On Tuesday afternoon, I am getting a colonoscopy. I am a total wreck about it, too, but it's not the procedure that is worrying me. It's the prep.
When I got the instructions a few weeks ago, I read through the list. No Advil for a week before the procedure. Nothing but clear liquids the day before. Nothing at all for 3 hours before the procedure, not even water, not even if my lips are cracked and my throat is parched and I am gagging and dying and beseeching Jeff for just one tiny sip.
Then there's the industrial strength laxative binge. I've had visions of spending 18 hours pooping my guts out before, but somehow that nightmare has always taken place in a third-world country. Is doing it in the privacy of my own home with plenty of toilet paper and magazines supposed to be an upgrade?
When I got the instructions, the first thing I did was go online to research the laxatives I had to take. I was thrilled when I saw that I won't have to choke down a gallon of chalky liquid. But when I read that the tablets produce "a large amount of watery diarrhea," my enthusiasm waned a touch. When I read about a woman who took the pills and then proceeded to vomit and pass out and hit her head so hard she had to get stitches, which made her miss her colonoscopy, even after she pooped her guts out all night long, I closed the web browser.
But then I realized that I have to drink 80 ounces of clear liquids with the pills in the span of an hour. My mind started racing. Didn't a woman die from drinking too much water too fast last year? Didn't some other girl or some pledge in a fraternity hazing incident die the same way? I went back online. I learned that the amount of water my doctor told me to drink is double what the laxative's manufacturer recommends. DOUBLE. I also found lots of articles about water poisoning, but I couldn't find any that would tell me how much was too much.
So I called my doctor. Her nurse reassured me that I was, in fact, meant to drink exactly the amount in the instructions. "It's very important," she told me in a calm voice. "Otherwise you could become dehydrated. Because of the sodium blah-mide (blah-xide? blah-phide?) your body won't be absorbing it all anyway." I tried to believe her, but I couldn't. Then I realized I could just drink Sprite instead of water, and I've never heard of anyone dying from Sprite poisoning. (Getting fat is another thing.) I considered staking out a 7-11 to see just how much soda fits in those Super Big Gulps these days, but I couldn't find one in San Francisco. I'm taking this one on faith.
Before long, I started worrying that I would forget to cut out the Advil, so I set alarms on my computer every day for a week to remind me not to take any. The thought of going without didn't worry me much, truthfully, but that was before I got a raging headache on Thursday and slammed my right thumb in a doorjamb Friday night so hard the nail turned black and blue. Suddenly, I can sympathize with heroin addicts because I. Really. Fucking. Want. Some. Advil. NOW!
Yesterday I wrote up a grocery list of all the things I can eat when the fast starts tomorrow. The list was short because it is limited to clear liquids: water, apple juice, Gatorade, Jello, and broth. Since when is broth a food? Last time I checked it was an ingredient, like flour or baking powder, that required other ingredients in order to be edible. I haven't eaten Jello since elementary school, when I used to lick the raw, sugary granules off my moistened fingers during swim meets. Now I have 8 jars of jiggling green goo in the fridge. Mmmm. Breakfast. Lunch. And dinner!
The other thing on my list was toilet paper. (As I type this, I just realized something: I NEVER BOUGHT THE TOILET PAPER.) I bought two things of wet wipes but I didn't replenish my TP stock so I guess I'll go buy 12 rolls later today. Or should I make it 24? How much wiping is going to be involved? I wish someone could tell me.
As of last night I've started worrying about the actual procedure. I tried to find out the statistical likelihood that my doctor will accidentally perforate my squeaky clean colon but I couldn't find those numbers online. Probably better not to know.
I still have one question, though. Is white wine a clear liquid?