I experienced yet another of the manifold joys of turning 50 last week – I had my first colonoscopy. Like my first communion, this event included lots of prayers and was extensively photographed. Unlike my first communion, there were no gifts and no post-event party.
To prepare for a colonoscopy, one must first stop at the pharmacy and purchase a box the size of a snare drum with 3-inch-high letters spelling out the words “HalfLytely Bowel Prep Kit.” Carrying around a box with such a label is a pretty effective conversation stopper, particularly if you happen to be carrying it around the produce section of Town and Country on a Friday afternoon.
The HalfLytely Bowel Prep Kit consists of a plastic container that looks suspiciously like the one they give men in hospitals to save them a trip to the men’s room. This container comes preloaded with a secret bowel-cleansing solution to which one adds something like a gallon of water and a tiny flavor package. I couldn’t decide among the orange, cherry or lemon-lime options, so I added all three and had the first Kamikaze Bowel Prep Beverage in recorded medical history. The stuff still tasted lousy.
But did it work? What the Germans are to automotive engineering, and the Japanese to consumer electronics, the HalfLytely Bowel Prep solution is to effective bowel cleansing.
After fasting for a day or so you drink a gallon or two of this stuff in 20 minutes, and then in another 20 minutes the stuff exits your body in an urgent and emphatic manner, one that I would have found comical had it been happening to anyone other than me. It can’t be easy to devise a safe product that turns the human body into a seltzer dispenser. I’m just glad I wasn’t part of the clinical trial program for this stuff.
After the fasting and the projectile cleansing, the actual colonoscopy procedure turned out to be pretty tame and anticlimactic. I was so physically and mentally exhausted by the time I arrived at the hospital that I wouldn’t have cared if they’d elected to photograph my colon by snaking a camera down from my ear. Once you’re at the hospital and changed into your special attractive and functional hospital gown, the whole thing happens quickly. (Now I understand why those things open at the back).
One minute I was chatting with the doctor, asking him questions like, ‘How do you like being a doctor?’, ‘How did you get into this end of the medical business?’, and ‘Did you really go to medical school or did you just buy those diplomas on e-Bay?’
Next thing I knew I was falling asleep in one room and waking up a couple hours later in a different one wearing someone else’s clothes. It sort of reminded me of college, but without the potato chips and loud music.
I’m happy to report that my colonoscopy results came back negative. I believe you can see the actual photographs on the internet. The nurse in the recovery room who gave me the lovely cold can of orange juice used the term “clean as a whistle,” and I’m pretty sure she was referring to my test results and not my hospital gown, but I was still a little woozy and high on orange juice so I can’t be positive.
In any event, the whole thing is behind me now, and I’m good to go for another 10 years, which means I have one more thing I can add to my list of reasons to look forward to turning 60.
Tom Tyner writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper. This comes from his “Classics File.”