SMITH COLUMN: The best part of a colonoscopy is when it’s over

Published 9:30 am Friday, July 22, 2022

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A colonoscopy is not a lot of fun, but for one gut wrenching night and a beleaguered morning after every five years, it is not so bad since it is a deterrent for the one cancer that is beatable for practically everybody.

I have given the colonoscopy treatment the greatest respect from the first time it was recommended to me by my doctor several years ago, dating back to the time that you were required to drink a gallon of that concoction that kept you up all night. I couldn’t guzzle it down which is when I learned what my friends had been saying. “The worst part is drinking all that stuff.”  That stuff was like a curse.

Now they have it down to where you drink about a pint of a powdered solution early evening and again at 2 a.m. Naturally, it has a taste that is nothing like strawberries and cream. It would make mountain oysters a delicacy. It ranks right up there with castor oil when it comes to bad tasting medicine. It is a noteworthy advancement over the past, however.

Plenvu is it trade name or polyethylene glycol 3350. That is why I couldn’t have enrolled in med school. I would have flunked out trying to remember the names of the medicines I would have to prescribe. Plenvu contains sodium ascorbate, sodium sulfate, ascorbic acid, sodium chloride and potassium chloride. It is so bad; you wouldn’t want to take it even if it came in pill form.

(If you were to have a summer social and served punch and worry that you might have invited too many people, all you need do is put a little Plenvu in the punch, and you will have plenty left over by the time the last guests leave the premises.)

After the 2 a.m. intake of Plenvu, all you have to do then is sit and wait for daybreak. Between that time and the procedure, you would pay a hundred dollars for a sip of a Diet Coke.

As hard as you try, you can’t read a newspaper. You can’t take along a good book to read as you await the procedure. You get to the hospital early and no matter how aware you are that this is an ordeal that will not kill you, nonetheless, you can’t wait till the anesthesiologist, in my case Dr. Lauren Fox, starts a friendly conversation with you and before you can finish the story you are telling, you become as senseless as you would have been from taking a punch from Muhammed Ali in his prime.

The end result was gloriously uplifting when Dr. Kelly Grow came in afterwards, smiling and upbeat. “You are okay,” she said. Nothing like a physician with a pretty smile to make you feel good about a trip to Piedmont Regional Hospital.

Then the nurses stopped by with Diet Coke. Hallelujah! While I realize there are good, caring and highly professional folk on the staffs at hospitals elsewhere, I don’t think a patient could have a bad experience at Piedmont when it comes to nurses and staff.

The lineup who looked after me included Gabrielle Batson, Jennifer Christenberry, Madonna Flemming, Robin Black and Althea Davis. They are now on my all-star team.

The desire for a Diet Coke while dehydrated is reminder of an experience in France to which I flashed back to as Robin Black fulfilled my Diet Coke request. 

Returning home to a nice village in the Southern Pyrenees one evening following dinner with friends, my host and driver drove off the road which led to an accident that had me hospitalized overnight. A nasty cut in the top of my head and a fractured rib had an Asian doctor, who spoke impeccable English, inform me I would be kept the next day until a few tests were conducted to see if my stomach organs were okay.

No meal during the day, nothing to drink had me under the greatest emotional duress of my life. Finally, late in the afternoon, I was told I could leave.

“Can we get you anything?” said the pretty nurse, who also spoke excellent English. I smiled my best smile and replied. “Yes, I would like a Coke Light (French for Diet Coke.”) She shook her head and said, “We don’t have it.”  Juice, I asked? “We don’t have that either, but we have red wine.” Suddenly, I became the happiest of patients. “Bring it on,” I almost shouted as I high fived her. “I’m for socialized medicine.”