On September 13th of last year as I was dropping off my son at school, a friend of mine wished me a happy birthday. At midnight, I had posted a blog entitled I’m a Half Century Old Today! and she shared that she also had just passed the 50-year old mark.
“Did you schedule your colonoscopy?” she asked.
“Huh?” I obviously hadn’t learned much in the way of verbal skills in my first 50 years.
Apparently when you turn 50, it’s time to schedule your first colonoscopy, a procedure in which a fiber optic camera slides up your anus and explores your bowels for possibly cancerous polyps.
It sounds a little gross, but gross doesn’t usually bother me. After all, I have posted blogs about sewage rising up in my daughter’s shower, about how our dogs ate a box of Special K bars and sprayed a pool of diarrhea all over our bedroom rug, how I hate it when automated toilets flush and aerate my deposits all over my behind before I have a chance to stand up, and spending my morning bicep work out plunging my feces-filled toilet.
I have a 6-year old son, so every other word is “poop,” and “butt.” In fact, his teacher took me aside just this morning to tell me that Jake was demonstrating spelling words to his classmates by arranging magnetic letters, prompting the other 1st graders to sound out his word: “butt.”
There’s a good friend of mine who doesn’t read my blog, so I feel pretty safe to anonymously out him about his reaction to finding out he needed to schedule a colonoscopy. Apparently he is quite homophobic and was terrified of the thought of anyone probing his butt hole. I admit to frequently being naïve, but I have to say, this thought had never occurred to me. I wanted to tell him to man up, but perhaps I should come up with another choice of words.
So being the responsible middle aged woman that I now am, I had a gastrointestinal consultation and scheduled my first colonoscopy the week after I started hiatus from work. It took place yesterday. And yes, I was able to walk away from the procedure without looking like my butt cheeks were squeezing a quarter.
The prep began 5 days earlier when I was instructed to stop my daily low-dose aspirin which I take to prevent a heart attack. When in the world did I get so old that one health precaution cancels out another one? Soon I’ll be too senile to remember to take the aspirin, which will be a blessing since I’d rather die of a heart attack in my sleep than spend my last ten years repeatedly asking my caregiver if she gave me my baby aspirin.
Sunday was Mother’s Day and my last day in which I was allowed to eat food. You can bet I made a complete pig of myself. My Mother’s Day request was for my husband Tom to make his delicious jambalaya, so I devoured a huge bowl plus not one, but two pieces of garlic bread. For dessert I had an overflowing bowl of strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream. I was completely stuffed in the way I only feel after Thanksgiving. And like I do every Turkey Day evening, I vowed that I would never eat again.
After ingesting these huge servings and guzzling about a gallon of water, I stepped on the bathroom scale and nearly fainted: 140 lbs! Other than the times I was pregnant with my children, I have never in my life weighed so much! I knew my pants were getting tighter, and this week when the mercury was record breaking, I found that I couldn’t zip up last summer’s shorts. Geez Louise! For a gal who’s just 5 foot 3 inches and seemingly fit, this was a huge eye-opener that I really need to lose a few pounds.
The next day I was put on a clear liquid diet, which was described as any liquid you could see a light bulb through: chicken broth, jello, popsicles, most juices without pulp, or nearly any liquid that wasn’t purple, blue or red. I was still full from the night before so I had a low-carb Monster drink with diet ginger ale and an orange Zip Fizz. Coffee surprisingly was on the acceptable list, but my flavored creamer wasn’t, so I avoided my standard 3-cup diet of morning java.
At 4:00 I was instructed to take 20 mg. of Dulcolax Laxative. A standard dose is 5 mg, so this is quadruple the normal amount for some poor soul who wanted to cure his constipation. Coincidentally, this was a half hour after my 12-year old daughter came home from school and begged me to go to her friend’s house to act as lifeguard so they could escape the 105 degree temperature in the family’s pool. I called the friend’s mom to let her know that this lifeguard might be taking several breaks and most likely stink up her bathroom so badly that it would probably be uninhabitable to the rest of the evening. My daughter who is consistently and devastatingly embarrassed at the mere mention of a bowel movement didn’t make a face or disparaging comment. The girls must have been desperate. I put on my swimsuit (not a pretty sight these days) and lounged by the pool, waiting for the inevitable.
Surprisingly, nothing happened.
At 6:00 I was directed to drink an entire 10 oz. bottle of Magnesium Citrate, a saline laxative with a standard dose of just 1 oz. I chose the lemon flavor and diluted it with Crystal Geiser, and it didn’t taste bad at all. This time I took a few trips to the toilet, but only one time was an emergency. Fortunately we have two bathrooms in our house, and several cans of room freshener.
At 9:00 I was given my final medication: 1 – 238 gm. bottle of Miralax power blended into a 64 oz. bottle of Gatorade. Each bottle holds 14 doses, so you can imagine how effective an entire bottle would be.
It was a strange sensation. Instead of a diarrhea-like substance emitting from my bowels, it was a warm neon yellow liquid. Not at all unpleasant. No, I didn’t take a picture of the aftermath for my blog. Even I have scruples on occasion.
The hardest part was the next morning – the day of the actual colonoscopy. I not only wasn’t allowed my coffee with or without creamer, I wasn’t even able to drink water after 6:30 am. For a gal who drinks about 2 gallons of water each day, this was a hardship.
At 10:30, my husband drove me to the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills where I paid just $125 (thank goodness for health insurance) and slid into a hospital gown. A nurse inserted a saline IV into my arm, attached some oxygen tubes to my nostrils, added some Demerol and Versed to my IV, and in moments I was in La La Land. Apparently I was not officially unconscious, but under a rather light sedation that would give me amnesia so I wouldn’t remember the procedure.
Bummer. I thought I would be able to see the camera traveling up my bowels, similar to the old Monsanto Adventure Thru Inner Space ride at Disneyland where you were miniaturized and taken on a journey inside the atoms of a snowflake.
I awoke an hour later, sleepy and a little disorientated, but able to walk and talk in semi-intelligible sentences. I came home, went back to bed, and slept until 4:00.
Then I weighed myself. No food for the last 44 hours. Nothing to drink for most of the previous 16 hours. Plus 28 doses of laxatives. The result:
10 lbs. lost in 2 days.
Today I’m back up to 132 lbs. Probably time to renew my YMCA gym membership and lose weight the right way.