WARNING: I enjoy "potty" humor more than the average girl ... maybe a little too much.
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As I type these words now I'm not sure I'm going to publish this story. I don't know how it ends yet.
There's colon cancer in my family ... I almost lost my Uncle a few decades ago and my Aunt lost her battle with the disease a few years ago. And every time things aren't ... er ... regular, if you catch my drift, I worry. Which can often lead to me totally freaking out in the middle of the night as I lay in bed CONVINCED my daughters are going to grow up without a mother ... all because I was afraid of ... a little ... probing.
I was scheduled for a colonoscopy a few years ago, but chickened out. Now as I sit too close to my mid-forties I've totally had enough of the fear and I need to know for sure. My Uncle was younger than I am now when he was diagnosed. And maybe my Aunt would still be here if she didn't succumb to the same fear and embarrassment I struggle with.
I dunno. I thought I might try to keep my sense of humor about this whole thing to make it easier.
I met with my LADY GI Doctor ... there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I was going to be violated by miles of rubber tubing ... with a camera & light on the end no less ... by a GUY.
I'm a fairly modest person. (Oh sweet irony I'm writing about having a foreign object shoved up my "you know what".)
Having babies sorta helped cure me of a lot of that stuff. If I can handle being strapped naked to a gurney like I'm being crucified and then having a way too cute anesthesiologist administer an epidural while I undergo a c-section ... and then all the post-op indignities ... I'm over a lot of my former modesty hangups.
But this ...
THIS is an altogether different thing. Totally different oriface. And totally the wrong direction.
Sorry. Too graphic? Too gross? Too offensive? Sorry. I'm just pretending we know each other really well.
Where was I? Oh yes. Lady doctor. I didn't mark my appointment on a calendar. Classic avoidance behaviour. But I knew the date was near. I'd been thinking all last week that I needed to find the paperwork with the preparatory instructions when I got a call Friday from the nurse with a gentle reminder. I'm worried that is the end of all things "gentle" from here on out.
So off to the pharmacy I went. I'd written the supplies on a pretty paper I could discreetly hand to hopefully a female on the other side of the counter.
But it wasn't a girl. And it wasn't in my pocket. Turns out I'd left the note at home on the kitchen counter. So I was forced to ask in a hushed a tone ... and cleverly added it was for my husband (sorry Honey).
This is what I got.
Oral PURGATIVE? Is it just me or does that word sound a little too much like Purgatory? Too bad it's 9 letters long ... that would be one sweet score for Scrabble.
And what's with this "cute" little slogan on the side of the box?
I bet the dude who was paid to write that in his Madmen office with a window didn't have to actually "experience" the product as part of his job either. "Away" in italics? Seriously. What does that even mean? Where ELSE might the inferred by-product go?
I like how ORAL is repeated.
Considering the impending procedure, I suppose clarification is a good idea. Although exactly how would a person administer this powder in ... you know ... the OTHER end? LOL! With a kitchen funnel? No don't tell me, I DON'T want to know! LOL!
But this is the best part ...
Ok. Now I'm getting nervous.
Lame joke: What did the oral purgative say to the colon? "Resistance is futile, you WILL be evacuated."
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I'm only allowed hospital food today ...
I also made a batch of orange but I ran out of ramekins so I thought I'd pretty it up with some Laura Ashley chintzware. (Note: NOT allowed the clementines ... they're just to make the picture look nicer.)
I also get chicken consumme ... gross.
And all the clear tea I want to drink. Guess I'll be peeing all day and then ... you know ... the other thing ... all night.
I really want some chocolate right now.
But I'd settle for a handful of nuts or a hard-boiled egg.
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I'd forgotten how much fun it is to suck jello through my teeth.
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There went my last chewable fingernail. Now what?
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4:00 pm. One more hour before the "festivities". (I am so nervous right now.)
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5:00 pm. All right, it is ON like DONKEY KONG! I don't even know what that means, but it makes me laugh.
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THE NEXT MORNING
I can sum up last night like this: 10 hours, 10 trips. With a few little bonus rounds in the morning. That's it. Honestly, I was expecting painful cramping and also ... burning ... as in, like, Mexican food's exit strategy. Followed by extra laundry with lots of bleach. And the possible need for drop cloths between me and the bathroom.
Nope. None of that! It was TOTALLY easy.
Now I won't lie to you, there WAS a little of this ...
but not terrifying amounts.
A word of advice ... don't be wearin' pants with a belt, zipper & button. Just put on pjs or sweats.
I've heard it said several times that the prep is worse than the actual procedure. This bodes well ...
