Sunday, August 23, 2009

As the Stomach Turns Part V

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

My total exhaustion, coupled with the delayed effects of my sleeping pill, caused me to sleep through the usual morning hospital noises. Nurses changing shifts, breakfast delivery, and a nonstop talking roommate, I slept through it all. I barely remember Hans stopping in on his way to work and suddenly it was time for me to be taken off for my colonoscopy and endoscopy.

Remembering how nasty I'd been to the compulsive talker of the night before I really had no desire to see her face to face but I needn't have worried. She had her entourage on the other side of the curtain that consisted of her husband (who was eating and criticizing his wife's breakfast), the doctor who couldn't get a word in edgewise, and and a nurse who was trying to take the talker's blood pressure etc...

As I was wheeled into a very cold room, my gastroenterologist gave me a cheerful greeting, and the procedures that were to be performed upon me were explained. He said that a mild sedative would be administered through my IV and that while I would be awake for the procedures, I would be in a very relaxed state.

Easy to say when you're not on the business end of a Roto-rooter!

An Endoscopy involved a tube being inserted into my stomach via my nose and I would be required to swallow the tube upon command. I felt a surge of panic as I'm horribly claustrophobic and I wasn't sure I'd be able to follow through.

A colonoscopy involves a tube being inserted in a whole different part of the anatomy and doesn't require any cooperation at all.

I had one simple request.

If they only used one tube for both procedures, I asked if they wouldn't mind doing the endoscopy first.

It took a second before this sunk in and then the doctor laughed and assured me that it wouldn't be a problem at all.

Whether it had anything to do with my request or not, he started with the endoscopy and the nurse explained that they had to spray my throat.

"Now this stuff doesn't taste good and you'll find your throat going numb. When I tell you to swallow, swallow."

She sprayed my throat with what looked like a can of WD-40 complete with the skinny little attachment that causes the spray to zero in on its target.

I gagged as the vile concoction foamed in my throat, and when asked for my description of what I thought it tasted like, I immediately answered, "Hot cat piss." And then I clarified myself. "Sizzling hot cat piss."

The nurse loved it. This was by far the strangest description she'd ever heard and to this day I've no idea if anyone has ever come up with anything better. My throat went numb and I tried my hardest not to panic. I kept assuring myself that I could breath but it was scarier than hell to not be able to feel myself swallow.

And then it seemed like seconds later that I heard my doctor saying I was done and they were taking me to my room.

"But I didn't swallow yet." I said, and wondered why my throat was sore and my voice so hoarse.

They assured me that I had done everything they'd asked, and didn't I remember anything?

No I didn't remember a thing, and to this day I wonder if indeed I was conscious, what the hell I may have said during our time together.

I'm probably better off not knowing.

I arrived back to a room that still contained a chirping roommate and her sullen silent husband, but I was so groggy I didn't care a bit.

The TV blared, yap yap yap went the roommate, lunch time was in full swing, and I still dozed on and off.

I certainly didn't give a hoot about my test results.

There was a great deal of hoopla in the bed next to me when a nurse arrived, with a wheelchair, in order to haul old Leather Lungs away. Did she have everything? Did she have all of her instructions? Did her husband bring the car or the truck because she didn't like the truck, were they sure her sugar was okay, shouldn't her bandage be changed one more time, could she take the mouthwash and kleenex the hospital had given her... I heard her voice trail all the way down the hall to the elevator, and then there was blessed silence.

My heart lurched when I realized that even though she was gone, someone else was sure to take her place, and so far I was batting zero.

Shortly thereafter my doctor poked his head in the door and asked if I was awake and ready to talk to him.