Maria, Nurse Practitioner at the clinic, flipped idly through my medical chart.
“I don’t see a colonoscopy in here. You’ve had one, haven’t you?”
“Noooooo . . .”
“You’re over 50 . . .”
“Yeeaaaaah . . .”
“And your doctor hasn’t ordered one yet?”
“Noooooo . . .”
“Well, if I had to have one, you have to have one!”
Two weeks later, I stood at the kitchen counter reading the instructions on the box of HalfLytely: Early morning, add one flavor packet to jug of prep mix, add water to Fill line, and refrigerate. At 3 p.m., take the two pills included in the kit. At 7 p.m., begin drinking solution – one 8-ounce glass every 10 minutes until solution is gone. Sounds easy enough.
Deciding that 5 a.m. falls into the early morning time zone, I selected orange from the three flavors offered, poured it into the jug, added water up to the line, and shook the daylights out of it to mix. It didn’t look like much, really. Not sure what all the shouting’s about.
The Workday: Only clear liquids are allowed the day prior to the procedure, so I drank water. I drank Sprite. I drank vegetable broth. I peed. I ate lemon-lime Jello. I peed. I drank more water and ate more Jello. I peed. I drank more Sprite and ate more Jello. I peed. I drank more broth and ate more Jello. I peed.
Hey, this could be a great new diet plan! “Whiz Your Way to a Skinny You in 30 Days or Your Money Back!” I could write it up, print little pamphlets, sell them at grocery store checkouts for $5 apiece, and get richRichRICH! Perhaps I could even talk P&G into paying me a portion of their proceeds from increased toilet paper sales.
With such avaricious visions of financial success dancing through my head, I headed for the bathroom again . . .
"I shot upright as a gurgling wave of live snakes ripped through my lower intestines."
3 p.m: Came home from work early to take the pills. Two cute little blue pills that taste like nothing at all. There isn’t much information with them, just a directive to take them and that "stuff" may or may not happen before I begin drinking the solution in the evening. I should be able to sneak a nap in, right? May as well get comfy.
I stripped off my work clothes and climbed into my favorite polka dot p.j.s. Crawling into bed, I felt pampered and cozy. Snoozing in the middle of a workday? This rocks. I closed my eyes and snuggled deep into the fluffy comforter, cat curled behind my knees and dog stretched out beside me. Heaven.
3:52 p.m: I shot upright as a gurgling wave of live snakes ripped through my lower intestines. My jammie bottoms were around my knees before I even hit the bathroom door. “Stuff” happened. Repeatedly. No nap occurred on Wednesday afternoon.
7 p.m: Armed with the jug of hopefully orange-flavored clear solution, an 8-ounce glass, and plenty of determination, I headed downstairs to begin the 2-hour marathon drinking game.
The sofa was lined with a big cotton pouf and several pillows.
The remote control for the television was at my fingertips.
Water – check. Tea – check. Jello – check.
Full roll of toilet paper in the bathroom.
Larson’s last Far Side book, Last Chapter and Worse, sitting in a basket beside the bathtub.
All was in readiness.
7 –7:45 p.m: Seriously, have you ever tried to drink 8 ounces of anything every 10 minutes for two hours straight? Since college?
The flavor really isn’t all that bad – the orange comes shining through. However, it has a salty tang and a viscosity that somehow reminds me of . . . well . . . oh, let’s just leave it at that, shall we?
But, truly, it wasn’t so bad. The first glass went down pretty slick. The second also slid its slimy way down my throat without too much effort.
The third? Not so much.
I eyed the jug with increasing distaste. I’ve drunk three 8-ounce glasses of that stuff and the level of solution is barely below the Fill line. Excuse me? I’d like to meet the designers of that jug – if they can design something that looks that small but holds that much, I’d like to see what they can do with a needle, thread and a little Spandex. I sure wouldn’t mind looking 80 pounds smaller, mister.
A glance at the clock – How can 10 minutes go by so fast? I poured and drank, pausing for breath halfway through. Don’t do that, by the way. You’ll regret it.
7:43 p.m: Waddled to the bathroom as fast as the contents sloshing through my stomach would tolerate. I thought I just had to wee. Good thing I was already sitting down.
7:50 p.m: I can’t drink anymore. I just can’t. Please God, don’t make me! I am overwhelmingly bloated with a sense of fullness that feels like waves rolling back and forth on a dark, storm-tossed ocean. Another visit to the bathroom doesn’t help at all. I’m helplessly seasick.
8:00 p.m: Heaving up a couple cups of solution alleviates the situation somewhat.
Memo to Self: Do not vomit again without sitting on toilet first.
By the way, there’s absolutely NO visual difference between what’s coming out of either end. And is there soap in this stuff? Where are those suds coming from?
