Publisher’s Note: Preventive inferno

By on January 23, 2013

This can’t be happening. I’m padding slowly to the restroom holding my I.V. bag and gingerly trying not to get my tubes and wires tangled. My hospital gown is wafting open in the back, but I’m not as embarrassed as I should be.

I’m using the restroom for the third time since I arrived here at Teton Outpatient Services (T.O.P.S.), because I’ve choked down about a gallon of a noxious salty solution called MoviPrep over the last 12 hours, and it is scouring my intestines like a pipe cleaner. I’m 50, and I’m about to have a routine and preventative colonoscopy.

I’ve discovered much to my chagrin that this test is way worse than most illnesses. Cancer must be really bad if a colonoscopy is worth doing in order to prevent it. Forcing yourself to drink a fluid that you know is going to make you sick is a horrid though interesting experience. As I stood in my kitchen the night before cursing at the plastic container full of liquid that didn’t seem to be getting any emptier with each torturous sip, I pondered what it must be like for poor unshaven wretches floating adrift on a lifeboat in the ocean finally forced to drink sea water for sustenance.

This is the beginning of the end. I now understand what “over the hill” means. It means that I have crested life’s summit, and it’s all downhill from here – and not in a good way. Fluids and wires, hospital gowns, friendly 40-year-old nurses that look sinisterly young compared to my haggard sleep deprived face in the bathroom mirror. I’ve now connected the dots. This is how my parents got from robust and youthful to old and crotchety. I see it all clearly now.

My wife and the nurses smile infuriatingly as I share my morbid insights. They remind me that childbirth is kind of uncomfortable, as well. They obviously have no idea what I’m going through.

Back from the restroom I’m informed by the anesthetist that the sedative will kick in pretty quickly. My vision starts to blur. “Hey, this does work fast…”. Ah, sweet repose. Goodnight cruel world.

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