I recently had a colonoscopy. I had one around seven years ago in the U.S. so – cue inevitable Brokeback inference – this wasn’t my first rodeo. Due to family history, it is (pun intended) relatively important that I go every now and again. As cancer in German translates to “crabs”, having colon cancer literally means that one has “ass crabs”. I can tell you, that is not how I want to go out. I hate seafood, especially if I have to use a hammer to eat it. Incidentally, hammer means the same in German as it does in English, but it also translates to “terrific”. Clearly, Germans are deranged.
Having gone through this before, I sort of knew what to expect. Having it done in a different country, however, meant that there were bound to be a few differences and so I couldn’t resist the temptation to keep a log of the events as they unfolded. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure (another pun), the prep is in and of itself the worst part. As the day of the procedure runs its course (another pun, really?) on its own, this log contains only the happenings of the prep day or, as I have come to call it, The Day Humanity Ended.
January 14th, 2016: Prep Day.
7:00:00: Open prep package from hospital to take stock of contents: One instruction sheet. One bottle of Prepacol with four tablets. Three packages of EndoFalk. One cheaply made hairnet. One… Is that a maxi pad?! My prep bag was obviously meant for a menstruating lunch lady.
7:05:00: Upon reading the instructions, find that the hairnet is actually a pair of underwear for keeping the maxi pad in place. The instructions state that the maxi pad is to absorb “versehentlichen Leck” (accidental leakage). Fear begins to take root.
7:05:15: Remove underwear from head.
7:06:00: Read instructions regarding food. I am to eat only Zwieback for breakfast and can only drink water, tea or coffee without milk, diluted schorle (schorle is already diluted fruit juice), and broth during the day. Head to pantry to retrieve Zwieback while hoping that Zwieback means “bacon”.
7:08:00: Open and inspect Zwieback. It looks like super-dried mini toast. Take first bite and immediately spit it out. It tastes like lightly-sweetened drywall. Clench buttocks tightly and tell Eve I’m going to McDonald’s. Eve says no.
7:11:00: Eat Zwieback as hunger and the thought of ass crabs overpowers my disgust.
8:30:00: Getting very hungry. Begin working to distract myself from thoughts of food.
9:45:00: Even more hungry. Look down and realize that I have been making doodles of food instead of working. Surprised that it looks better than my normal work. Consider submitting it to my client.
12:00:00: Time for my first dose of prep. The bottle is so small and cute that I want to glue googly eyes on it and make it my pet. Decide on the name Walter.
12:04:30: Prepacol is mixed with 100ml of water. Drink. Almost die. It tastes like salted paint thinner. Decide that Walter is evil and will have to be put up for adoption. Or put down. Time will tell.
13:00:00: First rumblings from down below. Walter’s evil has begun to possess me. Go back to work.
13:01:12: Run for bathroom. Release huge amount of flatulence. Like a Game of Thrones episode, it was satisfying, but I can tell there’s more just below the surface.
13:03:00: Realize that Game of Thrones is aptly named as the author was probably also prepping for a colonoscopy and wrote it during his 16 month stay atop his porcelain throne.
13:05:00: Decide that it was an extremely gassy yet false alarm. Zip up. Begin to leave…
13:05:05: Turn immediately around and claw furiously at pants. Barely get them off and assume semi-squatting position before the gates of hell are opened through my posterior. Walter is the devil. He wants out and he has chosen my butt for his portal to this world.
13:06:06 to 13:44:00: Unearthly screams emanate from bathroom. Some are from me.
13:45:00: Finally leave bathroom.
14:00:00: Rumblings again. Screw it. I can master this. I am the master of my body.
14:00:10: Dead sprint for the toilet. Barely make it. Dear god, WHAT IS THIS?! It’s like a firehose shooting out of my backside. If there are any fires nearby, I can surely help, though I doubt if anyone wants their house extinguished by what is coming out of my rump.
