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Novelettes from my life as a chronically ill person
A collection of abbreviated accounts of some of the funniest/craziest/most embarrassing moments in my sickness journey
It turns out if you poop 8 or more times in a day, you need medical help. I learned this my sophomore year of college during an IBS flareup. My two friends took me to the emergency room, and they patiently played Uno at the side of my bed while we waited for the doctor. The doctor’s first move was to do a rectal exam. The Uno cards were swiftly dropped and my friends left. The rectal exam was done. I was all alone with the doctor. It was very intimate. Lube was used.
You don’t actually need to be asleep for all of the procedures you would typically be put to sleep for. I hate being put to sleep, it scares the fuck out of me. I asked to be awake for a liver biopsy, which they normally want you to be asleep for. They looked at me like I just swallowed a battery for fun, but agreed. I was put on fentanyl, and taken to the OR. The doctor was shocked to see me awake and talking, but seemed to think it was pretty funny. I’ll bet it was his first time doing a liver biopsy on a lucid patient. He drew out a very thick needle that was about a foot long - it was very intimidating. It looked like some sci-fi medical horror lobotomy tool. He stuck it in my side and I felt it crunch through layers of my insides. There was a lot of pressure. I asked the nurse to hold my hand because I was scared but I also watched the entire thing happen.
I asked for the same thing when I was getting a colonoscopy - they laughed and said trust me, you wanna be asleep for this one. Something told me to believe them this time. I had never been put under anesthesia before, and right before they were about to push the meds, I asked them, “Is this gonna feel like I’m going to sleep, like am I gonna know that I’m falling asleep? Or is this gonna be like, like, I’m not existing for a while?” The nurses paused and looked at each other because I think they both knew that it was more like “not existing for a while”, but that this answer was really scary and ominous. One of them said “It’s like falling asleep honey” with zero confidence in her voice. They warned me the sleepy meds might sting a little bit when they pushed it, and they were right - it felt like a little man was running through my veins and pinching the arterial walls with, like, tweezers. They had me count down from ten and the last number I remember was seven, which is embarrassing because I pride myself on being a tank and was holding onto this little fantasy that they couldn’t put me to sleep and I needed an obese man’s worth of anesthetics to go to sleep and they’d be super impressed with my drug metabolism.
If you’ve never had a colonoscopy or endoscopy (I was having both), then you should know about the preparation. You have to do a “bowel prep” the entire day before to completely clear out your insides so they’re not, like, shoving poop around with the probe. You pick up a massive jug of white powder from your pharmacy, and have to start mixing that with water and drinking the entire thing by the end of the day. It tastes like shit. And it makes you shit. If your asshole isn’t bleeding by the time you go to bed, you didn’t cleanse enough. The goal is that by the end of the cleanse, you are literally just shitting clear water. When I got to the OR, the told me to go to the bathroom to do one last shit to make sure it’s all clear. Two hours later, I’m rolling out of the OR and regaining consciousness. I shift my butt over a little bit and see there’s a diaper underneath me, and it’s not clean. Even in the throws of moderate anesthesia intoxication and residual fentanyl drip haze, it dawns on me pretty clearly that I shit myself once I was put to sleep. Naturally, this makes me cry. I grab the nurse’s arm and ask her if I they “really let me shit myself” between sobs.
Oh, you thought I was done with the colonoscopy? Lol. Okay so they wheeled me out of the room and that’s when I remember waking up. I say this very loosely, because I know I was alive but I was definitely not all there. I am pulled into a recovery room, where I remember seeing my dad was there. I know I greeted him, but allegedly I fell back to sleep after that. Then I woke up and my doctor was in the room with us debriefing on the results of the colonoscopy (for those wondering - I had some polyps but they were removed, and no signs of colon cancer). My strong recollection was that I coolly received the information, reacted by thanking her, and not much else happened. My dad later told me that the first thing I said when she came in was “That fentanyl was good shit.” That makes me want to kill myself. I have such a crush on my gastroenterologist, she’s so cool. She has a tattoo on her forearm and rolls up her lab coat in the summer so you can see it. Now she thinks I’m a crackhead. I asked him if I’d said anything else embarrassing, to which he replied yes but he’d rather not say. This haunts me to this day. What the fuck did I say. The possibilities are as endless as they are terrifying.
I got a scan of my intestines done. We met with the doctor to discuss the results, which showed that my small intestine was very enlarged and actually almost as big as my large intestine. Fucked up! I pointed to a large circle, like a bubble, on the scan that appeared to be in the middle of the intestine. I asked her what this was, because I wanted to seem smart and attentive. She said it was a fart :)
I had to carry a stool sample through the hospital. It was embarrassing. It was diarrhea.