Death and taxes. No one escapes. Here’s one more: colonoscopies. Once you hit 50, your doc will dog you like Columbo until you relent. Mine nagged me for two years, and I grumbled about the hassle, the ick, the fuss and bother, and griff graff gruff. Don’t wanna. At our last visit, she nodded and said OK, then added nonchalantly, “But colon cancer would be a really stupid thing to die of, since it’s so easy to detect.”
OK, fine! I’ll get the stupid test!
No, not someday. How about Sept. 19?
You can run, but you can’t hide. Well, you can for about two years, but then the gig’s up.
So, the prep day arrived, and it’s true what they say. The prep is worse than the procedure. The day before, you’re restricted to clear non-red liquids: apple juice, soda, black coffee or tea, bouillon and Jell-O.
It occurred to me that beer is clear and not red, so I Googled around until I found something to validate that and mitigated the prep misery with two Boddington’s. Then it was time for the goo – a thick, salty syrup, gulped in 8-ounce increments every 15 minutes. A half-gallon the day before, and another the following morning. The goo eliminates hunger pangs. It also eliminates a lot more than that, if you get my drift.
Unfortunately, my appointment wasn’t until 2:30, so I had an entire morning for my anxiety about all things medical to reach full boil, and my intestines too. Funny side note: The colonoscopy lab is in Elk Grove. About an hour’s drive. Under the influence of goo. Think about that.
So, we get there, and they call me in and lucky me, it was apparently the nurse’s first day on the job, based on her inability to operate the medical records computer. She seemed only slightly more confident when it was time for the IV.
Wait, what? I have to have an IV, too? Where’s the exit?
But there was no point in fleeing. Dr. Columbo would just track me down. So, I lie there, barely breathing, listening to the beep-beep of the heart monitor escalate to warp speed. Nurse A, we’ll call her, was completely oblivious to my roaring anxiety. She knits her brow, struggles with the IV, frowns a bit. I imagine a bubble of oxygen traveling down my vein, into my heart and triggering a massive, fatal coronary. Tears start leaking uncontrollably from my eyes.
Did she attempt to soothe me? Joke with me? Pat my poor widdo head? Nope. She dabs my cheeks with as much empathy as one might give an oozing cadaver and walks away, returning only awhile later to wheel me into the procedure room, managing to crash the cart into every corner on the way.
Enter Nurse B, who’ll be doing the anesthesia. She shoves some papers at me that list the various complications up to and including death.
“Promise I’ll wake up, OK?” I whimper, but she just smiles and walks away.
Dude, lie to me! Tell me “Absolutely, positively, you’ll wake up and be just fine!” What am I gonna do if you’re wrong? Come stomping out of the morgue and holler, “Liar, liar, pants on fire?”
Nurse B vanishes, and I lie there in full-blown panic attack for an astonishing 45 minutes without one person checking on me. I was merely the next car in the shop in line for an oil change. At almost 4 p.m., another gal comes in, looks to be about 18, starts rattling off the process, and it dawns on me… “Are you the doctor?”
“Yes,” she responds, and continues her preamble without missing a beat. No introduction, no handshake, no saying your name to acknowledge that you’re more than a sack of tissue she’s about to violate. She goes on to mention that she’ll be monitoring the anesthesia levels in case I need more during the procedure, and I ask her, “How will you know if I need more?”
“You’ll yell or cry out,” she says as Nurse B injects something into the IV line.
What??? What the he… … … …
Next thing I know, I’m in recovery and Nurse A is shaking me.
“You’re kidding,” I think but am unable to actually speak through the haze of anesthesia, unable even to raise my eyelids or do anything more challenging than lie there on my side. Soon, I heard my sweet husband’s voice, he’s patting me, and it occurs to me that I have, in fact, survived this ordeal. Suddenly the bed is jacking up to a sitting position, and Nurse A is insisting that I’m good to go.
Did you know that a body doesn’t bend into a 90-degree angle sideways? No? Neither does Nurse A.
My husband objects and says I need more time, but Nurse A ignores him and literally removes my gown, and starts pulling my panties up and wrestling my bra on. It seems to me that if you’re too groggy to operate your own panties, maybe you need a bit more recovery time.
Next, I’m pulled to my feet and wobbled to the bathroom, where I promptly fall back asleep right there on the toilet. Nurse A pokes her head in after awhile, discovers I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, and reappears with a wheelchair. She plops me into the wheelchair and heads for front door, amazingly enough without burning rubber. We reach the car, and at least she allows my husband to maneuver me into the seat rather than dumping me out at the curb like I was in a wheelbarrow.
In the end (haha, me so funny), it’s not really the prep you have to worry about, or the colonoscopy itself, but making sure your appointment isn’t scheduled to close to 5 p.m.
Yabba dabba doo.