Colonoscopies are especially important for people over the age of 50 because it provides us with the need for something that no one ever told us about and which can’t be spelled anyway. And like childbirth, scary stories circulate about what is involved. Several years ago, Katie Couric tried to demystify the procedure by having one on national television. Thanks to her report, many thousands of people had colonoscopies. Many thousands of others fled to the Ural Mountains.
The day before I was scheduled to fly to London, I had one. I know what you are thinking: How come she has all the fun? There are, indeed, just a couple things that rival a colonoscopy prep. These include having your eyeballs extracted by a nutcracker, and wearing underpants made out of industrial strength sandpaper. For an entire day before the colonoscopy, only clear liquids can be consumed, along with pills and drinks that clean out one’s system. Water must be drunk in copious amounts. The literature I was given said, “Stay close to a bathroom.” This understatement was comparable to Napoleon being told to “Wear warm clothing” before he invaded Russia.
I felt that there was entirely too little fun in all that, so I managed to take the fun to the next level. I did this by straining my back the day before in Pilates class, but the pain waited until the afternoon of Prep Day to go into high gear. And, because Advil isn’t allowed to be taken, the pain was able to run amok and all the little pain receptors allowed to multiply almost as fast as the Duggars. So, all through the night, one part of my body was screaming “Hurry!” while another was screaming even more loudly “Don’t move!” A third part was making periodic forays into the bedroom to shriek “I can’t take this anymore!” at Now Husband Dan. NHD has the ability to remain sound asleep and still carry on intelligent conversations. So I heard a lot of “Oh you poor thing”s and “I wish there were something I could do for you”s between snores.
By the time 6AM rolled around, I began to obsess about anesthesia. At 8:30AM, when I arrived at the hospital, I was asked what procedure I was there for. “Back pain,” I said. I had forgotten about the colonoscopy. Unfortunately, they reminded me. The anesthesia was administered and the deed was done. I awoke five lbs lighter than I was 24 hours before, and my back pain had subsided. And I was euphoric that I had another ten years before I had to go through this again.
I mentioned to the nurse that I was getting on a plane early the next morning. “You can’t travel for three days she said. It was in the instructions.” I told her I was getting on the plane. She went to tell the doctor on me. I felt like I was back in elementary school and had just thrown a spit ball at Larry Harnick. She came back. ”The doctor said it was in the instructions. No flying.” At least I wasn’t told I would miss recess. We negotiated back and forth a couple of times, until I felt like I was buying a used car. Finally, the nurse sighed audibly and gave up. She told me to drink copious amounts of water for the rest of the day, and then, when on the plane, keep drinking and walk around every twenty minutes. I agreed. I would have agreed to get on the plane in my surgical outfit (“Put this on with the opening in the back.”) just to get out of there.
About the Author: Renee