It’s no secret Covid-19 has put a huge skid mark on making plans and sticking to them unless of course those plans include hiding under the covers to binge watch a zillion Netflix series or Zooming our way through making happy hour(s) a bit happier with friends from afar. We’ve all had to pivot when it comes to finding new ways to pass the time. I’m no exception.
While I’ve always been vigilant about being my own healthcare advocate, my unpolished creativity relative to finding new ways to stay active in a Covid-19 [unfriendly] world hit an all-time explosion this past week.
Just when you thought Ally Sheedy’s character, Allison Reynolds from the Breakfast Club took the unpolished prize having had nothing better to do on a Saturday than to show up for detention electively, the other day I chose to show up for an elective colonoscopy. Yup, you read that correctly. I chose to have a long tube with a tiny camera and a light on the end shoved up my ass by a stranger… electively. I know what you’re thinking: Are you fucking shitting me?
Are you counting the puns? There’s been three so far.
So here’s the poop: (now it’s four)
I had already crossed off the list the annual gynecologist appointment, mammogram screening and Telehealth call with my cardiologist. The only thing left was a routine visit to my primary healthcare physician for blood work and an overall checkup. The nurse called me in and started the show with the usual drills; first asking for a urine sample and then entering my height, current weight (gasp) and other vitals into her travel-sized computer. She questioned me on what meds I take and if anything had changed since my last physical and then she said, “the doctor will be in shortly.”
It’s still debatable if thirty minutes later is considered ‘shortly,‘ or more appropriately, ‘did you completely forget about me,’ but I digress.
When the doctor finally entered the room it was time to do my business. (that’s five)
As I underwent my examine we exchanged pleasantries while I also quizzed her on Covid-19 facts and figures and how soon she thought it would be before the virus would be eradicated. As she was updating my stats in her own pint-sized iPad she asked, “have you ever had a colonoscopy?” My eyes widen because unlike childbirth where somehow by the grace of God your mind-body connection truly forgets the pain associated with labor, this was not the case with my unpolished memory from the colonoscopy I had twenty-five years ago. I replied, “As a matter of fact I have. It was decades ago but my brain is still constipated; it has yet to flush out the torture. The prep was inhumane. I feel bloated just thinking about it. Look, my stomach is getting distended!” She smiled, but I continued on with my rant. “No really, it was animalistic. My body blew up like the Michelin® man.
I was practically laying on the floor clinging to the toilet; the only thing missing was yellow crime scene tape and an outline around my dead logged body.”
Unsure if she was appreciating my colorful depiction, I couldn’t help myself so I kept going. “But the Propofol was the best. It’s unbelievable how there’s literally a pole jammed up your ass but you feel absolutely nothing. I was like Diana Morales from A Chorus Line, I felt nothing!
As a matter of fact, lemme ask you something. What are the current guidelines? Was it Dr. Oz who said the age for baseline screening recently changed or could that have been Sanjay Gupta?”
“The American Cancer Society recommends people of average risk for colorectal cancer start screening at age 45,” my doctor answered. “They’ve also come a long way in how a patient prepares for the procedure. It’s not nearly as bad as you’ve described,” she added.
“Forty-five? No shit! I exclaimed. “I’m three years late. Do you think I should have one?” Before she could answer me, the
miraLAX myriad of unpolished thoughts gently stimulated through my bowels head:
- Is the prep really much better or is that a load of crap?
- I have nothing else to do, so why not? It’ll be an activity
- Maybe I’ll lose a few pounds
- Do they still administer Propofol? I hope so. I can’t wait to sleep like Michael Jackson.
- If I schedule the test, I’ll need to get a ride. I’ll need someone to drop this kid off at the pool
FAST FORWARD ➜
- A Telehealth call with the gastroenterologist
- One preoperative Covid-19 test followed by a lab report from Quest showing proof of a negative result
- Twenty-four hours of starving (as if one day of Yom Kippur this year wasn’t enough)
- Four Dulcolax® pills
- 64 ounces of MiraLAX® solution mixed with white grape juice and apple juice for variety
- Six lemon flavored Italian ices
- And an all-nighter of a shitload of emergencies later, my returns were all [systems] clear for go!
I arrived at the surgical center the morning of the colonoscopy feeling like Gumby, somewhat deflated and flimsy. But after completing the task of disrobing my clothes in exchange for that of hospital gown with the back left wide open my thoughts were then free to perk back up vacillating between two things: the excitement of taking an unabated Propofol nap and the excitement of deciding what my first postprocedural meal would be.
My nurse, Carol S was a funny one. She flexed her comedic range when she said, “Well Rachel, we tested your urine and it seems you’re pregnant with triplets.” Not missing a beat, I quipped back, “Yeah right Carol. Good try. How many times have you told that joke? Ya know what I’d do with triplets? I’d shove ’em up your ass!” We giggled like school kids while she gave me the rest of the playbook as to what would come next.
“I’d like you to lay on your left side in a fetal position. The wall of your colon is going to be blown up like a balloon so after the procedure you’ll have to release all the excess air. You’ll be in recovery with the other patients so don’t be alarmed if it sounds like trumpets.”
That kinda grossed me out but I ignored it because at this point the only sound I was focused on hearing was the sound of the anesthesiologist’s voice telling me it was time to administer the Propofol.
A different nurse came to wheel me into the operating room of brights light and big
city shitty where I was greeted by both the gastroenterologist and the anesthesiologist. “You’re gonna make sure I’m fully asleep before you get started, right?” I said aloud. To which the anesthesiologist replied, “Yes Rachel, just raise your hand so we know when you’re sleeping.” I remember his sarcastic comment making me laugh which hedged the burning sensation of the magic medicine going into my vein.
“Okay Rachel, you’re all done,” said the doctor. “You can wake up now.”
“Already? Nooo.” I said groggily. “Please let me stay. That was so good. Can’t you keep looking? I want to go back to sleep.”
“Your colon looks great. There were no findings. We won’t have to see you again for another 8 to 10 years,” the doctor announced.
Still in fetal position but with my sense of humor intact, I slowly opened my eyes and replied, “Thank you. That’s a big load off. I feel relieved. It would have stunk had the news been shitty.”
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW… According to the American Cancer Society guidelines, it is recommended people of average risk of colorectal cancer start screening at age 45. Turns out, my doctor was absolutely right. The prep has come a long way from the nightmare it was years ago. I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park, but it’s certainly not the shit storm it once was. If you haven’t already scheduled a baseline colonoscopy, you should. Do it and get it done. Just get it behind you!
** How many puns did you count? Reply below. Hint: There’s more than Number Two!