At my last physical my doctor mentioned it had been five years since I had a colonoscopy.
“That long, huh? Gee doc, the whole experience was so pleasant it seems like only yesterday.”
Every time I light a candle in my bathroom, I feel like I’m setting up an altar to the god of poop.
I successfully delayed the colon conversation by mentioning my cholesterol. I’ve found as I grow older I can deflect almost any uncomfortable medical inquiry by bringing up another body part.
The first time I had a screening colonoscopy it took my doctor three years to convince me. She seemed puzzled that I continued to dodge major illnesses, so I felt I owed it to her to try one more test to see if we couldn’t find something. I called to make the appointment, and they told me I would need a designated driver to chauffeur me home after the procedure. Because I had spent 30 hours in labor with him, I nominated my oldest son, Robert. A few days before the big event he accompanied me to pick up the aptly named Super Bowel Prep Kit at the pharmacy.
“That will be $73,” the cheerful cashier said as she rang up my purchase.
“Holy crap!” I said. Robert laughed behind me.
I felt that for $73 the stuff should come with a sommelier, someone to uncork the bottle, swirl the liquid around in a glass, and remark on the bouquet. Reluctantly I paid for the purchase with my rapidly depleting medical flex spending card and we left with the kit — two 8 ounce bottles of clear liquid that each had to be mixed with another 8 ounces of water and then chased with yet another 16 ounces of water within an hour.
On the way back to my apartment I held up a bottle. “I wonder what it tastes like?”
“I bet it tastes like ass,” said my twenty-eight-year-old son with all the smug self-assurance of someone at least two decades away from having to drink 32 ounces of ass flavored liquid himself. We tried out different names for the drink — “Turd Tonic”, “Poopy Potion”, and finally decided the winner was “Caca Cola.”
The instructions for my prep assured me I could have all the clear liquids I wanted during the process. I enthusiastically mixed up a dozen servings of lemon and pineapple Jello. Red gelatin was discouraged in horrific detail. I discovered all the clear liquids I wanted were considerably less than the amount of clear liquids taking up room in my refrigerator.
The actual prep went as expected. I took the advice found on several internet sites and bought adult diapers to wear during the experience. They worked so well I wondered why I didn’t wear them all the time. Robert stayed with me in the beginning but when the real fun began, he left for his apartment.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!” I called out from behind the bathroom door.
The pharmacist had warned me that the prep was “very effective” and by the end of the second dose I had to agree. My colon was so clear the doctor could probably see all the way to Cleveland.
I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink the day of the colonoscopy and this worried me before I understood that by the end of the first day I wouldn’t want anything to eat or drink on the second day.
The morning of the procedure Robert strolled into my apartment. He wore an Iron Maiden t-shirt featuring a rotting corpse on the front.
“I’ll drive on the way there,” I told him.
When we arrived at the clinic I checked in while Robert discovered they didn’t have Wi-Fi in the waiting room. A smiling nurse escorted us back to a little room and I met with the doctor who would perform the colonoscopy. He looked slightly older than my son and had very nice hair.
“Awesome t-shirt dude!” he said to Robert as he flashed the metal sign and they slapped hands.
The doctor briefly explained the procedure and then a nurse brought over a hospital gown and a brown paper bag. She told me to take off all my clothes and put them in the bag.
“They’ll call when I’m ready to leave,” I tossed Robert my purse and phone as he bolted out the door.
After I stuffed my clothes into the paper bag, the nurse took a black marker and wrote my name on the outside, just in case they needed to use it as evidence. I hopped onto the narrow hospital bed as the anesthesiologist came in to meet with me. He also had nice hair and a lovely smile. He looked and sounded like the actor Antonio Banderas.
“How are you feeling?” he asked as he placed his hand on my arm. He had very warm hands.
“I’m okay,” I responded, with as much confidence as I could while my bare ass stuck to the sheet covering the bed.
“Don’t be nervous, I promise you won’t remember anything about the procedure. You will just have a little nap now.”
I smiled up at him from the bed and tried not to look nervous, despite his being one of the most handsome men to see me half naked. He kept his warm hand on my arm as he helped me turn over on my side. Then he bent down to gaze into my eyes and ask, “Do you have any loose teeth or dentures?”
My doctor came in and fussed around with something behind my back as he hummed what sounded suspiciously like “Run to the Hills”, complete with shredding guitar solo. I no longer felt nervous, I felt old and tired as I fell into the promised nap.
I had read all about the unpleasantness of the prep but what no one mentioned was how wonderful were the after-affects of the sedative they give you. I woke up to the sound of “Slow Ride” by Fog Hat playing on the room’s sound system, which was appropriate since I hadn’t felt that stoned since 1975.
“How are you doing?” asked the nurse as she took my arm and helped me to sit up.
“Wow,” I replied.
“Would you like a drink? We have Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Sprite.”
I chose a Dr. Pepper, and when the nurse asked if I wanted a regular or a diet drink, I replied, “Oh, I want a REAL Dr. Pepper!”
When Robert arrived to pick me up, I was still enjoying my not-clear drink. The nurse warned us “Go straight home. No shopping and don’t make any legal decisions or sign any documents today.”
“Can I take my Dr. Pepper with me?” I asked.
On the way home I buckled into the passenger seat of the car, propped up against the door, and enjoyed the rest of my soda while Robert drove with his usual reckless abandon. The drugs were still kicking in, so I didn’t mind when we charged through yellow lights and swerved around corners.
I wanted to make some profound comment on how wonderful it is to have a family, and how much I loved and appreciated him. Tears welled up in my eyes and I spoke in a hoarse voice.
“This is the best Dr. Pepper in the entire world.” I reached over to pat my son’s arm.
“Those must be some fantastic drugs, Mom.”
We continued on towards home, where we would listen to Iron Maiden on the stereo, watch television together, and have anything we wanted for dinner, including six or seven servings of pineapple Jello.