By Laura Black
Of all my marital responsibilities, taking my husband for a colonoscopy is at the bottom of the list. No pun intended. This man, who lifts 200-pound barbells and says root canals are “no big deal ” works himself into a tither at the thought of forced fasting and cleansing. So, I steadied myself for the fallout when, a couple of months ago, he said, “I scheduled a colonoscopy next month. I need you to take me.”
“Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, — it’s just routine.”
My next thought, which I kept to myself, If it’s just routine, why didn’t you check with me first, to see what worked with my schedule?
Two weeks before the “big day” Amazon Prime delivered a case of extra-strength toilet paper. Later that week, I opened the refrigerator and counted: 18 bottles of apple juice; a case of lemon vitamin water; a dozen lime Jell-O cups; four liters of ginger ale; and, in the freezer, an assortment of Italian ices. Shaking my head, I said, “I thought you were only on liquids for a day?”
He said, “Yes, one whole day.” Then added, “Do you think scotch counts as a clear liquid?”
For the rest of the week Charles’ conversation focused on where he should eat his “last meal.” I rolled my eyes, “Wherever you want.” We ended up at an Italian restaurant, where he ate as if he was preparing for six-months of hibernation. On the way home, he swapped obsessions — where should he eat breakfast after the procedure?
The night of his prep, to escape from the cacophony of moans, groans, and flushing toilets, I went out to dinner with a girlfriend. I came home to a barrage of questions: “What did you eat? Describe it in detail — I need vicarious satisfaction. Do you have any idea how hungry I am?”
The following morning, as soon as he could break free from the bathroom, I drove him to the out-patient center for his 9am appointment. He insisted on arriving by 8:30 — “just to be safe”.
Charles is an impatient driver. Me, not so much. I had been driving for five minutes when he said, “Turn right at the next light, it’s faster.” Two minutes later, “Why are you staying behind that truck — pass him.” I threw him an evil glance, clenched my teeth, and took deep in and out breaths.
When we walked into the medical center, the waiting room was bustling with patients wearing baggy bottoms; their designated drivers clutching Kindles, laptops, and iPads. When Charles checked in, the receptionist eyed my brown cardboard to-go cup of coffee and said, “I’m sorry — you have to throw that away.” Pointing to a sign, she continued, “See, it says, ‘No food or Drink.’ It is not fair to the patients. There could be a mob riot.” I took my coffee and drank it in the hallway.
We found seats, settled in, and waited for them to call Charles back. A steady stream of patients waddled from the waiting room to the bathroom. I too, needed a restroom — but there was no way I was going to use that one.
At 10am, we were still waiting. I was hungry. Before we left home, I had stuffed a pack of peanut butter crackers into my purse. Like an Interpol spy, I reached in and, one-at-a-time, cupped a cracker into my palm, shoved it in my mouth and chewed it without moving my jaw.
At 10:30, a statuesque nurse with a clip board shouted, “Mr. Charles.”
I asked, “Can I go back with him?”
“No. Leave us your phone number and come back in an hour and a half.”
I went across the street to a nail salon for a gel manicure and a restroom. The receptionist had said to be back by noon. I was back by ll:30. I busied myself with my iPhone, glancing at the door every five seconds, hoping to see Charles walk out.
Thirty minutes later, concern replaced annoyance. Charles had gone back for his colonoscopy at 10:30, they said he’d be finished by noon. It was now 12:45. What if something had gone wrong: a suspicious growth, too much anesthesia, an allergic reaction? Like a kite caught up in gale-force winds, my angst took off, and with it, guilt.
I had laughed at Charles and felt put out. I should have been grateful that he took care of himself. Colonoscopies saved lives. True, he had been a tad obsessive and hangry, but that hardly tipped the scales.
Please don’t let anything be wrong.
Just as I was pleading with the receptionist to check on him, the door swung open and out walked Charles. He was holding films.
“Is everything okay?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, do you want to see the pictures of my colon?”
“No — thank you.”
I held his hand as we walked outside and got into the car. Once again, I drove. But this time when he said, “Why did you stop at that light?” It just turned yellow. You could have made it through.”
I smiled and said, “Where would you like to go for breakfast?”
©Copyright, Laura Black, 11/08/20