Archive for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Giving thanks to the end of worry

December 1, 2005

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, and while I am thankful for many things, what I'm most thankful for is that my colonoscopy is over.

It only takes a venture into the scary medical world to make me obsessive, and I've been waiting for this test for two months. Two months to put it from my mind -- most of the time -- only to have it re-surface as one of the several 3 a.m. demons who wake you and say, "OK, time to worry!"

I have decided exercise is the answer to the demons by maybe making you sleep through the night. But that solution means actually exercising, and except for a few turns around Laws Field recently, that has not been on my agenda.

I am always so shamed by Shirley and Lee Douglass, who are usually at the track whenever I am there. Talking so amiably in low tones, they slowly but surely go round and round as I push myself to go faster and pant and sputter, and they move serenely along. I am reminded of the tortoise and the hare.

But back to the colonoscopy, which I am sure you are anxious to hear about.

One part of my personality raised its ugly, catty head as I sat waiting for my name to be called at promptly 8 a.m. the morning after a, let's say, "rigorous" cleansing procedure that leaves a person five pounds lighter. Waiting is the word as I watched others be taken into the inner sanctum of the procedure room one by one -- but not me.

Now I wondered what's wrong with me? Why after two months must I continue to wait? I'll bet that cute woman in front of me, who incidentally came in after me, had the ear of her doctor, but that thought is banished as I see yet another person ushered in before me -- a rather portly older gentleman who I would not label "cute."

Eventually the greeter at the medical unit -- a very friendly, energetic older gentleman, who was obviously not having a procedure as he was much too cheerful, informed me that my doctor was late.

What a nerve -- he's late. But then I imagine perhaps he was not at the coffee shop nearby but possibly saving someone's life (I hoped he had such a good excuse) and I relaxed and continued to re-read the paper.

Sometime later, which seemed to be lunchtime -- especially since I hadn't eaten since the previous morning -- a lovely, tall, blonde nurse appeared with a big smile and said it was my turn.

Very efficiently, she did all the preliminary stuff: blood pressure, temperature and warm blankets as my teeth were chattering by now.

The chill was not from the cold but from the anticipation that I could now die with a procedure gone wrong -- a slip of the hand, a wrong turn inside and I'm history. What an undignified way to go.

"Nurse So Soothing" didn't seem to pick up on my anxiety as I so courageously smiled and pretended that I was just fine.

Eventually an even more soothing nurse appeared, and we walked down the hall together -- me clutching my gown and holding high the IV bottle -- to a room that looked like a surgery room but had a comfortable appearing cot with still more warm blankets.

This nurse picked up that I really was not "just fine" and proceeded to let me know just what a snap this whole thing was as she hooked me up to various life-saving monitors and scary tubes. I'm sure I looked like I was in the intensive care unit when the doctor finally appeared to kid around a little and asked me if I really wanted sedation for this little procedure? What? Is he crazy?

I think he also picked up a bit on my anxiety level and said, "Well, about 99 percent of our patients opt for the sedation." (Never mind that it causes monumental short-term memory loss) and I said, "Great. Bring it on." And she did -- the sweet, soothing nurse who said, "in a few minutes you'll be fine."

Fast forward to some time later when I was told I had a coffee and roll at a favorite bakery, talked incessantly to the staff there as well as to John Woodward, who I saw at Borders where my husband said I proceeded to talk John's leg off about the teacher/salary problem here in Eudora (Sorry, John), asked at least five times what the doctor said and came home to talk with several relatives whom it is said I called a couple of times -- and guess what? The nurse was right; I was just fine. I just can't remember a darn thing about the procedure or the rest of the day. My kitchen sink looked remarkably clean the next day. I wonder how many times I cleaned it?

A pharmacist friend told me he couldn't remember his Social Security number for about a week after, so I've still got about five days during which this memory thing could still be a problem. Hmmm, just noticing this is full of misspellings -- thank God for spell check. Maybe I'll forget this column, too. I bet you wish I would have.

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