Hell, yes, this is gonna be a colonoscopy tale.
Command performance, no less!
For all of you tl,dr readers, here’s the punchline:
The evening you’re taking human grade drano to clean out your insides for your colonoscopy is not the time to watch Challenger: The Final Flight on Netflix.
Just hear me now and believe me later on that one, m’kay?
I mean, seriously – and you’ve got to believe that this was only a coincidence, this being the anniversary week of the disaster – a documentary about rocket boosters and failing O-rings?
Tell me that wasn’t accidentally brilliant foreshadowing.
Ok, now, for all you long form readers:
When the GI doctor calls, you answer the phone, ok? Just…pick up your phone and schedule the appointment.
My doctor is so cute, how he implores me to at least put on a veneer of self-care.
My response? “How long did you chase me around to take this damn shit – “
“Fit. It’s called a Fit test.”
“Three years. At least. You think I’m just gonna let this GI guy off easy without making him work a little bit?”
“Just answer your phone and then this will all be behind you.”
“Pun intended. Look, this is all Chadwick Boseman’s fault. I only took the test because he up and died”
Sidebar: “up’n died” is southern speak for a sudden death. I picked it up when I lived down around the Gulf. Probably my one takeaway.
“Anyway, we both knew that I’d fail the damn thing after complaining about my come and go, passive-aggressive hemorrhoids for the last five years!”
“Just – “
“I know. Pick up the phone. Sheesh.”
So they called. Which I considered rude.
And I scheduled the damn appointment…probably nine weeks out, no less. But their earliest appointment afforded me an opportunity to indulge a dark behavior that I’ve kind of let slip away over the past couple of decades: scheduling consequential doctors appointments around my birthday. The earliest appointment available was on January 26th, my birthday is on the 21st, so this was close enough to be darkly satisfying.
Now, I’ll admit that I scheduled the damn colonoscopy with near certainty that it wouldn’t actually transpire. I’m not saying I was intending to put any effort into making it not happen. It’s just…this is my life we’re talking about here, weird shit just happens.
Maybe my GI guy would get hit by a meteor. My life being borderline ridiculous, whatever might cause my appointment to not happen would likely be something even more Wile E Coyote worthy than that.
I certainly did not think it would be anything as mundane as me potentially losing my insurance. I did nothing to renew my existing coverage during open enrollment because…I was on the cusp of getting a PT job with Multnomah county that would start in December, with benefits kicking in on January 1.
Who’s life is it?
So…what happened with the job? Fuck if I know. Let’s call it festively colored tape. Mom would have been so proud, too. Alas…
A little more on point for my appointment being canceled: Snowpocalypse ’21! Native Portlanders shrug when snow is forecast for the valley floor. This is a stark contrast for the enthusiastic loosing of Portland’s collective shit – not to be confused with what I was about to experience: the losing of one’s shit – when snow is predicted in the mountains. Those local ski bums go nuts for those forecasts.
However, Portland sitting on the valley floor between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges protects us from a lot of weather. The ranges frequently keep us insulated from the severe stuff on either side. Additionally, our famed rain comes from clouds that cover the valley like a blanket, keeping our temperatures too high to really foster a good snowfall.
Yet, here we were, a couple weeks out from my appointment and my weather app was showing four days featuring a ❄️ next to them. That still gave us several days before my appointment for things to clear up, but Google “Portland Snowpocalypse” and see what you get.
Never mind – the fun begins around 45 seconds in.
Nonetheless, Portland weather being the exercise in insanity that it is…those four ❄️ became two and then one and then two again over the next seven days.
And then…it just rained.
Cut to the weekend before my appointment and the whispers were starting again. I could barely hear them over the sound of my eyes rolling and supermarkets being ransacked for kombucha and kale.
I had other problems of my own making to worry about.
In addition to having a macabre sense of scheduling for impactful doctors appointments, I’m also loathe to be dependent upon others. Especially when it comes to driving. Having not driven for close to 15 years, I learned to mostly make do on my own two feet. Usually, when I couldn’t, I felt like a bother or a burden. These jokers telling me I couldn’t drive after my <ahem> procedure just kind of pissed me off.
Never a good ingredient to add to the mix of “I really don’t want to do that anyway” that I was already feeling here.
I wasn’t going to ask my parents because, ew. Also, they already do so much for me, their
most pathetic favorite child.
This would have to fall to someone who was 1) in debt to me for performing a similar friendship task; and B) a close friend…no way was this falling to an acquaintance who’d not cleared the friendship bar.
Obviously, they had to be local, too. That made this a fairly small candidate pool. Plus, still ew. I’m not the type of person who is comfortable being helped. Particularly in such a helpless state that I’m unable to operate a vehicle.
I’d already predisqualified the Silver Fox, since he’d been isolating with his ex about 90 minutes out of town since last March. It was hard to do, too, since the colonoscopy transport tally was 2-0 in my favor.
