I had been having stomach troubles for a while and my doctor decided it was time to take a closer look. At the time (1998), my options were as follows:
- Camera down my throat
- Camera up my arse
- Barium milkshake & x-rays followed by barium enema & x-rays
After much deliberation, we decided the least invasive route would be option 3.
“So”, I said to my doctor, “I’ve heard the term before, but what exactly is involved with all this anyway?”. Now my doctor didn’t have the best bedside manner and responded rather coldly, “Well, first you drink this barium – a lot of it – and then they rock you around and take some x-rays. Then once that’s all settled, about a month later, you go in and they stick a 1/4″ surgical tube up your ass and pump you full of more barium, rock you around a bit, pump air into your lower intestine and take some more x-rays. Then you shit cement for a few days.”
At least he was honest.
Well, the barium milkshake was a piece of cake. That is if you can muscle down the sickest drink ever imagined. It was like something out of a reality TV show, only my life might have actually depended on it, so I had to do it. It sucked big time, but it didn’t even suck a fraction of the amount that the rest did.
After a month of waiting they finally tell me that the “Upper GI” turned up nothing and now it was time for IT. They sent me one of those little pamphlets labelled “Enemas” and it had lovely little pictures in it and very detailed medical text on what to expect and what it was all about and what they could find. Very educational and a complete and total piece of shit lie.
Before you go in for this procedure you must be um…. clean. Not clean in the porn star sort of way with the boys as slick as marbles, but clean as in a digestive tract that’s void of anything–including liquid, and especially food. So, I go to the pharmacy to get “the kit”. It’s a lovely 3-step programme designed to cleanse your inner self. In retrospect, this was nothing at all like the Yoga I had originally hoped it would be.
Step 0: The Fasting
Yes, there’s a step zero. Any of you who’ve taken Thermodynamics would know that. Anyway, step zero is to eat nothing for a day and drink only clear chicken broth and water. The next morning it’s only water, lunch more water, then before bed on that day nothing until after the procedure. Seeing as I was 6′ 2″ and only 140 lbs. at the time, I was worried about not eating for that long. More on the weight loss later.
Step 1: The Pills
These are little pills – white – that you swallow in the morning. They did essentially nothing. To this day I wonder if they just had them so that the kit could contain three steps instead of just two.
Step 2: The Drink
I’m at work on the 2nd day and I’m hungry as hell. All I’ve had to eat for more than a day is water and chicken broth and those three stupid pills that did nothing. At lunchtime, I read the box for “the drink”. It said that I should drink it all down as quickly as I can and that I should “expect a strong reaction in 3 or 4 hours.” What the hell does that mean? I mean I know what it means, but they couldn’t pin it down any better than that?
I drank the vile stuff. Granted, it was way better than drinking barium, but it still was shitty. It was the most concentrated, carbonated lemon juice I’ve ever had. About 2 hours later my friend happens by my cube and reads the box. He says to me, “If their margin of error is 1 hour, what if the reaction time happens in 2 to 3 hours instead of 3 to 4?”
Oh shit. I hate it when people other than me make so much sense. I packed up my stuff immediately and headed home, in what had to the worst rainstorm I’ve ever seen in my life. I start my 1986 Cutlass and it gives me a really hard time. It does not like rain very much at all. I wasn’t even out of the parking lot when it happened. The strong reaction was upon me, and it was pissed!
Wanting home-field advantage, I put the pedal to the ground. It’s normally a 10-minute drive home from work–I planned to do it in 4. I took the most direct route home and basically broke every motor law there is except for not stopping for a school bus (thankfully it was mid-day and kids were still in school). Now I get to my street, or rather the one right before mine and I see a huge puddle in the road from the rain. Not wanting to get stuck in it I floored it. I’m doing 90 in a 40 and am not even thinking about losing my license, killing someone, or killing myself. I just need to get home. Now.
I hit the puddle and my car almost comes to a screeching halt as a wall of water 20 feet high sprays on either side of me. I felt like Moses. Then, my car sputtered. Oh no. It coughed and slowed down. Oh no. The tachometer plummeted to zero rpm. Oh no!!!!! I instantly invented a new swear word (something like jesusfuckingchristholyshitfuckgoddamnasslickinghellbitch). I put the pedal to the floor, turned the ignition and punched my dashboard with my other hand and the damn thing started and took off like a rocket. I now believe in God (and his name is Arthur Fonzarelli).
I park in the handicapped spot in front of my building. I didn’t have a permit, but if any situation warranted this violation, I’m guessing it was this one. Plus, that was pretty much the only law I hadn’t broken in the last 6 minutes and I didn’t want to ruin a perfect streak. I run up the stairs three at a time and I get to my floor and I. Run. Like. Hell. I come flying around the corner and there’s someone in the hallway standing right in front of my door. With a giant roll of carpet.
You have got to be freaking kidding me! I start screaming bloody murder at this poor fellow. “Fucking move asshole! Get out of the way! Away from my fucking door you carpet laying piece of shit! Move!!!”. I’ve never seen such a small man move such a big roll of carpet so fast in my life.
I open my door and leave it wide open (no time to close it) and get to the bathroom and have a seat. My pants hit the floor at the exact time my body decided to imitate a fucking space shuttle launch. And it was loud. And my doors were open. And there was a little man out in my hallway with a big roll of carpet crushing him to death. I did not care. Not one bit.
It ended quickly.
I got up, washed up and weighed myself. I had just lost 5 pounds. I’m not joking in the least. Five pounds in 1/10th of a second. That must be some sort of record. I go to close my door (to the hallway outside) and there’s the little man. He’s looking at me like I just jumped off the coroner’s table and shook his hand. I apologized profusely but he just kept staring at me with these huge, brown, terrified eyes.
So, moving along with the story, I managed to get a few glasses of water into me to calm down and then I moved my car (no ticket!). My wife gets home around 6:00 and says to me, “Why did the carpet guy practically run away from me just now?”. Had I not been so dehydrated I would have certainly peed myself laughing.
Which brings us to…
Step 3: The Pill
This is just one pill. It’s about the size of a small torpedo for a submarine. It’s wrapped in foil with big letters on it “DO NOT EAT”.
My wife reads out the instructions and because she’s a real trooper and clearly a better partner than I’ll ever be, asks me if I need any help. I was more in love with her then than I ever have been because I can guarantee you, I would not have been making her the same offer.
The package said I had to “sit tight” for 15 minutes as if sitting down was even an option. I managed to do a dance around the apartment until the clock struck the appropriate hour. Then it began. I hadn’t eaten anything in over a day. Hadn’t drunk in hours, and yet I’ve never needed a seat belt for my toilet more than I did right then. I was easily decades ahead of any SpaceX propulsion technology.
At least the worst part was over. Or so I thought…
OK, well that pretty much sums up PART I. Stay tuned for PART II (“The Procedure”) and PART III (“The Aftermath”).