Thursday, 17 March 2011

Saint Patrick's Colonoscopy


It's Saint Patrick's Day. I'm overwhelmed. I'm sitting in the waiting room of the day procedures area of the Mater Misericordia Hospital. I'm feeling green, but not with Irish joy. Someone has played a joke on me and scheduled my ten yearly colonoscopy for this holy day.


I've spent the previous night forcing down three litres of Colonlytely, a liquid specially designed to take all pleasure away from the act of drinking. I can remember vile medicines from my childhood but they rarely required more than the intake of a tablespoonful. This is in a league of its own. It's CIA water torture. The first glass is bearable; the second, I think, yes I can do this; the third and I begin to realise how long the night will be. It's taken me an hour and i still have nine glasses to come.

I resort to various methods to bypass my tastebuds. I tip a mouthful as far back in my mouth as possible, minimising contact with the sides and gulp it down in one swallow. It kind of works. I hold my nose believing, falsely, in the story that our sense of smell is integral to our sense of taste. I still taste it. I search in vain through all the kitchen cupboards for a straw which I hope might deliver this stuff directly to my guts. I put it in the freezer to chill it to a temperature which will only register as extremely cold and disguise the taste. I open a bottle of soda water and sip between each mouthful. I'm still only at glass five.

And then the evil desired effect begins. I don't get much warning before the explosion hits and I regret that I am wearing button up shorts which don't exactly fling themselves to the floor. My family is not familiar with my Abbott and Costello funny walk but they're going to get to see reruns of it for the next few hours. I sit on the pedestal and wonder why anyone would choose to design a medication which induces diarrohea. It's bad enough when it arrives without planning and here I am filling up one end only to have it all reappear at the other as if my bowels were a drive through.

The nurse at the desk calls my name. She's wearing her green ribbon and engages me in mock Irish banter. She's well and truly claimed her Irish heritage and tells me her life story and genealogical bloodline. Meanwhile I'm more concerned about the possibility of Murphy's Law imposing itself on my day. I have an irrational fear of this simple procedure. My last words to my wife as I stepped from the car were instructions as to my fate should I emerge from the anaesthetic in a permanent vegetative state.

Robyn, hardly an Irish name, puts me through my paces; asks me a lot of silly questions about my past life; dresses me in a back to front gown to make me look like a character from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest then saves the day by adding a Hugh Hefner fluffy white dressing gown as my top layer. She makes a point of telling everyone that she and I are the same age. I'm not sure if this is to boost my ego, her ego, or is simply her daily way of coping with the reality of the ageing process - finding someone the same age who may be about to have their last day on the planet. It's just another day for her.

And then I'm sure Murphy has arrived. The anaethetist, a lovely woman, the wife of the doctor doing my procedure can't get the needle into the first vein she tries, or the second. It's starting to feel like I back drinking my three litres of poison. Then, on the third try, with my panic slowly rising, she succeeds and I ask what I should expect but don't hear the answer. Next thing I'm woken and told it's all over and I'm in the recovery ward. I say no I just got here. The anaethetist was just putting the needle in I say. The nurse explains that the anaesthetic they use results in a complete inability to recall anything while under, even though you can still follow instructions. Was that invented by the CIA I ask or by the medical system to minimise litigation

I survived. I doubt if Saint Patrick ever had such an experience, though being enslaved by the Celts for years on end may have rated. He died of old age it seems. Well before the advent of modern medicine or the triumph of the Irish Catholics in evangalising the world with their papist nuns and other religious orders. Famously Irish priests have always had a fondness for a drink so perhaps we can thank them for bringing Guinness across the waves to the new world as well as for saving our souls.

More Magpie Tales here.

8 comments:

jane.healy said...

For reasons to lenghty to mention I had to have one a couple of years ago - this post exactly describes how I felt - hope the results come back as positive as mine did!!

Helen said...

A Magpie to 'end' all Magpies!!

Luvvie said...

O Steve - I absolutely loathe those wretched "Procedures"...I have to have them every three years now because as one specialist said in a thick Chinese accent "You...sitting duck". Sitting duck does not find them any easier despite having had three now....I completely empathise - when will someone invent something that doesn't taste like drinking well - thick salt solution with a chronic back taste....

Lucy Westenra said...

I'm sooooo lucky. I never visit the Doc for a routine checkup, so there's nothing wrong with me . . . .

Stafford Ray said...

It was a misunderstanding. You wanted to to get rid of papists but they thought you said polyps.
Enunciate, me boy, enunciate!

Tess Kincaid said...

Okay, my question is this. Was the Colonlytely green?

Jennifer said...

They can put a man on the moon but they can't make diarrea-inducing medicine take like a pint of Guinness. I call foul.

little hat said...

Stafford,Tess,Jenn - what great additions each of you bring to my tale of woe. Polyps,Guiness and green colonlytly. Why didn't I think of that. No Tess the mixture was not green - not on the way in or out. But some lime cordial next time might be worth considering.
Luvvie - "you...sitting duck" what a great line. I can hear him saying it.