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Ridiculous from One End to the Other

By Renee Burns Lonner

We are all used to medical folks sometimes giving absurd answers to questions having to do with real life. When conversations turn to colonoscopies, the advice from medical professionals often veers from the practical into the realm of the ridiculous.

Just to (over) share my recent experience:

My excellent internist gave me a referral to a gastroenterologist for my routine, every-five-year, colonoscopy. I needed a referral, after oh-so-many of these, because my wonderful former gastro decided, quite selfishly, to retire. No amount of arguing with him last year would change his mind. So off I went to the new one — except that this doc is so busy that his nurse practitioner takes care of all contact with patients up to the point of . . . well, you know. She was the picture of a connected, caring health professional — um, not.

After reading the instructions, I told her that I must be misreading them because they indicate that I will be doing half of the “prep” (oy) in the late afternoon and the other half at, literally, 3 a.m. She confirmed that I could read. Then ensued the following exchange:

Me — I don’t think that will work, as I will be passing out from all that excitement in the middle of the night. The worst part is that then, I’ll miss my appointment.

Her — no verbal response, but since I am a psychotherapist, I can read minds — the balloon over her head said, “What a baby, geez! Get the hell outta my office.”

So I obliged and got another referral.

The next gastro was lovely, said there was no need to get up in the middle of the night, answered my questions and we set the date. The outpatient surgery office called 20 times in the two days before to confirm my procedure date and time (like I’d forget) and then says — wait for it — “please take any normal morning meds three hours before the procedure.”

Me — “That’s 4 a.m.”

Her — “Yup.”

Well, I won’t pass out from taking a couple of pills in the middle of the night.

I can hardly wait to see if there will be an adventure during this procedure like there has been the last couple of times. A few years ago I awoke during the procedure (don’t gag, there was no pain), just in time for the doc to screech at me, “Jesus Christ, did you eat red jello yesterday?” I said, "No, I ate red popsicles and there were no instructions to the contrary." He muttered another JC and I went back to sleep.

A few years later, I again awoke (they tell me this is uncommon, but could not prove that by me) in time to see my insides on the TV screen — very interesting. So I did what I always do in this kind of fascinating situation — I asked questions. A lot of them. Again, no pain at all, which the doc explained briefly as “you don’t have nerve endings in the colon.” After my first question, the anesthesiologist said, “Look, I’ll let you stay awake for a minute if you’re quiet — I normally don’t have talking patients.” But looking at my insides was just fascinating and I couldn’t help myself. The last thing I remember from that procedure is the doc laughing and the anesthesiologist saying “by-by.”

You can’t make this s**t up, pun intended. So this time I checked to make sure I can have orange jello (isn’t that red-adjacent?); that yes, she is not kidding that I need to get up at 4 a.m. to take a couple of pills; and that no, no Covid test is needed, just proof of all the shots. I’m ready and I will resist the temptation tomorrow when the nurse at the surgery center asks the ridiculous question, “How are you,” to answer, “Hungry, grouchy and tired — how are you?”

But then, if she were honest, she’d probably say “the same” — after all, it will be 6 a.m. and still dark outside. She probably got up at 4 a.m., too.

— Renee Burns Lonner

Renee Burns Lonner is a consultant for television newsrooms and a licensed therapist based in Los Angeles. Prior to the pandemic, her published work was serious; the pandemic created the need for comic relief and last fall she published her first humor book, If You Give A Man a Tesla: A Parody 

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