Have you ever had one of those moments where all you can do is wonder why no one is with you to see what you’re seeing?
Ya know, the kind where you look left…look right…and expect to find out that my girl Ellen Degeneres is watching you on a hidden camera?
Representing the rare and unusual, I experience these moments A LOT.
For example, when the 94823084th doctor looks at you with a bewildered “I’ve never seen THAT before!” expecting you to be a) shocked and b) somewhat alarmed, and all you can think is “I wonder if I have time to grill my sweet potato for dinner tonight?”
Over the years I have shared nearly all of the “Billboard Top 25” ridiculous moments, but…I have a confession to make.
There is one moment…that may in fact be the very tippy-top of the list, that I didn’t share.
One test from my good ol’ 2012 pilgrimage to Mayo, that I decided was just a wee bit too ridiculous to share.
(Except to my father, who laughed so hard in the waiting room, I felt the need to confirm the presence of his inhaler in his briefcase.)
I didn’t feel the need to share it, that is, until 4 years later, the test that I thought I would never ever ever ever have to think of again, was ordered by my doctor.
Let me assure you — I initially said no.
In fact, I believe I laughed as if it was a joke.
But my new doctor promised it would be super helpful! and very diagnostic! and the start to better food consumption!
And let’s be honest, the promise of eating more than 10 things is like dangling a tennis ball in front of a retriever — absolutely impossible to ignore.
Now before we dive in further, I feel the need to provide a disclaimer.
People…I have extensive gastrointestinal dysmotility. In other words, my GI system is all kinds of dysfunctional from the very top to the very bottom. Over the years I have met with more doctors and had more GI tests than I can even begin to count, and as with most commonly repeated life events, what once seemed weird quickly becomes just another day.
I say this, because today I’m introducing you to the Anorectal Manometry…and that alone should give you a hint enough to know that if bathroom humor and being introduced to the inner workings of my colon is too much for you, allow me to suggest that you close the computer, grab a green juice and go for a stroll. No questions asked.
As I was saying.
So, the anorectal manometry. So uncommon and unheard of, that Microsoft Word continues to insist that I am trying to spell something else.
As with most tests in the GI department, there is an element of preparation. This delightful little adventure involves not 1, but 2 enemas two hours prior to the test.
Nothing says “good morning!” quite like a double enema at 4:45 AM, my friends. NOTHING. (Also notable, you can save a full dollar by purchasing the enema twin pack at Target!)
When you endure a GI test for the first time, you are blissfully unaware. You head back into the surgical suite completely in the dark of just how this whole transaction will occur.
The second time, however? You seriously question the sanity of the extremely chipper nurse who comes to retrieve you from the waiting room.
(The first time I had this test, my extremely attractive male nurse told me he would step outside while I dropped my pants. Oh how kind to step out of the room while I take off my yoga pants…and then come back into the room to very closely examine my bowel habits…)
After changing into a gown, and hearing the requisite “you’re too young to have a pacemaker!” and “but you look so healthy!” the show began when the nurse kindly instructed me to hold onto the bed so she could check my anatomy.
Friends, when one is instructed to brace with the bed, one should guess the check will involve more than “1 cheek, 2 cheek, hole, got it!”
All while telling me about her darling grandchild, a nurse wearing bright red lipstick checked my INTERNAL anatomy. So glad she made herself up for the occasion.
While desperately trying to distract myself from the situation DOWN THERE, I decide it’s a genius idea to take stock of the items on the prep tray.
This just in: TERRIBLE IDEA.
The items include, but are not limited to: 1 eighteen inch set of tubing in plastic wrap, 1 bag of balloons, and 1 extra large tube of KY Jelly.[Braces bed with more fortitude]
Shortly thereafter, aforementioned 18 inch tube goes exactly where you are guessing it does. AND THEY LEAVE IT THERE.
At this point, my red lipstick friend switches spots with another poor soul who has been relegated to the world of the anorectal manometry….who proceeds to lead me in a long series of repetitions of “SQUEEZE 2 3 4 5!” and “PUSH 2 3 4 5!”
