When it comes to colonoscopies, blood is bad. So, in preparation for my first scope, I decided to forego eating red Jello. After all, gelatin comes in a cornucopia of fun flavors. Surely I could thrive on a diet of non-red liquid. The first beverage I enjoyed was white grape juice, my childhood favorite. I hadn’t tasted juice this rich since Dr. Atkins wrote that, for the carbs, I might as well do chocolate-syrup shooters.
The apple juice I had for lunch was satisfying. Maybe liquid dieting was the Golden Ticket for weight loss that had eluded me for so long. Water at 1 p.m. was a filling snack. “Who needs solid food?”” Then it hit me…the mother of all hunger pangs. “EAT SOMETHING NOW OR YOU’LL DIE!” my body screamed. I wanted to obey.
Ultimately, common sense prevailed. If other people could endure the torture, so too could I. So, that night, while my family pigged out on pepperoni pizza, I sipped chicken broth and hot tea, suffering in silence.
Then I returned to my instructions. Drink laxative and take four Simethecone tablets. Never having suffered from irregularity, I was unfamiliar with the effectiveness of Simethecone-based products. I am a believer now! Sixteen seconds after taking Gas-X, I hit the ground running. My entire evening was peppered with record-breaking sprints to facilities ill-prepared for the onslaught. I spent more time that night in our master bathroom than in my bed.
As we drove to the doctor’s office the next morning, my frantic visit to an outhouse near the ranger station left a janitorial trail of tears. When we finally arrived, a nurse led me to the chamber of horrors. She picked up a clipboard and grilled me, “Have you followed the protocol?” Before answering, I had to excuse myself so that I could defile the doctor’s restroom.
Upon my return, I admitted that I had thrown up several times after taking the laxatives. The nurse’s smile faded as she set down my record, “Just a minute.”
I wanted to tackle her. “Don’t tell the doctor. Come back. My colon is immaculate.”
When he entered the room, Dr. Chen spoke in a quick, accusatory tone. “You throw up laxative? Your colon not clean.”
“You refuse to do procedure. I cannot do scope. Go home. Come back other time.”
Broken as his English was, I gathered that my 36-hour visit to hell had been for naught. Sensing violence on the horizon, the nurse came to my rescue. “Doctor, we can give her another laxative and do the procedure later.”
Grateful, I sucked down the third potion, determined to keep it down. The problem was that my body has a very good short-term memory. The brine had barely hit my stomach when I felt Mt. St. Helens erupt…
When Dr. Chen returned, he chided me. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“You cannot vomit. If you not cooperate, I not do procedure.” I remained silent but wanted to ask where he had attended med school… Auschwitz?
Thankfully, the nurse and anesthetist were on my side. “I think she has been cooperative,” said one. “Yes. We should proceed,” added the other. Now these were my kind of people… supportive and equipped with serious sedation.
I don’t remember much after the IV emptied happy-juice into my ever-appreciative arm. When I woke up, my mouth felt like the march-site for the Chinese army.
“Wuf ma cola clip?” I managed.
The nurses answered, “Your colon was clear but we couldn’t finish the procedure. You had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.”
“I yim hit,” I slurred.
“Yes. We know you’re hot. You have a fever. We gave you Benadryl when your entire body turned red and swelled.”
Only after coming out of anesthesia did I fully appreciate the impact of what the nurses had said. I had to repeat the procedure. They had to do it again.
I woke up just as itchy and hot after attempt #2. Apparently, allergies aside, my body doesn’t like being probed by the steaming hot poker of death.
Two weeks later, I spoke with Dr. Chen about my test results. “Come have new test in 2009,” he urged.
I agreed to return. After all, I dropped five pounds. And this method was, at least, easier than Atkins. So I’ll see Dr. Chen again in three years. And I’ll try to follow his final words of advice, “Just next time no throw up!”