8:10 p.m: I’m going to have to lie tomorrow when they ask if I drank it all. But there’s a point beyond which the stomach rebels and there’s nothing you can do about it. I have to take a little break.
I swear I cannot do this.
8:30 p.m: Heavy sigh. I have to do this. Several glasses worth of putrid orange swill remain in the jug.
Changed the roll of toilet paper last time I was in there. Good thing.
9:10 p.m: Last Glass. Sip. Breathe deeply. Sip. Breathe. I contemplated the bottom of the saucepan in my lap in an effort to hypnotize myself into keeping the lukewarm, gelid mass down. I didn’t move a muscle. Cold sweat prickled my forehead and the back of my neck. Slow, steady breathing gradually calmed my stomach and I finally relaxed my death grip on the saucepan.
Four more trips to the bathroom and the last cup of solution finally shot through me – at least I hope it’s the last of it. A celebration is in order, I suppose, but I really don’t care at this point. I’m exhausted and Little Rosie is completely puckered out. I’m going to bed.
10:30 p.m: Goodnight. Big day tomorrow . . .
My appointment was scheduled for 11 a.m. No water, no coffee – nothing since I took my blood pressure medication with the recommended small sip of water at 4:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. is when my cat desires breakfast, Monday through Sunday – holidays and hangovers are not permitted to stretch his tightly disciplined routine by more than half an hour. It’s brutal.)
Raging thirst ravaged my tired brain. Chewing gum helped but there’s no caffeine in chewing gum. Wait a minute . . .
Memo to Self: Contact Wrigley immediately re: HipHop ZippyPeppy SuperMint Gum. There’s caffeine in almost everything else these days, right? This could really work! I’ll be richRichRICH!
Almost lost my train of thought for a minute . . .
I showered and washed my hair. I carefully shaved and lotioned my legs as though preparing for a lover instead of a camera up my posterior.
A friend drove me to the clinic for my procedure. We arrived a little early but things moved right along.
Clinic staff pressed strongly for my friend to be my support buddy in the room afterward and I absolutely balked at the idea. I do NOT want him to sit with me and wait to talk with the doctor for the most reasonable reason in the world: They don’t let you leave the building until you’ve expelled the excess gas they pump into you during the procedure and there’s only one way to do that, understand?
No. I do not want this guy in the room at the time. Are they kidding?
They said I very likely wouldn’t remember getting reamed. I beg to differ.
I’m pretty sure the Demerol went straight to where it would do the most good – my arthritic neck and hips. The Versed? Either the syringe held blanks or they didn’t take my enormous bulk into consideration when they calculated the dose. Or they didn’t realize they were reckoning with a wild hippie child of the early '70s.
The attending nurse and I waited in the procedure room for Dr. R. Super nice guy, by the way. And extremely talented with his chosen weapon – a very long tube with a built-in camera. He tried to calm my trepidation.
“How long does this take?”
“Not long at all. You might feel some slight discomfort at times but it will be brief.”
I looked backward over my shoulder at him with both eyebrows raised in disbelief. He had to be kidding.
“No, really. It’s not as bad as you think.”
"Alright. Since I’m already dressed for the party, let the prodding begin.”
If you’re lucky enough to remember what’s going on, it’s fascinating to watch. You’re facing the little view screen anyway – might as well take advantage of the situation. It may be the only chance you ever get to go where no man has gone before. Your own personal ‘Tract Trek’. Or maybe you prefer ‘The Inner Limits’?
(I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.)
“Looks rather juicy up there.” I commented at one point.
“It does, doesn’t it? It won’t be,” Dr. R. promised. “We’re going to suck it all out.”
With what, I wondered, but didn’t ask aloud.
Afterward, drinking a Sprite and waiting for a gaseous emission (hopefully dry – I never did hear a shop vac behind me), I thought, “Well now. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Truly. Even if you’ve always been the Exit Only type, there’s absolutely nothing to be worried about or afraid of.
I was sternly warned NOT to run right out and eat a big meal. No alcohol. Don’t drive.
So we headed straight to the Department of Transportation to renew my driver’s license – no makeup, a ratty Cubs T-shirt, and Just-Out-Of-Bed hairdo - but I sincerely doubt an officer of the law is going to give a rat’s hindend how my hair looks in my license photo while he’s writing me up for going 90 in a 70 mph zone.
Next, we stopped at Legends American Grille for one of their famous BLTs made with 6 strips of crispy, thick-cut bacon, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo grilled to perfection on sourdough bread. Regular fries.
And yes. I had to do it. I’m a perverse person. I drank a Black Velvet and Diet Coke and a shot of Sambuca – a little anise for the anus, so to speak.
But I didn’t drive. I’m not a complete idiot.