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THE DAY AFTER
Yesterday was ... an experience. Here's a recap, as I remember it. ;)
After showing up, being asked if I was here for a COLONOSCOPY (no, I'm looking for the Barry Manilow concert!) and having to sit in the waiting room with all the other poor schmucks who are in for the same thing ... also looking just ever so slightly embarrassed and nervous - there's an unwritten rule here that eye contact is forbidden - I was still calm and only very mildly self-concious.
Watched the nurse write my last name on a giant white board in the hall way where everyone else is listed (of course I looked for a familiar name ... and hoped no one would recognize me) and was shown to my bed.
Got into "the gown", ties in the back of course, and sat on the bed and waited for something to happen.
Bra, socks & a wrinkly blue gown. Lovely. I bet even Jennifer Aniston couldn't rock this outfit! Ok, maybe she could. But at least I remembered to shave my legs. Although it stands to reason that the woman who is about to do to me ... what she's about to do ... probably wouldn't judge me for a little leg stubble.
But here's the fun part. I had an unobstructed view of an open closet. Not just ANY closet, but THE closet ... called GI INSTRUMENTS. Yep. I spent about 15 minutes staring at these gigantic black rubber hoses hanging on hooks. I was clinging to the weakest of delusions that they weren't what I thought they were. Every once in a while someone would go to that closet, take a moment to pick "their favorite one" and take it off the hook like they were going to the checkout counter at The HomeDepot. And then every once in another while someone ELSE would come back and return one, just as nonchalantly as one would replace their garden hose in the tool shed after watering begonias.
That's when it hit me ... O.M.G ... these things are REUSABLE!!! If you know me AT ALL, you might understand a little of just HOW GROSSED OUT I WAS!!! Listen, I don't even like to share drinking straws. This is like WAY MORE GROSSER! On a scale of 1-10 ... a BAZILLION!! AAAAGH!!!!!
I understand now that the black color isn't to make you think of a Dominatrix but ... oh don't even GO there! I want to die.
When my prep nurse arrived and started swabbing the back of my hand with alcohol and slapping it, looking for a good vein for my IV, I asked her what those long black hoses over there were for, hoping she would say they were for a rooftop herb garden or something.
"Those are the scopes, dear."
I started laughing (I laugh when I'm nervous). "But they're so ... so LONG," I objected!
"Well, so is your colon, dear."
But I was still doing ok. Blood pressure was good, I wasn't sweating, heart rate normal. I was keeping cool ... until they started wheeling my bed towards the room. That's when the fight or flight response kicked in. But where could I go in my bra, socks & gown tied only once at the back of my neck? I'm POSITIVE those gowns double as an incentive for patients to stay put.
Plus, I'll be damned if I'm going to let a full day of near-fasting go to waste!
Omg here we go here we go here we go.
Ok. Deep breath. Here we go.
I caught a glimpse of my prep nurse smiling and giving me a thumbs up (so cute!) as I was wheeled backwards into the procedure room. Oddly enough, I felt a bit better as I returned the gesture.
I remember them being so nice. I remember telling them I'd like to watch it on the screen, if that was ok. They said they'd wake me up for some of it. I remember asking my doctor why on earth she does this for a living. She said it was fascinating. I remember being asked to lay on my side and "just bring your knees up a little bit more" ... (oh god).
I remember the dizzy feeling hit and me saying, "Ok, here it comes." I sort of remember a joke about something ...
I vaguely remember seeing my beautiful, squeaky clean colon on the screen for a moment, just like I'd seen on Dr. Oz ... being told it was done and that my insides were perfect ... no worries.
And then I remember waking up from the best sleep I've ever had in my life. I've never been put under before. MAN those are some seriously nice drugs!
I had an oxygen tube in my nose. Don't know how it got there. It was hurting my ears so I unhooked them but didn't really care the rest was still dangling from my nostrils. I was just so happy to lay there peacefully, thinking it was all done and that I was totally awesome.
The nicest prep nurse in the whole wide world brought me a carrot muffin & an apple juice. Best.food.ever.
Hung out 'til I didn't want to anymore, called for my husband and was home by 11:00 am.
If you've managed to get through my story, I just want to say if you're scared about getting it done, don't be. It really ISN'T BAD.
Seriously, my imagination really psyched me out. But in reality, it is practically painless. I think the tiny little prick from the IV needle hurt most of all!
And I didn't die of embarrassment either.
Remember, I cancelled a colonoscopy 3 or 4 years ago and I've been stressed about it all this time. I probably even have a few extra gray hairs from the worry. But I didn't need to be.
So if you need one, just go get it done ... if only for the bragging rights. And the carrot muffin. And the best nap ever.
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Yep. I'm clicking "Publish." But you already knew that.