Monday, April 6, 2009

Cleansing The Temple

My apologies, if you are looking for something high minded after reading the title. Truth is, I was doing my devotional this morning and that is the caption for today, the Monday of Holy Week. I had to laugh at the irony because today- (warning-for those of you who think I share too much, turn away now) today I started "preparation" for my "procedure." These are two words which will never have the same meaning for me.

A while back I wrote that I had a series of "itisis's" (i.e. appendicitis and two weeks later diverticulitis) As a result of the latter I do not have to wait till I'm 50 to get everyone's favorite "procedure", the colonoscopy. Dave Barry wrote an hilarious story about his experience some time ago. You can find it here. To start you off, here is an excerpt:

...I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis. Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, ``HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BUTT!''

Now no one really explained the details to me but I looked it up and Dave pretty much has it right as near as I can tell.

My doctor's office called me in a prescription that I was to pick up. I knew what it was:

..a prescription for a product called ''MoviPrep,'' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's enemies.

Except mine had a different name but still with a huge box with those big blue letters on the side that are not covered up by the HEB grocery plastic bag they force it into at the pharmacy. This means you must walk through the store with a bag that announces "BOWEL PREP KIT" for all the world to know. The fun has just begun. The pharmacy (stupid kid) could not find the prescription at first (namely because it was so dang big they had to keep it in another building) and asked me if I knew what the prescription was. With a line of people behind me I lied through my teeth and said "no."

Like Dave:

...I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. ...

My particular brand of "prep" came with flavor packs. I could choose between pineapple, lemon/lime, cherry or orange. I chose lemon/lime. Mixed it up and placed it in the fridge. The first step was two take two sticks of dynamite that were disguised to look like pills. I was to then wait for that first explosion, otherwise known as a bowel movement which would occur (like the cable guy) sometime today. Luckily, and I use the word loosely, (sorry unintentional bad pun) I did not have to wait 6 hours for things to start hoppin. At the 9 o'clock -H hour, the war began.

After dynamiting the dam, it was time to open the floodgates on what was left. I was to begin drinking the "solution" in 8 ounce increments every 10 minutes. Dave Barry said the stuff he drank:

...tastes -- and here I am being kind -- like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon....

I am happy to report that this is no longer the case as they have improved the taste of urinal cleanser since he wrote that. Actually, the taste was more akin to purified paper with just a hint of lemon. The more I drank, the less I tasted the lemon.

Mr Barry describes the next 3 hours thus:

The instructions ..., clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ''a loose watery bowel movement may result.'' This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.
(this stuff) is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space shuttle launch? This is pretty much the... experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, ... your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

During my experience the letters on the box began to transform. I first read HalfLifetely instead of HalfLytely and thought that was because half of you had passed in the form of water. Then the Flyte part of the name came to mind as you made your umpteenth flight to the bathroom. It was not a shuttle experience. The shuttle does not have the same power and after a while it feels like you were passing a Brillo pad. This stuff is nothing but food poisoning in a bottle.

After the first 30 minutes I began to get very cold. I think this was due to the fact that all of that fertilizer inside of me had been working like a compost heap and giving off heat. As it left the room so did my heat source.

After about three hours, the tide has turned. Halflytely has done its job-I hope. I see my doctor occasionally when I take my youngest to cubscouts camping. Like Dave I am a bit nervous:

...Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of spurtage. I was thinking, ''What if I spurt on Andy?'' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

For now, its more broth. Tomorrow is part 2


eulogos said...

I expect it was called halflytely because it is half as strong as the previous prep, colyte. As a nurse, I had plunked gallons of colyte on many a bedside table and said, "Drink!" We always included a bedside commode with the package. If we were unable to get the patient to drink enough, the doctors would send them back to us as "inadequately prepped" along with some unpleasant words about wasting their time. After a while, though, we switched to doing preps with Magnesium Citrate, a much much smaller bottle of mouth puckering stuff, but which people found far easier to get down. Still, there were people who wouldn't drink it all, or who poured it down the drain when we weren't looking, and the resultant angry docs.

I therefore dreaded my own colonscopy. However when the time came, they just told me to take a lot of Senokot, and stick to clear liquids. The Senokot was not doing anything. Colyte requires a prescription, but you can get Mag Citrate over the counter, and I sent my husband out to get some.
The combination resulted in a perfectly clean bowel, which I was able to see on the scope screen before I agreed to let them give me conscious sedation when they had a difficult time getting past the first bend.

The whole experience was far less traumatic than I had feared...and I had dreaded it for years.

The same goes, by the way, for my cataract surgery. I dreaded that for years also, and it was nothing.

Susan Peterson

eutychus said...

Thanks for your stories. I have a lot of respect for nurses as my mom was one for many years.

I must say, all kidding aside the prep was really no big deal and very effective. And I don't think the doctor was mad at anybody. :-)

I'm glad you enjoyed the posts and got a chuckle from them.