Thursday, January 21, 2010

Scoping Things Out

I just received a reminder letter from my Gastroenterologist; it has been ten years and I am due for another Colonoscopy. Wow, has it been ten years already since a cold light-emitting flexible video camera was snaked up my ass?

I honestly don’t recall the procedure. They asked me if I wanted to remain awake and watch the inside of my intestines revealed on the monitor. I instead opted for the miracle of Versed; “I don’t want to know what you are doing to me”, I told them at the time.

One of Versed’s interesting side effects is that it thoroughly wipes out your short-term memory; particularly any memory of the procedure itself. I had the unsettling thought: what if it isn’t really an anesthetic at all? What if all the Versed does is make you forget the horrible torture you just went through?

After the procedure and while in recovery and the Versed began to ware off, Nancy related to me how odd and humorous my behavior had been under the influence of the drug. I was particularly spunky, apparently, and somewhat scurrilous with the nursing staff. Also I had asked Nancy about fourteen times if she had eaten already. She was quite amused by my behavior coming off of this drug.

In any event, I had survived the procedure and was later eager to help my wife in kind when it was time for her Colonoscopy. Now the worst part of the entire procedure is the preparation. You see, one must completely “flush” out the entire digestive tract. This requires ingesting an industrial strength laxative then drinking gallons of thin lemony water. The volumes of liquid one is required to consume makes you feel at though you are going through a pledge ordeal at the hands of your college fraternity. Gallons, I swear.

However, Nancy did well throughout the entire routine. While they were busy “scoping” her, I went to the hospital cafeteria and had a meal. By the time I returned, they had just wheeled her sleepy body back into recovery. Now, knowing as I did that this drug has interesting memory effects, I decided to experiment on her a little bit.

I informed Nancy that for lunch I had eaten a chicken sandwich, fries and an orange drink. She nodded in understanding. My testing of her had begun.

After a bit of time passed I queried her. “Nancy, what did I have for lunch?”
Slowly, like Chancy Gardner in “Being There” she methodically responded: “A chicken sandwich, fries and an orange drink.” I am very surprised she remembered, however I can tell by her expression she is investing a lot of energy into remembering this one fact.

More time passes and I again ask her if she recalls what I had for lunch. More definitively now she responds, “A chicken sandwich, fries and an orange drink.” Ok.

Just then the doctor bursts in and begins to brief her on the results of her procedure. He shows her photographs taken of her colon and tells her how well it went. The doctor explains that her colon looks great; no polyps or anomalies were found and she is in great health. The doctor gives her a cheery goodbye then leaves.

Thinking that this is perhaps my last chance to test her memory I ask her a final time what she recalls I had for lunch. She briskly responds with, “A chicken sandwich, fries and an orange drink.” Ok she has beaten my test; I am defeated.

A few minutes later the nurse comes in to check on Nancy to see how she is doing in recovery; she tells Nancy that she can dress and go home pretty soon.

Nancy then looks directly at the nurse and unflinchingly asks; “So when will the doctor be in to tell me my results?”


Charlie said...

Great punchline!

My Doc has bugged me forever to have a colonoscopy, but I absolutely refuse. I have enough other shit to worry about than being cornholed.

Mary Witzl said...

That is a great punchline. And it reminds me of how I feel explaining something to my students only to have a kid raise his hand and ask me the very thing I just told him. Wonder what they'd be like after a colonoscopy -- it doesn't bear thinking about.

This is weird, but I like having endoscopies. I always ask for only half the anesthetic so that I can watch the whole thing on the screen. My doctor in Japan humored me by giving me a guided tour of whatever part of my body was being scoped. (Do I need a life or what?)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Charlie: Yeah, then if they find something they are almost obligated to fix it.

Mary: I can watch someone else's procedure but not my own. I can't even watch when they draw blood or give me a flu shot. They offered me the same deal as you, watch the tour on the screen... I declined and had them drop me. It was the most merciful way for me.

Charlie said...

I think the most merciful way for me will to be put to sleep by the dogs' vet.

kara said...

i can't believe nancy let you write this. she's too good to you, dad.