If there's a signature event in a man's existence that's sure to trigger a midlife crisis—more than his first gray hair, more than when he starts hearing the punk bands of his youth on the oldies station, more than the first time he sits on the toilet and feels the bottom of his scrotum sinking into the cold, still water—it's got to be the colonoscopy.
If you're 50 or older, the American Cancer Society advises you to make an appointment to have a camera shoved up your ass via 5-foot tube so that a team of physicians can thoroughly examine that private, secret place where everything you've ever eaten goes to die.
However, for all its potential for suckosity, it's the day before the colonoscopy that's the worst: You're permitted to eat only chicken broth, which can hardly be defined as "eating" and, thanks to a special concoction called MoviPrep, will spray out of your sphincter no more than three minutes after you consume it.
What's MoviPrep? you ask. Well, it ain't a combo kit of popcorn, candy and a comedy DVD to distract you from your upcoming date with Satan's anal plunger. Nay, the "Mov" in MoviPrep refers to certain, you know, movements—and I don't mean the kind you might hear in a Beethoven sonata.
After I retrieved the MoviPrep from Rite Aid, I rounded up a few other items and got in line. When it was my turn, I approached Ms. Blabbermouth at Register 2, who started ringing up my items.
"What is this?" she asked, picking up the shoebox-size package.
"Oh, it's just something from the pharmacy," I said. "It's covered by insurance, so nothing to ring up."
Now, you would think that my having mentioned "pharmacy" would have been her cue to stop prying, but she persisted with her psychological colonoscopy—prodding and digging and shoving her 5-foot proboscis deeper into the bowels of my business.
"Is it something to do with movies?" she asked, as the people behind me leaned forward slightly and cupped their ears.
What I wanted to do was scream, "It's a fucking ass cleanser, Lady! OK? It makes you piss out of your rectum! Here, try some!" Of course, what I actually did was whisper, "It's for cleaning out your bottom before a colonoscopy."
In her best Well-now-this-isn't-at-all-an-awkard-moment-that-I-will-not-be-blabbing-to-the-girls-in-the-break-room-later voice, she said, "Ah, well, it's very important to do that, you know."
Once home, I mixed the various powders into a pitcher of water and stuck it in the fridge. You have to drink two gallons of MoviPrep in a short period of time, so they recommend you chill it in advance. The only problem is, it tastes like the strained regurgitations of a sickly old curmudgeon on his deathbed. So, what the shite does it matter if you drink a gallon of cold strained-sickly-old-curmudgeon vomit or a gallon of warm strained-sickly-old-curmudgeon vomit? If the taste weren't bad enough, there is—to really make this night as memorable as possible—the persistent, frequent diarrhea. I tell you, dear reader, you have never pissed out your butt the way you will piss out your butt after a dose of MoviPrep. I've been on massive whiskey-and-Coke binges in Vegas—eating nothing but coffee grounds and string cheese for three days—that didn't liquefy my stool the way one dose of MoviPrep did. Worse still? I had to change my underwear five times because there was not enough time to get to the bathroom after the first warning signal, largely because the first warning signal is a warm wet feeling in your pants.
The colonoscopy: Everyone told me I'd be unconscious during the procedure, but I was mostly awake. It didn't hurt, mind you; it was just, you know, weird. I was lying on my side, facing the monitor while they shoved the tube further in. Because they were all behind me and didn't know I was awake, I was able to enjoy their unabridged commentary about my most private innards. They excitedly discussed and argued about what was happening on the TV, as if my colonoscopy were a football game and it was Super Bowels Sunday.
I was quite surprised to learn that I have an impressively clean and healthy colon, for which I am ever grateful to the ass gods. Part of my fear of this whole procedure was worrying about what they were going to find up in there. I mean, we're talking about a guy whose diet consisted primarily of slaughterhouse beef, hormonally infused fowl, the mite-infested flesh of corporate farm swine and pretty much everything else that's made out of cancer and polyps. Indeed, I abused my digestive tract so horribly that I was expecting my intestines to resemble the caverns of Mount Doom—dark and foreboding with giant, venom-drooling spiders lurking at every turn and a hissing Gollum hiding behind sickly brown stalagmites. But the doctors all seemed impressed by my innards, causing me to beam with pride and superiority
"Cleaner than the colon of a vegan prom queen!" I said to no one in particular.
"He's awake," one of the assistants said.
"Are you in any pain?" the lead doctor asked. "Are you comfortable?"
"As comfortable as one can be with a film crew rooting around in his intestines," I said.
It's not clear if I got a laugh out of that; nor is it even clear if I said it out loud, being in somewhat of a dream state. I remember thinking to myself, just before I fell asleep again, that if you're going to go through a midlife crisis, it's always best to have the colon of a prom queen when you do. Ain't that right, my precious?
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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