When I had my consultation, the nurse explained the procedure and gave me a couple different options to prepare for the test. Prepare for the test. This is where the deception starts. In my world, prepare for the test means study and memorize how to conjugate irregular verbs in Spanish. But that's not the kind of preparations or tests they're talking about.
One of the options she gave me was to drink some concoction called GoLytely. Go lightly. Well, that sounds nice. It's the name of Audrey Hepburn's lovable character in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Lightly. Go lightly. It sounds nice and calm. Deception number two.
The first two choices she gave me entailed drinking some sort of vile liquid. I knew I wouldn't be able to get down, let alone keep down, any kind of disgusting drink. I had flashbacks to the many glucose tolerance tests I've taken while pregnant. Take my word on this, the technicians do not like it when you throw up on them. I asked the nurse, "Do you have a third choice? How about an xray? A blood test? Anything less um, icky?"
She said, "Well, since you're young and healthy, you could take pills instead, but we'd need to do bloodwork first to make sure your kidney function is okay. And if you opt for the pills, you need to take 32 of them and you'll need to drink 8 ounces of water every time you take the pills."
"Water I can handle," I said, relieved I wouldn't have to drink any foul fluid. Sign me up!"
So, the day before my colonoscopy comes and I begin my prep.
4:00 PM – I’ve had nothing but water all day, figuring the less in, the less out. I swallow the first 4 pills that I'm pretty sure are actually those little salt pellets you use in your water softener. I down my 8 ounces of water and wait, poised outside the bathroom door, ready to make a dash. I’m not sure how long it will take before I begin to experience the, um effects. Fearing it will happen instantaneously, I refuse to move from my post next to the toilet.
4:15PM – I feel fine and prepare to take my next 4 pills, followed by an additional 8 ounces of water. Waiting is scary. How long will it take to kick in, I wonder. Will I really be locked in the bathroom for the rest of the evening or had my friends and family exaggerated when they spoke of their experiences?
4:30PM – As I look at the clock and prepare to swallow my next four pills, I begin to feel some bubbling and gurgling in my tummy. For those of you who are new to the whole colonoscopy experience, take heed. That bubbling means – Get your butt on the toilet NOW!
4:35PM – I grab my book and head for the toilet. I can't help thinking of the Seinfeld episode when George takes a book into the bathroom with him, is forced to buy it, then the book is flagged so George can't return it. I wonder how many library books have undergone the colonoscopy prep. Then I think it’s probably better not to ponder that. I decide this isn't too bad. I’ve had worse gastrointestinal viruses in my life.
4:45PM – I finish my business and wash my hands. As I take my next 4 pills, it hits me again. And by hits me, I mean, I not only do not have time to dry my hands, but I very nearly don't have time to pull down my pants. Oh. My. Gosh. I had no idea my body could hold that much. I see things I ate when I was five years old come out. All the partially digested pieces of grape Hubba Bubba I'd swallowed when the teacher caught me with gum in high school came out.
5:00PM – I manage to choke down pills 17-20 and
7:00PM I leave the safety of the bathroom. It doesn't last long. But now I can manage to go 5 - 10 minutes between effects (effects sounds so much nicer than explosive diarrhea, doesn't it?).
8:00PM – At this point, my colon is clean enough to eat off, not that I recommend eating off colons or anything. However, those 20 salt pills didn't get the message that my colon is empty; they're still working. Since there's nothing left in my entire digestive system, my internal organs liquify and come running out instead. I've only consumed about half a gallon of water, but somehow, once in my body, that 64 ounces turned into 87 gallons.
8:30PM – You know how babies get diaper rash after having poop on their butts for a period of time? Yeah, well six and a half hours into my preparations, my butt actually burst into flames. It’s okay though, the veritable Niagara Falls that continued to flood from my body doused the fire. For the moment anyway.
9:00PM – I nearly vomit as I try to choke down the next 4 pills. Then I wonder what on earth these pills are going to do to me. I'm empty. I’m afraid if I take the final 8 pills, what’s left of my body will drain out my butt and nothing will remain of me except my earrings.
12:00PM – The hollow shell of skin that used to be me gives up, crawls to bed, and passes out, knowing I won’t need the bathroom for the next 5 weeks because there’s absolutely nothing left in me.
10:30AM – I arrive at the doctor’s office and take a seat in the waiting room.
11:00AM – I consider slapping the person sitting next to me, popping her gum, and talking loudly on her cell phone.
11:30AM – They finally call me back to a room and ask me a litany of questions.
“Is there any chance you’re pregnant?” I laugh so hard, I snort.
“Do you wear glasses or contacts?” No.
“Do you have dentures?” No.
“Do you have a hearing aid?” What?
“Do you have a hearing aid?” What?
“Do you have a hearing aid?” I decide this nurse doesn’t have a sense of humor and give up.
She has me change into a hospital gown so they can have easier access to violate me, and starts an IV.
12:00PM – I’m wheeled into the room where the magic happens. I look around for the buttcam and see some ominous-looking tubes. The anesthesiologist comes in and takes my blood pressure. It’s 612/438. “Are you nervous?” he asks. “No”, I reply, “I do this every couple weeks for fun.” The nurse tells me to turn onto my side (you know, for easy access), and the anesthesiologist injects his drugs into my IV. The last thing I remember is hearing Secrets by One Republic playing in the room, and thinking it’s a good thing they aren’t playing Baby Got Back.
12:30PM – A mean nurse is trying to get me to wake up. Apparently, she’s been trying for a while because she seems impatient and frustrated that I won’t open my eyes. I want to tell her to go away and let me sleep. I’m a single mom to six kids, for crying out loud. I need this rest! But I can’t wake up enough to form the words. I feel the need to pass gas and think to heck with being a lady. I'm afraid if I hold back I'll likely explode. At some point, the doctor came in and told me that although I have diverticulosis, it isn’t too bad and there are no polyps or any other scary things in there. Then he tells me I don't need to come back until I'm 50. I've got 8 years and 1 month to prepare for my next preparation.
So folks, the moral of this story is - just do it! Make the appointment and do it! Yeah, the preparation sucks, but look on the bright side, you'll lose a few pounds, have something to blog about, and will be able to put your mind at ease about colon cancer. Colorectal cancer is one of those things that's curable if it's caught in time. Suffering through stage 4 colorectal cancer is much, much worse than a colonoscopy. Oh yeah, and buy some diaper wipes and maybe even some Desitin for your prep. A butt on fire is not a happy butt.