Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I’m a pretty superstitious guy so I took it as an omen when I got assigned to bed #13 in the pre-op area prior to my scheduled gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures recently at the General Hospital in Regina. I didn’t know exactly what the process would entail, and, like almost everyone else in the world, I was a little unnerved going into the tests anyway but the #13 thingy added a little more stress to the situation for me.
Humans’ greatest fear is the fear of the unknown and I was heading into unknown territory. I don’t think the procedures are exactly dangerous or risky, per se, but anytime they’re putting you in a hospital gown and feeding you the real good drugs the chances increase that anything could happen…good, bad or otherwise.
            It could be classified as either good or bad luck, depending on your point of view, to have both procedures scheduled on the same day. On one hand it saved us a second trip into the city and another go-round through the healthcare system but on the other hand I was going to be probed from both ends nearly at the same time and I wasn’t exactly thrilled by that prospect at all. 
             I think I’ll pass on the details of the liquid/low residue diet that you’re forced to be on the day before the tests or the mandatory laxative cocktail, and its ensuing effects, that one has to take the night before and the morning of the procedures, but suffice to say that the industrial strength colon cleanser is most effective. ‘Nuff said.
            I went to admitting as scheduled at 11:00AM hoping that the laxative’s effects were completely over but thinking it and knowing it are two different things so my forehead was a little beaded over with sweat as my stomach gurgled and I debated running to the john one more time or waiting it out for #61 to be called out while #59 was lit up in the red led lights above the Admitting desk. Ding went the bell and the lights went to #60 so my decision was made for me. There’s no way I was going to give up my place in line unless absolutely necessary. Fortunately I made it through Admitting without soiling myself. Whew.
            I then went to the next waiting room in the Endoscopy Department and nearly every chair was taken but half of the people in the waiting room were the patient’s rides so the wait wasn’t very long there. But the next station was a completely different story.
            That’s when I got led to bed #13 where my assigned nurse greeted me with all the necessary items, gown, robe, paper booties, plastic bag for my stuff and I was directed to one of three dressing room/bathrooms at the far end of the room. I glanced at the #13 light above my assigned bed and my stomach did a tiny flip. I don’t like this; I thought to myself, something’ll happen.
            I went across the room and picked the door in the middle and opened it up to a bare-naked man who was “door-lock challenged”, apparently, but his nurse standing outside the door, clipboard in hand, pointed up at the OCCUPIED sign and then said, “That one over there is unoccupied. The one that DOESN’T have a sign saying ‘occupied’.” Thankfully, she didn’t laugh too loudly at my embarrassment. Choosing the wrong door…bad luck? Or just stupidity?
            I got changed and processed without further incident by 11:30. As the procedures and the time schedule were described to me I was thinking that I’ll be out of here in a couple of hours for sure. Shouldn’t have thought it. Jinxed myself. I should have known better. Bad luck or stupid? There seemed to be a theme developing.
            For the next two-and-a-half hours I lay on bed #13 staring at the ceiling and watching the clock tick away as other patients came and went. No book, no magazine, no cell phone, no radio, no music…just me on the bed listening to Nurse Ratched, or whoever, answering the phone and badgering the callers on the other end of the line, the interaction of the staff with each other and the other patients and finding patterns and faces in the ceiling tile. For TWO-AND-A-HALF hours. Was that John Lennon or Jesus? Hard to tell…hmmm. There’s a teddy bear and a ball glove and a…
            Again, I will not bore you with the gory details of the uncomfortable test procedures or the loss of dignity in the “Flatulence Room”, (about the only place I know of where breaking wind is actually encouraged), but they sent me home with pictures, (ewwww), from the camera shots they took in both orifices and with any luck, “touch wood”, I’ll be given a clean bill of health when the final results come back.

“My feeling about fears is, if you voice your fears, they may come true. I’m superstitious enough to believe that.” Meryl Streep (1949-).

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