Yesterday, I had my first colonoscopy.
If you have not had one and don’t want to hear about this screening until you absolutely must, I suggest you stop here and click away or fixate on the happy penguins I’ve provided below.
For those still reading, let’s talk earnestly about colonoscopies. They stink. Not because the scope part is bad; you’re knocked out and don’t remember a thing about that part. But the preparation of clearing out your colon for this necessary screening can be brutal.
My preparation time
Now there’s a range of experience, with some reporting it’s not that bad and others describing tearful times on the toilet during which their discomfort on a scale from 1 to 10 would be 12½. My experience fell somewhere around an 8.
I was warned by wonderful friends, but the first few hours after I drank the first bottle of clears-colon-quickly juice, I was fine. A few visits to the restroom, but no big deal. I thought I’d weather this thing like a champ.
And then, it hit. Like a tornado appearing in the horizon, moving at ballistic speed, and ramming into you with all the force of “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Then comes the second bottle of solution. And I’m using the chemical definition of “solution” here, because if this is the solution-answer to anything, I don’t want to know the question.
Of course, this is all timed the night before in a way to make sure you sleep as little as possible. Maybe so that you’ll be too weak to fight back when you get to the surgical center and remember exactly where that scope is going.
Without going into further detail, let’s just say that one’s dignity is not exactly a high priority during this preparation process.
Two other couples in the waiting room
What does this all have to do with marriage? Well, the morning of the procedure, two other couples were also waiting in the lobby to be called, and both were clearly married—one much older, and another middle-aged like us.
When the elderly man was called, his wife was in the restroom, and he was very concerned about not being able to touch base with her first and leaving behind her purse and belongings. The front desk staff reassured him and took care of the wife’s stuff, and when she emerged, they immediately informed her where her husband had gone.
With the second couple, it was the wife getting the procedure, and as she was filling out paperwork, her husband simply brushed his hand over her head and hair—loving and familiar, a simple reminder he was there.
And it’s my turn…
Once called back, I was given the first bed in a row of intake rooms separated by curtains. From that spot, I could hear the initial questions a nurse asked the people coming through for a procedure. When queried about whether the staff should talk to a spouse about how things were going, every person said yes. Meaning the marrieds had someone there, caring how things went, trusted to support and advocate for the patient.
Then there was the moment when my RN informed me that colon is “aired up” for visibility during the procedure, meaning afterwards…the air needs to come out. As in, they want it to come out. For a Southern gal raised with a certain view of manners, this is a challenge. I replied, “Great, so you call the spouse back into recovery, and then we’re supposed to fart all we can with them there?” The answer is yes.
Yet I know that even after all of that, my husband will find me attractive. Go figure.
Finally, there was the recovery time as I was waking up from general anesthesia. If you haven’t experienced this, it’s a bit like going from tipsy to buzzed to sober. (And now I just realized that I’m also assuming you’ve been intoxicated at some point in your life and let you know I have. I don’t do it anymore, but I was once young and stupid. Anyway, digression over.)
In that tipsy state, your filters are down. I found myself saying stuff with no ability to track the thought fully before it spilled out of my mouth. I mean, much worse than my usual inability. And what did I say? I got mushy and gushed to my husband about how much I love him.
Benefits of marriage that aren’t in the vows
Look, this marriage thing ain’t always easy, including the sex part about which I mostly write. I don’t pretend otherwise. It requires intention and effort to foster the kind of relationship we should have for a lifetime of love. But oh, the benefits!
- Someone to drive you to and from your medical procedures
- Someone to “have your back” when you’re unconscious and unable to speak for yourself
- Someone who cares how you’re doing, including the health of your colon
- Someone who loves you in spite having seen up-close-and-personal photographs of your colon
- Someone who still thinks you’re sexy, even after you’ve farted while lying on a gurney in a hospital gown
The author of Ecclesiastes knew this too when he wrote:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (4:9-12)
What have you learned about the benefits of marriage in the face of health challenges or procedures?
Oh, and if you’ve had a colonoscopy, you already know this, but if you haven’t, it’s in your future. Allow me to provide one important tip: if at all possible, before your colonoscopy prep, purchase a toilet with a bidet. Just trust me on this one.
24 thoughts on “What A Colonoscopy Reminded Me About Marriage”
Hi J, I too experienced my first colonoscopy and your humor and insight are so spot on. Oh the beauty of marriage. You made my day ?
Maybe I’ll die before I have to have one. I certainly won’t be inviting my husband in for the recovery. Nope.
Hey, it’s much, much better than the alternative of not getting screened and having an issue. Discomfort for a few hours is worth it.
Oh I know. And I’m HUGE for not skipping preventative medicine (I have friends who haven’t had a Pap smear since their youngest child….said child is 12 and up)
I’m just saying, if I die before I have to have it then I won’t have to have it haha
And I’ll recover alone thanks! It might not bother my husband but I know I’d be beyond mortified. (I’m the one who didn’t eat the day before giving birth-all 4 times!! And I did enemas. Alone. At home. Just to be sure!!!) maybe it’s a hangup but I own it!!
I had a colonoscopy in the 90s on a military base. Back then the procedure didn’t include pain relief. You were awake and expected to adjust your posture as the doctor directed.
Matt Inman, (The Oatmeal) has a horrible card that suggests farting under the covers is to help keep your loved one warm.
