I have been through many strange things. Lots of them are funny, like this experience I wrote about 15 years ago. Enjoy.
circa Spring 2000
OK. Here’s the story:
I’m on Pills. A lot of Pills. Arthritis won’t go away anytime soon, since they’ve only just figured out the fruitfly and haven’t worked their way into the magic of mammalian DNA. So I take my Pills. I have big Pills, little Pills, Pills for symptoms I have on my own, Pills for the new exciting symptoms the other Pills give me. Pills for the hell of it, Pills out of necessity. Pills
so I know what day it is. You know. Pills.
Some of these pills are actually quite scary. For instance: Methotrexate. A friendly little pill that you take several of once a week. They invented it while doing cancer research. It’s basically a chemotherapy drug. It squashes my immune system so that it won’t go crazy and eat up my cartiledge. That’s cool, I guess. I mean, I’ve lost a lot of my hair — not that I’m bald — but generally the disease isn’t running full throttle in my body, thank God. The bad thing is that this pill is actually quite toxic.
So, rewind to last fall. I’m still whirling from all these pills being thrown at me, although it’s been a year since I was diagnosed. You’d be amazed how long it takes before you can wake up and automatically swallow a dozen little hard things without thinking about it. I’m going through life, kind of cranky and stressed out because I’m exhausted from working 32 hours a week and trying to convince everyone that I’m ok. I’m in the bathroom, when I notice that that is about the third or fourth time I’ve had forceful diarrhea that day. Then I think about it, and can’t remember the last time I took a nice, healthy, solid shit. I bring this up with the doctor later that month in SF. She says this is actually a bad thing. Methotrexate, the happy Pill which owes its existence to Phillip Morris can cause your intestines to turn toxic. Now, I don’t really know what that means, but it makes me think about have a Nuclear Power Plant
in my gut, and that’s Not A Happy Thought. But, since I can’t really give her a start date on my runs, she says that we’ll wait and see, and threatens me with a colonoscopy if it doesn’t go away.
Naturally, I tense up and shit bricks for a few days. I call her up, say everything’s a-ok, and thank you, I don’t need Kodak up my butt.
Then I get a call from my Humboldt County doctor. My monthly lab results are back, my hemoglobin is way down. I have to get the colonoscopy done because something in my intestines (NUCLEAR POWER PLANT) could be the cause. So I stress. And stress. They send me to a gastrointestinologist, which I can barely spell, let alone pronounce, and she is a very stern woman who wants to know all the intimate details of my feces. Now, I don’t know about other people, but for me, my shit gets to be an old topic really quick. They tell me not to worry they will schedule the colonoscopy and it will be a painless and easy procedure.
But first, they have to run a few tests.
I’m given a cardboard thingy with three slide slots, some tissue paper and some popsicle sticks. For three consecutive bowel movements I have to put the paper in the bowl, go, then fish some out with the stick and put it on the slide. Great. I do that, not without squirming. It comes back healthy.
“But we have this other test for you to do”, and they hand me three small tupperware containers and three biohazard bags. I am beyond screaming now, I just take the stuff and go home laughing. So I have to “go” straight into the containers. Imagine trying to figure out how to aim, and when do you know if you have enough? If you try to look it messes up the aim and you have shit in your hand. Anyway. I did my best; didn’t get a handful.
I was driving one of the samples to the lab one afternoon; it was in a little biohazard bag on the seat next to me. I’m cruising along, trying my damnedest to not freak out about this because I’m sure I’m not the only person in Eureka with a bag of shit in their car. Driving down “I” street, half way to Harris, I’m just starting to hum along with the radio when I look in my rear view mirror, and lo and behold, there is a police car behind me with its lights on.
My heart sank down and my stomach jumped up. This mad cackle broke through my lips as I tried to think of how I was going to explain the biohazard bag on the seat next to me without seeming suspicious.
“What’s that you’ve got there, ma’am?”, he would say.
My mouth would go tight, I would look over casually at the bag and say, “Oh, nothing” while I simultaneously slammed my foot on the accelerator.
