I’d been putting off getting a colonoscopy for a while.
(A decade, give or take.)
But then I saw my no-nonsense primary care doctor for my every three or four year annual physical. She got a little bit of a ‘tude because of my family history of cancer-of-the-nether-regions and basically told me to just man-up and get it done.
In my own defense I was going to have one a few years ago but the prep instructions were so incomprehensible I unintentionally sabotaged the process. (Seriously, they might well have been written by a certain president.)
‘For five days prior to the procedure, don’t eat fruits with peel,’ the directions admonished. I (naturally) took that to mean, ‘find a sharp knife’
However, when my husband saw the procedure guidelines amidst the apple peels on the kitchen counter, he had a different interpretation. Which he shared.
Just in time.
Because had he not spotted the instruction sheet I would have drunk a gallon of the prescribed industrial strength stomach cleanser (which can only be described as sweetened pus), arrived at the hospital (five pounds thinner)
and then been sent home after an unsuccessful procedure because of the small orchard clinging to my colon. Which would have necessitated a complete (ahem) do-over.
And let me tell you, after having actually gagged that stuff down, drinking it in vain would have been malpractice material. I might’ve had to track down the writer who’d been so careless with the English language. Clarity is no joke.
Anyway, though still open to interpretation the guidelines had been reworked enough for me to follow. (I did have to call the nurse for post-consumption absolution a couple of times — ie. if white bread is okay, how about the brown crust on a French baguette?)
I was told to keep my appointment.
So I arranged to have one of my daughters drive me. (I’m a strong believer in marital boundaries. My spouse of 39 years doesn’t know I use the bathroom for anything other than make-up application.) I intentionally planned the procedure to coincide with an out-of-town trip of his. Only I read the calendar wrong and he wasn’t leaving until the following week. I still wouldn’t let him take me.
At the front desk I was asked for a picture I.D. Which I found interesting in terms of outsourcing possibilities.
Emaline and I were then taken back to my room and I was handed a smock. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I was going to be, you know, seriously naked in front of strangers. I expressed my concern to my daughter, a transplant patient, who told me that she sheds modesty as soon as she enters hospital settings.
“That’s because you’re stupid.” I muttered. Lovingly. “And shameless.” I may have added.
After my drug allergy history was taken by the nurse while I was in a prone position (increasing my performance anxiety,) I was wheeled back and put under.
Very, very pleasantly.
Everything went well though it took three times longer than it was supposed to. This was due to the fact that my insides are a tad more twisty than average. In fact, my discharge papers included the following nugget about the doctor’s tour. “Significantly tortuous colon — requiring abdominal pressure…and additional faculty to complete the procedure.”
The idea that random personnel were called in to lean on my stomach was too much for my daughter. She laughed so hard reading the report she had to cross her legs. My husband called while she was still doubled over to ask how I was waking up from the drugs. (He’s an anesthesiologist, it’s his purview.)
I was still snowed and unfortunately at that moment had my turtle neck claustrophobically stuck on my head because I’d forgotten to remove my glasses when I tried to get dressed. My life partner asked for a picture.
While I have a friend who calls the procedure ‘a cleanse and a nap’ and after the fact I learned that there are alternatives to the Devil’s drink that (nicer) doctors prescribe, colonoscopies are not my new favorite leisure activity. I do however recognize their importance. My brother’s life was saved by one. So I will go back in five years for another.
Give or take.