is a company that sends an unmarked box to your home. Inside the box is an empty plastic container for you to drop a stool sample into. Once you’ve done your business, you pour a bottle filled with liquid over the sample and, as if it were radioactive, quickly seal the box. Because someone might think the bottle was a Gatorade treat for your hard work, it clearly states in bold letters, DO NOT DRINK. And there is a reminder for you to seal the box.  Immediately after sealing, you are told to drive the box to the nearest UPS store as if your wife was in the car ready to pop with a set of twins.

What I would have liked to have told them was to keep this box far away from a potential sponge cake that some kind grandma was sending to the East Coast. 

Once I had passed the box over to the UPS worker, I wanted out of there before they noticed what it was. What I would have liked to have told them was to keep this box far away from a potential sponge cake that some kind grandma was sending to the East Coast. 

Back in my car, I ruminated about the type of person that has this job at Cologuard where every morning UPS delivers dozens of boxes for someone at Cologuard to open probably an hour after a hearty breakfast. I wondered what kind of a space suit someone wears that has this job.  I also wonder how they explain to their children what is waiting for mom or dad to open each morning. And if you know what that person does for a living, are you inclined to pass on a barbecue where you know they will be doing the cooking? 

Two weeks later, I got a repeat box in the mail. They wanted me to take the test over because I sent them too much.  Damn, those flax seeds and arugula. After taking care of business this time, instead of heading right off to UPS, I sealed the box and put it on the table next to another box that had to go out: a wedding present. One of my sons stopped by to pick up something and saw the two boxes, placed the address stickers on each box, and was very kind to drop both off at UPS. The problem was he put the wrong sticker on each box. To the newly married couple we sent my sample and to Cologuard, a bottle of Dom and a set of stemmed flute champagne glasses. 

Asking the married couple to forward the box to Cologuard was out of the question.  But I did email Cologuard and told them to enjoy the Dom Perignon. In case you’re interested my results — thank God — were good.


Mark Schiff is a comedian, actor and writer, and hosts, along with Danny Lobell, the ‘We Think It’s Funny’ podcast. His new book is “Why Not? Lessons on Comedy, Courage and Chutzpah.”

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