There are two things about getting older that ring true with every year. The first is that time really does fly by, and the second is that taking care of one’s health is crucial.
I had my annual physical last month and came through it with no red flags or warning signs. So far God has seen fit to bless me with good health and, for that, I’m extremely grateful. In the process of completing the physical my doctor reminded me that it was time for another colonoscopy.
“Surely not” I said. “It’s been five years since the last one? Check that again…please.”
He assured me that his records were correct and after thinking about it, I knew he was right. My last colonoscopy was in 2011. It was the day after a massive hail and rainstorm in our city and a tree had fallen across our driveway preventing me from getting my car out. After going through what one has to endure to prepare for this procedure, I was not going to reschedule no matter what. So, I walked up to our neighbor’s house, borrowed his car and kept moving. That day is such a vivid memory that it probably explains why I doubted that five years had passed.
My family physician scheduled the procedure for me and the next day I received a call from the office of the physician who would be attending to me. This person gave me some instructions on when to arrive and what (or what not) to eat and drink the day before, then ordered a prescription that I would pick up from the drug store.
As most people over age fifty know, there really is nothing to dread about a colonoscopy. Other than a small needle stuck in a vein for an IV, it’s pretty painless. For most of the time, the patient is asleep…no big deal.
As for the preparation, that’s another matter entirely.
The day before the procedure is an all-liquid day. No solid food. No red or purple drinks. For someone like me, who LOVES to eat, this is a supreme hardship. I finally convinced myself that I could handle it for one day and paid a visit to the local Kroger. The objective was to assemble a collection of liquids that might actually taste good enough to get me through an entire day. Here’s a picture of a few of the things I came up with.
In addition to the broths, I picked up a box of Lime Jell-O. It has been five years since I made Lime Jell-O…same reason as this year. It came out well. I have posted a picture of a plateful that accompanied my beef broth lunch. This meal was repeated for dinner except that chicken broth was a substitute for beef. I floated through this by telling myself that there was a BIG hamburger and platter of fries in my future.
After dinner it was time for phase two.
Phase two consists of drinking 16 ounces of a liquid and two 16 ounce cups of water within the period of an hour. I don’t care what anybody says, this is not fun. The liquid prep tastes like stale, semi-sweet lemon juice that is thicker than cough syrup. I placed the bottles in the bathroom and stared at them for about five minutes before I opened them. Once the bottle was opened I poured the contents in the cup that came with the prescription and slammed it down. Just as quickly, I filled the cup with water and slammed it down as well. I had an hour to drink the second cup of water, but I wanted to get this over, so I only waited about ten minutes and consumed the second cup in one draught. Done…now the wait begins.
The instructions that came with the prep mixture explained that the quality of a colonoscopy requires a clean colon. OK…I’m working on it. It took about two hours for the beef broth, chicken broth and Jell-O to head south.
Next comes phase three, the tough phase.
I was instructed to repeat phase two beginning at 2:00 am the following morning. The alarm was set, and when it went off I knew that I was through sleeping for the night. I swallowed everything down and went to the man cave to watch a television show on my DVR that I had saved for occasions like this. The television show was a three hour documentary on the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Watching brave men face Nazi gunfire while attacking Omaha Beach helped reassure me that, while colonoscopy prep is bad, things could be worse. March on.
Helen (adorable wife) drove me to the hospital and we arrived at exactly 8:00 am as instructed. Registration was completed quickly and a hospital volunteer named Andy escorted me to the waiting room where I was met by a very pleasant nurse. She gave me a gown and a pair of surgical socks and left as I changed clothes.
I was visited next by the anesthesiologist. He was equally pleasant and seemed very young, but at my age, everybody who is still working seems young to me. We had a nice conversation and went through a list of routine questions. When he wrapped up, the nice nurse came back to insert the port for the IV. This was the only uncomfortable part of the entire morning, but I’m such a wimp when it comes to needles. I asked her if she had ever done this before. She smiled broadly before she demonstrated her skills and inserted the needle. I concluded that this was not her first rodeo.
After that, I was placed on a hospital bed, covered with a warm sheet and waited to be rolled into the room where I would receive the scope. While waiting, I heard a female voice calling my name. This person was lying on the bed immediately behind me and I couldn’t see her face. When I asked her to tell me who she was, I learned that it was one of my friends who having the same procedure. She was waiting to be rolled into the room next to mine. I told her we had to stop meeting like this.
Once I was in the room, I was greeted by several nurses who couldn’t have been more accommodating and comforting. These people were great. The doctor also came in. It had been five years since I had seen him. He said it was good to see me again, but I’m not sure if he really remembered me. Nevertheless, he was good to spend some time with me before the anesthesia hit. It hit quickly…lights out.
The next thing I knew, it was about forty minutes later and I was coming to in a recovery room. Another nurse, just as pleasant and professional as the others, was making sure I was in good shape. She let me know that I passed the test with flying colors, but that the doctor would be in to go over the results of the procedure. I asked for a cheeseburger. She gave me a Sprite.
The doctor told me that he found nothing but a clean colon. He also told me that I didn’t need to come back for another round of this for ten years. That was the best news of the day. We chatted for a few more minutes. I asked him if he would be doing the next procedure ten years from now. He assured me he had other plans.
I dressed and was escorted to a wheelchair and rolled out to the discharge area and waited for Helen to bring the car around.
Next stop, Waffle House! Order up one All-Star Special…hold the Jell-O!
Time to be Easin’ Along!