In The End

Copyright © 2000 & 2006, Matt Runion. All Rights Reserved.

This is a true story. Every part of it is true except for the part about the "eyeballs". The events, though colorfully related, actually happened. This was a colon X-Ray, NOT a colonoscopy. I've heard that colonoscopies aren't bad at all. I'll probably never find out though...

This morning, Wednesday, October 11th, 2000, (enough commas?!?) I set off for an appointment for a colon x-ray. Before I begin telling of the adventure, I will explain what this involves. To get an x-ray of soft tissue like a colon, some sort of contrast medium must be used. Barium was used in this case. To get the barium in the colon, the doctor has two choices -- let me drink it and then he waits for twelve hours, or they can just pump it in there. I need not tell you which they chose.

Anyway, this morning I set off to the hospital prepared for the "pain in the butt" that I was about to receive. To complicate matters, I had been fasting and such to ensure I had a "clean colon" before I got there. I had not eaten since Monday night. I am a big feller, so this was something that was not easy for me to do. I felt rough already.

When I got to the hospital I got all checked in. I answered all those questions about where I lived and such -- phone numbers, where I worked, who to contact in case of an emergency and where to send the body when they're finish "tearing the butt outta me"; you know, standard stuff. Then I got to go sit in the waiting room for half an hour and think about the mistake I had made in agreeing to take this test!

Finally the nurse comes and gets me. Jan is her name. She's cool. I give her the "I am afraid of doctors and spiders and will you explain what you're going to do to me please" bit. Works great. She takes ten minutes and tells me everything. She even shows me how to put on a gown! Did I say she was cool!

After she finishes her story of how this is going to work, she tells me to go into this little closet and take off everything below my waist. I can wear my socks (and shoes!) if I want. I went with the "smock and sock" look. It's GQ I hear!

Next, I came out and got on the x-ray table. She says they are going to have to take a "normal" x-ray of me before the procedure. I'm guessing this is because they want to see what I came in with so they can make sure I leave with everything. I asked her about it and she said it was to make sure they can compare the last x-ray to this one to make sure all the barium is gone. I just lay there and get bombarded with lead particles. It feels refreshing.

Next, Michael comes in. He's an assistant to the doctor or a tech or something. I never really did catch a title. I was preoccupied with where exactly he thought all six feet of that tubing went! Jan and Mike (if I can call him Mike -- now that he's experienced me in ways my wife doesn't even know!) start discussing the light levels in the room. It's quite dark. Mike tells me that "mamaw" (Jan) is just not able to see things that well in the dark. (Now I'm worried!) He asks what I do for a living and I tell him I write code in a low-light-level office. He laughs at mamaw and goes back to his work. I'm wondering what problems might come up later if mamaw is sticking things in places in the dark and she can't see!

It seems that what they are discussing is a new-fangled little clip on the "barium bag". I can't be sure though. Anyway, Mike comes over and asks me to lay on my left side. I know what's next......SPROINK.....OK, now that's done. I really want to leave now, but I'm tethered to an I.V. pole by my rear end! He pumps the little handle to inflate the little rubber balloon that holds that thing in my colon. This ain't even bearable anymore. Time to go. He says relax. I vomit (not really, but I want to!).

I lay there and he says turn over on my back. I'm thinking "Yeah, pal. Let me put a pencil in your hind end and ask you to lay on it!" He assures me that there will be no problem. I'm in no position to argue, so I carefully slide over onto my back. At least I can see what's going on. Now Jan an Mike leave to get the doctor. I'm left in the silent room for a few minutes. I'm sure they do this just to make sure I feel nice and violated before the doctor gets there.

When he comes in he's all cheery and happy. (Why not? It's not his rectum they're probing!) He tells me that they are NOT going to fill my lower extremities with barium and take polaroids. Instead, they are going to pour in the barium, then stand the table up and drain it back out. THEN they are going to fill me with air. "Oh boy!" I think. How's this gonna work!

For the next few minutes they are filling my colon with various liquids and gasses and raising and lowering the table. I really believe they were just goofing around and seeing how much of this I could take without going crazy!

The doctor now has me turn this way and that as he looks at my bowels on a fluoroscope. When I'm not staring at a wall that's the prettiest shade of gray you've ever seen, I get to sneak glimpses and peeks of my colon. It looks like a colon! This process of turn, wince in pain, hold still, stop breathing, CLICK -- picture taken, and such continues for a while. When the doctor has seen enough of my plumbing, he leaves.

Now Jan tells me that she has to take some more "regular" x-rays. She is just going to use a normal x-ray machine and not the fluoroscope. She gets me twisted around and lined up just like she wants, then tells me to hold my breath as she leaves to click the "bombard with more lead atoms" button. The machine goes BBBBRRRRRZZZZZ and nothing happens. She tries again -- BBBBRRRRRZZZZZ -- nothing. I'm turning blue waiting to breath. She says "one more time" and the BBBBRRRRRZZZZZ/nothing cycle again. By this time she sees that my need for air is quite important. She tells me to breath. I inhale quickly. Mistake! Now my colon cramps! DARN! I exhale quickly -- cramp ends -- Jan says "don't breath" -- BBBBRRRRRZZZZZ -- nothing. My eyeballs pop out on the table. She crams them back in my butt.

