Who knew mint green was my colour? Here I am rockin this gown … and wearing a diaper … like a QUEEN. Yep, got the barium opaque enema done today. To be honest it wasn’t that bad, more uncomfortable than painful, but the lead up to it!
You may recall I picked up the dread SOLUCIÓN EVACUANTE at the hospital before I saw my oncologist on Tuesday. It comes in a box with 16 envelopes of powder that you mix with water (and/or one of those lemony sports drinks). Usually they give you a print out of instructions, but I assumed it would be the same as for a colonoscopy so I just took the box and left. That was my first mistake.
The second mistake was not checking inside the box. So there I was after having got through a rather tedious day of basically just drinking apple juice and water, when it was time to start taking the EVACUANTE. Got the box out, opened it up and… well dammit, there were only 9 envelopes inside. WTF?? I immediately called the hospital for some advice, but it was 7 pm and all the department staff were gone. I talked to a couple of doctor friends who suggested I do this or that (they weren’t sure), I looked for info about this procedure online (since I’d never had one before) and also checked for info about this particular product. Let me tell you right now, though you probably already know this… Google is not your friend! I ended up with so many conflicting pices of info and advice that I finally gave up.
Decided I had two options. To just down the 9 envelopes and hope it would be enough, or call the hospital in the morning and reschedule. But you know, I’d already gone through the 2 days of boring diet, and then the super tedious Clear Liquids Only day, so I decided to just go for it.
I mean, it is actually very important to clean that whole colon out as it obviously makes for more accurate test results. But I reckoned that when I showed up at the hospital and told them what had happened they would advise me further. Wrong again!
Got to the hospital, managed to find the place I should be (not easy!). I told the woman who took my appointment slip what had happened and she just said – “go in that room and take all your clothes off”. Okey-dokey…
Went into that room, took all my clothes off, put on the lovely mint green robe hanging there and then waited. And waited… uh, there was no place to sit. Whatsapped a couple of friends, checked Instagram. Waited some more. And then it was my turn.
The same brusque woman instructed me to get up on a metal table covered by a sheet (that didn’t look like it had been changed after the previous patient) and told me to lie face up. Now, I am not going to complain about this woman. She was brusque but efficient. BUT YOU KNOW… you could tell someone when you are about to shove something up their bum, you know, just so they know that is about to happen. Likewise you could explain what exactly IS about to happen (for barium enema neophytes like me) so that they know what to expect…? None of this happened. Instead I was told by microphone – the two women in charge were wisely hiding behind x-ray proof glass – to turn over more to the left, now right, face up again, now don’t move, now left, no not that far left, now don’t breathe (they forgot the “ok you can breathe again” bit), turn over to the right again, not that far right… well, it just went on and on while the whole time it felt like my bum was about to explode.
At one point I heard Brusque Woman say to the other one – “no, she was only given 9 envelopes, you know, sometimes they take some out for someone else and then don’t check” – so clearly the matter of how “clean” I was had been brought up, but when I asked BW if I was “clean” enough for the test she said it was fine. Finally it was over (I think it took about half an hour) and BW came over and said she was going to put a diaper on me, you know, in case I leaked. And she did. Then she put a hand on me as she helped me get up off the table and gave me a small smile. Just a little one, with crinkly eyes. And that was enough. Because you know what? Give me brusque and efficient over fake friendly and clueless any day.
I will say that the missing information would have gone a long way. Every time I go for a PET and CT scan everything is explained beforehand, and during, and after. That this is what is going to happen, this is what we are doing now, this is how you might feel, etc. Like, the first time I had a CT scan, if I hadn’t been forewarned that my hoohaw was suddenly going to feel VERY warm… well, that would have worried the fuck out of me. Likewise today, if I’d been told the tube was going in, now the barium solution is being introduced, you may feel bloated and uncomfortable but that’s nothing to worry about… well, that would have gone a long way in making the experience less ick.
Oh, and “three minutes after you leave here your bottom is going to explode barium all over the goddam place so get ye to a toilet and fast” would have also been appreciated. Lucky for me I followed my instincts on that one.