Every 1,825 Days…Give or Take a Few…

I dressed with care: elastic waistband (for fast removal), cute underwear (I knew I’d be seeing a lot of them, so might as well enjoy it), my long hair up and out of the way (not that my hair would be involved in any way, it just seemed the thing to do). No, I wasn’t getting ready for our Thanksgiving feast, nor was I anticipating a night out with my husband. In fact, I was pretty certain that my husband would be avoiding me for about 24 hours.

It was Prep Morning. Tomorrow would be my colonoscopy.

My Last Supper on Saturday night. It’s tough to have to fast a mere three days after Thanksgiving. The Turkey Tetrazinni was delicious!

I woke up with an hour to spare. I wasn’t about to sleep through my toast time-line. “On the day before procedure you may eat a light breakfast (two slices of toast and orange juice) before 8:00a.m.”… Yes! Toast has never looked so good! I stood before the toaster with a dilemma. Is this slice of bread too big? Can I have butter on it? Oh, the decisions.

Then I faced the glass of orange juice. I opted for the juice glass – as opposed to the taller milk glass – and felt like I deserve a pat on the back for that decision. As I swallowed down my last gulp I thought, It’s pulp-free…perhaps I could have more…later on…. Dutifully, I put the OJ away. After all, I don’t want to go through this again because I’ve done it wrong.

The nurse on the phone told me that three people in their office did it wrong last week. You see, we patients are told that, should we be…ahem…clear…by the time we’ve finished half of our GALLON OF GROSS STUFF that we can then be done.

Apparently three people decided that they were clear…but they really weren’t. “I strongly urge you to finish the entire jug,” the nurse said. I nodded, eyes wide, even though she couldn’t see me through the phone.

I do NOT want to have to do this twice. Once every five years is often enough.

My bathroom was well-stocked…

10:45 a.m. – I begin to drink flavored water. Still a few hours before I have to begin the GALLON OF GROSS STUFF. I can have coffee throughout the day, and tea, and this makes me happy. Until I remember that I can’t add cream to my coffee or, for that matter, to my tea. I can have other clear, unpulpy liquids. And Jello! But not red, or orange, or purple-colored ones. I am amazed how many liquids in the world are red or orange or purple.

Shoot, I’ve just realized: all the popsicles I bought are orange and red. Bother.

Then, to top off that realization, it dawns on me that all of the Crystal Lite packets I have bought to add to my water/medicine combo in order to cut the flavor of the GALLON OF GROSS STUFF are red. All of them.

This does not make me happy. BOTHER! A little later, I am drinking a glass of white cran-peach Crystal Lite…and my five year old daughter walks up to me and says, “That’s orange.” Shoot. Double shoot. I was hoping it was peach-colored.

12:15 p.m. – My husband offers to go to the store for me to get me lemonade. He’s such a nice guy.

12:30 p.m. – Mmmm…turkey broth that I made yesterday. Delicious! Still…it’s weird how much you want to crunch and chew when you’re not allowed to.

2:30 p.m. – Green Jello. Plain. Green. Jello. But in a pretty bowl.

If you’ve got to eat plain Jello…at least have it in a lovely bowl.

4:00 p.m. – And so it begins…I won’t be on the computer for awhile…and I have a feeling that will be fine with everyone. No details of this time period are wanted.

9:30 p.m. – I am done with the GALLON OF GROSS STUFF. I drank all but about 4 ounces. I cannot take any more. This is vile.

11:00 p.m. – Bedtime, how I love thee.

3:37 a.m. – Awake…massive headache…there’s no going back to sleep. They say I can take Tylenol but there are two problems: 1) my Tylenol are red…a forbidden color and 2) I need water to take medicine…a forbidden option. Bother. I toss and turn until 5:45.

6:15 a.m. – I arrive at the hospital, take a wrong turn despite the nice lady’s good directions, and finally ask a roomful of elderly people in a waiting room if they can tell me where to go. One nice lady not only tells me, she leads me there. I must look like a sad little waif.

6:20 – I walk up to the surgery desk and am greeted by a friendly nurse. She opens the door for me and the next words out of her mouth are, “So, what does ‘between the sheets’ mean?”!! I burst out laughing. MY NURSE READS MY BLOGS! How lovely to walk into a nerve-wracking situation and find someone whom I have never met but who knows me…kinda…I am at ease and laughing and even though I’m about to have a camera shoved in unmentionable places, I’m okay with that. Life is good.

7:30 a.m. – I see who my anesthesiologist will be and I smile. His daughter is married to my husband’s boss’s son. I was at their wedding. I love living in a small town.

8:00 a.m. – I meet with my surgeon, whom I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with before. In fact, she takes Tae Kwon Do with my son. Did I mention I like small towns?

8:10ish – I don’t know the exact time as I was having a nice friendly conversation with another nurse about her son (whom I taught when he was in high school) and then suddenly I was back in my personal waiting room, it was 9:00, and I was enjoying the weird sensation of waking up and not knowing how I got there.

9:20 a.m. – I am awake enough to drink every single ounce of water and cranberry juice that awaits me on my little rolly table.

9:30 a.m. – The surgeon’s report: I have a clean colon! Nothing to be seen here, folks. Move along. Move along.

9:40 a.m. – I tell the nurse I’ll be blogging about this. “I wondered if you would,” she says. “I’ll probably leave out some of the details,” I say. Or maybe I only think this. I can’t remember. I was still pretty foggy.

10:00 a.m. – My gas-drawn coach awaits me at the front door. My knight in shining armor will pick up the kids after school, feed them and take them to all the places they need to be. I am free to eat, sleep, and be merry.

I begin by eating.

Horray! I’m free for another five years! It’s a drag being 42 years old and having to have colonoscopies every 1,825 days, but it’s a family history thing. And let me tell you, as nasty as THE GALLON OF GROSS STUFF is, it’s a million times better than having colon cancer. Colon cancer is basically preventable…your doctor goes in, takes a look around, finds (or not) any nasty polyps, removes them, and you’re good to go. You get rid of them so that they can’t develop into anything cancerous. It’s unpleasant…yes…but it’s worth it.

Did I mention that it’s unpleasant? Yes, it is. You want to EAT, you want to CHEW, you want to not have to drink your GALLON OF GROSS STUFF. But you do it because otherwise you might be facing major surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or even a stroke (like my mom had after her colon surgery) or, worst case, death.

I think that drinking A GALLON OF GROSS STUFF and running to the toilet every few minutes for several hours is better than those options.

Just saying…

PS: FYI – The GALLON OF GROSS STUFF is greatly improved with Crystal Lite (or Propel, or Ocean Spray) packets. That way it’s like drinking a gallon of salty lemonade…as opposed to just salty water. You be the judge.

PPS: There are those who may be thinking, “Yes, it’s nice living in a small town, but what about when you go to the grocery store and there’s the doctor/nurse/surgeon/anesthesiologist/insert position here who saw you in the all together?” Well, there is that…but I figure hey, it’s their job. They’re used to it and they don’t let it bother them, so why should I? My OB/GYN’s son takes piano lessons from the same teacher as my daughter…if my husband can smile and shake his hand at recitals, then hey, I can too.

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