There were three firsts in my life. All three happened in one day.It was my first colonoscopy, the first time I was ever put under full anesthesia, and my first open-back hospital gown.
There were at least five steps: a pre-screening, a meeting with Dr. Dasani, a two-day prior diet, the one-day prior diet and chemical cleansing, and then the big show. When I met Doctor Dasani the first time, he wanted to go over the procedure, but I had already checked out Web MD and spoke to many of my FB friends and family.
I said to him, “Doc, correct me if I’m wrong, but you will somehow borrow the Hubble Telescope next Wednesday, squeeze it into my butt, pilot the thing though my intestines looking for binary stars and pulsars, and then wake me up when it’s over?”
When he stopped laughing he tried to explain it like this (Indian accent): “Mr. Volpe, the camera is no bigger than my pointing finger (I hope he uses the camera, and not the finger I am thinking). Then, we look for polyps and if we find them, we cut them out.”
Later I Googled polyps and got this, “a solitary or colonial sedentary form of a coelenterate such as a sea anemone.” They must have gotten in when I was swimming in the ocean as a youth.
Armed with all my new knowledge, a one-page syllabus on the procedure, and more information from my friends, I stopped at the supermarket on the way home. From my syllabus, I bought yellow jello (There’s ALWAYS room for jello!), beef/chicken bouillon cubes, and ginger ale to mix something that tastes horrible with. Then I stopped at the pharmacy and handed in my script.
The pharmacist, a girl who looked like she was 22, had advice for me too; “Sir, I am sorry you have to do this, but it’s for the best. You also have to pick up an over-the-counter med to aid in the cleansing.”
This probably wasn’t a good time to ask for a date.
Lying in bed that night, trying to fall asleep, I developed a new colonoscopy analogy in my mind; it is like a moon shot (pun intended). There are a team of scientists watching monitors as you enter the launch pad. A nurse says, “Please remove your pants and underwear, and lie face down on the platform.”
I make a mental note to memorize the color of my underwear because I have heard stories about dentists. As I start to lay down flat on my stomach, I see the ship out of the corner of my eye up near the ceiling, the letters NASA emblazoned on the side. It must be equipped with propellers or rocket engines because it will navigate through miles of intestines, right? It also must have laser beams to kill the polyps.
This is like Fantastic Voyage except I will not be meeting Raquel Welch. Since the ship is not manned, there is probably a camera sending images to the pilot and co-pilot. There must be a weapons officer to fire the laser as well. I wonder what happens if there is a power failure during the procedure or a monitor goes down? Do they abort the mission?
Suddenly, a new thought occurs to me, how does the ship enter this unknown part of space? Then I remembered a movie called “The Core” with Hilary Swank. Of course, the ship must have some type of a corkscrew mechanism in the bow. Next, I understand there is a count-down, except they tell YOU to start counting backwards….10…9…..8…..7……6….but you never get to hear them scream “IGNITION” because everyone says you go unconscious at 9 ½.
You are asleep now as they travel through your innards. At some point there must be a signal to hit the retro-rockets and head back, probably when they see your tonsils. They say the next thing you know, someone is tapping you on the shoulder and telling you to wake up and put your underwear back on.
Now, my father has said he did this more than once. Supposedly, I will feel “great” because there is no food in my body to slow me down. He took it a step further and said, “You may like it so much, you’ll want seconds.” That is hard to imagine.
EPILOGUE: I am home from the “procedure.” The reality was waiting for two hours in a hospital gown because the person before me had “complications.” Then an aide told me the doctor wanted to “sterilize the camera.” Hey, I’ll wait a week for that.
Some young nurses on the other side of my curtain were discussing how many times a week they wash their bras.
I swear, if one of the male patients said “diarrhea” ONE MORE TIME!
My little waiting area had the linen closet in it so I met the ENTIRE staff.
Going BACK for my necklace. Thank you to my sister, Ramona Volpe , for driving me and taking me to lunch!
The END. – Dave Volpe