A colonoscopy is easy. The prep for a colonoscopy is a bitch.
In order to experience the joy and ecstasy of knowing that your body’s sanitation system is operating with union shop efficiency, one must flush that system clear. To accomplish this flush, my gastroenterologist, Dr. O., had given me an instructional regimen and prescribed a flush kit that would certainly clean me out, clean out the adjoining neighborhood and clean out most of Chicago’s outlying suburbs.
Upon leaving Dr.O.’s office, I went to my nearest Walgreens and picked up my flush kit. To my surprise, the pharmacist handed me a shopping bag instead of the usual tiny bottle of painkillers that are diabolically prepared behind the counter. When I arrived back at home, I opened the shopping bag and inspected the flush kit. The flush kit was an empty one-gallon plastic jug and a series of foil pouches. The largest pouch contained a mixture of sodium chloride and a few other unfamiliar ingredients. The pouch was labeled with a rather clinical sounding name. Had I been I charge of this enterprise, it would have been called ‘Skedaddle’. There were three additional, smaller pouches in the flush kit. They turned out to be flavor packets. Lucky me, I had a choice of cherry, pineapple or lemonade. I suppose bourbon flavor was still in the experimental stages.
Taking a seat, I began to review Dr. O.’s colonoscopy instructional manifesto. Most of it made a good deal of sense… no eating the day before, begin consuming the flush mixture about 6pm the night before, drink it slowly over the next 4 hours, the concoction would rid the body clean of all waste, etc. Then, there was a little nuance to the procedure itself. I would be placed under a mild anesthetic and would be unconscious during the scopy part of the production. In other words, I would be in the show, but I wouldn’t have any speaking lines. This ran contrary to the expectations I had cultivated when I watched the YouTube video of CBS’s Harry Smith, during his on-air colonoscopy. Harry was wide-awake and spoke throughout the procedure. Better yet, Harry was able to watch what appeared to be a Waterpik meandering to the center of the Earth on an adjacent video monitor. Being unconscious, how would I know if the medical staff was hell-bent on seeing how many worry beads they could shove up my hoo-ha?
On the night before the colonoscopy, I poured the flush kit powder into the one-gallon jug and added the lemonade flavor packet. I decided to go with lemonade primarily because lemonade would make it feel more like a picnic. Adding water to the fill line, I put the cap on the jug and shook it up. Once the mixture was fully blended, I pored myself a nice big glass of it and took an exploratory sip. Not bad, not bad at all. It tasted a little salty, but it was tolerable.
I went on to create body flush central by setting myself up with a Monday Night Football game, a comfortable chair, my handy one-gallon jug of merriment and pleasure vessel and a clear path to a bathroom. In no time at all, I had consumed my first glassful of the flush kit mixture. “Piece of cake”, I thought to myself. “This should be a good football game”.
Pouring myself another glass of the flush kit mixture, I settled in to focus on the game. Somewhere perhaps when the screen displayed the starting offensive linemen with their mini-photos staring right at me, I felt an old familiar need to disappear into the bathroom. The word ‘burst’ is woefully inadequate to describe what took place next. Instead, I would have to go with ‘Hold onto your fucking hat, WOW’!
My initial reaction was one of marvel. The flush kit mixture had amazingly cleared my system in one quick trip to the bathroom. There could not possibly be anything left in my body that needed to be evacuated. I was wrong.
The more I drank the mixture, the more I had the urge to disappear into the bathroom. I lost count of how many trips I had taken at eleven. I began to speculate that future archeologists would determine that my bathroom was not a bathroom at all, but actually King Kong’s cave.
The football game was now just a blur of grass with numbers painted on it and a swarm of frustrated men crashing into each other, for no apparent reason. Around midnight, I figured I was truly empty and the annual sales target for Charmin Ultra had been achieved.
I awoke the next morning to a feeling that I had participated in some sort of wicked Hollywood diet. Twenty pounds of things I would never miss had fled my body. Free to prepare for my colonoscopy, I shrugged off a few initial signs of hunger. There was to be no eating prior to the procedure and I was okay with it . . . that is until my first glimpse of soap, shampoo and bathroom towels. My hunger took over with such a fury, that I imagined that soap, shampoo and bathroom towels would probably taste pretty good right about now. My wife, Lori, looked in on me with worried expectation and I shook myself back to reality. Thank goodness, she was there to support me and to accompany me to the hospital. There’s no telling what I might do once I came out of anesthesia; stagger the streets of Chicago like Frankenstein’s monster in search of deep-dish pizza?
Around noon, Lori and I entered the pavilion on the hospital campus that specialized in colonoscopy procedures. We took a spot at the check-in counter and registered with an attendant. The counter served much like a hotel front-desk, without being handed a key to the in-room mini-bar. Their system of efficiency was splendid to witness. The attendant put us both at ease and invited us to have a seat in the adjoining waiting room. Lori and I took our seats and scanned the room to assess the other occupants. It was easy to spot the patients from their supporters. The patients were dying of hunger and eyeballed everyone with cannibal intensity.
