So while the Republicans and the Democrats were duking it out in the House and Senate last week, in a last ditch effort to save the U.S. and the world from complete and utter destruction, I was fasting.
No, not in protest for them having shut down the government. No, not because of the whales or because my local sandwich shop no longer is carrying my favorite veggie sandwich (the secret was in the olive spread). The reason I was fasting was because I was prepping for my colonoscopy.
Yep, I had a colonoscopy. Probably, one of the most hateful medical procedures on earth. But also the most proactive thing I can willingly, unequivocally and without a shadow of a doubt, do for myself.
Frankly, the procedure itself isn’t that bad. All I did, once I arrived for my appointment, was to exchange my comfy clothes for a barely-there hospital gown, lay down on a hospital bed, answer a few questions about myself (I assumed the doctor was engaging in some sort of speed dating in an effort to get to know me before performing such an invasive procedure–“Your name? What do you do for a living? Date of birth? Are you into annal at all?”
Anyway, after that encounter with the doctor, the nurse returned and asked me to turn onto my left side. Someone took my blood pressure. Someone else took my temp, and then a handsome young man gave me pure, unadulterated oxygen to breathe, and yada, yada, I was out like a light.
The next thing I recall is hearing the nurse tell me it’s over. What? I didn’t remember a thing!
And that’s the point. You’re not supposed to.
So, what was the hardest part of the colonoscopy?
The fasting. For me it was 36 hours of not eating. The week before, I’d received a list of the allowed foods: water, clear juices and sodas, hard candies, gelatin, broth and Popsicles. Oh, that’s not bad, I thought. Plenty of options for fending off starvation!
Not having eaten since dinner the night before, I started my first day of “fasting” with two glasses of water and a ready-made orange gelatin in a three-ounce cup. As I ate my Jello, which tasted like colored water, I wondered how many of these would I have to eat in order to feel satisfied. Apparently, just one wasn’t cutting it. So I opened a second and devoured it. There. Much better.
Then I took the dogs out for their morning constitutional. It was a beautiful day and I was in a beautiful, relaxed mood. Think how much I could get done without having to spend any time eating! I’d write, and finally read that book I’ve been wanting to tackle. I’d weed my little garden, and search for the tire pump I recently purchased for my new bike and then misplaced. I’d do this and that and–
Barely 10 minutes had passed and I was already feeling hunger pains. This is silly, I thought. Too soon. Those Jello cups were just the thing and I should be satiated for at least another hour.
But I was feeling dizzy.
I made a beeline for home and again checked the list of foods I could eat. Sure, I could have more water. I also drank an elderflower soda that I had developed a hankering for ever since my trip to Europe the summer before.
That was good for another 10 minutes.
I looked at the list. Hard candies. Hmm. I had decided against those since I wasn’t fond of them and hadn’t purchased any. Ditto for broth.
So I turned on the TV and watched the latest episode of The Good Wife. And while I did, I pulled out a pineapple Popsicle from the freezer.
Refreshingly good. Satisfying down to the last lick. Heaven!
So good that during the second half of The Good Wife, I pulled out another from the freezer. Mango this time. Delightful!
I was now set. I could surely go the rest of the day–at least until dinner time, certainly without any food.
I tackled my to-do list, and while I feverishly organized my kitchen drawer, my mind kept wandering to that list of acceptable foods. What else was on the list? I needed actual foods, something I could sink my teeth into. Come on, what did I do with it?
I lost it!
I searched high and low. Fifteen minutes later, there it was, underneath a stack of People magazines I’ve been meaning to get to.
Ah, hard candies! Maybe there was something to it. If I kept sucking on one, that could last me for hours, and I wouldn’t feel hungry!
Remembering how as a kid I liked butterscotch Lifesavers, I went to the local grocery store in search of the hard candy that would satisfy my fix.
Which is when I learned that my local grocery store no longer carries any Lifesavers by the checkout stand. With a sense of panic, I flew from one cash register to the next. Not one to be found.
I scurried to the candy section. Coffee nips and Jolly Ranchers. Delusional from my hunger pangs, I saw the dearth of Lifesavers as a sign. Surely, there was a conspiracy of hard candies afoot!
I snatched up both the Coffee Nips and the Jolly Ranchers, paid for my stash and headed to the nearby drugstore. I was a woman on a mission, determined to find butterscotch candies.
Ixnay on the Lifesavers, but lo and behold, I did find a stash of generic butterscotch, and also more Coffee Nips. Chocolate ones this time. I picked up both and as I ran for the cash register, feeling light headed and completely delirious, I saw out of the corner of my eye, a bag of peppermints. I grabbed those too and headed home.
As I got in the car I popped a chocolate Nip into my mouth. Relief!
As I entered my house, I popped another. Satisfied, I began to gain my bearings back. Feeling victorious, I looked back at the list of approved foods. That’s when I noticed. The list said clear hard candies. Yikes. Those Nips were anything but, and now I’d eaten two. Make that three. I had yet another one in my mouth. So I swallowed hard, vowing to make that the last Nip to pass through these lips ever again.
Despite fasting not being my thing (I don’t know how Gandhi did it), somehow I survived the prep, including having to drink the nasty bitter, orange sour drink that, ahem, cleansed me.
I did it and survived to tell the tale.
Why did I do it? For peace of mind. Consider it a a preemptive. Because I want to stare cancer in the face and say, “I’m on to you! You’re not taking this old girl!”
The way I see it, if Katie Couric could do it on national television and set an example for all of us, the least I can do is set an example for you, my readers.
Some example, eh?
Anyway, if you haven’t yet done it and you’re 50 or over, make the appointment. You never know. You might save your life.
Now, how about you? Have you taken the plunge yet?