First, let me say that colon cancer is serious stuff. In no way do I mean to make light of this disease OR the procedure that is so important to early detection. Doctors say you should have a baseline colonoscopy when you’re 50 (I AM NOT 50).
Second, this post is as long as my colon. I could’ve broken it into two parts, but I think, like my colon, it should be kept intact.
Third, I have an idea. Everyone loves to Xerox their butt, right? So why can’t they invent something that combines the fun of this merry prank with the medical mumbo-jumbo and let us plant our naked butts on a some kind of fancy machine that sees right up into you?
Well, until they invent that, I had to fast for a day, drink some vile stuff, and get a tube shoved up my colon.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Is anyone ever prepared for a finger up the butt? I know I wasn’t. But that would be the first of many indignities I would suffer on my road to a colonoscopy.
The day before a colonoscopy, you can eat only see-through liquids. For some reason, this includes popsicles and Jell-O. Also, broth, apple juice, 7-UP, and, of course, water. I tried spreading out a piece of pizza till it was almost see-through, but I suspected that might be considered cheating.
I will not lie. Fasting is hard for a girl like me. A popsicle is no substitute for Lucky Charms. Chicken broth does not even remotely resemble a Big Mac. And Jell-O can in no way be mistaken for ice cream. But you have to do it. A friend told me that if I cheated, I’d be sorry. “There’s just that much more to come out,” she said.
If I don’t eat, no one does
But fasting isn’t enough. You have to make sure every particle of Jell-O is gone. For this, you get TriLyte powder. You start drinking it around 6 PM: an 8-oz glass every 5-10 minutes. You can stop drinking once your “stools are clear.” Um . . . I’ve never seen a clear stool. Does it look like glass? I’m rather intrigued and skeptical. Also, I’ve grown to really hate the word “stool.”
The TriLyte powder comes in a handy 4-liter plastic jug and five (5!) delicious flavor packs. Well, they have to make it taste good, right? So then how come the instructions suggest that “drinking with a straw may help bypass some of the taste”? I also read that “chilling the solution improves the taste.” Well, thanks for telling me that four seconds before I have to start swigging.
TriLyte jug, Magnesium Citrate, “flavor” packs
Here are the directions on the TriLyte jug:
- TriLyte with flavor packs can be used with or without the addition of one flavor pack.
- If you prefer an unflavored solution (boy, that sounds appealing), discard the flavor packs (why, are they toxic?) and proceed to step 5.
- If you prefer a flavored solution, proceed to step 2.
- Choose one of the flavor packets.
Were these instructions written for newborn babies?
But then how stupid do I feel when I don’t read step 3 to find out you have to put the flavor pack in BEFORE the water. Duh.
From my flavor choices, I choose pineapple. It smells OK, and there is a cheery little pineapple on the packet. I bet this is going to taste just like a pina colada . . .
. . . This tastes nothing like a pina colada. Oh, my god. Where’s my straw? Bypass! Bypass!
(Later I read on a colonoscopy message board some apt descriptions of the TriLyte solution: “thick consistency with salty aftertaste,” “like Alka Seltzer but without the fizz,” “oily dishwater liquid,” and my favorite and perhaps the most accurate: “a jug of elephant semen.”)
Luckily I “only” had to drink about 3 liters of the elephant semen, which I managed to do in about an hour and a half. All in all, I probably made about 176 trips to the bathroom, although I’ll admit that a few of those were just to see how much weight I’d lost (grand total: 5 lbs). To keep my mind off the horror of it all, I watched eppies of 30 Rock. Now just the sight of Tina Fey brings on the uncontrolllable urge to poo.
I was pretty much finished by 10:30 and fell into a troubled but uninterrupted sleep.
I woke up nervous and dehydrated. But despite feeling emptier than a hobo’s wallet, I still wasn’t done. I had to drink a 10-oz bottle of Magnesium Citrate at least 3 hours before the procedure.
The recommended flavor is lemon-lime, but my pharmacy didn’t have that, so I got “original flavor.” Great. What does that taste like, phlegm?
Mmmm. Fizzy phlegm.
Yup! It’s phlegm! Oh, and remember when I said I was “pretty much finished” at 10:30 the night before? Drinking this stuff ensured that I was most definitely NOT finished. I was not finished by the time my mom came to pick me up, I was not finished on the ride to the hospital, and I was not finished when we got to the waiting room.
After about 20 minutes, I was taken to a room where my underpants were confiscated. I expressed my concern of “not being finished” all over the operating table, but the nurse assured me that “everything will be sucked out through the scope.” Well. OK, then.
I was nervous lying there. All I could think about was an air bubble in my saline IV. A nurse walked in and cracked a huge yawn. “Oh! I’m so sleepy!” she exclaimed. Great.
Did I mention my doctor is hot? I’m so glad they didn’t make me wear a shower cap over my beautifully curled hair. Wait, no one is wearing a cap. WHY? Don’t they care about a stray hair getting into my colon?
Hot Doctor says some stuff and tells me to roll over onto my left. I’m about to complain that I’m more comfortable on my right, but BLAM! I’m out.
Then, BLAM! I’m awake and feeling perfectly fine, if a bit groggy. The whole thing took about an hour, and everything looked normal (yay!). I have the most delicious apple juice of my life. A kind nurse tells me to pass some gas, but I’m way ahead of her.
To the attendants of the waiting room washroom: For the love of god, please use softer toilet paper. I probably visited your otherwise clean and lovely washroom 17 times, and each trip ended in mind-numbing pain.
If You Need a Colonoscopy
- Stock up on extra-soft TP or better still, something like this.
- Eat a light, low-fiber diet the day before. It’s all coming out, so the less there is, the better.
- Don’t choose pineapple.
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