Maintaining the machine in which I reside

My goal is 120 years.  So I am half-way through my life, truly middle age.  In order to achieve my goal, I need to maintain the machine in which I reside.  I was visiting with my mother on her birthday earlier this month, and she said the exact same words.  She turned 83 this year.

This blog is about adventure and discovery, and is designed for Baby Boomers.  A colonoscopy fulfills all those criteria.  What is the difference between a colonoscopy and a dental check-up?  Nothing (except for a few details, like I can probably open my mouth wider).  It is part of routine maintenance.  We need to maintain the machine in which we reside.

Three credible sources strongly recommended having the colonoscopy screening, two independent doctors, and my mom.  Now with the ACA (Affordable Care Act), a screening is free.  Every ten years for men over 50.  This will be my first one.  I realize that I am writing this partially for myself, so that ten years from now I can review it, when I have my next screening.

THE DAY BEFORE MY PROCEDURE

As soon as I got out of bed this morning, I checked to make sure we have some petroleum jelly (i.e., Vaseline).  Next I checked to be sure my prescription for CoLyte was already lemon-lime flavor.

At first, when I began contemplating this procedure a few weeks ago, the thing I was afraid of was inserting the probe somewhere.  But then I comprehended that I will be sedated.  So then I was afraid of sedation, drifting off into unconsciousness, over which I have no control.

Now I feel kind of excited about the new experience, adventure and discovery.  I still remember many years ago when I had a flat tire in the parking lot of my office; I enjoyed changing it because at least it was a change in the routine.

About one week ago, I began reading the prep instructions; the main things for me were to stop having nuts, seeds, grain and herbal supplements.  I also called the clinic to verify that the prescription I was given, which is PEG-3350 With Electrolytes, is the generic version of CoLyte.  It is.

I already have experience with both fasting and diarrhea.  The worst case of diarrhea I ever experienced was within the first six months of living in Mexico City.  This can’t be worse than that.

And I have fasted many times before; should do so more often.  I know that after the initial hunger pangs subside, fasting is easy.

It is also a matter of bravery.  I never want to tell someone I’m a woose (aka wimp, sissy), too chicken to have a colonoscopy.

Today I must strictly enforce a liquid diet. The instructions offer several suggestions.  Chicken broth was a pleasant discovery.  I’m enjoying having the fruit juices, sugary drinks, soda — from which I’ve lately been abstaining with my regular diet.

I went through the complete Tai-Chi short form — three times with soft Chinese music — and breathing, following the microcosmic orbit; then investigated online Lower Dantian, which, I discover, has a remarkable connection to this whole process and procedure that I’m experiencing.  I read Gospel of Thomas Saying 75:  Jesus said, “Many are standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber.”  Realized the importance of this, to maintain my machine for the spiritual element because this may be the one shot we have with this level of spiritual understanding.

Mixed the CoLyte at noon in order to chill it very well; I wonder, what will it really be like?  I’ll find out in a few hours.  Meanwhile, I am filling out the required forms that I’ll give to the clinic when I check in.  These are forms like, who is entitled to hear my private medical information?

I spend some time sitting out on the balcony, feathery clouds, spider on its web, blue sky, passenger jet, cool temperature, breeze; slight hunger, more to drink.  My companions Oak, Spruce (perhaps Pseudotsuga), and the train whistle.

At 1:20 pm, and again at 2:00, I realized that within 24 hours, the cleansing would be over, and I will be there.

At around 5:25 pm, I asked my wife to read the possible side effects from drinking the CoLyte, just in case anything happens, which I don’t anticipate (such as seizure and irregular heartbeat).  When I pulled this sheet out of the pharmacy bag, the other spec sheet from the CoLyte jug accidentally unfolded, which made us both chuckle because it is 38.5 inches long, printed on both sides (I measured it).

Now the fun begins.  To help the time pass, I invite my wife to join me in a game of Scrabble. She agrees.

What is it like, you wonder?  CoLyte is like a thick version of Gatorade.  I like it better than Robitussin DM, which really makes me shiver after I swallow it.

Suffice to say, it is amazing how much is retained in the intestines even after a day of fasting with clear liquids.  The first BM was … well.

While my wife was having popcorn and pancakes, because it was the beginning of her splurge day, I was looking forward to drinking some more broth.  Fasting vs. feasting (splurging), only a single letter differentiates them, and the major spiritual traditions encourage us to do both.

THE MORNING BEFORE MY PROCEDURE

I need to acknowledge the great support of my wife; she is the one who recommended how to schedule — my day off before, and then her day off. Also, she is my designated driver, which is a requirement for this procedure, due to the sedation.

Finished eight more doses of CoLyte, which feels like a major accomplishment in itself.

I was correct; this kind of diarrhea, watery stool, is very easy compared with what I experienced in Mexico City.  No real sickness or pain, no chills and shivering violently out of control so you think you’ll never stop; just a watery stool.  This is merely a washing, a cleansing, a rinse.  Final BM’s are liquid and color of urine.  And I feel good.

THE PROCEDURE

In general, I greatly appreciate someone taking care of me; like a previous experience when three of my toes were crushed.  In spite of (or maybe because of) the pain and trauma, it was so nice to know that somebody was caring for me.  The nurses today were super comforting, attentive and upbeat.

Stay hydrated, in spite of the cleansing. I repeat:  Stay Hydrated.  This is one thing that the prep instructions fail to emphasize.  A male patient beside me, on the other side of the curtain in prep area, had to be rescheduled because the nurse was unable to insert an IV due to his insufficient hydration.  Doctor even came to talk with him.  Alright, so I was eavesdropping.

I stripped completely, put on the gown, lay down on the bed, and then the nurse covered me with pre-warmed blanket.

They checked my blood pressure (still a little high, they noticed), temperature, connected the IV for anaesthesia.  I needed to pump my fist to expose a vein; this is why it’s essential to stay hydrated.  The nurse said that I was pumping my fist “with gusto” — which I attribute to my participation in Tai-Chi.

Soon the nurse rolls my bed into exam room.  I roll onto my left side, and need to untie the gown to expose my backside.  I watched the digital clock on the huge monitor go to 14:00 (the time for my procedure) while the three nurses were talking about mealtimes with their families.

Doctor came in, wearing blue shirt, red necktie, and asked if I have any questions, I only asked if I need to do anything to facilitate the sedative.  Nurse said no, it should take over within a minute, I will only feel a tingly face.  Soon I felt my face was tingling, and the next thing I knew I woke up, with my wife beside me, already back in the prep area.  So really I remember nothing at all about the actual procedure.

Doctor came in to explain the results.  Nurse says that due to the sedative, I am unable to drive, operate equipment or sign a legal document today.

The sensation of sedation.  Feel almost giddy as I recall it, or is a remnant of the anaesthesia in my bloodstream?  I know this is redundant, but the nurse said my face would feel tingly and then I’d be out, and she was right.  The next thing I knew I was returned to the original location of the bed in the prep area, my wife sitting beside it.  A totally new experience for me.

Also feeling elated by the fact that I made it through successfully, and now it is over, behind me; all the coordinating of schedules and transportation, discipline of the prep, etc.

AFTER MY PROCEDURE

Here is how I broke my fast: Ice cream cone, pizza from Little Caesars, root beer, yogurt and pancakes.

The next day, although I returned to my job, I felt unusually energetic, perhaps due to the cleansing.  I also felt victorious; I have joined the brave band of men who have survived a colonoscopy.  We must maintain the machine in which we reside.

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