Colonoscopy Journal

I called my friend Andy Derrierre, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later in his office Andy showed me a colour diagram of the colon a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly trough Alice Springs.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully but I didn’t really hear anything he said because my brain was shrieking ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17000 FEET UP YOUR ARSE!’

I left Andy’s office with some written instructions and a prescription for a product called ‘PicoPrep’ which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss PicoPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of Australia’s enemies.


I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then on the day before my colonoscopy I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions I didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth which is basically water only with less flavor.

Then in the evening I took the PicoPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system a litre is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour because PicoPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for PicoPrep clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor state that after you drink it ‘a loose watery bowel movement may result.’ This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof you may experience contact with the ground.

PicoPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too graphic here but have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the PicoPrep experience with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the dunny had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then when you figure you must be totally empty you have to drink another litre of PicoPrep; at which point as far as I can tell your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the hospital. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of PicoPrep spurtage. I was thinking ‘What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts the kind that when you put it on makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted but Eddie was very good and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their PicoPrep. (At first I was pissed off that I hadn’t thought of this but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.)

When everything was ready Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17000-foot tube but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point..

Andy had me roll over on my left side and the anaesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room and I realised that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the least appropriate.

“Do you want me to turn it up?” said Andy from somewhere behind me..

“Ha ha” I said. And then it was time the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish prepare yourself because I am going to tell you in explicit detail exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment ABBA was yelling ‘Dancing Queen feel the beat of the tambourine’ and the next moment I was back in the other room waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

On the subject of Colonoscopies… 

Colonoscopies are no joke but these comments during the exam were quite humorous. A physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

  1. “Take it easy Doc.. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before”.
  2. “Find Harold Holt yet?”
  3. “Can you hear me NOW?”
  4. “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
  5. “You know in Tasmania  we’re now legally married.”
  6. “Any sign of the trapped miners Chief?”
  7. “You put your left hand in you take your left hand out…”
  8. “Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!”
  9. “‘If your hand doesn’t fit you must quit!”
  10. “Hey Doc let me know if you find my dignity.”
  11. “You used to be an executive at News Corp didn’t you?”
  12. “God now I know why I am not gay.”
  13. “You could have at least bought flowers and dinner first.” 
  14. And the best one of all, “Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?”