Reflections on a Colonoscopy

(As he did last year, The Curmudgeon is taking off the rest of August for a little R & R. While he’s gone he’ll fill this space with encore presentations – okay, reruns – of some of his favorite past posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He’s doing this so you won’t forget him because despite all the bravado and bluster he’s one pretty insecure fellow.  During his absence the serialization of Taking Care of Business will continue every Sunday. The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon will return the Tuesday after Labor Day.)

(While even the casual visitor to this site might conclude that The Curmudgeon has at least some aesthetic sensibility, he remains nonetheless a boy from a working-class background and, as such, will seldom let pass a legitimate opportunity to write or talk about passing gas, as he did in this March 2014 piece.)

The Curmudgeon underwent a colonoscopy last Thursday.  He’ll spare you the gory details, but the experience did have its lighter moments.

*            *            *

As anyone who’s had a colonoscopy knows, the hard part’s not the procedure; it’s the evening before, when you, um, prepare your colon for proper viewing.  So when The Curmudgeon arrived at the facility where the procedure was to be performed and was greeted by a cheerful receptionist who inquired, “How are you doing this morning?” he couldn’t help but smile and reply, “You know why I’m here, so you know exactly how I’m doing this morning.”

*            *            *

Getting to that point involved one obstacle The Curmudgeon hadn’t anticipated:  the stuff you have to drink to launch the…process.  He wouldn’t have imagined this possible, but the stuff tasted worse than the barium you drink before a high-contrast CAT scan – and he has had to drink a LOT of that stuff over the past six years.  This stuff was worse, much worse, and drinking it at 3:00 a.m. made it even harder.

*            *            *

So why was The Curmudgeon drinking that awful potion at three in the morning?  This was his third colonoscopy in the past eight years – he has issues – and each time, the day-before regimen was slightly different.  This time around, the regimen was divided into two parts.  The first part begins late in the afternoon the day before and lasts, if you’d like to put it that way, about four hours.  The second part begins five hours before the procedure is scheduled to be done, or in this case, at 3:00 a.m.  Since this part of the process also takes four hours, it means that the only sleep you’re going to get that night is finished by 3:00, which in turn means that in addition to everything else, you’re pretty exhausted, with sleep deprivation added to, er, depletion exhaustion.

*            *            *

Did you know that QVC and HSN are still pitching their products at four in the morning?  The Curmudgeon didn’t before, but he knows now.

*            *            *

When The Curmudgeon asked one of the nurses about the new colonoscopy prep regimen, she explained that the doctors say it gives them a better “view.”

No explanation needed beyond that.

*            *            *

Before the procedure, you’re interviewed briefly by the anesthesiologist.  Is it just The Curmudgeon’s own, somewhat limited experience or does it seem like anesthesiologists have the kind of personality you’d expect among people whose job it is to put other people to sleep?

*            *            *

When the gastroenterologist entered the procedure room right before the anesthesiologist was to do his thing, he was nattily attired in a tie and dress shirt with long sleeves rather than scrubs or a lab coat (the anesthesiologist was wearing scrubs).  Then, after the procedure, same thing:  tie, dress shirt, no lab coat or scrubs.  That left The Curmudgeon wondering:  does he not even need to roll up his sleeves to go in there, to do that?

*            *            *

While lying on his side on a gurney and waiting for the anesthesia to wear off, The Curmudgeon heard one nurse say to another, “We went to Ideal the other day to pick up my daughter’s prom dress.”

Though still in his semi-stupor, The Curmudgeon called out “Do you have a passion for fashion?”

(Sorry:  only readers native to the Philadelphia area will get this.)

And the second nurse responded, “Do you have a craving for saving?”

Whereupon the three of us sang, in perfect harmony, “Take the wheel of your automobile and swing on down to Ideal.”

*            *           *

After a colonoscopy you’re generally in a little discomfort that’s caused by the introduction of air into your colon as part of the procedure.  Consequently, this is perhaps the only time in life when people will actively encourage you to break wind.  This may be every red-blooded male’s dream.  Some of the nurses, though, are more enthusiastic about this than others.  At one point, the nurse closed the curtain so The Curmudgeon could be alone with his, um, with his wind, and when he issued forth some with particular volume, she offered “Good one” from the other side of the curtain.  It was all The Curmudgeon could do at that point to resist proposing marriage to her.

*            *            *

Once your head clears to the point where you’re ready to sit up, the nurses offer the patient refreshments:  in this case, juice and graham crackers.  More than anything else, it reminded The Curmudgeon of second grade and left him wondering whatever happened to Miss Silverman?

*            *            *

The day before a colonoscopy, the closest you can come to eating solid food is jello.  The Curmudgeon’s been through enough digestive issues in his life during which jello was his primary sustenance that he’s developed a serious aversion to it, though.  Even so, he made some the night before his day of fasting was to begin, discouraged because all the potentially good flavors – as if there was such a thing as a good flavor of jello – were unavailable to him because the doctor forbids you from choosing any flavor that’s red or purple (because any that remains in your system looks like blood).  As he expected, though, The Curmudgeon could never bring himself to have so much as a single spoonful, so the evening after the colonoscopy, he removed the lemon jello from the refrigerator to dispose of it.  He was too tired to do the dinner dishes, though – a real rarity:  The Curmudgeon always does his dishes after dinner – so the following morning, the lemon jello still sat where he had left it, on his kitchen counter.  He picked it up, assuming he could just pour it down the drain.  Nothing doing:  it was as solid as it had been when he had removed it from the refrigerator fourteen hours earlier.  He then left it to address with that night’s dinner dishes, in ten hours, at which time it was still as solid as it had been twenty-four hours earlier when he removed it from the fridge.  What do they put in that stuff?

*            *            *

The Curmudgeon’s gait has now returned to normal – if you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, you know what he’s talking about – and he’s happy to report that nothing intestinal is going to interrupt his curmudgeonly observations in the foreseeable future.

But he’s still thinking about that “good one” nurse.

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  • Barb  On August 17, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    LOL What is it about colonoscopies? I wrote a blog about mine, too. You made me laugh.

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On August 18, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Like first kisses and prom dates, colonoscopies are a rite of passage; those of us of…a certain age have all had them and share the experience.

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