Remember my "beyond beyond" story, about how God went so far beyond my expectations during our recent garage sale? Well, I prayed another one of those beyond beyond prayers over my colonoscopy, especially regarding the prep.
"God, I don't know how you could possibly give me an answer above and beyond what I could ask or imagine, when it comes to a colonoscopy. But I trust you to surprise me," I prayed. And of course, He did, though not really in any way I expected.
Yesterday I shared all the details of my last colonoscopy prep seven years ago, so you might recall that the prep solution took violent effect in under 15 minutes that time. I was expecting the same thing last night, but it couldn't have been more different.
I started by taking a Zofran tablet, which the doctor had prescribed to prevent nausea. I chugged the first glass around 4:00 and hovered near the bathroom door. But nothing happened. I drank the second glass around 4:30 with little difficulty, but still nothing happened. And nothing happened after the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth glass either. (Nevertheless, I spent most of that time on the toilet for fear I might not make it when all that laxative finally did kick in.) The Zofran was working, and I wasn't terribly nauseated, but my stomach was so full that I found it harder and harder to drink each successive glass.
Just before I started each glass, I said a silent prayer: "I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." And then I would take four swallows, catch my breath, take four more swallows, and so on. Each glass took about sixteen swallows, in groups of four. After the last swallow I would shudder theatrically, rinse my mouth thoroughly, and then focus on reading a book until my next dreaded dose. (I read the majority of The Poisonwood Bible, which I didn't like all that much, but maybe it was just my circumstances.)
By the time 2.5 hours had passed without any action, I started to get concerned. I phoned Bill, who'd taken Allyson shopping, and walked him through selecting an enema. I think he was embarrassed just being seen in the laxative aisle, poor guy.
But by the time they got home 15 minutes later, everything started moving... and moving.
By the time I'd finished 11 glasses (88 ounces) of the devil's brew, I figured surely this was enough. I'd read all the literature this time, and the directions said you could stop when the "return" was clear. My return looked pretty clear to me, and it was by now 11:00 and I was tired.
But then I got to worrying. What exactly did clear mean? What if it wasn't clear enough? I got on the Internet and started searching, and the more I read the more I got a sinking feeling. The Big Bad Nurse's words echoed in my ears: "If there's any trace of fecal matter... we might have to postpone... and you'll do the prep again (again... again...)."
It almost made me cry, but I went downstairs and pulled the GoLytely jug, now 2/3 empty, from the fridge. "I don't want to take any more, God," I whined. "But I have to. Please help me!" I stood over the kitchen sink and took a deep breath while mentally chanting, "I can do all things through Christ." And then I tipped it up and gulped it down, 16 swallows in a row.
I waited 15 minutes and did it again. And then three more times. The last glass was only 6 ounces, which gave me a little lift. When I threw back that last glass, at 2:00 on the nose, I punched my fist triumphantly in the air. I couldn't believe how proud I was of myself, almost as proud as I'd been when I got up on a wakeboard the first time. I really hadn't thought myself capable of drinking a whole gallon of that salty, slimy solution, but now it was behind me (so to speak).
At that point my return still wasn't quite clear, and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be the first person in history to drink all that evil potion yet NOT have a clear colon. But after two more hours of diarrhea, it was pristine. So at 4:00 in the morning, I collapsed into bed and slept the sleep of the righteous until Allyson woke me around 9:00.
At the endoscopy center this afternoon, I couldn't wait for the question I knew was coming. "Yes," I replied emphatically. "I drank it all. Every last drop."
The colonoscopy was an odd experience, almost otherworldly. The nurse anesthetist didn't count backward from 10 this time. Instead she said, "Here's something to make you relax." Serenity settled over me almost instantly. "And here's something to make you sleepy," she said next. A burning sensation spread up my IV arm, and I said, with an impossibly thick tongue, "That burns!"
"Yes," she agreed.
Just then, I remembered the story my friend Pamela told me about her recent appendectomy: she had asked the doctor and anesthesiologist to pray with her before the surgery. They were a bit surprised, but game. I vaguely remember murmuring something about a prayer, and maybe I even prayed, though they probably couldn't understand my slurred words. I think it was something about guiding the doctor's hand and giving him wisdom, and about God being near me. And please bless the doctor and the nurse and their families. It gave me comfort as I sank into a delicious drowsiness.
I was surprised then to feel the scope going in; I wondered when they were going to put me under. I felt LOTS of splooshy feelings, and I could hear the doctor and nurse talking but couldn't comprehend what they were saying. I kept squinting in the bright light and staring at a big TV screen with what appeared to be my colon, a smooth and yellowish tunnel.
I can't be sure when I asked this, if it was during the procedure or after, but I know I spoke because I remember the answer. I said, "Why am I awake?"
The nurse replied that my blood pressure was a little low, so they couldn't give me as much medication as they had the last time.
"My blood pressure is always low," I said.
"It's okay if you're a little awake," she explained. "We just want to make sure you're comfortable. Are you hurting?"
"No," I said.
The next time I opened my eyes, Bill was on my left side, smiling. "Why was I awake?" I asked. "Was it because my blood pressure was low?"
"Everything is fine," he said.
A nurse said, "Everything was normal, Sarah. No polyps. You did very well."
I dozed then for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes, Bill was still on my left side, smiling. "Why was I awake?" I asked. "Wait a minute, did I already ask you that?"
He laughed. "Yes, about five times now."
"Oh," I said.
He helped me get dressed then, for I was helpless as a baby. While he went and pulled the car around, a nurse put an arm around me and guided me to the door on my wobbly legs. "Was I talking during the procedure?" I asked.
"I don't know, but maybe you were."
"Is that normal?"
"Everyone reacts differently," she said.
"I usually talk a lot," I admitted.
She smiled. "I bet you do."
In the car, I felt much more alert. "Do you know I was awake during the procedure?" I asked.
"You might have mentioned it," Bill replied, and I laughed.
"I guess I did."
All the way home I fantasized about eating some chocolate chip blueberry pancakes from out of the freezer, but when we got there the couch seemed more attractive. In the blink of an eye, two hours had passed.
I got up then and toasted my pancakes. They were the best I've ever tasted!
I'm so glad the experience is behind me, but I have to admit that, other than staying up until 4:00, it really wasn't all that bad. I know now I am capable of just about anything, with God's help. I'd say He went beyond the beyond again.
Thank you to everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement. I could feel the prayers around me.