I was in a serious car accident about a year into our marriage. My husband spent the first night with me and my mom stayed the second so my husband could go home for a few hours. While he was home he called me while going through my underwear drawer to make sure he was bringing me my favorites. I don’t know what it taught me about marriage other than I’d made a good choice about who I married.
I spent three months in a neck collar, gained a significant amount of weight, didn’t work for three months, couldn’t drive for 7 months and my husband never complained.
Oh, how sweet!
Reminded me of mine. Eating a clean diet two days before made the prep part sooo much easier. I ate plain veggies and fruit and drank broth, that’s it. No starches, no sugar, no protein… but it helped immensely. By the way, the prep drink is actually ethylene glycol, the substance used in antifreeze.
Before anyone gets anxious, some clarification is necessary…
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is the compound in the bowel prep – it is nontoxic and a common ingredient in laxatives. Ethylene glycol, the compound mentioned by Clever Girl, is the ‘antifreeze’ and is toxic – it is NOT used in the bowel prep.
BTW, my dearest wife has always been with me in the recovery room, and there is not another face that I am happier to see than hers, ever.
My getting pancreatic cancer has sure changed our marriage…for the better.
The mall stuff that used to cause friction is just laughable now, and my wife has adjusted to the fact that where most people would be pretty depressed, I’m happy, and not faking it. It took her awhile to get used to that; she thought it was an act, and that I’demotionally and spiritually crash, but as time has gone on she understands that it’s really me.
And that gives her the confidence to reach out to build a life that will be solid and robust after I’m dead.
Dr. Mercola has a “soft spray bidet” that can be installed on a standard toilet with a fairly simple Re-Plumbing of the toilet supply line adding a tee to supply the bidet. It does spray cold water but it is fresh!
J, I don’t now if this is any good, but if can help anyone, please share away
Dying’s so inconvenient
and I can’t control my bowels,
but still I’m gonna write it
with consonants and vowels.
There is a grace in crapped out pants,
in bleach and washing machine
because the Almighty grants
a love that keeps me clean.
So doing laundry’s not a pain,
and stench is not a bother
Jesus don’t need me to explain;
He faced it, too – my Brother!
In the indignity of incontinence
my Saviour’s love is reference.
Having had 2 and another due in 3 more years. I wouldn’t say this was good humor but it made me smile thinking about the process before and afterwards. I will say that the new stuff you drink vs the old orange favored stuff (which almost made upchuck from this wonderful taste and smell) is so much better. Am wondering if there are bidet’s for 6′ 5″ people, like 5 inches higher off the floor; at least they make toilets for tall people.
The alternative for not doing this, is far more worst and in worst cases could leave a spouse’s children without a Mom or Dad and of course a spouse without the love of their life. But compared to the gallon of worst orange favored fluid to drink (there were only 2 choices in taste and smell) and saying it tasted better cold was like telling Frankenstein Monster that fire feels good. I’ve met and mourned friends that refused to do these. All I can say is that if you prefer life there are worst things in life that rank higher; personally I have awful memories of dentist work from the 1950’s which to this day I still can feel and her the sound of the drill.
J, great piece. Completely accurate. 🙂
My husband has certainly displayed Christ-like love and compassion for me when my health hasn’t been amazing during our first two years of marriage. I am in my second pregnancy, and while I certainly haven’t had anything terrible, I’ve had the weeks of nausea, lack of energy, and the typical annoyances of pregnancy, which he’s borne and helped with quite cheerfully. I also have multiple sclerosis, which thankfully isn’t nearly as severe as many people have, but restricts the amount of energy and stamina I have to work with in a given day, week, or month. I am the kind of person who struggles with feeling like I’m worth much if I’m no able to do much (working on that!) and he not only steps up when I need him too, but also encourages me to rest enough and not push myself past what I should. I have had periods of clinical anxiety and depression in the past, though not since we’ve been together, and he also makes sure that I lean on him as needed, but also that I know to get professional help if things were to deteriorate again.
I should add that my husband knew about all of this (well, except how pregnancy would affect me) before we were married, and he still married me knowing that I might never be as healthy as an average woman. And he knew what he was getting into too, because his mom suffers from a different autoimmune disease, and his brother from severe depression.
I love that he’s there for you, but also encourages you to seek outside support when necessary.
My hubby has been amazing during and (the bloody) after my 3 births, being my personal nurse (he actually considered nursing as an occupation before we were married, which is good considering I am medically squeamish!). Also the last year and a half+ I’ve had a health crash where I suddenly developed several severe food allergies with throat swelling. He has been my anchor through all this with its accompanying anxieties.
Oh my! That had to be scary. Glad he was there and taking care of you!
I’ve had chronic knee issues since being young which included having surgeries, my last when I was 18. August 2017 our dog was playing in the yard and I just so happened to be in her line of path when she hit me (dispite trying to get out of the way but not fast enough) and dislocated my knee. (It had been 11 yrs since I’ve done it again).
Have three children, one school age and two home with me, it was a difficult time. In the beginning I couldn’t even change my pants and undies by myself and depended on my husband heavily; I also needed his help showering.
While I could switch and start loads of laundry, taking them out and standing for a long time folding it or doing the dishes was out of the question. My husband would come home and have to do housework after working really long hours.
It was a hard time but taught me a lot about our marriage and how lucky I was to have such an amazing man be there for me.
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