The sands of that hourglass finally ran dry,
Rise and shine, Kid, D-Day has arrived,
You’ve gone to hell and back and emerged intact,
Yeah, Boy, you got this! Time to fight back.
6 August 2018
The day had arrived at last and the very first thing I did upon waking was to spring out of bed like a jungle cat that had sensed its prey and then dash straight into the toilet. I sat there for fifteen minutes before cleaning myself up and then returned to my room to gather my outfit for my date with destiny – a loose pair of sweats, a hoodie and a plain white t-shirt as I was instructed to dress as comfortably as possible.
Upon gathering my clothes I felt the ‘urge’ once more and returned to the toilet to unload some more excess fluids and waste. Man, two times in less than half an hour – that formula was still taunting me, having the last laugh. Considering that I would not have so much as a drop of water trickle down my throat until after the colonoscopy, which was scheduled three hours later, I sure hoped that this was the last time that I would have to deal with that prep’s after-effects.
Fortunately, there were no more emergency visits to the toilet before my parents and I made our voyage to the clinic. I sat pensively in the passenger seat, listening to the music on the radio and doing my best to keep the emotions within from exploding, much like a stubborn child trying to keep his wardrobe from bursting due to the massive amounts of junk he had thrown in there in a lazy attempt to ‘tidy up his room’.
“You’ll be ok, Son,” said Mom, who was seated at the back while Dad drove, “you got through the hard part last night.”
We pulled up to the Hospital for Specialist Surgery, located not far from Dr. B’s practice, after a twenty minute drive. Fortunately, the traffic along the way hadn’t reached peak levels yet, ensuring a quick and stress-free drive. The clinic was a white, modern-looking building with white interiors and glass doors, resembling some sort of high-tech science lab or art museum. Heck, it could have passed off as the headquarters for a team of superheroes!
I brought a bottle of water with me not to drink out of, but to moisten the inside of my mouth whenever it dried up. Yeah yeah, I was well aware that I was forbidden from eating and drinking and behaved myself. Once my parents and I had checked in with the receptionists and taken a seat at the waiting room I made several trips to the toilet to gurgle and spit some water – and at one point I ducked into a cubicle for some last-minute ‘business’. At least now I knew that my bowels were well and truly ready.
That waiting room was already rather crowded and the front desk fully staffed. Getting up this early on a Monday? Yeah, it was a drag and it showed on the faces of patients and staff alike. My parents and I were lucky to find three vacant seats in a row and as we sat down and made ourselves comfortable I took a look at the people around me, other pyjama-clad patients with a friend or relative acting as their support system and post-surgery chauffeur seated beside them. Other than a relatively young-looking woman who was accompanied by her mother a majority of the patients were middle-aged and some aged over sixty. I surmised that they were here, at the very least, as part of a routine bowel cancer screening.
Nurses and surgeons regularly came and went to call patients in and at one point, Dr. B himself emerged from the operating rooms and approached the front desk before returning. He caught my eye as he walked past and winked at me.
A part of me wondered how many cups of coffee he had consumed that morning.
I took one last trip to the toilet, bottle of water in hand, to gurgle and wash my hands when it came down to the last ten minutes before my procedure. My mouth was bone-dry and also, I seized the opportunity to stretch my legs before the procedure.
Oh yeah, and I wasn’t sure whether my mind was deceiving me or not but I noticed that my feet began to feel heavy and swollen.
It was probably due to not having had anything to eat or drink since the previous night, a mild form of dehydration if you will. But thankfully, they did not swell nearly as badly as they did prior to that blood transfusion. An elderly gentleman then walked into the toilet and I turned abruptly towards him, in that “I wasn’t doing anything!” manner of one caught in the act of doing silly things on their lonesome. He briefly acknowledged my presence before walking into one of the cubicles.
I returned to the waiting room and sat back down on my chair, playing with my phone. A nurse called my name not long afterwards and I trudged over to a small office where she was waiting and took a seat beside her desk. She proceeded to interrogate me, asking me questions regarding my preparation and making sure that I had consumed all of the bowel prep formula and had remembered to fast before my arrival. I answered ‘yes’ to all her questions and meant it.
“Very good,” she replied before gesturing towards a small scale in the back corner of that small room.
“Please step on so we can record your current weight.”
I removed my shoes and stepped on. I weighed fifty-three kilograms, looks like that cleanse plus the fasting had stripped one kilo from my frame.
“Perfect,” said the nurse, “you may return to the waiting room now before you will be asked to get ready.”
I returned to the waiting room, where my parents were still seated. The time ticked past 9am and I began to feel rather impatient. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to just be, blocking out the noise of chatter and footsteps all around. I could have easily drifted off to sleep as I was still feeling rather groggy from the fasting.
And before I knew it I was summoned again by a different nurse, this time ordered to get ready for the colonoscopy. I was jolted straight into action.
Ok, let’s rock ‘n roll!
I handed my phone and wallet to my mother, who kept them in her purse, and gave both of my parents a hug. I won’t be seeing them again until at least two hours from now.
“You got this, Kid,” said Dad.
“You’ll be fine,” added Mom.
“Cool, thank you.”
I stretched my back and loosened my arms and legs before walking through a narrow hallway that had several doors, all leading into different dressing rooms. There was also a rather long passage way in that hall that led to the operating floor, the arena in which patients would learn their fate. I felt like a boxer or mixed martial artist getting ready for a fight, or perhaps a rock star preparing for a gig. I walked into one of the dressing rooms, which contained a couple of hospital beds, a sofa and a box in which to put my belongings. Sitting on a bed was a hospital gown, cap and scrubs for my feet. I quickly changed into my hospital wear and pile my clothes into the box before quickly ducking into a nearby toilet. There were no mirrors in my room and I was curious to see exactly what I looked like. I took one look at my reflection and laughed.
Lookin’ good, Tough Guy!
Man, talk about adding insult to injury! I looked like a clown.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I wandered back to my room, sat on the bed and awaited further instructions. The song that triggered this blog, written and recorded by Tupac Shakur, suddenly began playing in my mind and so I head-banged and lip-synched the limited amount of lyrics that I knew as I waited – which is to say that I just repeated the chorus to myself over and over again.
A male nurse, a rather tall guy in his 20’s, suddenly walked in. He carried with him a small case containing some medical paraphernalia.
“Good morning, Sir,” he greeted, “how are you today?”
“All good, how are you?”
The nurse chuckled, “a bit sleepy but I’m alright.”
“You and me both, dude.”
We both laughed before he began fiddling with the contents of the case.
“I am now going to place this catheter on the back of your right hand for the anaesthesia,” he said.
I showed him my right hand, still pale and seemingly without a trace of a vein. The nurse immediately began vigorously rubbing the back of my hand, trying to raise a vein. When that didn’t work, he began slapping my hand.
“Sorry, Mate,” he said apologetically, “I’m trying to find a vein. It’s a bit difficult because you’re currently dehydrated from the prep.”
He kept rubbing and slapping for about a minute until finally, a vein popped up. He stuck the catheter in before instructing me to lie down on the hospital bed.
“Just relax now, Sir,” he instructed, “this won’t hurt.”
“Glad to know,” I replied.
“You’ll be asleep throughout the procedure. You won’t feel a thing.”
“Thank God,” I joked.
And with that, I was wheeled into the operating room, where Dr. B and his assistants were waiting. The nerves had evaporated, now replaced by some form of inner calm and also a sense of eagerness. I felt at peace yet was simultaneously chomping at the bit to finally unmask the cause of my symptoms. I still carried the hope that it wasn’t anything too serious but I was ready for the outcome, good or bad.
At least I thought I was.