Or he would accuse me of speeding and I’d have to explain that I was really in a hurry to get to the lab because my poop doesn’t keep for more than an hour unless I refrigerate it, and since my boyfriend wasn’t too keen on the idea of having my feces next to the veggies and meat I need to get it delivered as soon as possible. My mind was counting the endless
possibilities as I slowly pulled over, took a deep breathe, tried to keep the tears from pouring down my face ……. and he passed me. I was so fucking relieved I don’t even remember what happened next. But I got the shit to the lab on time.
The next I had to spend a day in a gown with the x-ray people. They made me drink this radioactive milkshake — and no, I don’t recommend it as flavor of the month — Then they took pictures of it as it travelled down my throat and through my small intestines. Now this I didn’t really mind, because the technician was really nice. She chattered at me and laughed when I belched, helped me on and off the big table and generally made it seem like I was a
guest in a home rather than a patient in a flimsy robe. There was another guy who would come in and poke me with a wand and take still pictures, but he was an asshole. Aside from being treated like a slice of meat by him it was really cool to watch live action shots of my digestive track. I’ve already seen the inside of my stomach, when I had to be checked out for ulcers, I’ve seen my ovaries and uterus in a sonogram, and now I’ve seen my small intestines. I figure I’ll have seen all of my internal organs at some point, and that should put me in some record book somewhere as The Girl Who Saw It All Without Dying.
I had to get up and walk around every now and then as the radioactive goo got into my small intestines, so that it wouldn’t just sit there. So I trotted around and encouraged my intestines to push it on through. I kept belching. It became a bit of a game — burp, push, push, burp. After about two hours I was done, which was quite a feat, considering that they had said I could be in there for up to 10 hours. I guess I’m a speedy processor.
So, aside from some funky wind that came out from down under, I was feeling fine. Then I went to the bathroom. My shit was WHITE. They had mentioned that there might be some discoloration, but that really doesn’t describe the albino crap that was coming out of my body. Only then was I a bit more concerned about what I had graciously consumed while in the x-ray room. It lasted for about three days.
The colonoscopy finally happened after about a month of waiting and playing around with my poo. I couldn’t eat for two days. I had about seven different kinds of laxatives pumping through me. I was shitting like a mad man. I had the burns. Let me be the first to tell you, since no one at the hospital is likely to mention this: when you are running to the bathroom every five minutes and literally blasting fecal matter and strange water out your backside, your ass will hurt really bad after the first hour. And that doesn’t mean that it’s going to stop coming out anytime soon. It is best to make a clear path to the bathroom, and tell anyone else in your house to fuck off and relieve themselves somewhere else, preferably far, far away. Or better yet, just plop your burning ass on the john, and stay there for the rest of the day. You can try to read a book, but chances are you won’t be interested in it. You will also want something to ease the burning, that is, if you can stop shitting for five minutes to get some on yourself. Take care of your ass. I used Desitin.
I was so cranky. I wanted food, but that just wasn’t going to happen until they got a real good look. I had two enemas the morning of the appointment. You have no idea what kind of hell that is. By the time I got there I was hurting so much from not eating and from having every propulsary drug that man has ever invented in my body that I didn’t care who saw, heard or smelled anything. I wanted the colonoscopy. I wanted it really bad. I came to the realization that they didn’t make me use those suppositories, enemas, pills, liquids, and whatever else to clean out my system — they did it to make me so miserable by the time I got there that I would bend over and beg for them to look at my insides. Go figure. They take away your food and powerblast your insides and then you are their pawn.
I understood and I gave up. “Please, please doctor, I’ll do whatever you want. Just give me anesthesia and make me forget what happens. And I promise, you can stick anything anywhere and I won’t argue. I just want this all to go away.”
They came, they saw, they took pictures and gave me copies. I farted like a monster for next few days, but the enchiladas I had that afternoon had never tasted so good in my life.
I’m fine. On my last Doctors appt, at which we went over the colonoscopy results, one of the Senior advisors for the arthritis clinic had the brilliant idea that I might be Lactose intolerant. Take some Lactaid, they said, and let us know. I have been on that for a week now and I only go once or twice a day, no runs. It was so wierd at first that I thought I was constipated. Turns out I’m just plain regular.
All of that pain and stress and embarassment, and my problem is dairy products. Goes to show what you can learn from sticking things up your ass.