Your Colon and You

Several years ago, I had some pretty bad heartburn.  Antacids were my best friends.  Figured the reasons were that my diet sucked, I ate too much, and I was overweight.  Turns out, I was right.  Oh yeah, I also had acid reflux.  So my gastrointestinal doctor gave me two choices: either go on medication to control the acid, or lose weight and exercise.  Now I’m one of those people that really tries not to take every medication that man has ever created.  I have to be in serious pain to even pop acetaminophen.

So I opted for the second one, you know, that “lose weight and exercise” silliness.  A couple months later, I was on the medication, and never looked back.

Now every couple years, the good Doctor refuses to refill my prescription that turned my life around, and wants to physically see me in his office.  Demanding as all hell.  So two years ago, he was going over my chart and we realized that I was quickly approaching 40.  He smiled and said to me, “Normally I recommend my male patients to get a colonoscopy at the age of 45. But because of your family history, I want to see you at 40.”  I smiled, shook his hand, and cheefully said, “See you next year!” and left.

I turned 40, and avoided calling him for the entire year.  But, when I turned 41, a few revelations hit in a blur:

  • Over the year I found out that colon cancer also ran on my father’s side.
  • A former coworker, years younger than me, is battling colon cancer.
  • I had walking pneumonia for over a month and a half, and finally realized that my health was not of the same ilk as Clark Kent.
  • My latest prescription ran out, and my doctor wanted to see me.

So I sucked it up, called and went in to see him.  The colonoscopy was scheduled, and they handed me all the informational paperwork that I would need.  I didn’t glance at any of it until a week before the procedure.  I was in fear.  Not of the procedure itself, hell I’d be knocked out, they could play spades on my ass for three hours and I could care less.  No, I feared “the cleansing.”

Now, I don’t normally mention brands by name, but I have to give credit to two absolutely amazing pharmaceutical creations that can alter a man’s existence in profound ways: Dulcolax and Miralax.  I had heard of Dulcolax before, and figured I wouldn’t be introduced to that until I was happily into my 60’s and stopped up like a bathroom sink in an all-girls dorm.  But Miralax… never heard of it.  But I can only imagine they named it for “Miracle Laxative”, because I can tell you, there is no doubt in my mind that there is some kind of divine power in that bottle’s powder.  I was surely cleansed of evils.

I also was not allowed to eat any solid foods from the evening before the cleansing. So my lovely wife did the shopping for me and picked up Jell-O, ice pops, plain chicken broth, and a variety of drinks that could be mixed with the Miralax to make 32 ounces of the deity drink.

So the day before the procedure is the Cleansing Day.  I plan to go to work for a half day, and leave in the early afternoon to head home.  Working an hour from home negates starting these festivities at work.  It could get messy quickly, and my truck has cloth seats.  I arrive home a few hours before the party starts, down some more water, “eat” some Jell-O and chicken broth, and start to plan.

As this whole thing is all new, and generally people don’t talk about things such as this over lunch, I have no clue as to what to expect, so I plan for the worst.  I charge my iPhone so I can have email and gaming access.  I place my Kindle in the bathroom’s magazine rack for a good read.  I get my laptop charged, and put a tray table in there for it.  I put on sweatpants for the easy off, and put on sneakers so I have good traction and speed for my inevitable sprints.  I… Am… Ready.

So right on time I do as instructed and pop two of the pills and down 8 ounces of the god drink.  I slam the glass down, in beer-chug-winning style, and smile.  Bring it on.

Now, I am expecting something earth-shattering within five minutes of this.  At ten minutes I start looking at the clock.  I feel fine, normal.  At 20 minutes I’m starting to pace.  At the 30 minute mark I have to swig another 8 ounces of the jesus juice.  Forty-five minutes in, I’m checking the status of the laptop, reading material and the supply of TP again.  At the one hour mark, I have another 8 ounces, and am starting to feel disappointed… and terrified.

I have now had the two laxative pills and 24 ounces of a concoction that promises “A completely different kind of constipation relief.”  Seriously, how absolutely horrifying is this situation?  At this point I’m considering grabbing some duct tape from the basement and wrapping it around my midsection to prevent some kind of catastrophic explosion.  My imagination had me sprinting up the stairs, awful things happening to me, turning around and seeing my two children’s panicked, aghast, crying faces… my wife running and scooping them away yelling “Look away!  For all that is holy, LOOK  AWAY!!”

But nothing.  No cramps, no odd sensations at all.  Despite this, I am still afraid to sit down.

Not ten minutes later, all of that changed.

A strange sound came from the lower left of my abdomen, definitely below my stomach which had ceased it’s hunger growling several hours before.  It was almost the sound that a baby makes when it is straining to reach for a rattle you are dangling over it’s head.  Almost cute.  A feeling of euphoria came over me, as I realized that soon it would start, and would not end my life in a fecal-filled explosion in my kitchen.  Only 15 seconds after, another sound, this time that of a small child who is unhappy that they will be getting brussel sprouts for dinner instead of chicken fingers.  Euphoria soon changed to concern because that not-too-cute sound was accompanied by a slight cramp.

I was on the move, not waiting for further developments, but being proactive and planning ahead.  I was proud of myself.  I reached the top of the stairs without incident, and stood there relieved that my overactive imagination was proven wrong.

What happened next was that I was assaulted by a strange vibration in my abdomen, accompanied by what could only be described as the sound of an industrial dishwasher draining it’s waters into the sewer.  I was no longer proud.

I made it, and I will spare you those details that follow.

As I returned to the downstairs, I realized it was time for the last 8 ounces of the miracle of miracles.  For the next two hours, I checked a lot of email, played a lot of games, and did some serious reading.  So I consider my time there very productive.  At times I thought of the scene from the movie, Dumb and Dumber, where Lloyd spikes Harry’s drink with laxatives, and we see Harry’s bathroom time.  It wasn’t far off.  I recommend seeing the movie several times.

At a few minutes before 8:00, I again returned to the downstairs, my children already down for their slumber… how I missed seeing them.   Now having that “not so fresh” feeling, I looked at the instructions again, and realized I now had to take two more Dulcolax pills.  Those sadistic bastards!

My evening was spent like anyone would spend it after a full beef fajita burrito washed down with four beers and topped off with a dozen Buffalo wings.  Although, my beef fajita burrito was chicken broth, my wings was quivering Jell-O and my four beers were the cups of divinity.

By bedtime I was in much better shape, and I was able to sleep peacefully.  When I awoke my guts still had some fun with me, and I was rather amazed I still had any fluid in my body.  Because of morbid curiosity, which drives a good portion of my life, I got on the scale.  In a 24-hour period, I lost almost five pounds.  To me, that’s impressive.

The hour-long trip, and the procedure itself were very benign.  I’m hoping the two polyps they removed also come back the same way.  BUT because they did find some, that means I get to go through this every three years now.

I think in 2013 I’m going to go for six pounds!  One has to challenge oneself, right?

One comment

  1. Great post. I had essentially the same experience for my first colonoscopy. I’m not an old man like you but I did have a, “scare” we’ll call it. The details of which I’d rather not go into. There was a different miracle “cleansing product” that I was directed to that had the same effect, as it were. The name of it escapes me currently however.

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