Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'll Drink to That!

Only because I HAVE  too.

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through
Minneapolis .

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, 'HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!'

I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called 'MoviPrep,' which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven.

I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of
America 's enemies.

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my

In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically
water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening , I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, be ca use MoviPrep tastes - and here I am being kind - like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, 'a loose, watery bowel movement may result'.

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I ca n tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, 'What if I spurt on Andy?' How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts; the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.

At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere.

I was seriously nervous at this point.
Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was 'Dancing Queen' by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, 'Dancing Queen' had to be the least appropriate.

'You want me to turn it up?'
said Andy, from somewhere behind me..

'Ha ha,'
I said. And then it was time; the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, be ca use I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea! Really! I slept through it! One moment, ABBA was yelling, 'Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,' and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent.. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.



Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.



  1. Ha! Great story... at the age of 43 I know its coming... I just don't want to think about it.

    I loved this line "This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground."

  2. Coop~ I'm not 50 yet either. But colon cancer runs in my family, I've had them every 5 years since the age of 35. Really they aren't bad at all. Infact you sleep right thru it.

    The only bad part is drinking the "stuff" the day before.

  3. Hope all goes well young lady!

    Enjoyed the story :)

  4. Been there, done that... and you won't feel a thing, trust me...

  5. In Chicago, they use a product called "Go-Lytely." As Mr. Barry has learned, the name is the opposite of the action. My butt hurt for 4 days after drinking that crap. But it did work, I'll give them that.

  6. I first read this piece a short time after my first c-scope. And yeah, the prep IS the worst part.

    Dave Barry is a National Treasure.

  7. The last time I had a light-up up your life was scheduled the doctor asked me a question. I was counting in my brain. My doctor was a little bit perturbed I was taking so much time trying remember. He said, "I can remember the exact date and year when I had mine". I replied, "You only had one, right". He shook his head. I said, "I am trying to remember if this is going to be 5th or 6th one in the last 10 years. I stopped counting after 3rd one.

  8. Wisely there is a maximum age after which they no longer perform a colonoscopy. My stepfather had a bad reaction to the procedure (probably an allergic reaction to the dye) and ended up with a heart rhythm complication. He had to have an ablation to correct the heart rhythm problem, because even after the colonoscopy dye cleared his system the rhythm did not return to normal by itself. Colonoscopy is not without risks. Always read the fine print regarding possible complications in the waver form before signing. The oath, "first do no harm" is sometimes ignored by medical professionals these days.

  9. I just had mine. It sounds scarily familiar.

  10. Dave Barry's description of MoviPrep always has me in stitches.

  11. Thanks everyone for the comments...I'm glad to hear that you all are doing what has to be done to take care of yourself.

    Cheers! :-)

  12. Funny ! I've had a couple of those now. And yes, the laxative is the worst part. The rest is quite relaxing, assuming the Doc does indeed tell your spouse that Yes, In Fact, there Are No Brains up there.

    Thanks for the Vodka tip !

    Here's my tip. Make it ahead of time and put it in the fridge. Colder is better.