Yesterday was a highly "sheety" day...crappy, if you will. And this morning I find myself just plain exhausted and "pooped".
I awoke early enough in the morning to take my last swigs of water before placing myself on the two hour NPO (nothing by mouth) restriction the radiology department had put me on for my specialized CT scan. Two hours before this test, I was instructed not to eat or drink anything in preparation for the panoramic pictures that were about to be taken of my upper GI and small intestine. I was quite pleased for the time being that there were no enemas, no Fleets to drink, and no real preparation at all, except to keep things out of my mouth. Little was I aware of what was to follow.
I think my overwhelming medical joy of "no prep status" in the Gut Doctor's office earlier in the week caused me to have a lapse in judgment...I didn't even ASK any questions about what to expect of the test or what was going to happen once I got there. All I knew was it was a "non-invasive" exam...that meant no swallowing of tiny cameras and nothing inserted into any holes in my body that wouldn't fit there.
I arrived at the radiology department and was greeted by kind and smiling staff who, at the time, seemed unusually pleasant and helpful. The waiting area was calm and peaceful and I was immediately lulled into a state of complacency...finally a medical test that felt "right"...I'd be able to waltz out of this Medical Mecca in two hours and return to work without a care in the world. I was lulled into a stupidity state.
Young John, who looked to be somewhere between 12 and shaving age, emerged from the "back" (I was soon to learn this radiology department covered an entire 9th floor of a large medical complex, stretching over nearly 1/4 a city block, and had deeper bowels and chambers in the "back" than I was carrying in my own intestines!) and greeted me warmly in the mirage waiting area. He was carrying a large, 500ml container of fluid and instructed me to drink the entire contents over the next twenty minutes. I inquired as to WHAT it was I would be drinking and he quietly whispered, "Barium", as if the solution was some secretive radioactive substance.
I nonchalantly whispered back, "So, I'm here for a Barium swallow test, huh?" After all, I DO have some medical knowledge of exams...that's usually why one would be asked to chug Barium.
"Not exactly", he whispers again. "You're going to have to drink 3 of these containers over the course of the next hour so we can see your insides and you're also going to have an IV so we can give you another contrast. It's a specialized CT scan". I was now growing a bit uneasy by his soft tone.
"What exactly is the name of this test I am having?", I say loudly to Young John, breaking the quiet hum of the musack/elevator-type music flowing from hidden speakers overhead.
Young John seems startled by my abruptness, but continues in his whispering tone, "It's a specialized radiology tomography. They'll tell you more about it when you get in The Back." It was clear to me he didn't know why I was there and he was only the "messenger" of bad tidings...don't shoot the messenger.
"So, I'll be back in twenty minutes with another one of these (the 500ml container filled with nasty-sweet smelling goo I was instructed to "chug" over the next few minutes of time). Be sure to drink all of it", he says to me, as if sensing I might have a history of noncompliance with the medical establishment.
I smile a fake smile of thanks and begin drinking the runny goo in the container. It tastes like candied crap, so I decide actual CHUGGING of it would be the best option and tried not to take a breath in the process...breathing only increases the revolt of the taste buds.
In twenty minutes, like clock work, Young John returns with yet another quart of his goo. He inquires if I drank the entire container and I shoot him a condescending smile. "Of course", I say rather flippantly. "Bring on the rest." It had now become a challenge for me to chug 1500ml of goo without vomiting.
The second quart goes down with even less ease than the first, but shortly after this breathless chug, I am summoned into the "back". The "back", I soon discover, has more hallways and doorways than a co-ed dormitory...it's huge. I silently declare myself lost after the first series of twists and turns as I follow Young John like a beaten puppy to the CT area.
Once in the remote area of the CT scanner, I am instructed to peel off all my clothes, except my shoes and socks, and tie a tiny gown obviously stolen from the pediatric ward around my girth. My only saving of face at this point was to note several other "duped" patients seated in another room looking just as distraught by the clothing option as I was. I complied.
The seating area of the CT waiting room was the place IVs were started...I got mine shoved into a vein, but not without escaping a comment from the technician that my right forearm was developing scar tissue around my anti-cubital area. I casually replied, "Oh, that's from heroin abuse", and let the comment slid by. There was, unfortunately no inquiry from the technician or ability for me to explain the scar tissue is from far too many IVs and lab draws being plunged into my arm over the past several months! He walked away without even so much as a smile...I was now beginning to miss the simpleness of Young John.
A new and middle-aged woman approached me in the "back" and handed me my final (now swimming pool-sized) bottle of goo to drink. I was beginning to feel quite exposed (literally) and chilled by the freezing air temperature of the "back", but still managed to chug down the remaining bottle through chattering teeth and subdue my stomach's urge to hurl.
I was by this time, so chilled to the bone by the Artic air and lack of substantial clothing in the "back", that I readily jumped up when Nancy Nurse came to get me and whisked me behind the heavy door marked "Nuclear Medicine" (or Nukular, if you are the President of the United States). Inside the room, the CT scanner hummed and three people dressed in various garb of protective gear hovered about...one technician never removed himself from behind the plate of protective glass. Probably the smartest of the group.
A strange IV contraption was set up overhead with two, large cylinder plunger pumps and a clear liquid floating harmlessly inside them...this was the nuclear contrast dye that was soon to be rapidly flushed into my vein...this was what the protective gear was for. No one seemed concerned about my potential danger from the clear liquid shooting through my veins...all three technicians huddled behind the protective glass once the test was started.
Nancy Nurse did instruct me earlier that this atomic waste product dye would probably cause me to feel "flush" and also like I might have to go to the bathroom. She didn't tell me I was going to turn beet red all over and feel like I had just wet my pants! Nor had anyone informed me the gallons of goo Barium I had been chugging was going to create severe diarrhea...I realized after the fact I really hadn't been provided "informed consent".
I mindlessly redressed myself and wandered my way off Pill Hill (where the medical complexes of Seattle sit) and meander downtown to my office building, darting in and out of businesses with public restrooms. I felt horribly sick and unable to tear myself away from a toilet for more than ten minutes. Once in the safety of the my work walls, the "flush" of the nuclear dye cleared from my body after about an hour and a half and my skin color returned. My coworkers wanted to send me home and have me take the day off because I looked so "sheety".
After about two hours of continual diarrhea, the fecal fest began to slow, and I felt a return to "normal" setting in...whatever normal is for me! I had refused to go home ill from work...after all, I was already THERE...why waste precious sick time and my OWN toilet paper??? I accepted my assignment with one of my coworkers a few hours into the shit...I mean shift.
We went to the county jail to evaluate an inmate being held there. Jails are an interesting place to visit to say the least, but the psychiatric floor of the jail tops all. Just as we were entering the cell block to approach the door of our detainee, another inmate in isolation began having an "episode"...it involved the throwing of feces and toilet water out the 6x18 pass through hole in the cell door.
Poo was flying...toilet water splattered everywhere. I jumped back just in time to avoid being hit by the barrage. The stench was overwhelming. We pivoted on our heels and immediately left without completing our task...there IS just so much one can take "all in a day's work" and I had had ENOUGH of a crappy day.
Fecal Fest 2006 could not end soon enough for me...I never did discover the actual NAME of the test I endured. It remains top secret. My pipes are once again cleaned out clear up to the back of my throat. I just can't seem to shake this "sheety" feeling...