Let Me Entertain You

The prep for the colonoscopy was bad enough that toward the end – when drinking the second bottle of Magnesium of Citrate – I thought I would rather die than go through this again. It made me terribly ill; wouldn’t stay down and my stomach was screaming for mercy. That was at nine in the evening. It was midnight before I could even consider trying to sleep.  Still I woke several times to “go” before my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. Time for  a series of enemas in a last ditch effort at clarity. Pure torture. Not surprising to be diagnosed later with a torturous colon.

My daughter brought the children along, stopping at Tatonut on the way. An adventure! Doughnuts on the side would sweeten the experience. This nanny: she is always entertaining – even when nauseous, sore of tum, and holding on to her acheing head. Actually, even as I began the various rituals leading up to the prodedure itself, I was entertaining – funny even, like I was really two people. One was definitely suffering, longing for the drug that would  gift me with unconsciousness. The other was lively, charming, wittty -appreciative of the nurses just doing their jobs. I would make them remember me. But it wasn’t an effort; I simply said what spilled from my exhausted mind.  Walking out of the bathroom, attired in the singular garment designed to open in the back, I spotted a man standing just across the hallway. He was dressed identically, and looked embarrassed and desparate. We stood there, trying not to look at one another, but clearly inhabiting the same nightmare. As the nurse escorted me back to my bed, I whispered “Don’t you hate it when some man appears at a party in the same dress as you?” She giggled for the next fifteen minutes, even while inserting the IV needle in my elusive vein. Yes… I would be remembered.

But would my doctor remember my blurted cry of distress at the effects of Magnesium of Citrate on a sensitive stomach? He said I was not the only one to complain of the stuff; he would think about removing it from the prep. He’s a handsome man with a kind demeanor, even when wearing a neck brace, and I watched his slender back as he went to the back of the cubicle where I was waiting. Watched until a man with a practiced smile bent over me, saying “Just a little sting”, as he delivered the burning elixer that would release me to oblivion.

Coming to, I find my daughter and the two children hovering – willing me to return to them unchanged. My dopey grin is acceptable, and from that point it is rather a party atmosphere. The children, who have eaten too many doughnuts, are a little hyper as they sit on the supposedly germ-free floor and chatter. Their mother coaxes the younger one to finish his milk as I gaze with groggy disbelief that they are really allowed to be here? The oldest and ever curious one stands and begins to read aloud from my chart. “…a redundant tortoise colon.” 

It is all extremely bizarre in retrospect. But, eventually, I was brought home and was left alone to eat a few bites of oatmeal before succumbing.  Four hours later I woke to a blessed realization: Yet another colonoscopy was truly over, the polyps found were surely benign, and I was graced with two whole years during which I was sure to forget the taste and effect of Citrate of Magnesium. I might even forget the redundant tortoise in my colon.

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2 Responses to “Let Me Entertain You”

  1. Kendall Says:

    Yours is definitely the most entertaining colonoscopy I’ve ever read about. The human comedy. Why are our bodies so humiliating to us? We are all stuck with these indignities, these reminders of our impermanence, our flaws, our fragility. We are all just passing through. We roll our eyes, search for the humor to make it bearable, and sigh with relief when it’s over. Thanks, dear Leif, for writing about it so we can be there with you, laugh with you, and marvel at these animal bodies of ours. I’m glad your ordeal is over for another couple of years, and the next time I show up for my colonoscopy, I will have yours to remember, and I will feel a little less alone.

  2. leiflife Says:

    Thanks, dear Kendall, for affirming this strange but supposedly necessary journey. Frankly, I would rather go to Paris.

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