Roger Marolt: Roger This
December 6, 2012
Which would you rather talk about this week, the fiscal cliff or my colonoscopy? Hmmm … that’s what I thought. Dumb question.
As you know, there are two distinct camps on this issue, and they are so far apart in their views that it’s almost impossible to see any way they can reconcile their differences and come to an agreement about this. It’s discouraging.
On one side, you have those who believe that the procedure is an opportunity for renewal. They look forward to the complete cleansing of their insides. The 36-hour fast beforehand is an opportunity for growth in self-awareness, undistracted from things like T-bone steaks and Nutty Buddy ice-cream-like treats. Clear broth and Jell-O that is not dyed red or purple are pure foods that won’t bog you down along this short section of life’s journey. These folks wish that the procedure was a semiannual ritual that begins the first year out of college rather than the once-every-10-years-after-you-turn-50 obligation it is now.
The others are those who believe the colonoscopy to be a torturous procedure barely disguised by the medical profession as a necessary preventive measure that is actually retaliation against the masses who have demanded health care reform with low insurance premiums and free prescription samples. It’s a conspiracy. They can’t prove it, so they have to go along with it.
Most people land somewhere between these two extreme views on the colonoscopy. We rarely hear from them, though. It’s not from our desire to only hear the sensationalism; it’s because people with common sense don’t like to talk about a medical probe of their bowels. The result of this modest practicality is that those facing their first colonoscopy proceed with a great deal of uncertainty from lack of reliable information.
I’ll admit that picking up my $103 Bowel Preparation Kit at Carl’s Pharmacy a few days before the procedure gave me the jitters. It wasn’t the thought of taking the medication so much as it was that they put the box into a white, plastic grocery bag with a gigantic, creepy, round, yellow smiley face on it. I realize this was done to protect my privacy; still, I wondered what that face knew that I didn’t.
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The mysterious prescription sat on the top of my refrigerator, hidden in an empty salad bowl in its smiley-face bag, for a few days, safely out of view from any guests who might drop by and otherwise be tempted to inquire. The pharmacist made a big deal about taking this medicine exactly as prescribed, so when I was safely alone, I would pull out the instructions and study.
“Mix one bottle with 16 ounces of water the evening before your procedure and follow up by drinking two more 16-ounce glasses of water within the next hour. Repeat this with the second bottle of medicine the next morning at least three hours before your procedure.”
Simple enough. With all that water, at least I wasn’t going to be dehydrated.
Little did I know. They say that taking this medication is the worst part of having a colonoscopy, and they are right! The stuff tastes like Gatorade concentrate in which a rusty lug nut has been submerged since before it was rusty. The 48 ounces of liquid consumed in an hour made me feel bloated to the brink of nausea. But not for long, oh no – not for very long at all!
Within half an hour, I was on the pot feeling like my bowels had been evacuated up to my tonsils. If someone had told me that my very soul had gone out of my body with everything else, I would have put up no argument. So empty did I feel that the only thought I had was, “What can possibly be the purpose of repeating this process in the morning?”
Well, I did anyway, and the process went more quickly the second time … much more quickly. With all the internal conflict going on, I hadn’t slept well. I was hungry. I didn’t get a cup of coffee. All in all I felt like a trillion-dollar deficit by the time I got to the hospital. I don’t remember much after that. There was a little chitchat with the doctors and nurses. Somebody asked me to roll onto my side. That’s it. The next thing I remember is walking out to the parking lot. All that worry for nothing, but I had to go through the process.
Oh. Wait a second. You really did want to talk about the fiscal cliff?