Monday, June 14, 2010

colonoscopy tales

You begin the day before with a "clear liquid diet". That means anything liquid that isn't red or purple. Jello works. So I ate copious amounts of orange and green jello with lots of mayonnaise --which I declare a 'liquid' though most people find eating mayonnaise on jello an offense against God, Nature and the American Way. White Grape juice, tea, coffee--no dairy--ginger ale, stuff like that--chicken broth and all. This is all you can consume for 36 hours or so before and after they stick God knows what up your butt. Along with 'clear liquid' comes pills and powder.

So, first comes the stuff that empties you out. 4 pills and 14 daily dosages of constipation relief poured into 64 ounces of Gaterade.

Two of the pills and half the 64 oz. of Gaterade/Miralax (an interesting combination of 'miracle' and 'ex-lax'--which in some situations, I suppose, is a miracle in itself) consumed in 4 8oz glasses every 15 minutes. The instructions from the Dr. say, in understatement, "be near a bathroom".

You just ingested enough stuff to make half the Republicans in Congress seem like regular human beings and the advice is: "be near a bathroom".

So that's what you do. You think of Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls and any other falls you can think of and that's what it is like for an hour or so.

Then, limp and empty, you continue your clear liquid diet and eventually, fall asleep 'near a bathroom'....Where does all this stuff come from anyway? Am I passing DNA and bone marrow? Lordy....

The next morning at 5 a.m. I take the other two pills and drink the rest of the goop--which doesn't taste foul at all--and spend two hours reading on the toilet thinking of rain storms, oil leaks, vital organs passing out of me.

At the hospital you get neat little socks and a gown you know will be pulled up to reveal your never-mind and lots of cheerful people, including the guy who is going to knock you out who looks like a college tailback and has on a bandanna around his head and a six o'clock shadow at 7 a.m. He tells you he'll knock you out and bring you back with no problem and in between unspeakable things will be inserted where the sun don't shine and most likely all those friendly people will be making fun of your posterior parts.

Finally they wheel you into the room and you look around for the suction tubes and horrible instruments of torture and the handsome young man with the bandanna says "You're going to sleep...." and in retrospect you know you were asleep before he said "now". And the next thing you know he is saying, "You should be awake now" and you are and they are wheeling you out of the room where they have invaded your parts in ways you can't understand and really don't want to know about--much like a 'date rape' of a kind--and you are back in your little cubical and the nurses are encouraging you to fart and fart and fart.

"Passing air" is what most of them say, but I had a wonderful, great-aunt kind of woman, black and blunt, who felt my stomach and said, "fart for all you are worth to get that air they let in out...."

And I did, for half an hour. During which time they brought Bern back to sit with me. Farting outrageously--I did 'rip' some, let me tell you!--is alright when given permission among strangers, but breaking air like that in front of your wife is embarrassing, even after almost 40 years of marriage....I faked a cough the first couple of times (a time-trued strategy)...till she looked at me and rolled her eyes.

Being given permission to fart at will is a teenager's wet-dream of reality. My black nurse kept encouraging me and came over to pat my belly--"got rid of those twins" she said.

The Dr. came--a good guy who had peered up my butt while I was unconscious (but he pretended we hadn't been that intimate) who told me he had cut a pollop out of me somewhere inside and that he'd let me know what that meant and on and on and then 4 more hours of jello and ginger ale and then I had a hamburger and some cottage cheese and peaches to make it seem ok to eat meat so soon after being probed in places that should be oh so private....Like that.

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.