The only other friend I’d consider a candidate was Diezel, who I’d taken to his LASIK last…spring? Maybe summer? I don’t even know. I just know that I had a credit in the ride bank. Mind you, this is a friend that had helped me move five years ago, truck and all. He also just replaced my rear brake pads for me, so asking him to give me a ride felt like extra ice cream on my neediness cake.
It was for that reason – those reasons? – that I’d said “Of course!” immediately when he’d asked me during my brake pad installation for a ride back to his LASIK doc to have one eye tuned up.
Just let me know when and I’m in…
I’m not taking bets that you know what happened.
What are even the freaking odds that his appointment would be within 90 minutes of my own on the 26th?!?
When I joke about my life…it’s really just my way of coping with the horror-slash-irony of my reality.
So I had to cave and ask the Fox.
But I waited. The bitter end has nothing on my proChristination. My pre-tooter-rootering call was two weeks before my appointment. Because of my insurance debacle – which turned out pretty well…I was automatically renewed in my current plan versus canceled when I did nothing during open enrollment – that call took place 10 days out instead of 14.
During the call, they asked about my ride home and I told them I didn’t have one.
“That’s ok, you can take a Lift. They have a medical transport you can use.”
News to me, being a Lyft driver.
You see the problem here?
So the Silver Fox got his shoulder tap maybe five days out. And, not that he would, but how could he say no two days before my birthday?!? Haha. I wasn’t remotely worried about that, simply neurotic over being a bother to him. He insisted that he’d come up that morning and then drive back down that evening, but that it was no bother.
But I was ready to go. Finally.
The “Let’s Do It”
I’m not gonna lie. To this point in my life, I’ve never spent a night in the hospital and I’ve never had stronger sedation than novocaine. Naturally, my neurotic self had built up a mythology that had me believing that the cumulative shock of experiencing either would simply kill me.
Since I was assured that the anesthesia I’d get was nowhere near the level of a general sedation during my intake call, clearly I’d check in for my procedure and then immediately be hospitalized and surgery-ized by whatever terrors they discovered up in my dusty, old man claptrap during my scope.
I couldn’t imagine any other possible outcome.
Yet, there I was…sipping my preptail at 6 pm the night before my procedure. Watching Challenger: The Final Flight with zero irony.
I made quite the last hurrah of what I’d imagined to be my final meal – ever: Cajun Mac from my current favorite food cart, Montage a la Cart, and finishing up my birthday cheesecake.
Then I’d had a weedtini around 11 PM on Sunday night, resulting in my waking up at noon on Monday. I highly recommend being unconscious for as much of any day that requires you to fast or be on a clear liquid diet from the time you wake up.
By the time I sat down with my preptail at 6 PM, I had only been up for ~6 hours, yet I hadn’t eaten for 20 hours. Very tolerable.
Each episode of the Challenger documentary is about 45 minutes long, give or take a few either way.
The first episode took me 90 minutes to get through. About 30 minutes in, I was blasting off my couch to the can – still absolutely without irony. I’d had the wear with all –
Or is it wherewithal? I need to look up the ideology of that word. To me, it connotes a certain sense of smarts…something you would “wear” with anything. Why the “where” version is seemingly correct according to spellcheck is…completely off topic.
– to put on my jam pants and leave the bathroom door open so I wouldn’t have to mess around with belt buckles or doorknobs in what I had been forewarned would be a crisis. Still, my journey from blasting off the couch to a panicked, if not literal, splashdown on my toilet seat was bridged by what I imagined was some sort of manic looking forward moonwalk.
Apropos of the documentary I was watching; inconvenient, though, given that mental image made me chuckle along the way. Chuckling while trying to hold your guts in is not advised.
Within 90 minutes of finishing my preptail – which was nowhere near as horrific tasting as I’d been led to believe…barely more distasteful than cough syrup – my *output* was clear. Quite a feat, given my last supper. I also considered it to be a harbinger of good things ahead…like a fool.
The next morning, I woke to jokey texts from Diezel about my upcoming violation. For my part, feeling cocky about my clear stream that obstructions hadn’t predicted until after the second dose, I offered him my remaining prep solution to use…as he would. We enjoyed the humor that colonoscopy prep for his proclivities and peccadillos brought to mind, both knowing no one in Portland is *worth* that level of prep.
But like a good soldier, I took my second dose. I immediately started worrying – having absolutely no experience with what men who bottom during sex do these days for prep, outside of being the beneficiary of such preparations – that I would either not be completely clear for my scope or that I wouldn’t evacuate all of the liquid from my system prior to my appointment.
I am a neurotic mess, I tell ya. I think it’s my subconscious fucking with conscious Xtopher, but still…in my imagination I was envisioning laying there unconscious and the doctor experiencing something like the Log Ride at Disneyland as he went about his doings.
Erase that mental picture.
Of course, it snowed while I was sleeping. But only a slush. The GI guy had called while I was texting with Diezel and I’d answered with, “You are not closing your office!”
But someone had cancelled and he wanted to see if I wanted to get violated an hour earlier. Since The Fox was driving up, I passed. For his part upon hearing that option, the Silver Fox had encouraged me to take it. Because of course he’d be on Fox Time, despite driving 90 minutes to get me.
