816 North Opinion

August 12, 2014

Thanks to you, doc, my taste buddies and I no longer speak

Colonoscopies must be endured, but is it really necessary for that stuff you drink ... and drink .. and drink ... beforehand have to be so unpalatable?

Let me guess. Since you’re reading this, you’re either as old as me, older or old enough to be nearing colonoscopy age.

Who knows, you might even be a gastroenterologist whose mother read this and passed it on. (My demographic is rife with people who read and recommend, especially mothers of professionals too busy to read unless mom suggests something.)

My own mother would’ve done just that with a handwritten note that said, “At your age, David, this is very, very good advice.”

Very, very might also have been underlined in red.

Mom, you’ll be glad to know I went for my five-year colonoscopy this morning, my fourth overall. The doctor found two small polyps in the depths of what my father would’ve called his “innards.”

That’s as good a description as I’ve found since it implies neither a desire to know more about what goes on in there nor an urge to describe it more graphically.

I’ve had pre-cancerous polyps before and they’re nothing to be alarmed about. The idea is that a colonoscopy allows a doctor to remove them before they become cancerous.

I remember hearing that my father once had an operation to remove polyps from his sinus cavity. What this proves is that polyps can grow anywhere, not that my father ate in an unconventional manner.

People consider a colonoscopy invasive, and they’ll get no argument from me. Anyone who puts me on a restricted diet for 24 hours has no respect for my mental health.

Since I’m assuming most of you have had one of these procedures, there’s no need to go into the nitty gritty of what you can and cannot eat the day before. In a nutshell, most doctors prescribe a diet of clear liquids and semi-solid food that includes nothing more substantial than popsicles and Jello (both of them green, yellow and blue only) and, if you’re lucky, a steaming bowl of clear broth.

Some would argue that broth should fall in the clear liquid column, but after a day without solid food, salty chicken broth tastes almost as good as a Texas Bacon BLT and hash browns at Waffle House.


When it comes to the prep drink you have to take later that day, the diet is like pinky-wrestling compared to Armageddon. My father would’ve referred to it as “something the nice doctor prescribed to polish up your innards.”

I wouldn’t be nearly as genteel about a 64-ounce drink that’s the vilest swill since Grandpa Festus’ homemade brew was contaminated by barnyard runoff.

The instructions were to drink the first 32 ounces, eight ounces at a time, 15 minutes apart. Even with the aid of gum, mints, pop, water or a straw (allegedly to sneak the poison past your taste buds), I’d always have some left in one eight-ounce glass before starting the next.

Three hours later, you get to do it all over again.

The question I asked the doctor in recovery was why if science could come up with miraculous diagnostic equipment and hi-tech devices it couldn’t produce a pleasant-tasting drink for colonoscopy patients.

He listened empathetically, but, as you’d expect from a physician, didn’t commit himself to a strong answer. I figure nothing will come of this until 816 North hits the street and his mother reads it.

She’ll feel a motherly duty to send it to him with the kind of gentle note moms send to their kids: “My son the doctor, can’t you do something to stop this man’s suffering?”

If you have a tip on how to swallow this swill without ruing your existence, let me know at davidknopf48@gmail.com.

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