Within a few minutes, my name was called. I gave Lori a quick kiss and followed my facilitator. The facilitator ushered me into a luxurious changing area. It was far superior to my health club locker room. She went into a small closet and quickly produced a garment bag. Handing me the bag, she instructed, “This bag will have two robes in it. You’ll go into a changing room and disrobe completely. Put your inner robe on with the back wide open. Then, you’ll put the outer robe on with the front wide open. Put all your clothes in the bag and bring everything with you to the seats right outside. Someone will come and get you. Okay?”
“Okay”, I replied.
Approaching the nearest changing room, I stepped in and closed the door. I carefully took off my clothes and opened the garment bag to retrieve my robes. I put on the robes as instructed and took one look at myself in the mirror. I looked like a man who had lost his faculties and decided to put on a pastel mini-dress. If I were to touch my toes, any innocent bystander would certainly be treated to a full lunar landing.
Shoving my clothes into the garment bag, I zipped it up and opened the changing room door. I grabbed the garment bag and with lady-like precision, took a seat in the staging area. A few moments later, a nurse stepped up to me and said, “Follow me over here”.
She may as well have said, “Follow me over here, or else”.
The nurse was part drill sergeant and part . . . on second thought, she was all drill sergeant.
The nurse led me to a room that resembled an emergency room triage station. She quizzed me my about my state of health, potential allergies and had me sign a release form. Mildly intimidated, I signed it and handed it back to her. She gave me a crooked smile and took my hand. Without any warning, she produced what appeared to be a clear plastic cone with a needle at the end and she stabbed the back of my hand with it. The nurse/drill sergeant did not remove the device; instead, she taped it securely to my hand.
“This will make it easier to inject all your medications today”, she declared.
Out of nowhere, she produced a vial filled with a clear liquid and without warning, injected it into the plastic cone taped to my hand. As the clear liquid gradually emptied into my hand, I detected a little smirk on her face as if to declare, “Take it, bitch”.
She instructed me to have a seat in yet another waiting area and began to tidy up her workspace. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had an after-sex cigarette. I didn’t question her about what she had given me, I really had no choice. I simply determined that I would follow her order and walked into the next waiting room.
This waiting room was rather sad. It had two lonely male occupants spread out at a great distance from each other, while ESPN blared away on a wall-mounted TV. Their hairy legs protruded awkwardly from their mini-robes and their eyes looked shallow and out of focus. Gradually, I began to feel sleepy and rubbed my forehead. The clear liquid from the injection was taking effect. My senses were on their way to party town without me. One by one, my fellow patients were called out by the facilitator. I was alone now, not fully baked, but more consistent with being in acquaintance of some straight up Wild Turkey.
Finally, the facilitator gestured for me to follow and led me to a private room filled with every known medical gizmo, complete with a La-Z-Boy recliner type gurney. She guided me to take a seat on the gurney and to get comfortable. Once I was fully situated, Dr. O. entered the room with his assistant and accomplice, whom he introduced as Katherine. They both smiled brightly and took turns shaking my hand. Dr. O engaged me with some warm repartee while Katherine went through a few situational maneuvers on the equipment (medical equipment, not my equipment).
Satisfied that all was ready, Katherine took my hand and injected a solution into my plastic gateway cone. While she watched the solution being absorbed, she said to me, “This works pretty fast”.
I responded, “Oh, that’s good”.
As the word ‘good’ escaped my lips, everything went blank.
My next moment of awareness was that of awakening in a completely different room. I was alert and feeling fine. Take that, Dr. Conrad Murray, Katherine’s in the house, dawg!
From the corner of my eye, I detected that I was not alone in the room. A different nurse was seated beside me. She leaned in and asked, “How are you doing, Bob?”
Facing her, I managed to say, “Alright, I guess. Is the procedure over?”
“Yes”, she said, “everything went just fine. The doctor will be back shortly to fill you in”. (I thought he had already filled me in).
Sure enough, moments later, Dr. O. came into the room sporty a friendly smile, “Everything went smoothly. You have no abnormalities, no polyps . . . you did great”.
He shook my hand and gave me a summary sheet highlighting the procedural findings. Within the text of the summary, was a small color picture of what I presumed to be my colon. Now that’s what I call a souvenir!
“I’ll send my notes to Dr. C. for his records and you have yourself a nice day”. With that, Dr.O. left the room for his next victim.
The attending nurse turned to me and said, “I’m going to let your wife know that everything went well and I’ll be right back with some juice and cookies for you”.
As soon as she disappeared from the room, I began reading the summary in its entirety. Everything was fine.
She soon returned rolling a small food tray topped with my little snacks.
“When you’re done”, she said, “you can get up and change into your street clothes”.
As she started away, she looked back and added, “Have a great day”.
I thanked her and gazed upon my feast of chocolate and vanilla sandwich crèmes and orange juice. A starting gun went off in my head and I begin attacking my food tray with little to no regard for civilized behavior. I don’t know where they got them, but they were the best damn cookies I ever had in my life!