Fasting for a Cause (Sort of)

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.DSCN7737

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.

You’re welcome.

Now, how about you? Have you taken the plunge yet?

32 thoughts on “Fasting for a Cause (Sort of)

  1. Good for you in being proactive and taking care of yourself. I mean, somebody’s gotta do it. 36 hours of not eating is good for your body. I reckon I can set an appt in about 20 years.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. Now that I am over 50 I need to have a colonoscopy myself. Since I’ve met me deductible this year I might as well try to squeeze it in before the end of the year. Though it is a horrible way to spend a PTO day. Glad it all worked out for you.

  3. Yep, fasting is bad. The nasty stuff you have to drink though, as far as I am concerned it is worse. My first was this year as part of my annual check up. My next is planned 5 years from now based on my results and my family history. I plan on putting it out of my mind till that time.

    You had my laughing all the way through your account. I don’t think I found it all that funny until I read this.

    • The stuff I had to drink was only slightly nasty. It did taste quite a bit like Tang, had Tang been a bit sour. I don’t know. As a kid, I’d see those Tang commercials about astronauts and I’d beg my mother to buy me some. She never did. Years later I finally tried it and it was very watery with a slight orange taste. The drink for the colonscopy tasted like a bitter Tang. But I could taste the orange flavor and that’s what I tried to focus on as I downed the drink.

  4. Good for you, Monica! I’m now 51 and have not had one–yet. I need to do that. At least here in Ecuador I should be able to afford it.

    Yes, fasting is bad–not that I’ve done it in decades. I don’t even know when I did or why exactly. But it was not fun.

    So, you’re a champ–and a good example. You know, I’ve not seen popsicles here, but they sound yummy about now.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • I’ll let you in on a secret, Kathy. I HATE fasting. Every time I need a blood test, doctor says I have to fast. Sheesh. You’d think by now they’d find another way!

      Now, no excuses. You’re over 50. Get it done!

  5. I love how you’ve drawn attention to colonoscopies through humor. Where would we be without humor, I ask? I’m so glad you did it. Now, as for the fasting bit, not sure I could manage without chocolate or anything remotely chocolatey. How, I ask, is that even possible? I have fasted for 24 hrs and ahem, cleansed myself with some horrendous liquid for my very first myomectomy. I even had a titanium clip put in my breast to monitor a growth.. That was worse than my annual mammogram and yet having a tube in my buttocks makes me feel like I would lose all sense of myself, well, I will be under, so I would lose sense 🙂
    I think it is one of the bravest tests you can undergo, so here’s to you my dear, you are wonderful. I agree, I think Katie Couric was so brave to do it on national television.

    • Humor is everything. I believe in it and have a passion for it. Why be serious when you can be funny? Anyway, glad you enjoyed my escapades. I’m glad it’s over and I don’t have to do it again for 7 years! Thank you, thank you. On behalf of Katie, we thank you for your kind words.

  6. Good for you, Monica, and good for us, hearing your humorous, thorough account. I’ve always heard it’s the prep that’s bad; glad to hear it’s not un-doable. And I definitely think, given the choice, I’d rather fast than drink that salty water. Thanks for the nudge!

    • Debbie, I have news for you. I fasted AND drank the “kool-aid.” Only it tasted more like Tang. See my response to Georgette. With some advances, the prep isn’t as bad as it used to be. At least I didn’t have to drink gallons of salted water which I kept hearing would be the case. Not so. There’s hope!

  7. Good for you Monica, and way to go thru it with your typical humor and wit! Loved this post. When I had my colonoscopy years ago, I don’t remember the fasting. Perhaps it’s like childbirth, selective memory is best.

    • Trust me, Susan, you fasted. I can’t believe you’ve forgotten though. It’s madness! Might as well have asked me to put leeches on my body. Would’ve been just as much fun! 😉

  8. Monica, a colonoscopy is on my list, but it has been preempted. I have heard that the prep you have to drink is the worst part…but now I’m thinking the fasting could top the list. Bottom line…you were proactive with your health! I didn’t know I could laugh my way through a colonoscopy, but your post definitely made me crack a smile and took the scare out of the procedure. Hurrah!

