By John Toth
The big day had arrived. I could not eat anything all day, and in the evening, I started the preparation for my colonoscopy. It was not something I looked forward to, but this was my third time, so I knew what was coming.
The morning was a breeze. I went about doing my usual routine, working like always. Slowly, my stomach realized that it missed breakfast and started complaining.
I satisfied it with some orange Jello I made the day before. That was my main course. Things began to slow down as my body realized that it was not getting a normal lunch, either.
The mind said no; the body said “give me some food, or I’ll scream.”
No food today, body buddy. Here, have some chicken broth. It’s really tasty. How about some more Sprite?
It didn’t help that Sharon, my nurse for the day, skillet-fried some vegetables and made herself a salmon patty burger for lunch. She asked me if it would bother me. I said no, just go ahead and make it. I was going to finish up some work to take my mind off of food.
I didn’t think the smell of all that food cooking would bother me. It usually doesn't. But now I wanted to run to the kitchen and demolish all of it. But not that day, because it was prep day. Stay strong, mind and body, you’ll be rewarded later in the recovery room with orange juice and snacks.
This was not my first rodeo. I had my first colonoscopy eight years ago and had five polyps removed. Three years later I had another one, and it came out clean. This time, I was hoping for another clean slate.
I bore my burden without complaining. It was going to be over in just a few more hours. The life I save maybe my own, I reminded myself. Colon cancer kills a lot of people annually. I don’t want to be part of that statistic. During a colonoscopy, the polyps are snipped out. If left alone, they’ll grow and most likely become cancerous.
By mid-afternoon, I got used to feeling hungry. I think my body got tired of complaining and just accepted its fate. I stopped eating Jello and left the cup of chicken broth in the microwave. I just drank some water.
I stopped doing that three hours before having to take the dreaded medicine because it required drinking quite a bit of water also. I made some room for it.
Then the most dreaded, but very necessary part of the preparation began. I prepared the medicine and followed instructions. It was supposed to taste like cherry, but it tasted more like a horrible, nauseating version of some very salty cherry accidentally dropped in some melted plastic. My body said to throw it up. My mind said don’t you dare.
This was the same stuff I had to take five years ago. You’d think that in five years they would have come up with something that tastes better.
If drinking that stuff wasn’t enough, I had to complete the whole process within the hour. I could not chug it because it tasted so bad. I finished it slowly and drank some more water afterward, as instructed. That part wasn’t all that bad, but I was getting a little water-logged by then.
Then, I waited for the long night to begin. It wasn’t all that bad, just repetitive. I totally forgot about being hungry. I just wanted to get this over with. My part was to finish the prep and make it to the clinic in Houston on time. After that, I was in the hands of experts.
A few hours after taking the first part of the medication, I had to do it all over again, this time without the additional water. The big show then began and lasted for hours.
Sharon got tired of all the moving around I did and went to finish what was left of the night on the couch. I don’t blame her. She lasted longer than I thought she would.
By early morning, I didn’t think I had a drop of liquid in me. I turned on the early morning news and got ready to drive to the clinic.
“There is a big backup on Hwy. 288,” said the news anchor. Great.
Time to fight one more battle. We embarked on what was supposed to be a 45-minute drive. I don’t know what was worse: doing the colonoscopy prep, or fighting Houston's morning rush-hour traffic. I think it was a draw.