The Colonoscopy Experience, for Posteriority

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What happens the day before is not important: a last breakfast, the fear of a bad outcome, drinking powder dissolved in a glass of water at ten o’clock and three, fear of no future, predictable whoosh, four or five times, of shit through the shit valve, echoes in Cancer Hall . . . well, you do learn a little about that valve which comes into play later.

Robin drives me to the colonoscopy clinic. Triage. Do you want pain or no pain? I chose pain because I hadn’t expected a choice. So I feel everything a colon wants to express while a centimetre-thick centipede, seven-feet long with sentient head, pokes and sucks its way to the end of things. I distract myself with the first ever sights of the ‘me’ so many have referred to, the me full of shit. Except there isn’t much there. Clean pink caverns when the lens clears; last laugh. The promised pain doesn’t happen. Doc, a nice guy, introduced himself, we shook hands, does his best with my colon on TV, but among his complaints is the surprise (guess those corners aren’t so tight; it’s really long and twisty though) and the chagrin (no polyps that I can see; no bleeding) and the impatience (suctions blocked up again, Nancy. By the way, have you ordered in lunch yet? Are you still addicted to those roties? Aren’t you worried about fitting into your wedding dress? We discuss all this). He will understand, won’t he, that this is my post-traumatic point of view, the normal retaliation that a grateful-it’s-over-and-it’s-all-okay patient has to mete out after suffering through a twenty-minute show featuring his own shit. Doc holds his big hands, one high, one low, indicating a five-gallon container in the space between: next time, get the industrial size laxative and drink it all, drink a lot, we’ll see more. He sends me to purgatory for five years when we’ll try again. Usually it’s ten, but I accept my punishment. I’m grateful for the half decade he guarantees me.

Now I lie in curtained rows with the other evacuees listening to instructions to fart which carry more force than the farting itself. After ten minutes of pain – sort of the same feeling as the ass-tube beating but now I want it gone – the valve opens for gas, long and breezy, and the pain goes with it. Then begins again. It’s a two-cycle gas engine that fires about ten times and I qualify to leave. You were not sedated so you can drive. Here’s the address of Mr Pattie where you can get the goat roties. I hear you like ’em. I dress but immediately find a can, drop my pants and heave my ass over the sink and wash it. Pale slime swirls down the drain. Wash wash dress walk out with a smile. Did it!

Robin and I have several errands in town before the trip home. While shopping for fish I decide to step outside for what feels like a fart. Oh. It’s not. I saunter, smiling, through the cafe next door to its large baby-changing washroom and back up to the toilet kicking off my shoes and dropping my pants and underwear, sit, pow pow, two canon shots unlike any I’ve ever reported. They blast water and shit-bits up past my balls and out onto my shoes and pants on the floor. Wow. Guess what! Robin has a towel and wash cloth, extra underwear and pants in the car, and brings them to me. Terrible scowl from the woman at the cash when we walk out after ten minutes of only god-knows-what in the can back there.

We make it to Mr Pattie. The Rotie is good, big, and a bad idea. A full stomach of goat, gravy and ginger beer on an empty colon. Is this going to be a problem? I test my valve in the can before we leave. A squirt, good, get up, flush, wash, sit back down, another blast but contained in the containment zone, about to wash, flush, but sit again. False positive. False negative. I wash again, flush again and leave with the interminable smile on my face, dropping a big tip.

We make it ten kilometres. The whole colon-sphincter apparatus continues to feel like a fart but I dare not test it in my pants and we stop at Amir. Good thing. It’s wet. Down and up twice and leave with no assurance of continence, but we have to drive on. Robin’s turn. I sleep. Half-way home: Tim Horton’s can. Here it’s a squirt without the turbo, and a clean bum. Better. I use Tim’s wifi to transfer funds between accounts.

That’s about it. I drive the rest of the way home. Robin is as wiped out as I. Before supper I sit on the can three more times for wet farts and then, somewhere between checking the dog dishes and my email, it happens. A fart at the gate saying I’ll be good. I believe it, and lo, air; and behold, nothing on paper! I have rarely spent an evening with such a pent-up colon of delights, eating leftovers straight out of the fridge and wearing sensible shoes.

Now, two days later, I’m wondering how long a seven-foot turd-diameter pipe takes to fill up? Does it fill from the top or the bottom? That valve has mastered the niceties of liquid and air, but has yet to confront something solid. Anyway, I leave it there. Neither fear of death nor fart jokes are interesting at this comfortable remove. You have to be there.

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