    • Buy plenty of popsicles and hard candy. That’s what helped me survived the dumb fasting. I went from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. By Tuesday morning I wasn’t even feeling hungry at all!

      By the way, read my response to Georgette re the Prep. The Tang-like drink prescribed to me is called Prepopik. I highly recommend it!

    • Becky, take my advice and get them ahead of time. There’s nothing like going shopping for candy when you feel light-headed and dizzy from hunger. Like me, you might end up buying every hard candy known to man. On the plus, I know what I’m giving out to Trick-or-Treaters!

  9. It’s true that the prep is the worst part. Although I’ve got to tell you the prep is a LOT easier than it was 20 years ago. I opted to fast rather than drink gallons of salt water (the recommended prep at the time) and have been doing it (fasting) ever since. I’ve probably – at 52 – had more colonoscopies than you’ll have in your lifetime. I was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 29, started chemo the week of my 30th birthday. As a cancer survivor I have to second your recommendation to go ahead and get one. It’s not the procedure that’s bad, it’s definitely the prep.

    • Lisa, I’m so sorry about what you’ve had to go through. This is serious stuff and I’m glad you’re handling it so well. See my response to Georgette re the prep. It really is a lot easier these days. 🙂

  10. The last time I had one, knowing I could down only half of the cleansing liquid, I started fasting two days in advance. I felt guilty walking in for the procedure because I hadn’t finished off the other half of the required “stuff.” When I woke up, I asked the Dr., “Was I clean enough?” Affirmative…whew!

    • They’ve made great strides in the liquid you’re suppose to drink. When I first had this done 8 years ago, they gave me pills to take. This time, they said I’d drink the liquid, which I dreaded because I kept hearing about folks who were sent home with gallon sized containers they had to gulp down in record time, along with mass quantities of water.

      Well, what they gave me were two packets of Tang-like powder and I was to drink one at a time with 5 ounces of water, followed by 3-5 8-oz glasses of water after each. This was done over a course of about six hours. Really, that wasn’t bad at all. For me, clearly, the fasting was the hardest part. Sigh.

  11. I had one 15 years ago and oncologist suggests time for another. I have a daughter here but Miami has changed so much I know very few people here anymore and no one to drive me home from these types of procedures as they won’t release you unless you are accompanied by someone and taxi not allowed either.

    • My son took the day off so he could drive me home and so he could take care of me and the dogs while I slept. But my doctors office will find someone to take you home if you have no other options. They’ll charge a fee for it, but at least they do it. I can’t imagine not being able to get a potentially life-saving measure done due to lack of ride.

      Blog about your dilemma and maybe some Floridian will come forward who can help you. I would if I lived in your neck of the woods.

  12. No food for 36 hours!!!!!! Sounds like torture……

    Anyway reading your post leads me to ask a very important question….

    Did you find the tyre pump for your bike?

    • Haven’t you had a colonoscopy yet? Don’t they recommend it where you are?

      No. Have not yet found the tire pump. It was a mini version, to take with me on rides in case of emergency. I’m mad at myself for losing it. I actually have a memory of the last time I saw it. On the desk in my garage, and I recall thinking, I better move it to a safe place. Problem is I bought it before I got the bike. By the time the bike arrived, the pump was gone. Still in its safe place, I imagine. If only I knew where…

  13. Morning Monica! No, not over 50, but did have one many moons ago to rule out polyps. Not bad at all. Doc gave me some happy gas, didn’t feel a thing! I could just see you moving about that drugstore looking for those Lifesavers! LOL!

    Recently had a mammo though. I used to refer to the mammo machine as a panini maker because it felt like they were grilling your girls when the closed that top rack. Man!! We’ve come a long way. It really wasn’t bad. The machines are so much smoother and gentle now. Then again, that might be because I really have nothing but speed bumps up there.

    Glad you’re taking care of you!

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