Since mid-afternoon yesterday, I’ve been going through something that all of you over-50 True Believers should have some experience with – prepping for this afternoon’s colonoscopy.
Yes, I’m really going to write about this.
For those of you who may not be familiar with what exactly a colonoscopy is, the term is a combination of “colon,” meaning your large intestine, and “scopy,” which describes a visual examination. Since the doctor can’t really visually examine your colon with the naked eye (and probably wouldn’t really want to) they use an instrument that is essentially a camera on the end of a length of garden hose.
As you might imagine, an examination of the walls of the colon requires the colon to be free of the stuff that your colon accumulates. So the prep involves getting rid of all that.
This prep has two parts:
- A clear-liquid diet, beginning 24 hours before the procedure
- A “purge.”
And when they say “purge,” boy howdy, they are not kidding. The purge began with four little pills, washed down with about a quart of Gatorade – it’s important to keep your electrolytes balanced in such matters.
Fortunately the pre-procedure instructions warn one to stay close to the bathroom when beginning the process, and that’s advice well taken. The pills in question are standard over-the-counter laxatives; one is the standard dose for a bad bout of constipation.
I took four. Then, two hours later, I got to drink a huge laxative cocktail.
For the first three hours, I purged everything I had eaten for the last week. I think I purged some things I hadn’t eaten; I would not have been surprised to have passed my shoes. I think I actually passed some Army C-rations that I ate in the early 1980s.
It didn’t stop there. It kept going. This wasn’t just a purge, it was a second career. It was awe-inspiring in a way; I think the amount of material I extruded was more than my actual body mass, which is not inconsiderable.
When I finally got a break, all I could do was collapse, sweaty and exhausted, on the bed.
Follow-up incidents ensued, but nothing so dramatic as the initial download. By the time I was finished, I was passing basically clear liquid – which was all I was allowed to take in. The only words that came to mind were “holy shit,” which is probably the second-worst play on words that I’ve ever uttered in my life.
Now, this early Friday morning, I’m still on clear liquids. At a little after my lunchless noon, my wife will drive me to the gastroenterologist’s office, where I am reliably informed I will be sedated (for which the doctor will have my eternal gratitude) and the examination performed. If all goes well, I will be home an hour or so later.
And thus the saga of aging continues.
I am (again) reliably informed that a clean bill of health ensures a ten-year span until the next such event, at which time I will be in my mid-sixties.
As the saying goes, growing older sucks – until you consider the alternative. I will personally attest to the accuracy of that statement.