14:15:00: Still perched atop the toilet. My bunghole burns so much that I consider administering a fire extinguisher enema. We have one in the kitchen, but I doubt I can make it in between spurts.
14:30:00: The evil subsides. Walter must be sleeping. Tentatively pull pants up and tip toe from the bathroom so as to not wake him.
15:00:00: Time to take the four pills that came with the Prepacol. I feel like the sixth Russian roulette player at a table with five living and very relieved (4th pun) people: I know that the chamber is loaded with a live round.
15:30:00: Nothing. Maybe they take a while to work.
16:00:00: Still nothing. Maybe they were Imodium? Perhaps the doctors know in their infinite wisdom that I have nothing left to give and need a reprieve. That would be nice.
16:00:05: My butt has been transformed into an M16. Those pills were bullets and my hiney is the barrel. It’s like a semi-automatic diarrhea rifle and my colon is pulling the trigger every 7 seconds. The delay gives me just enough time to wipe before the next round. Unfortunately, my backside is so sore that it feels like I’m wiping with 80 grit sandpaper.
16:16:45: Delay time has decreased and my butt is now on full automatic. Who would create such a horrible pill? Am I on camera? Am I being Punked? I never liked Ashton Kutcher.
16:45:00: Decide to live in the bathroom. I am clearly never leaving.
17:00:00: It’s time to take two of the three packages of EndoFalk (the 3rd is for tomorrow morning, yay). Directions say to mix with 2 liters of water and drink within 30 minutes. Mix prepared, take first gulp. This is somehow worse than the previous two. At first glance, the packages state that it is orange flavored. Upon closer inspection, it actually says “orange aroma”. This is clever marketing as it does smell faintly of citrus. The taste, however, is closer to embalming fluid mixed with goat spit. Since I know that this can only end one way, I head to the bathroom, i.e.; my new home, to await my fate.
17:17:00: My ass has been magically turned into a flamethrower. I’m positive that all of the hair on my rear end has been burnt off, but I’m too scared to check. I can only imagine that the toilet has also been destroyed. Decide to take a peek. Find that all of the hair is indeed gone and the toilet is missing. What is left in its place is a large and smoking hole in the floor. Realize that I am still in a sitting position only because my legs have seized from perpetually squatting.
17:25:00: I’m pretty sure that EndoFalk is a militarized nuclear bio-weapon. What was once a localized strike has evolved into an A bomb. Or AA Bomb (Atomic Ass Bomb). Forget the Bikini Atoll. Forget Hiroshima. This is annihilation at its worst. Like a devious serial killer leaving clues regarding their intentions, however, the severity could have been deciphered had German intelligence been doing their job. The name EndoFalk says it all: “Endo” meaning “end” or “bottom”, and “Falk” meaning… Well, since German often has a silent “L”, sounds like “Fock”. In other words, drink this and your “end” is “focked”.
17:43:00: Google scientist that created EndoFalk so I can find him and make him pay. Like the radioactive bite that transformed Peter Parker into Spider-Man, the effects of that vile powder has turned me into a vigilante superhero. My name will be The Singed Schpincter, my super powers horribly obvious (if not, refer to 17:17 entry). Vengeance will be mine.
18:45:00: Fluids are running dangerously low. In my delirious state, I wonder if Germany has successfully transplanted an anus yet. Make note to ask my doctor; I am going to need one. Or several.
19:14:32: Crawl from bathroom. Collapse in foyer. Realize that death is imminent. Search immediate surroundings for a pen to write my will. Find only Buster’s leash and a stale tic-tac under the closet.
19:15:00: Eat stale tic-tac. Have moment of clarity and realize that tic-tac is a petrified rat dropping. Resolve to clean better if I live. Resolve to first brush my teeth.
19:23:00: Lying prone on the floor, the rumblings begin again. Discern that soon I will have a large quantity of ickiness within reach and realize that I may have to scribble my last will and testament onto the tile with finger poo-paint. This is not how I imagined my final moments.
