"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Don't Ass, Don't Yell

Certainly you remember the now-abandoned "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in our military, which was essentially a way for our government to stick its fingers in its ears and go "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!" whenever the subject of a soldier's sexual orientation came up.

Would that I'd be so diffident when it comes to the subject of my recent colonoscopy -- so get those fingers in place now.

I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of a colonoscopy, but have you actually had one? The CDC (part of the same government that came up with "LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!") recommends regular screenings for men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, starting at age 50. Why age 50? It's an implied half-way point of life, so does this mean the government thinks I'm going to live to be 100? That comes as a surprise to me. A recent article says half of all babies born today will live to be 100. The other half will live to have regular colonoscopies performed on them.

Everyone who's had a colonoscopy, or is familiar with the procedure, knows that "the prep" is the worst part of the process. You can't eat any solid foods the day before; clear liquids and Jell-O only. Then, that evening, you drink 4 liters of a "bowel cleansing" solution and after awhile you run repeatedly to the bathroom to, as your mother used to say, "make". (The solution comes in two flavors: pineapple and "regular". My pharmacy provided me with the "regular" -- once reconstituted I recognized the taste as Pine-Sol.) Over the course of several hours you'll make at least a dozen trips to the bathroom. The solution turns your gastrointestinal tract into a garden hose, with the spigot all the way open. I've already provided too much detail here and so will leave this section of our narrative with the words I shared with a friend - "I'm glad that shit's over."

The actual procedure is almost anti-climactic, since they give you the good drugs just before starting to poke around in your hoo-hah and actual memories of this hideous violation are almost non-existent. I remember being a little nervous when the anesthesiologist told me he'd be using Propofol, the drug that became infamous due to its association with Michael Jackson's death, but ironically my anxiety was relieved by the administration of that very drug. During a prior colonoscopy I was given Versed which, as a layperson, I thought was pretty freakin' awesome. However, that drug will induce only "conscious sedation" versus the state of "deep sedation" Propofol provides. Conscious sedation is defined as when "the patient responds purposefully to verbal command", and deep sedation is when "the patient cannot be easily aroused, but responds purposefully following repeated or painful stimulation". As it relates to my procedure, under conscious sedation the gastroenterologist says, "John, please move your hips forward. John, can you move your hips forward?" and I dreamily move my hips forward. Under deep sedation, the gastroenterologist goes, "John (pokes with probe), move! (Pokes) Move! (POKES) MOVE, DAMMIT!"

By the way -- it just struck me that the word "enter" is found in the middle of "gastroenterologist". That's kinda funny.

After the procedure ended (!), I was moved to a recovery room that I call the "Man Cave" since the nurse told me it was perfectly acceptable to fart as much as I felt necessary. I did so, and then some. As I awaited discharge (here by which I mean permission to leave the hospital), another patient was moved into the space next to me. I overheard some conversation between a nurse and doctor (HIPAA violation!) that the gentleman had been brought back for a second attempt at the procedure since, during his appointment the day before, he "wasn't clean". As there was also discussion about his need for a Vietnamese interpreter, I presumed they hadn't been referring to his sense of humor. I can only imagine what that experience must be like for the colon team... the patient's been sedated, buttocks aligned just so, the doctor slips the scope in and WHAT THE FU...?!?! Maybe due to the language barrier this guy thought he only needed to gargle with the prep solution.

Anyway, my results were good and I won't have to repeat the process for another five years. I'm referring to the colonoscopy -- I intend to maintain my usual pace of farting. If you haven't already, this is where I'd recommend you stick your fingers in your ears, and maybe you should also step out of the room.

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