One thing I believe cancer patients and survivors must learn to do is find a sense of humor in the midst of suffering. I was encouraged by Howard Katz's ability to somehow make jokes about prepping for a colonoscopy, which is no easy feat!
Take it away Mr. Katz!
This is the light-hearted story of my first Colonoscopy. Let’s start with what happened after the test…
After my Colonoscopy was finished they had to wake me up from the anesthesia. At the time of the test I had been up for over 24 hours, and the anesthesia was a welcome deep sleep for me. They asked me if I could dress myself, and I said sure. I’m still not sure how I managed to do that without injuring myself, because after the nurse guided me out to the car where my girlfriend (now wife) waited, I couldn’t even fasten my own seatbelt. I tried to buckle up, flailing away. After more than a few misses, my girlfriend gently reached over and buckled me up. She then asked me what the Dr. said. I told her I remember him saying that they were sending a biopsy of a tumor out to a pathologist. She asked why no one had told her. I had foolishly (quite foolishly) told the Dr there was no one else to tell the results to. In my defense for this we weren’t expecting a tumor- and we had only been together for a few months- so why would she need to be told? Just a tip to anyone out there- if you’re in a relationship with someone, let the Dr. tell them what’s going on- for the rest of your health. As you may or may not know, they don’t release you after the Colonoscopy until you’ve passed gas. I don’t remember doing this, but my girlfriend tells me that I told her (which I also don’t remember) I was “blowing the place up” right after they finished, which I emphasized by verbally making the noises for her. Ah dignity, why hast thou forsaken me?
At this point I was famished so we decided to go get something to eat. We went to a diner I know, because I wanted corned beef hash and eggs. I lost 7 pounds during the prep for the Colonoscopy- time to get some of it back! Most of the diners there were senior citizens. In I walk with my girlfriend- who is several years younger than me. As we’re being seated, still feeling pretty happy from the anesthesia, I leaned down and whisper to my girlfriend, “How does it feel to lower the average age in here to breathing?” My girlfriend has since told me that I was not whispering at all, that I said it in a Christian Bale inspired Batman voice- that carried. She says that more than one of the older ladies in the restaurant gave me death glares.
We order, and as we’re waiting for our food, I realize I have to urinate. So I get up and somehow manage to get myself to the bathroom. At this point I don’t trust myself to do that standing up, so I use one of the stalls. I then return to our table. After eating my first meal in 36 hours, I find that I have to urinate again- go figure. So back I go into the bathroom- I still don’t trust myself not to pee everywhere so I sit in a stall again. It’s when I’m done and washing my hands that I look around and see there are no urinals in the bathroom. That’s when it hits me- I’m in the Ladies Room- for the 2nd time. Amazingly there were no women in either time, and no one came in while I was there. After we pay the check my girlfriend drives me home where I relax for the rest of the day.
This all started when my Primary Care Physician told me to get a Colonoscopy after I was having problems with constipation. So, I went to my Gastroenterologist to have a consultation and we made an appointment for the procedure the next week at 7:30AM. At this point my biggest fear was the preparation for the Colonoscopy. We’ve all heard (and some have experienced) horror stories about the prep for a Colonoscopy. Drinking a gallon of foul tasting liquid, and then spending hours on the toilet while your body cleans itself out. Well, I got lucky. My Dr. prescribed Prepopik. And while I’m not saying I want to drink this regularly, it is much easier than the older, more standard prep. Basically after you’ve been on a clear liquid diet for 24 hours (just like all other preps) you mix the Prepopik powder with 5 ounces of water and drink it at 5 PM. It tastes like stale Tang. You are then instructed to drink 5 8-ounce glasses of water in the next 5 hours. At 10PM you drink another 5 ounces of Prepopik, and have to drink 3 more 8-ounce glasses of water in the next three hours.
I didn’t know how long it would take for the Prepopik to kick in, so after about 45 minutes with just a bit of a grumbly stomach, I called the Dr. Before he could call back saying it takes about an hour for it to start, I had my first hint of the cleansing to come. If you haven’t done it, just think of it as someone turning on a faucet that comes out your ass. And it proceeded to do that off and on- but mostly on- until about 5:30 the next morning. Without getting too graphic, it was not a pleasant experience. Of course the tumor they would find during the test didn’t make things any easier. I’ve been told I’m full of shit, but after that long night, no more!
Want to read more from Howard? Read his blog at http://semicolonnotes.blogspot.com/