Beauty School Dropout

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Billy Porter performs “Beauty School Dropout” on Jay Leno to promote the Tommy Tune 1994 revival of “Grease.”

Beauty school dropout,
No graduation day for you.
Beauty school dropout,
Missed your mid-terms and flunked shampoo.

This past Monday, I had my ten-year colonoscopy, after a few delays, twelve years after my first colonoscopy at age 50.  I got the bowel prep kit that my doctor prescribed from the drugstore; read the multi-day preparatory instructions multiple times to make sure I knew what to do, and began.

Three days out, I had to cut out all raw fruit and vegetables, and eliminate bran and roughage from my diet. That was easy enough until I realized at a small barbeque with two friends that I had eaten the raw cabbage coleslaw. And then I had grilled red peppers for dinner and red (and raw) watermelon for dessert. I knew red foods were a no no, but when did the prohibition against red begin? Oh gosh, I thought, have already flunked my colonoscopy prep?

As soon as our guests left the dinner, I rushed upstairs to review the colonoscopy preparatory instructions. Ok, Red was allowed except for the last day of the prep, which was a liquid diet, but raw was not. Well, I reasoned, I only ate a little bit of coleslaw and watermelon before remembering that it was raw and that I was not supposed to eat it.

The day before the colonoscopy was a liquid diet. In the days leading up to the prep I prepared carefully. I bought lots of green, (no red), diet jello, yellow sugar-free Gatorade (no red), and chicken stock. I could have coffee but no cream or milk. The day surprisingly went relatively smoothly. While I was a bit tired with no food, with all the jello and liquid I was taking in, I never felt hungry.

Then came 6 PM, the appointed time to start my bowel prep. Time to empty a disgusting bottle of bowel prep liquid into a tall 16 oz plastic cup, add more liquid, and drink my first prep drink, followed by two more 16 oz cups of liquid. I drank my first sickeningly sweet drink, which was tasted like bad cough medicine, except it was not a teaspoon, it was a full 16 ounces, followed by the required two additional glasses of liquid. Then I waited. Nothing happened. I waited a bit longer. I would repeatedly have have cramps and rush to the toilet, and then nothing. I reread the instructions. If nothing happened after four hours, I was to call the doctor’s office. I called.

My second prep drink was to be taken six hours before my colonoscopy, which was 2:30 AM. But when the on-call physician called me back, he was puzzled. Rather than relying on his medical knowledge, he relied on his personal experience. “Hmmm.” he said, “I have never heard of the prep not taking effect. When I had my colonoscopy, the cleanse took effect within forty-five minutes. I would suggest you take the second prep drink now.”

I took a full glass of water and waited a few minutes. Nothing. I took the second disgusting bowel prep drink, followed by two glasses of liquid. I waited. Nothing. I’m a god damn colonoscopy prep failure, I reasoned. Unable to clean my bowels, my colonoscopy would be canceled.  Maybe they would charge me a fee for canceling so late. I’ve failed colonoscopy prep, I thought. Who fails colonoscopy prep?

But then I had an idea. I decided to take a warm water enema. The enema unplugged me and the force of the prep hit me. The floodgates opened and seven glasses of liquid poured out of me in a foul-smelling deluge that my husband could smell coming up the steps to the second floor, even with the bathroom door closed. Over the next few hours, between waves of cramping and waves of liquid pouring out of me, I finally was cleaned out and ready for the procedure the next morning.

The next day the cheery young nurse doing intake wanted to know if I had completed the prep. I groggily replied back through a sleep-deprived body and foggy mind from no food, that yes I had completed the prep. I did not feel any need to tell her my saga of almost failing bowel prep.

The colonoscopy took place. Everyone from the nurses, the anesthesia nurse to the doctor was great.  The procedure outcome was good. I passed colonoscopy after all.

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