Health & Wellbeing > It's alimentary, my dear Watson

It's alimentary, my dear Watson

Published: December 16, 2010

Anesthesia, to hear my buddy Richard tell it, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

“One second, you’ll be in the operating room, and the next second — BAM! You’ll be waking up in the recovery room.”

It occurs to me as we chat that it’s been a number of years, nearly 24 to be exact, since I willingly sought unconsciousness. In my younger days, I was a blackout drinker. Had been from the first time I drank at 14 until the last time when I was 26. Obliteration through intoxication was a way of life for me for a number of years.

But that was then, this is now. I wasn’t overly worried about being knocked out for my colonoscopy, and after talking with Gail, the anesthesiologist, I was even less so. Whatever they were giving me was only going to knock me out while it was in my system. Once they stopped the IV drip, I would come out of it almost immediately.

Just the fact that I’m talking to Richard about it is a huge leap forward for me. I wasn’t exactly dreading the procedure, but I was more squeamish than I expected to be about discussing it with anyone.

And I was even more so once I realized the extent of travel up various passages and canals involved for the hineyscope. Because this was way beyond the $100 goose Dr. Rodriguez gave me annually. This was Star Trek territory. And I’d need to be knocked out while they were able to boldly go where no man had gone before.

But it turns out I worked in a cubicle between two guys with more experience than me on the subject, both of whom were happy to talk about it. Besides Richard, my buddy Dave on the other side is a colon cancer survivor. Both are younger than me, and both experienced the mega-fluid version of the colon cleansing that’s required pre-procedure.

On that end, it looks like I lucked out a little. The MoviPrep solution I was required to drink the night before consisted of 1 liter of solution consumed over a one-hour period, followed up by a half-liter of water. In the unlikely event that this failed to produce a bowel movement two hours after consumption, I was given a number to call.

I never got to dial that number.

Forty-five minutes into the MoviPrep experience, I was becoming acquainted with the toilet in my powder room — my home for the next hour and a half.

In retrospect, the first round of MoviPrep was better than the second. I had been on a clear liquid diet all day, and without going into detail, the results of that first round were numerous, but no worse than anything I had experienced after bouts with the 24-hour bug, and my occasional skirmishes with Montezuma’s Revenge.

No, it was the second round the following morning that I found difficult. Anything solid had exited my system by 7:15 a.m., and I was a human geyser for the next 4.5 hours. (Call me Old Fartful!) That was just unsettling.

My wife has to accompany me to the appointment. While I can drive myself to the office, I’m not supposed to operate a motor vehicle for the next 24 hours after getting the anesthesia.

At the doctor’s office, I’m checked in. (My wife gets to add value by directing me to the proper check-in window. Silly me, going to the same receptionist’s window that I had visited my two previous times at the office.)

I was told to be there an hour early and I am. About 15 minutes past 11, Barb comes out to get me. To her credit, she pronounces my name correctly, using the short “a” for Maffett.

I’m taken to the waiting room. Well, the waiting “pull-a-drape-for-privacy” room and told to undress and place my clothing and shoes into the clear plastic bag by the chair. Then I’m to put the hospital Johnny on — opening in the back, please — and let her know when I’m done.

I pull the drape closed and undress, neatly folding and storing my clothes in the bag. I pull back the drape and announce that I’m ready.

Barb looks at my bag, notices the knit cap and says, “Oooh! I like your hat. You can leave that on, it’s pretty cold back here today.”

I can’t help but let Barb know that I knit that hat with my own two hands. And while I’ve done a better job at knitting hats, the one I’m wearing is the very first one I ever made.

The hat and my amazing knitting ability are the topics of conversation as Barb wheels me into the operating room.

Gail, the anesthesiologist is duly impressed. The Hispanic Nurse’s Aide who goes unnamed/unintroduced looks on in stunned disbelief that a man could knit a hat so fine.

Gail goes on to explain how the anesthetic will be administered, what to expect when I wake up and reassures me that my sleep apnea will not be an issue.

At some point during my explanation of how to knit a hat in the round, I realize the anesthetic is kicking in, and I’m fading out.

True to Richard’s word, I open up my eyes two seconds later and I’m in the recovery room looking over at my wife.

“Hey, honey…” I manage to slur. “What time is it?”

She mumbles something that I don’t quite get all of, so I’m forced to ask her again.

Unbeknownst to me, eight minutes have passed since the first, second and third times that I ask her what time it is. At some point I recall looking at her lovingly and saying “Honey… I looooove you….”

Roughly 10 minutes after I enter the recovery room, I’m actually conscious enough that the doc can come and give me what will either be good or bad news.

For the most part, it’s good.

Turns out the colonoscopy went flawlessly until the very end, where he found and removed one polyp in the 5-7mm range. Based on its appearance, he wasn’t worried about it. He sent it out to be biopsied, but I will have to return in five years for another one, as opposed to the Get-Out-Of-The-Hershey-Squirts-For-10-Years card I would have received if everything was clear.

He’s continuing to talk about aftercare and I steal a glance at my wife, to make sure she’s getting all of this. At some level I realize that, while I’m awake, nothing is really sticking yet.

For all of that, he’s in and out in a very short time. Barb comes back to escort me out of the medical suite. I don’t get to say goodbye to Gail, or find out if she got all of my instructions for fine hat creating, but when the student is ready and all of that.

But it’s all good. At some point through all of this, I am reminded how fortunate I am to live in a world and a time where things like this exist. Forty years ago, guys were dying who could have been saved if they could have taken this simple precaution.

If 36 hours of a liquid diet and 16 hours of non-stop diarrhea are all that’s required every five years to give me a chance at another 50 years on this planet, I’ll take it.


1. pearhater on December 16, 2010

This was a great tale, uh story. Another 50 years sounds like a good deal for all of us especially if you're writing!

Though the pressure to pick upthe knitting for the two unfinished scaves is killing me.

; )

2. Anonymous on December 20, 2010

Thanks - all things considered, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Yeah... I'll be glad when the holidays are over and the pressure is off... I've been going round-the-clock to finish up my projects... still have 2.5 more to go!

Post some pics! :)

Any Comments?


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