If I hear my doctor try talk me into having a colonoscopy one more time I’m going to ……I’m going to …..well, have one I guess.
Yup, I finally relented when, during my last check up, he found my excuses to be especially flimsy IE: I think I’d be the first to know if something was wrong with my own plumbing. There’s no history of colon cancer in my family. Besides, we Norwegians are a modest bunch and I would likely die of embarrassment if I had to bare my ass under mercury vapor lights in front of a crowd of men and women wearing masks armed with a mile-long length of hose that had a camera and a snipper affixed on the end of it.
Full disclosure here, I’m planning some minor surgery in November and for Medicare to pick up the tab I’m required to have a colonoscopy..so Tuesday was my first experience of being “in” TV instead of on it. But, let’s start at the beginning.
“Whaddya want for your last meal.” Linda said after church on Sunday.
“Geeze I wish you’d put that a little differently.” I said nervously.
“You know what I mean. You’re the one who was only going to eat once today so you wouldn’t have so much inside your system to, you know, evacuate the premises tomorrow.”
“Ah, yes. Well, let it be your delicious Swiss steak then.”
In savoring every scrumptious bite, I did what dietitians have been advocating forever: eat slower! In so doing, I resisted the temptation for a second helping and by 2pm my last meal was finished leaving plenty of time to get down to some serious fretting..first about the Vikings blowing another lead (which they were more than happy to oblige) and then about preparing for the great gut flush which must precede any Roto Rooter procedure.
We’ve had the infamous prep kit in our possession for a couple weeks; a gallon-size plastic jug with a pre-measured amount of highly explosive diuretic powder already inside. Just fill with water, shake well and refrigerate. Also taped to the jug were four flavor packets which apparently transform the taste of this reputedly vile liquid from something akin to gym towel squeezin’s into a quite palatable fruity beverage like strawberry, cherry or lemonade. I chose the pineapple option.
Although I had a jump start on my fast, Monday morning was the first real reminder of the sacrifice that lay ahead. Coffee WITHOUT creamer. Oh, my. By Noon, I’d grown weary of ice water and diet 7 Up. The sheet says I can have BROTH…nothing brown so that leaves chicken, I guess. All we have is chicken bullion so I heat up two cups of water and throw in a couple tablespoons of the powdered bullion as directed. I like salt but this was like drinking boiling hot sea water. Rechecked the directions. Ah ha..it says two level TEAspoons of powder. I drank it anyway but cut way back on the next couple of batches and it was okay. It would have been a lot better with soda crackers but at least it was a refreshing change from the bland sweetness of all the plain pop. 4:00 pm arrives. Time to take the two mild laxative pills. Wash them down with another full glass of water. Shake body from side to side..sounds like the wave machine at Wild Water West. 4:30 pm. Take one of two pills prescribed for anticipated nausea. Oh God.
5:00pm. I have the entire evening to down half the bottle of pineapple juice..at least that’s how I’m imagining it. To achieve my goal, I’m using a 16 ounce red Solo cup like the one Toby Keith sang about a couple years ago only I wasn’t preparing to party but to potty. I really couldn’t tell you for sure if I tasted even the slightest hint of pineapple as I gulped it straight down but it did seem to have a distinct ammonia finish. Anyway, I got through the first half and when nearing completion of the concoction on the morning of D-Day (The invasion) I was seriously thinking we should have put a seat belt on the toilet for I felt close to achieving lift off at any second. Upon arriving at Medical Building 3 with Linda by my side and giving the receptionist my birthday and insurance information for the 68th time, we were told to have a seat and wait with the other blank-faced empty boweled people in the room. That’s when I felt that little tell tale gurgle from deep within. Oh, no..there can’t be anything left but sure enough, at least one more stop was necessary. I’m sure I looked like Tim Conway doing the old man on the Carol Burnett Show as I shuffled to the rest room for, what I hoped was the final emptying. I could see from the others that they knew exactly what I was going through. By the time I finally got situated in a room, nurse Carolyn was quite impressed that a man of my age had never had a colonoscopy before but especially never been hospitalized at all since springing to life in 1946. She proceeded to ask the same questions I’ve been answering to every other person involved in my medical history for months. But rules are rules, blah blah blah. Anyway, I had a stress test done a few years ago and they gave me one of those open-back gowns that’s supposed to be one size fits all. Well, I am not in that ALL category and had to parade around the 5th floor of Medical Building 2 from exam room to exam room with my ample ass hanging free in the breeze because there was no one..nay not even a professional Victorian Era corset tightener who could have pulled those back strings together enough to conceal my big bum and spared me unnecessary embarrassment. So when I saw the gown on my bed and was told to disrobe and put it on, I mentioned the unfortunate humiliation from the past and Carolyn immediately ordered the largest in stock. I’m very glad Linda left her camera in the car and all hospital personnel are sworn to secrecy because Barnum & Bailey could have put two of their three circus rings under there with me and still had room for a few clowns.
Finally, after Carolyn found a vein to draw a little blood and insert the anesthesia it was time for two strong young nurses to wheel their heavy load into the operating room. After being instructed to lay on my left side, I don’t remember much of anything until being back in the room with Linda telling me everything was good..just three polyps safely removed and a nurse saying that the doctor had shot a blast of air up my backside and she wasn’t leaving and neither was I until she heard it come back out. You mean fart? I said. I don’t even do that in front of my wife. So Linda, at my request, left the room and I pushed and I pushed and well, let’s just say I’m home.
I guess this is supposed to be one of those Public Service Announcements about getting a colonoscopy if you’re over 50. Don’t wait as long as I did. So, for what it’s worth. It really wasn’t that bad and I’m really glad I had it done and don’t have any cancer up there.
Now, my doctor keeps harping about getting a shingles shot.
Good Lord will this ever end?
One of my favorite humorists, Dave Barry, says the doctor that did his colonoscopy has heard the following from his patients over the years:
“Take it easy Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before.”
“Hey, now I know how a Muppet feels.”
“You used to be an executive at Enron didn’t you?”
And my favorite:
“Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?”