Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Colonoscopy Prep

A couple of months ago I turned 50.  Now this event happens to people every day...and it's fine.  For some people there's a party or a special trip to embark on to mark the occasion.  For others, it is just another day...nothing to see here...and all that.  But for the majority of us, it means that we are moving on up the age ladder...having to check that dreaded "50-54" box instead of the far more innocuous "45-49."  But that isn't the only thing that is turning over on the virtual odometer.  We also have things like menopause, ED ads in everything we read, harassment by the slightly creepy (and seriously persistent) AARP to join their ranks...and, of course, the dreaded colonoscopy.

Yes.  THAT.

Tonight I am five cups into the heaven knows how many cups that I have to consume of the plastic jug that is in the refrigerator.  (Yes, Beverly, I got it really cold...)  The first two or three weren't that big of a deal because I was kind of thirsty/hungry anyway.  "Kind of" being defined as "I haven't had any food to speak of today so I needed something so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat the stack of napkins sitting beside the computer."

One eight ounce cup every ten minutes.  Really?  REALLY?  No.  That's impossible...unless you put it in a funnel or put margarita mix in it. Oh...wait...gotta go...

I'm back.  Wow.  This stuff totally works.

Oh, I'm measuring those eight ounce cups and as of this writing...I'm now six cups in.  I've put a little bit of Crystal Light in there because the flavor packet that came with this handy $70.44 (with insurance) kit just really wasn't pulling its weight.  Of course, I could have chosen another flavor...they put four different options in the box o'fun for me to choose from.  And while I am normally very decisive..."none of the above" is really the preferred option.  Except that isn't an option.

For the record, I don't know what genius thought that "pineapple" would be an excellent option for colonoscopy prep.  But apparently someone did.  I didn't choose it because - NO.  Orange was discarded because I can't drink anything with orange flavoring after serving it and trying it a few times when I worked at McDonald's in 1979 where it was pronounced "urr-unch" so frequently that I began to call it that myself.  The third option was "cherry" - which is my favorite flavor - so I didn't want to mess that up or I'll never be able to take Nyquil again.  This is important to me because the green Nyquil is just heinous.  Finally, I opted for the last one "lemon-lime" a flavor that has been such a faithful friend through the years that I'm willing to risk it.  I think our friendship can withstand this.  I hope so anyway.

Make that seven cups now.  I just chugged down that last one because I'm told that this is really the best way to do this by the two guys in the house - both of who have been down this particular road before.  Brian had his on Halloween when he was 15.

Worst "trick or treat" EVER.

In case you have never been through this particular experience, I will tell you that the prep for such varies from doctor to doctor.  Some of them go all "old school" on you and make you drink what looks like two gallons of stuff, and others give you a pill and half of that amount.  Some will give you two pills and no drinking of anything awful, and others will make you go on a fast over a period of time so as to avoid all of the above.  My doctor went the half and half route...a pill and then what I'm guessing is eight cups of this stuff.

I sure hope so...because that means I'm almost done.  Well, with that part of it anyway.

The most noticeable thing about this stuff is that while it looks like lemonade...it actually has the consistency of the juice in canned fruit.  Not the "no sugar added" but the old school thick stuff that we all grew up on and drank with wild abandon before we knew words like "heavy syrup" and "carbs."  Oh, you didn't?  Well, I totally did.  I will tell you, however, that it most assuredly didn't taste like that stuff.  It was more like drinking unsweetened bitter lemon thick stuff with an undertone of a most undelightful mixture of vegetable oil and Pledge.  That was my take on it, anyway.

Bottoms up!  (No pun intended.)  I'm DONE!

"Done" being a relative term here, by the way.  Because I'm by no means "done" from what I'm beginning to understand.  For instance, I have taken several trips back and forth across the house as a result of said consumption...that should really officially be counted as "cardio."  Because if you are moving faster than you have moved in the previous 30 days and vaulting over fighting dogs, a family heirloom rocking chair, a closed door and a laundry basket to get to a coveted seat with a Suduko book...I totally think it counts.

Multiply that by eight and that's pretty much been my night.  Make that nine.

There's a near empty carton of chicken broth on the counter and I'd like to get up and heat it, but between us...I'm a little afraid to move.  Plus, I've managed to get through today on two cups of chicken broth and eight cups of awful and my head hasn't even spun around once although it hurts like the dickens.  I'm sure that this will become secondary in the very, very near future.  So there's that.

I don't know if any of you have had to go through this lovely ritual of "fifty-dom" but let me encourage you to get right on that if you haven't. I have a personal reason for asking you.  See, my mother-in-law and father-in-law were both diagnosed with colon cancer.  Her only request to me when she was in the middle of chemotherapy was to make sure that Big Dave found his way to be screened.  She then made me promise to stay on him about it.  I will do that.  And probably everybody else I know.

He had his colonoscopy last year and everything was fine.  If you want to know how I know this...it is because they gave me some mighty graphic pictures that told me so.  Photos that really need to be burned and the ashes buried because - NO - JUST NO.  Of course, I had no prior warning that I was about to be handed something that still haunts my dreams, but with Big Dave all happy and acting like Lindsay Lohan out for a night on the town...it was all I could do to get him out of there without embarrassing us further.  Because you think "Honey Badger don't care?"  Trust me..."Big Dave don't care..." either.

Can't wait until I get to pay him back tomorrow.

So, if you haven't scheduled your colonoscopy and you are over 50...get on that.  I can't speak to the procedure...but I can tell you that I've survived the prep.  Um...pretty much.  I'm thinking that the night is young, so to speak.


But whatever it takes to get through this...it will be worth it.  It isn't the most pleasant topic...but we need to "bring it out of the dark" so to speak.  Here's a funny video that my friend, Tommy, put on a post this morning that pretty much sums it all up.  Followed by that is Dave Barry's hilarious take on the colonoscopy compliments of Erin.

Get tested.  Now.  Please.

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andyshowed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!' I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,'which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon. The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose watery bowel movement may result.' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep. The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that?  Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked. Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn down your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' has to be the least appropriate. You want me to turn it up?' said Andy, from somewhere behind me. 'Ha ha,' I said.

And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like. I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, Abba was shrieking 'Dancing Queen! Feel the beat from the tambourine ...' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.
I have never been prouder of an internal organ. - Dave Barry

1 comment:

  1. Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last 8 to 10 inches of the colon. Together, they are often referred to as colorectal cancers , and they make up the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Only lung cancer claims more lives.