It has been a while since I updated this blog – attributable to laziness more than anything else after we returned from Cochin back to the US. There have been events which I wanted to write about but for some reason never got around to doing so. So it may seem a little odd that my first entry after a four month hiatus should be about a colonoscopy I had last week. But as you read on, you will see why I felt that a light-hearted account with the help of Dave Barry is a good way to restart the blog.

For those who live outside the US who are reading this, you should be aware that it is recommended that anyone over the age of 50 should have a routine colonoscopy just to make sure all is well. How often one has a colonoscopy thereafter depends on what is found at that initial examination. This was my third colonoscopy and I must say that the experience becomes no more pleasant or palatable with repeated procedures. The worst part is the preparation for the colonoscopy. I could describe the experience but would never be able to do it with the humor that Dave Barry provides even as he accurately describe the process. So here is Barry’s account:

“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 really didn’t hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!’

I left Andy’s office with some written instructions, and 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.

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.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.)

Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, 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.

MoviPrep 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 MoviPrep 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, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep 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.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said.

Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down.

Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep. At first I was ticked off that I hadn’t thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode.

You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.

I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the least appropriate.

‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy from somewhere behind me.

‘Ha, ha,’ I said.

And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling, ‘Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine’, and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent.

I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors.

I have never been prouder of an internal organ.”

Now for a few personal notes about my own experience. Drinking that gallon of “movi-prep” which in my case was called “Golitely” was was just as bad. I understand that most people cannot down the whole thing in the two hours or so one is supposed to consume it – I was able to accomplish it probably because I routinely down a lot of water as a matter of course. All that Barry says about what happens after drinking the prep solution is dead-on.

My procedure was done at George Washington Hospital’s Surgicenter and the staff there could not have been more professional or wonderful. Perhaps it had a little to do with Mini having worked there until a couple of years ago. Dr Bashir was my gastroenterologist and he was wonderful and inspired confidence as was the anesthesiologist, Dr Lasseter, who Mini had requested.

I remember being wheeled into the operating room for the procedure and Dr Bashir asking me what I did before I retired and when I told him I was an executive in the hospital management industry, there was a brief discussion about Obamacare regarding which I was asked my opinion. I was non-committal since I did not know either doctor’s views on Obamacare and it did not seem wise to hold forth on my views at at time when one doctor was going to put me to sleep and the other was going to stick a contraption up my behind.

I told the anesthesiologist that it did not take much to knock me out and he said something about my being “a cheap date” as he injected something into the IV that was already in place on my wrist. I felt Dr Bashir starting to insert the 17,000 foot tube that Dave Barry described and then I don’t remember anything until the anesthesiologist appeared to be smacking me around in an effort to wake me up!

I passed with flying colors – apparently my colon was in better condition than it was three years ago – but after reading about some of the things that people have apparently said while under an anesthetic, I must say I wonder what words of wisdom or embarrassing comments I may have made while under.

Here are some of the things people have said:

“Take it easy, Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before!”

“Find Amelia Earhart yet?”

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

“Any sign of the trapped miners, chief?”

“If your hand doesn’t fit, you must quit.”

“You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?”

“Would you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?”

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7 Responses to “My Colonoscopy: Dave Barry Redux”

  1. saira says:

    Great blog entry! I laughed out loud :). Welcome back, Papa!

  2. Vivek says:

    Good one Rana A! Never realized a colonoscopy could be described so humorously!

  3. Pat Savino says:

    Hi Tom & Krishna!

    LOL, well that certainly explains the one I will have to have sometime. I was supposed to have it in Dec. last year. However, my thyroid has not cooperated and my Endocrinologist will not let me go under until he is sure my heart won’t stop.

    Mike is doing fine. Working at Boeing since it has acquired Global Aeronautica. He is thinking of retiring, so we will see how long he stays.

    My mom is living with us at this time. Our boys, Michael and Matthew have started a computer business with 2 other guys they met in college. They are taking classes and also working servicing companies like Pest Control Businesses and also Harley-Davidson Motorcycle dealership here.

    Hope you two are doing well.

    Looking forward to hearing from you two.

    Pat & Mike

  4. Muru Khunti says:

    Great article.My Dr is from Armenia and asked me if my mother had ever forced castor oil down my throat when I was young.I said yes and so he suggested I take that as it would be tasteless and work better.He joked that most Americans are scared of change but that his mother did the same thing to him in Armenia when he had stomach issues.

    At the hospital the next day the Mexico born anesthesiologist started joking with me and said he was going to give me some “happy juice” and we started talking about climbing mango trees in our youth before i went into la la land.

    Next thing I remember is the nurse encouraging me to pass out as much gas as I could and said that this was one instant when unusual noises from the behind were welcome! Dr came by and said I was fine and would definitely live a few more years.

    Anyone over 50 should get this procedure done.It could save your life.

  5. Pat Savino says:

    Hi There!
    Interesting to have gotten this update by one of your friends, as I was just giving the name of the doctor I want to go see in order to have this done in a few weeks! Hope you two are well. Keep in touch. Pat & Mike

  6. TJ says:

    Ah yes – cod liver oil! The standard supplement that our mothers used to give their offspring religiously. No attempt to make it more palatable or anything like that – I think the general attitude in our parents generation was that the more foul something tasted the greater the benefit one would derive!!

    I agree that a colonoscopy is a must for anyone over the age of 50.

  7. TJ says:

    Hello Pat& Mike,

    Great to hear from you again. We just got back three weeks ago from our annual sojourn in India. We are always glad to be back in the US even though we enjoy the time while we are there.

    Muru who commented just before you is not known to me but it turns out that he went to the same high school that I did decades ago. I posted about my high school days a while ago and it engendered more comments by far than any other posting I have made!

    Anyway, do go and get the colonoscopy done and have your other half do the same! The worst part is the prep – the actual procedure is a non-event because one is in a slumber of sorts while it is going on!

    Best to you both.

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