March 20, 2019
Sunday: I go to the drug store and notice in the parking lot the car of a staunch Republican who goes to the gym. As I get close to the store, I see the Republican—and always one to put the needle in—I say, "How long are you going to leave that Bob Dole sticker on your car?" He smiles.
"Where you going? The liquor store?" He asks.
"No, I'm going in there," I say, pointing to Rite Aid, the drug store. "I need stuff to clean me out. I'm having a colonoscopy Tuesday."
"Been there, done that," he says, extending his hand. We shake and go our separate ways. I believe the Republican had been to Home Goods, a store that doesn't sell anything anyone needs. It's not as bad as Costco but close.
Sunday evening, St. Patrick's Day: My Hungarian mate makes stuffed cabbage. It's going to be more than 24 hours before I can have anything solid to eat, so I have three cabbages (they aren't all that huge), a slice of wheat bread and a piece of cake and ice cream.
Monday, the day before the colonoscopy: I get out of bed at 7:30, a half hour later than usual because I'm skipping the gym. Irene's first words of the day are, "Can you bring me a donut?" She knows I'm heading off to get Newsday, a coffee and a scratch-off lottery ticket. Sure thing, my little radish. My day ahead is broth, Gatorade and Jell-O, but you want a donut.
I do as instructed. While I'm eating a bowl of yellow Jell-O—all together now; "Yellow Jell-O ain't that mellow?"—she takes a powdered donut and pounds it against her dish to get off some of the sugar. She talks about how something with frosting would have been a better choice. Well, the damn donut looks pretty good to me. I did not offer to swap my Jell-O for her donut.
Her lunch was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and strawberries. Mine was a can of vegetable broth preceded by four laxative pills.
I so wish I could do this every day.
I'll spare you the particulars but along about 3 p.m. I began the task (and that is a good choice of words) of drinking 64 ounces of apple juice with a magic powder in it that liberates you from having to visit any other room in your house except the one with the sink and bowl. Fortunately, with the door open, the downstairs bathroom provides a good view of a small TV in the breakfast nook. From this position, I’m able to watch the New York Knickerbockers hold the Toronto Raptors to 73 (seven three) points in the first half.
Tuesday: I shower, brush my teeth, and my son Jack takes me to South Nassau Communities Hospital at 7:30. I'm registered quickly and Jack is told they will call him when I'm in the recovery room and about to be released.
I put on a hospital gown—the kind that is open in the back, the kind that no one looks good in or is comfortable in—and begin answering a long list of questions from nurses, doctors and others who, lacking name tags, could well have been the hospital electrician or just visitors.
A nurse inserts an IV into my hand. Not being an admirer of needles, I don't watch these things but feel something wet and, being on a blood thinner, wonder if it is blood. She keeps dabbing my hand and fingers with gauze. What a start, I think. For this I ate two bowls of yellow Jell-O?
After some more dabbing of the hand, she explains the IV is leaking but she's fixed things. She brings me a fresh, dry blanket. I look. There is no blood.
Another nurse introduces himself, says he will be in the procedure room with me, and then asks, "Are you the real McCoy?"
I can't tell you how clever a question that is. I give the standard answer Jack uses, "You know, you're only the second person to ever ask me that." I follow up with, "I ought to get $50 off my bill because of that."
The anesthesiologist appears and provides me the chance to use one of my favorite lines.
When he asks, "Do you have any allegories?", I respond, "Yes, Fox News."*
Dr. Singh, the doctor who will do the procedure, stops by, and we talk, mostly about the Knicks. He had been at Madison Square Garden on Sunday when the Knicks had a rare win.
After signing several forms, I'm wheeled into the procedure room. I'm always surprised how soon you get knocked out. I remember seeing a plunger going into the IV line and then waking up in the recovery room. There, I dined on apple juice and a couple of Lindsey Graham crackers. (I immediately imagined myself wearing a red MAGA hat.)
The nurse gives me a discharge form that says "wait until 3/20" to work, drive, exercise or have sex.
Jack is called and told to wait outside in his car. A man between 50 and 60 years old pushes me outside in a wheel chair. I tell him, "You know I can have sex tomorrow." He doesn't seem interested, so I get in the car with Jack.
He stops at a 7-Eleven where I get a coffee, a Newsday, a lottery ticket and a large blueberry muffin. After breakfast, I take a nap. After lunch, I take a nap.
Dr. Singh says I don't have to do this again for three years. I have to wait that long before I get to enjoy yellow Jell-O again? I’m counting the days.
* I emailed this to a few friends last week before Irene spotted the typo. Not only do I not have any allegories, I don’t have any algebras either. (Everyone needs an editor.)
(Photo courtesy of Jack McCoy Photography.)