OK. The x-ray machine is broke. It is dead. My butt hurts. Jan comes in and Mike is with her. They express the most heart-felt guilt and humbleness at presenting their next request. They need me to get up -- still infiltrated with tubing and air -- and wrap a sheet around the smock, get down off the four foot table (did I say WITH THE TUBING!!), walk to another x-ray room and GET BACK UP ON ANOTHER TABLE (DID I SAY WITH THE TUBING!!)! Obviously, I am still in no position to argue!

The next few minutes finds me trying to sit up on the thing in my rear (remember the "sit on a pencil" analogy earlier?). Try BENDING at the waist when six feet of the coldest tubing on Earth is hibernating in your rectum, and twenty-four hundred pounds per square inch of air pressure trying to find a place to escape! It's a sheer fight to get off the table. When I am finally down I do the "Man this is weird" shuffle to the next x-ray room. Mike and Jan are following me at a safe distance. After all, if that little rubber balloon in my behind fails, my anus becomes a cannon and the projectiles aren't sanitary! After an eternity I get to the next x-ray room and lay down again.

After moving rooms, the x-rays continue. I'm turning this way and that. It's not so bad now. I know I'm about done. Twisting and turning, stop breathing, BBBBRRRRRZZZZZ, CLICK, now breathe. All is well. Jan says after the doctor checks the x-rays real quick, they'll "un-violate" me and I can go. The light at the end of the tunnel comes on!

After laying there in a more calm demeanor for a few minutes, Jan comes in and tells me that due to an "issue", the doctor driving the Mack truck around in my rear end has to cover four other departments. He's going to be busy for a while. I squeak out an "OK..." and she leaves. She comes back in rather quickly and said her and Mike talked about it and they are going to go ahead and remove the hoses invading my lower body. She says there is no need for me to have to wait like that. I'm really relieved (or will be shortly!).

She asks me to turn on my left side and I decide that it might be better if I remove the foreign object myself. She gives me a quizzical look for a moment -- I say "shake a bottle of coke" -- she tells me which valves to release and what parts she needs back then sends me to the "patient restroom". It's the one with sound-proof walls! Jan says she will get my clothes from the other dressing room and bring them over to the dressing room in this x-ray area.

I go in the restroom and think "no sweat". I release the little clamp that holds the air into the piece that is wedged in my "exit only" ramp. "Aaaahhhh!" -- both the valve and I said that. I think I said it out loud! Next I have to remove this thing.......EEERRRROOOOKKKKKK......that's done. I almost collapse on the floor! Next, I sat on the toilet doing my thing for a while.

Just as I'm about to leave, I hear Jan outside. She tells me that they are going to do a chest x-ray and to just stay put 'til they're done. She says "don't worry, the walls are lined with lead." I wasn't worried about the radioactive neutrino's impaling themselves in my body. It is the sound of high pressure gas leaving me and the "unknown victim" outside getting their chest x-rayed hearing it that has me concerned! I kinda throttle back the waste gate until all's quiet out there.

After a few minutes of silence I hear Mike asking "who's clothes are these in the dressing room". Jan tells her they're mine and he tells her to move them back to the other room because he needs this one. Now I'm alone, half naked, in a bathroom outside and x-ray room and no clothes near me. Great! What next.

I wait for what seems like an eternity for someone to come back to the door and say "Are you done?". Nothing. I have to get up the nerve to open the door, go out into the hall in my smock and sock attire and ask "What's next?". They tell me I have to get back on the table for one more "post mortem" x-ray. This one is to make sure they got all the barium they could out. They take the shot and tell me to wait a few minutes.

A few minutes pass and Jan returns and says she has to take another x-ray because one of them didn't turn out too well. Part of my colon was missing on the x-ray. I told her it was on the bathroom floor. She smacks me and leaves again. Soon thereafter she comes back for two more x-rays that the doctor wanted. She takes them then leaves yet again.

Now she comes in again looking pale. She says that the doctor said that the last two didn't turn out too good and I have to be filled up with air AGAIN! Now they have to re-violate me with six more feet of tubing (thanks Mike) and pump me up with more air. Now I'm getting anxious! I ain't very comfortable and they are pumping like a gas station on my bowels. The bulb in the light at the end of the tunnel blows.

The doctor asks me to roll around and such and finally says that it isn't working. He says that I'm not retaining enough air. I think I'm retaining air quite well! He says I'll have to come back in two weeks and do this again! Happy, happy, joy, joy. I ask Mike if he wants me to "do the honors" and remove the two inch wide vein from my back blast area myself. He tugs it out as he says "No, it came right out." I collapse into a puddle on the table and they sweep me into the floor.

After another tour of the patient bathroom (and some mighty fine handrail gripping I might add), I get to stagger to the other x-ray room and re-dress. The other x-ray machine is now in pieces before its maker. I weave through the rectal probing equipment, lock myself in the little closet I started in, and put on my clothes in silence.

Jan is almost in tears over me having to come back, but she gives me the appointment anyway. I'm glad to get to leave and let my rectum heal before round two (or is it three?!?). I leave feeling quite bloated and probably walking like a penguin.

Nobody laughs in the end, though.