By Shawn Murphy
Earlier this month I went in for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. Or, as was listed next to my name on the whiteboard, I had a ↑↓. Most people were just having a ↓, so I will admit that I felt a little special to have been chosen for a bi-directional procedure. Because when they take you back to the little room and you receive the backless gown knowing that total strangers are going to see your uncovered hindquarters, you have to take your pride where you can find it.
But let me back up about 36 hours because a colonoscopy easily wins the “Boy are you in for a treat” award.
After your initial visit they send you home with some instructions and a gallon jug of powder that you mix with lukewarm water and shake it up to form a potion that tastes like toilet bowl cleaner mixed with urine. According to the prep sheet, “In order for your doctor to see the colon lining clearly, your colon must be completely empty. To prepare for the procedure you will have to take a powerful laxative to clean the colon.” I think ‘powerful’ may not be a strong enough word to convey what happens to your intestines, perhaps ‘supersonic’ or ‘ball of fire’ would be better suited.
One day before the colonoscopy you’re supposed to have a “clear fluid diet only”, which means no food, so get ready to starve. The day before The “procedure” you also take three laxative tablets at 2:00 and then a bottle of some vile mixture of magnesium citrate at 5:00 and at 7:00 you must ingest the elixir, one glass every 20 minutes. The stuff is called “Go Litely,” but I’m here to tell you that there is nothing about this stuff that will make you go lightly.
I sat back and waited for the magic to happen. And I waited. And I waited. By 10 p.m. my stomach hurt intensely from the very enormous amount of liquid I had consumed in such a short time. I had been nauseated since the chugging of the magnesium and the addition of this swill pushed me over the edge. I threw up twice and then began making deals with God — if you just let me go to the bathroom now, I’ll show the next idiot driver who cuts me off more compassion. I’ll really listen when the little kids at school tell me agonizingly long drawn out stories that make no sense whatsoever, I swear. I imagined I would be the first person in the history of colonoscopies to win the fight against the dreaded poop cocktail. And I worried that I wouldn’t be “prepped” enough for the procedure and it all would be in vain.
Then I got mad and started talking to myself. “I’m not drinking any more of that heinous liquid.” I started thinking maybe I didn’t need a colonoscopy after all, but the fine print at the bottom of my instructions about the $50 fee if you cancel spurred me on. So at 4 a.m., I arose from slumber, my stomach had finally settled down and I drank four more glasses of the stuff. Within minutes the typhoon hit, pure liquid jettisoned out of me by the gallon. When the cramping relented I went and laid back down in bed, for about 30 seconds, then up again with another flood spraying out with the force of a fire hose turned on full blast. Go lay down, get back up, repeat. I can only say that it was very effective. I was cleaned out so well that I was pooping out things I hadn’t even eaten yet, but once that’s through your system, believe it or not, the worst is over. I would suggest having some pads on hand for the rest of the day even after the procedure as there will be “leakage.” You feel like you might need to go, so you stand up and start for the bathroom, but alas the liquid has already left the building and it’s in your pants. I went through seven pair of underwear before I finally stuffed a wad of toilet paper in the back of my pants to catch the overflow.
I arrived at the medical facility at 7:30 a.m. and was whisked away to an exam room where I changed into my gown. A nurse hooked up my IV, took my blood pressure and gave me a consent form to sign in case I didn’t make it. They wheeled me into the procedure room. I told my doctor that I liked his shirt and that’s all I remember. Next thing I knew I was waking up from the best nap ever and my son Ben was waiting to take me home.
My physician was kind enough to include in my release papers, several high resolution photographs of the inside of my colon, including a very clear picture of the camera’s ‘port of entry’, if you catch my drift, which was very thoughtful since I’ve never actually seen it before, and I probably could have lived the whole rest of my life without the sight of that. The image of it still comes back to me unbidden. I’m hoping the picture imprinted in my mind will fade with time.
But wait, there’s more…Still under the influence of Propofol, I actually considered putting it on Facebook as my profile pic, but thankfully I fell asleep before any action could be taken. However, sleep did not overcome me soon enough to prevent me from sending a questionable video clip to the entire staff at school which, unbeknownst to me, included our new assistant superintendent. On Monday during a school visit he questioned my principal about my character and she defended me, telling him that I usually wasn’t like that and I must have been heavily sedated at the time. Still, it will be hard to look him in the eye for the foreseeable future.
And that’s all I know. Only one unanswered question still remains…
Who cleans the camera?