A little late to the party at age 63, all those years of putting off my colonoscopy, swearing I’d never do it, ended when I experienced some left side pain. By the time I arrived at the hospital on the appointed day after the horrendous over-drinking of salty fluid and subsequent cleansing, I had reached a state of worry that raised my blood pressure to a near-all time high and the attending physician sternly lectured my reluctance to properly monitor my health. “Yeah, I delayed until I couldn’t any longer.” I shared. “Now, I’m scared.”
As they poked my veins to administer the Demerol, I requested the full monty, “Don’t scrimp, give me as much medication as the law will allow,” which elicited a chuckle from the small entourage that surrounded my bed.
The nurse wheeled me off to the treatment room where the procedure went well despite a scary, uncomfortable start that required MORE medication. Yummy. All I remember as I came out of my fog was the doctor saying, “Come back in 10 years.” Whew. Thank god.
For years, I’d actually imagine the process– no food, the awful mixture, the gauche procedure, the unspeakable, right? I’d make appointments, then cancel. My family physician would chide.
“Don’t you want to put it behind you and feel better knowing you’re okay?”
“I wasn’t worried about it in the first place!" I'd declare.
Which is surprising given my proclivity to health anxiety.
But let’s back up to the day prior to the colonoscopy and the pre-procedure cleanse. The night before my prep day, I dined with a friend. I hadn’t eaten much that day, so I decided I better eat lest I become overly hungry during my vigil, so I ordered a small pasta dish and an accompanying glass of Chardonnay. A glass of wine? Of course. I knew I wouldn’t be having a glass for a couple of days, and it’s not that I tanked up, but one glass seemed harmless – required, even.
When I got home, it was nearly 10 p.m. The Eve of No Eating had arrived. I felt hungry at the very prospect. But I was ready. I was armed with Italian water ice, orange Jello and bouillon. My husband helped me by mixing the 4-liter bottle of water with special powder and accompanying lemon flavor packet.
The next morning on my way to work, I stopped at the bakery like I always do. I was Breakfastless in Bristol, but I could indulge in a cup of coffee, right? "Indulge" was definitely the incorrect terminology. The coffee tasted worthless without my customary, softening dollop of half and half. My ritual broken, I felt foreign in my own skin and my day was off to an odd start.
My tummy rumbled as I worked through the morning at my desk. I ate my water ice. I ate the orange Jello, in fact, I ate two orange Jello’s, but the second one somehow didn’t possess the same charm as the first. And I missed bread. I missed chocolate. I missed my greens. "This is all temporary," I thought to myself, but dang, it was tough!
I assessed my being. “Do I feel weak? Oh, I wish it were over with." And then I caught myself.
My selfish self. My spoiled self. My thoughts went out to the children of the world, who never have enough food to eat. Ever. Every Day. The children I’ve been learning about since I was a Catholic school first-grader.
One-quarter of the Sub-Saharan African population is under-nourished. Not to mention the children who work under slave-like conditions on the cocoa plants where the chocolate I so blithely rely on to get me through my day is produced. And here I was pining for a sandwich and missing my dinner – for ONE day. My mandatory fast became irrelevant. Instead, I thought about those kids. And my hunger was rendered a non-entity.
36 hours without food? Why, it’s nothing at all.