So my doctor told me that I needed a colonoscopy. Such a wonderful concept... Stick a camera on the end of a hose and insert it into a person's rectum for some landscape shots. I don't know how I could have gone so long without one.
So my doctor told me that I needed a colonoscopy. Sadly, this wasn't my first. I had one a couple of years ago. So this one should be easy, right?
First, I needed to be "cleansed". This consists of a day or mild torture. First, you can't eat anything that isn't "clear". Apparently, Jell-o is clear, no matter what color it is, and all forms of broth are "clear", no matter how unclear they actually are. I wanted to have pizza with anchovies and onions, but apparently anchovies aren't clear enough. So instead I ate nothing that day except melted vanilla ice cream. Hey, if beef broth is clear, so is vanilla ice cream.
Then, in the afternoon, you have to take some stuff that's going to "clean you out". I got the stuff at a drug store. It cost $60, and wasn't covered by my insurance. I was thinking that maybe I should just drink half a bottle of milk of magnesia and wash it down with two liters of Gatorade, but I didn't want to make mistakes. So I forked over the moneyI had earmarked for some "AAA" batteries and was handed a box the size of a small dog carrier.
The kit contained two pills and a plastic jug with some powder and three small flavor packets. The idea was to take the pills, add water and one flavor packet to the jug, refrigerate the jug, wait six hours, have a bowel movement, and then start drinking the contents of the jug, eight ounces every 15 minutes. And not have anything to eat or drink after midnight.
Now, if I followed the timeline on the instructions, I would still be drinking the stuff at 2:00 AM. So I just popped the pills and started to wash them down with some of the mixture from the jug.
The stuff in the jug was salt. When I added water, it created salt water. When I added the flavor packet, it made no discernible difference. One swallow of the stuff was enough to induce vomiting. I managed to hold it in, but just barely. I decided that next time I'm definitely going with milk of magnesia and Gatorade.
Anyway, I washed down as much of the vile concoction as I could and then poured the rest into my roommate's dog's waterbowl.
I slept fitfully that night, probably because I had taken an industrial grade laxative (the pills from the "cleansing kit"). I got up at 7:00 that morning and spent some quality time on Mr. Potty. The youngest child had seen me enter the restroom, so naturally she followed and spent the entire time pounding on the door, shouting, "Ashley, I golla go potty!!!"
I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything, so naturally, as soon as I thought this, my stomach started growling profusely. I watched my roommate, Anna, prepare breakfast for the children. Pancakes. My favorite. Crap. Then, I had to go to the bathroom again.
I got dressed, trying to figure out the best thing to wear to a place where I was just going to take everything off when I got there. Usually, this means I would wear something short and tight, but on this occasion I decided to go with casual attire. (This wasn't a date, and my doctor's just not that cute.) Then, when I finished getting ready... I had to go potty again.
Anna had agreed to give me a ride, because for some reason hospital people don't like you driving after being anesthetized. So we went.
At the Endo center, sort of a Colon Mills Studios, I filled out lots of paperwork and agreed to give them permission to tell me what was wrong. Then I was informed that the copay was $464. In case you don't know, this is a lot. I'm used to paying more like $20, and then being sent a bill later for services I hadn't known would be done. But no, apparently my medical insurance has a deductible, so I had to pay that, plus a percentage, plus the expected $20. I felt like a dented car door. With a copay.
I showed up half an hour early for my appointment, so naturally I had to wait two full hours to go in. I was in the waiting room so long that the battery in my e-book reader ran down, so I had to watch what was on the idiot box - daytime television. I learned what was up with Erica and Tony, whoever they are, and I also learned about the various medicinal properties of low-fat mayonnaise.
During this time, I was sitting on a chair just hard enough to irritate the area that was my
very reason for being there. I could have brought my donut butt-cushion with me, but I do have my dignity. Or I did until I walked into the back room.
In the back room, first I had to go potty again, and then I had to get undressed and gowned, and put my belongings into a lidless Tupperware container the size of a sandwich. Having spent four years in the military, I was accustomed to packing into small spaces. When I was naked from the waist up, I had to stretch (it was one of those moments) so I did. Of course, after a night of prescription-grade diarrhea when I wasn't allowed to eat or drink, a quick stretch turned into a torrent of abdominal cramps. I spent several minutes trying to stop the cramps so that I could finish changing. In the mean time, I was surrounded by curtains in a room that was crowded with other people. I barely managed to get some covering before a head poked in, asking, "Are you alright?"
So I packed my belongings into the sandwich container and climbed under the blanket. Now, I have to admit, the nice, freshly-laundered blankets, still warm from the dryer, are almost worth the whole thing. Then, a nurse came in and proceeded to stick a needle the size of a Honda tailpipe into the back of my hand. On a side note, I got to spend a few minutes observing the normal happenings there. Mostly, it consisted of one nurse consistently forgetting who I was, one nurse pushing beds in and out of the back room, one nurse forgetting which way was the exit, and one woman who seemed to forget whether she worked there or not. I was beginning to lose confidence when the sudden intense burning sensation in my hand distracted me and I forgot who I was for a moment.
When I was wheeled into the back, a nurse (the forgetful one) superglued electrodes onto my torso to monitor my heart rate. Apparently, something they do when taking rectal photos presents a cardiac threat. I rolled onto my side... let's face it, we all know where they needed to get access, and stared at the instruments, trying to play with my heartbeat. Trust me on this... If you put in the effort to learn to make your heart stop, it's worth it to see the faces on doctors and nurses when you do it unexpectedly while they're in the room. hehe
I noticed at one point that the straight lines on the instruments were suddenly not so straight. I realized that I had been slipped a mickey, or something, and decided to see how long I could resist the anesthetic. I counted to 100 to test my will.
Well, technically, I counted to 3.
I woke up to one of the nurses telling me I needed to roll onto my back and fart. Her exact words were, "I need you to roll on your back and fart."
Being drugged out of my gourd, I complied. Or tried to. In tooted a little, then said, "It feels wet."
The nurse just laughed. "That's normal. There's a towel under you."
The thing is, no matter how drugged up I am, I still have my limits. I tooted as much as I could, but a sensor on my sphincter started howling, "Danger, Will Robinson, DANGER!!!"
Finally, a nurse helped me to the restroom again. I know I keep harping on this, but really, how could they do a colonoscopy and not notice that I still had a round in the chamber?
Anyway, as I sat on the bed, trying to figure out how to stand on my own, I was told that Anna was there to pick me up. They made her stand in the curtained area with me while I got dressed. Weird, huh?
They told me that the doctor had come by to visit. While I was asleep. I guess that's when he informed me of his findings. Yeah, really helpful.
Anyway, I got home and went back to sleep. For the rest of the day. Wishing I had one of those nice, warm blankets.