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.