As it was, I ordered my take and bake pizza – and a salad! – to pick up on the way home and then just waited for the time to come nigh. I decided on take and bake since I would be enjoying my post-procedure meal alone, with The Fox slated to return to Monmouth after dumping my woozy ass off at home.
I tried to make “operating the oven” my biggest concern for the next couple of hours.
Sadly, my niggling fear of results and – oh, look…SNOW! – had me distracted.
I was watching pics/stories on Instagram of Portland getting some snow. Thankfully, my view was clear. On the other hand, the doctor’s office was on top of a hill with an elevation of all of 500 feet above sea level. Whenever there’s a chance of snow on the valley floor, this is basically the only part of town affected. Well, this elevation.
Once The Fox picked me up – 45 minutes before my appointment, and this is about a seven minute drive without traffic – I started to have some concerns.
Actually, that’s not a fair statement. Because I’m a petty bastard, if the Silver Fox insisted on picking me up 45 minutes early, I was gonna make him run an errand with me on the way. Just a few blocks out of the way to our bank so I could take some money out of one account and deposit it into another. It was two transactions at the ATM. We were back on track by 1:55 and my check in time was 2:30.
As soon as we got onto highway 26, heading up the 500 foot high hill, we started seeing what might be flakes. Halfway up, we were sure they were flakes. By the time we hit the top of the hill, it was as close to white out conditions as you’re gonna get in Portland.
It was 2:06.
You know my motto: What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, the Universe has an answer for that: Just you fucking wait.
Intrepid is hardly the word one would use to describe me. Still, after killing some time in the car, I began my reluctant trudge into the office at 2:24.
My intake paperwork was done by 2:40 and by 2:55 I was laying on a gurney with an open in the back gown, an IV line in my arm (another first) and a nice toasty blanket.
I was actually dozing on the gurney.
Around 3:20, the anesthetist wheeled me into the “suite”, as they called it. I noted that there were no adjoining rooms, so it wasn’t much of a suite and could I get a discount?
She laughed at my nervous banter and we chatted until the doctor made it to the suite.
He asked how my prep had gone and I told him how relatively easy it had been. I also told him my hemorrhoids had decided to just remind me of their presence the morning before, just so he wasn’t surprised.
If you’ve got a melon baller handy, feel free to scoop those mothers out, ok?
…then I woke up in the recovery area.
It was 5:00 PM.
Who slept like a champ?
I was mostly surprised about that since the anesthetist had told me that I’d wake up pretty much immediately once she stopped pushing the drugs into my IV. Either it took a long time or my being anesthesia naive affected me more than she’d anticipated.
That last point makes its own argument.
Here’s my argument for the former point:
Because, of course my colon would have 13 lucky fucking polyps. Adding to that that two were 12 and 20 millimeters in size – 3 to 5 times the size of the other 11 polyps and…well, there was some work to be done up in the old fart cannon. For what it’s worth, my thumb is 20 mm wide. That is certainly no baseball or grapefruit sized shenanigans but still seems pretty big.
But on the plus side, what I’d pretty much self-diagnosed as hemorrhoids, with my doctor’s non-visual buy in, had apparently been polyps. So…those are gone, now. And, unlike Challenger, my O-ring is now pristine.
Now, maybe it’s that I slept until 5:00, but I swear, aside from a few wobbles in the recovery room and on my way out to the waiting room where I would be transferred to the Silver Fox’s custody, I didn’t feel a lot of aftereffects of the anesthesia. The Fox may have other examples of how I’m wrong, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Almost like the snow was sticking to the ground that afternoon.
How’s that for a transition?
The Fox decided – to my relief – to stay until morning versus driving back to Monmouth in the snow. Based on pics his ex wife had sent, it looked heavier down in her rural area.
However, a take and bake was fine for my post-procedure meal, but it simply would not do for a thank you dinner for The Fox. We stopped and picked it up – him declining when I asked if he was going in to get it, further proof of my functionality! I toddled in and then back to the car. Climbing back in, we decided on fried chicken from a local fancy schmancy restaurant that was still open for takeout. As the Silver Fox made his way, I ordered our meals through their website…again, coming out of anesthesia like a champ!
We picked up our chicken, made it back to my place, opened some wine and put in a movie. We both made it through the meh-movie (Outside the Wire on Netflix) but neither of us made it more than halfway through our meals. You gotta love coming off of what turned out to be a 48 hour fast with fried chicken leftovers and an entire pizza in your fridge.
Oh, and a salad. 😒
It took me a full 24 and then some hours to have my triumphant return to the poopatorium. A weird sensation, feeling your guts fill up. But, no issues – which was a pleasant surprise given what I was told about the effort required to get that 20 millimeter sized guy out of me.
Because – I suppose – of the size and effort of removing that fat bastard from me, the GI guy said he wanted to do a follow up in three months.
Although, the paperwork he sent home with me said six months, so maybe it’s more a matter of he doesn’t know exactly when his kid’s tuition is due.
That’s what I’m going with. Unless, of course, pathology comes back with something I don’t want to hear.