My wild imagination runs on two parallel paths when it comes to my health. On the one, everything is just fine. On the other path, everything is going to hell in a handbasket and I’m moments away from drawing my last breath.

Usually, my labs remind me that I am very lucky to be on the path where nothing is really wrong with me, even after 65 years on this rock. This is remarkable largely because I am famous for doing nothing to improve my health. I don’t exercise enough, even though I occasionally join Planet Fitness, never step foot in the place. I probably drink too much wine. I have a strategic reserve of extra weight. But to my credit, I’ve never tried smoking, even once, nor have I smoked pot or tried any other illicit substance that isn’t prescribed by my doctor.

In the area of prescriptions, I take just one. It’s supposed to stop me from looping in my doom and gloom cycles, but it has never helped with the fertile imagination that is just sure I have the rarest of all diseases, perhaps one that hasn’t even been seen before.

So it came as a shock when my occult blood test came back positive for traces of blood in my poo. To investigate further, my doctor referred me for a colonoscopy, my first truly invasive procedure.

I had heard all the horror stories about it from my family and friends. The gross jug of potassium this-and-that you had to down, the rampant diarrhea that followed, and the procedure itself, where some chose to remain awake because they wanted to follow along on the exam. Sickos!

I admit that I barely know where my colon is. I know that it starts at my butt and winds its way around inside me, ending up somewhere near my intestines. I can’t really tell you what it does or why it’s there. All I know is that a complete stranger was going to shove a camera up there and have a look-see.

My appointment was set for Friday, the 13th. What could possibly go wrong? When it was scheduled, I was still two months out, so I had plenty of time to worry about my poop. Did it look pencil-thin today? To find out, I would Google a chart. I’m sure it’s not supposed to be that color. Another chart Googled.

On the appointed week, it was time to get serious. Ruminating over the state of my poop would have to wait because I had something new to keep my mind busy. I had a set of guidelines to prepare for the procedure. While I love to bend the rules on most things, I wasn’t about to deviate from this list of “to-dos” as I readied for the big day. I didn’t want to have to endure a do-over.

I gave up peanuts seven days out. That was painful as I love chunky peanut butter. On Thursday, the real work began. Nothing delicious for breakfast or lunch. For me, that meant Cream of Wheat and white rice. Not together, mind you, but it was the only thing on the list that sounded good. Puffed cereal? Are you kidding me?

After noon, it was time for liquids only. Easy enough. At 7 p.m., it was time to start downing the four-liter jug of Gavilyte G, or GoLYTELY as they call it. Wasn’t that a character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s I thought as I mixed the solution with water. To make this salt bath more palatable, they do give you a packet of lemon-lime powder. My son clued me in that adding Gatorade was the secret, so I added a bottle of Gatorade Frost Glacier Freeze Thirst Quencher to the jug.

I waited patiently for the flood to start but nothing happened. It’s supposed to arrive in 30 to 60 minutes after drinking the three liters. I was at 90. I was just starting to think that I was somehow immune from the potassium-powdered mix. That’s when the dam broke. I thought for a moment about holding on dearly to the bottom of the toilet seat as the propellent left my backside with a force I had never known before.

And so it went. First stage. BOOM! Second stage. BOOM! Third stage. Fourth stage. By 11, I was drifting off, the propellent spent and me exhausted.

In the morning, after a final liter of the jug, I was off to the UW Medical Center. They settled me into Prep Room #4 and I put on my backless gown, which, for the first time ever, seemed appropriate.

The jokes began to fly. I just can’t help myself. We talked about what people actually look like under their masks, about the fact that I had Trans Global Amnesia but couldn’t remember when, and when asked if I snored, I said they’d have to ask someone else as I was asleep at the time.

I had asked my wife if she’d Sharpie “Cave Tour. Today Only!” with an arrow pointing to my butthole. But she wouldn’t cave into my request.

Prep done, we rolled off to the exam room. By now, I had my comfy hospital socks on, a pre-warmed blanket over. I could have gone to sleep, which I was about to do anyway.

There was no way I was going to stay awake and experience all the wonders of someone shoving a scope up my ass. When I made the appointment, they gave me several choices. I could 1) stay awake, 2) be lightly sedated, or 3) have full anesthesia.

I’ve never been under anesthesia, and in this precarious position, didn’t want to try it out. So I chose Door #2, sedation.

Everything at the ready, the nurse said she was turning off the lights. I saw the room go dark, and then I did. The fentanyl took no time at all in putting me out. It’s as if the doctor had me and the lights connected to a Clapper. Clap On. Clap Off. Lights out.

Forty minutes later, I woke up. I was in Room #4 again. My wife was there, as was the nurse. They asked me to sit up, at which point, I noticed the clip that took my pulse on the bed next to me. I picked it up and started singing, “A ship lies rigged and ready, in the harbor, tomorrow for old England she sails…” Roger Whittaker would have been proud.

Eventually, my wife was able to get me back to our car. I appreciate her ability to do this, as I was walking pretty silly, partly because of the drugs and partly because it amused me.

In the end, everything came out fine, in more ways than one. Nothing interesting going on, even to the point where I’m not scheduled to go back for another seven to 10 years. I did have two polyps clipped out, which I still believe were actually wine grapes just starting to take hold. But I’ll let them believe what they want.

My particular point of pride is that I got a perfect score on the Boston Bowel Preparation Scale (BBPS). Yes, there is such a thing. It is a three-part score that grades your prep. I was sure the Russian judge was going to cheat me out of a ‘3’ on the right colon prep. He didn’t. I got a perfect ‘9’, three points each for the Right, Transverse and Left Colon.

If you’re going to do something, do it well, I always say. While the test results are good and all that, it’s that BBPS score that I’m going to relish. I even have the pictures to prove it. If only they gave me a little trophy with a gold colon winding its way around the cup. It would look awesome on the trophy shelf in the bathroom.

Somewhere north of the Emerald City, resting on my…

  • Robb