19:45:15: Revived by Eve telling me to “get my ass up”. Look around; no poo in sight. Like the magical spell of a tall and angry blond shaman, Eve’s incantation has cured me. Trudge – gingerly so as not to chafe my already weathered cheeks – upstairs to bed.
Somewhere between sleeping and dawn, I awoke for another round of toilet war and then slipped back into a death-like slumber. You’ve probably heard of how Buddhists and Hindu Gurus can lower their heart rate and breathing and can so appear dead. After experiencing German colonoscopy prep, I can say unequivocally that their transcendental states aren’t the result of spiritual meditation or yoga. They are a side effect of colonoscopy prep medications. C’mon. Do you think it’s a coincidence that only elderly Hindu and Buddhist men attain these realms of bodily control? Of course not. They were clearly just prepping for their, at their ages, ceaseless colonoscopies.
I awoke for good at 05:00 on the day of my procedure as I needed drink the last package of “Oh my god please make it stop”. More of the usual ensued, but I was granted a blessed cease-fire at around 08:15. This (unlike my Imodium pipe-dream) was clearly calculated ahead of time by the doctors so they wouldn’t be doused during my procedure at 09:00.
At 09:00 I was propped up in a corner of the waiting room by Eve and, alarmed by my pallor, was quickly ushered into the doctor’s office by two stout nurses.
After being instructed to take my clothes off, one nurse told me to put on the hairnet/underwear…while he watched. Being the type who jokes when he’s nervous, I asked if these were Calvin Klein. Before I could even say that they were too small and would therefore need a pair of “Calvin Gross, haha”, he said, without a hint of sarcasm, that they were Karl Lagerfeld. Having watched Project Runway, I should have recognized Karl’s blatant overuse of chiffon. I’m sorry, Heidi. I am not worthy.
About 10 minutes later, I was lying on my left side, had an IV port slid into my hand, and was asked if I needed anything. Being still nervous, I said in German that I was very hungry and would like a BigMac. Clearly just as nervous as I was, they promptly bellowed laughter and then quickly injected me with liquid sleepy time.
Anesthesia can leave one feeling a little out of sorts. That’s what the doctor said to me before the lights went out. That is akin to telling someone that if they are lit on fire, they may feel a slight burning sensation. What he clearly meant to say is, “You will not remember a damn thing for quite some time after awakening. Don’t freak out”.
I awoke a couple of hours later, completely groggy and, of course, not knowing where I was. After looking at my surroundings for a several seconds, I deduced that I was in a hospital and thought that my plan to seek revenge against the developers of my prep medicine had gone horribly wrong. As I was making a break for it on extremely wobbly legs, I encountered a restroom whose lure I could not resist. Toilets exert a strong gravity upon those whom have drank ten-thousand liters the night before being unconscious for hours.
When I emerged, the doctor spotted me and asked, just before I was about to break into a dead run (which really would have been more of an old man shuffle), if my procedure went well.
Procedure? Clearly I had suffered extensive injury during my fit of revenge. I could only assume that my victims suffered a worse fate. They were obviously downstairs in the morgue and this was the first line of questioning by a cop disguised as a doctor.
“Of course”, I replied warily. “Just a bit unsteady”. “Oh, good”, he replied. “The anesthesia from a colonoscopy can leave some patients a bit bewildered when they come to”.
And then, in a flash of reckoning, it all came back. The prep. The procedure. The Lagerfeld underwear that I was no longer wearing – I do not want to know the story behind that. But most of all, my hunger.
Eve was waiting patiently in the hallway as I made my departure from the surgery unit. As we walked out of the hospital, we talked about the experience, and two plans were hatched; one together and one by me alone.
Plan (1) – Together: Get a Big Mac.
Plan (2) – Myself: Resume plans of vengeance.
I know where you live, Mr. EndoFalk. You are now my arch nemesis and, like every super villain, you need a menacing name. You shall be known henceforth as… The Crazed Chemist. Be wary, villainous swine: The Singed Sphincter is coming for you.