Guys. I’m doing calisthenics with my RECTUM.
At this point, I again dare to look around for distraction and notice that my red-lipstick pal has her shiny gold-cased phone out, all aimed in the direction of my extraordinarily bare bottom half. So I do the completely logical thing and assume that she is taking photos…until I realize she has the stopwatch feature up and is using her gold-clad telephone to time my rectal calisthenics. I’m not sure which is more jarring.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “Ok, it has to be almost over, this can’t possibly get worse!” and I will admit, I was right there with you the first time.
Just when you are thinking they must be wrapping up and about to send me on my merry way, they instead whip out a giant syringe full of saline. Remember that balloon from my perusal of the prep tray?
Before I can even begin to mentally prepare myself for the next phase of this life altering experience, 18 inches of tubing is removed, a balloon is attached to the bottom, and 18 inches is reinserted. Now I feel it’s important to note that I requested a funfetti balloon. If I am going to produce a balloon from the inner reaches of my colon, it had better say “Congratulations” and be full of confetti. I do not think this is too much to ask.
I was denied.
Alas, the balloon was yellow. Lame.
Once the decidedly non-confetti containing balloon is no longer on the outside of my body, the previously mentioned syringe of saline decides to join the colon party and they fill up the balloon.
They fill up a balloon. Inside my intestine. And then attach a rubber tube to it. And tie on a weight.
I am, at this point, instructed to head to the attached bathroom for a more “natural experience.” I am now completely naked, with a flimsy hospital gown half covering the front of my body and about 12 inches of rubber tubing and a weight hanging out of my backside, attempting to walk across the room to the bathroom.
Never. Looked. Better.
I am firmly instructed to drop said weight into the toilet, sit, and let them know when I’m “in position.”
After I nervously share that I am, in fact, in position, three words are yelled through the bathroom door:
At this point, my main objective is push out the balloon. That is attached to a weighted tail. In my rectum.
It is absolutely crucial that I make sure you understand that this is a TIMED test. For a full two minutes, likely timed on the shiny gold phone, my two newest pals are directly outside of the bathroom door yelling “GO LYDIA!!!!,” “PUSH!!!!! PUSH!!!!!!” and “YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!”
People. I had balloon-pooping cheerleaders.
If only I brought pom-poms.
I am now sitting on a toilet at Hopkins, mostly naked, with a weighted tail hanging out of me, literally sweating and red in the face when I hear a dejected “times up” from outside the door.
Not only did someone stick a yellow balloon into my rectum, but that yellow balloon is now STUCK in my rectum. And seeing as the yellow balloon is attached to a weighted tail that ends in the toilet, I am now also STUCK on the toilet.
Apparently my bestest red-lipstick-clad pal drew the short straw of opening the door, where she then directed me to lean forward while she “retrieved” the not at all congratulatory balloon. While untying (yes, untying) the balloon inside of my backside, I receive a muffled, “Well I guess you know you failed that part!”
Got it, thanks.
Several weeks later, when I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor (who, I may remind you, had promised me all things diagnostic! and helpful! and more food!) I was quite thrilled to head to the patient rooms, and NOT the surgical suite…but I sat with tightly crossed legs, just in case.
I listened as the doctor started reading off the different numbers and pressure readings and speed of my rectal calisthenics, waiting patiently for her to mention when I can go dive into some chips and salsa, and instead I hear;
“Well, what’s interesting is we don’t really know what this means!”
Is that so.
In other news, while filling out the payment portion of my not one, not two, but THREE day stool test (another part of the super helpful! diagnostic! more food! plan) I notice the cost of the test is about 6 times what I was told it would be. Thinking there must be a mistake, I call the diagnostic company to inquire about the cost of the three day “box o’ my bowels” residing behind the spinach in my refrigerator.
A very kind, Southern woman patiently explains to me that my insurance company decided not to cover the test…but if I’m unable to pay the full price at this time, I can place it on layaway!
For my stool sample.
Ellen? Are you there?!?