In Honor Of Election Day

Cleveland Clinic

It was 5pm on Friday. My cell rang. The caller was “unknown.” I picked up. An automated voice said: “This is the Cleveland Clinic Foundation reminding you that you have an appointment on Tuesday (aka “Election Day”). You must follow directions to clean out your colon. You must arrive 15 minutes early for your appointment. You must bring a driver. You must not drive after the procedure. If you must cancel your appointment, call this number. If you have questions, call this other number. Thank you.” Click.

This is what the world has come to. Automated voices telling you to clean out your colon.

A few days earlier I had received a “real person” call. I had also received mail. My oh my, what a wonderful day. I was really thrilled to have so much attention showered on me.

This was not my first colonoscopy. In fact, it was my fifth. I felt smugly experienced. Still, I almost rejected the procedure when my family doctor said, “It’s time.” As Dave Barry said, I don’t like anyone messing with my “behindular zone.”


About four days before the procedure, I read the directions and bought the prep. Sexagenarians know that you get that lovely big plastic jug of “Go Lytely” and a little pill to take. Yum.

People generally don’t talk about the two days leading up to the liquid diet. I’d forgotten about that to be honest. I read that there should be no multigrain foods, no salads or veggies, and no nuts or cheese. I looked in the fridge and the pantry. Have you ever thought about how much of our food is high fiber or served with cheese?

This called for action! I went right out and bought beer and Lorna Doones. Doctor’s orders!

With a definite lack of enthusiasm, I munched through the next two days thankful that we hadn’t been invited to a dinner party. “Sorry, I can’t eat your lovely salad nicoise, nor the cheese selection for dessert, nor the homemade five grain baguettes. I’ll just stick with the little piece of salmon and a martini.”

Now I must say here that I’ve learned a lot about myself in recent years. I have a very powerful and tricky brain. I get anxious about a bug crawling into my bathtub or the crisis in Greece. So, even with my vast experience of the “journey through colorectal land,” my heart was beginning to step up pace about the time of the liquid diet. So I did what I always do when I get nervous. I got busy.

I planned a day of laundry, washing windows, blogging, calling people for sympathy, going for a walk and oh! Going to the Dentist.

Yes, another pleasant experience. Might as well get it all over in two days.

“You’ll be clean from top to bottom,” cracked the dentist as he commented on my upcoming medical procedure.  Ha, ha. A little dental humor.

My nose was particularly tuned-in to smells of burgers. Signs beckoned me to buy a Polish Boy, stop in at Au Bon Pain, or buy a 9″ pizza and can of Coke for $4.99. How could life be this cruel?

Then the time came. Take the laxative tablet and start “rapidly drinking 8oz of “Go Lytely” solution every 10-15 minutes.” Then wait.  I tried to drink the prep while holding my breath. You still get the taste: slightly salty. For some reason, mine didn’t come with a flavor packet.  At first it went down without any trouble. I even thought they had changed the prep, but after 2 hours and 2 liters, my gut was as big and hard as a basketball, things were rumbling fiercely and I was ready to barf.

“Go Lytely” is a cruel euphemism for Go Fiercely, Go A Lot, and Go Until You Think Your Appendix is Screaming for Mercy. And that is just what I did for the next two hours.

At 7 pm I was done for the night. My stomach felt like a trampoline, and the idea of anything ingested felt repulsive. This is when my husband Dave came back from having a jolly good reunion with a buddy. He described in detail burgers at the Bier Markt.

I went to bed early with the hope of waking up at 5am to finish the prep. I have always feared that I’d have to do the procedure over again if I didn’t “clean my plate.” Even then I’ve never been able to finish the complete jug. So in the dark, quiet and cold early morning I tackled the last slurps, made a lot of racket to wake up Dave, took a shower and we were off.

The Clinic is the third largest employer in all of Ohio. It even has its own police station and shopping mall. People have been lost (me) for long periods of time in their cavernous buildings. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have their own cemetery somewhere. They pay lots of people to stand in hallways looking for signs of bewilderment and these people direct them to other places where they can be bewildered.

On this morning we had no trouble with parking or directions. I was called back and given my lovely gown without tying it up the back. I’d never met the doctor beforehand, which was a first for a colonoscopy. Barbie, my nurse, filled me in. I didn’t care about the precautions of possible death by perforation. My mind was elsewhere. I smelled a donut.

The Clinic doesn’t sedate you the way they did years ago. Instead you get a “semi-c0consciousness” drug where you drift in and out of sedation. When I was rolled down to the procedure room I was quickly given a dose of this semi-consciousness. I’ve been known to say some pretty outrageous things when I’m sober so you can imagine the hazards of what I might say while semiconscious.

For the next twenty minutes I zoned in an out. When I did open my eyes I saw my lovely pink insides. This was especially wonderful when I rolled on my back and the nurse pushed down on my stomach. Would these be the pictures that I could keep on my mantel?  I groaned. I’m not as brave as a friend from junior high days who did this procedure without Demerol and Versed.

My moment in the dark, er, sun, was over all too quickly and I was rolled back to recovery to join others in a symphony of passing air. Nurses and technicians were clearly used to this performance and didn’t gain any amusement from the long string of farts. I, with the help of drugs, found the whole toot very amusing.


Alas, it was time to get dressed, join Dave, and walk out to breakfast where I sated my cravings with chocolate croissant and chocolate milk.

Some people don’t give a s**t about elections. But on THIS November 2, I not only did but also got a vote of confidence for myself: I am good to go (in more ways than one) for another five years.


4 responses to “In Honor Of Election Day”

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  1. frugal franny says:

    I have never been tempted to clean windows when
    nervous — good for you. Glad all is well now.
    I like the photo and caption 🙂

  2. Carolyn says:

    Somehow it seems appropriate that as I read this the Science Channel was droning on in the background about black holes. So glad to hear yours is pretty and PINK!

  3. Pam Gallaway says:

    I felt like I was going through the whole proceedure again! nice writing.