July 31, 2015 by The Citron Review
by Sue Granzella
I had followed the instructions in the “Your Colonoscopy” pamphlet and had dressed for comfort. My baggy sweat pants were too long, my ancient black-and-blue striped tee was unflattering and faded, and my comfy old tennis shoes were holey. After thirty-six hours of fasting, my face was pasty-white, except for the dark circles under my eyes. I’d arisen at 4:30 a.m. to finish the bowel-flushing drink, a horrible salty concoction that dared to call itself “lemon-flavored.”
In five-minute intervals, I shuffled to the waiting-room bathroom, repeatedly optimistic that each trip would be the last. I hadn’t dried my shoulder-length brown-grey hair at home, and the bathroom mirror revealed that its wet, mussed condition complemented my haphazard attire. No matter how bloated, hungry, tired, and ugly I felt, though, I’d soon be scarfing down the IHOP’s fluffy French toast I’d dreamed of throughout my fast.
Finally, the nurse led me to a pre-op gurney, handed me a hospital gown, and whipped the curtain closed. Once I’d changed, I snuggled under the microwaved flannel blanket that she brought me.
The next forty minutes passed in a pleasant, foggy swirl. One moment, I was gazing up at the doctor and hoping I’d masked my shock; his deeply lined face along with the unnaturally dark dye job of his wildly unkempt hair made me think of an angry clown. The next moment, I was puzzling over the amused look in my husband’s blue eyes as he assured me that the colonoscopy was over.
“But I feel something! What’s in my nose?” My right nostril felt uncomfortably raw, as if something were scraping it inside. An oxygen tube? Flailing my arms around my head, I found nothing.
John smiled, and I realized he thought I was still loopy. “Maybe a tube scratched you during the procedure.”
“Are you sure there’s nothing?” Now I felt a steady stream of thin liquid coursing from my nose. I sniffed hard, but I had no control over the leaking. My only recourse was to dam it up by pressing my right nostril closed with my index finger. Plugging it as best I could, I nestled back against the pillow.
After a few minutes of dreamy rest, I convinced John that I was ready for IHOP. I detected an unsettled feeling when I stood up, though, and decided that I couldn’t trust my innards to behave at the restaurant.
“John, could you ask the nurse for a little pad?”
In a moment he was back, holding out a huge, full-on Depends. “This is all they have.”
I sighed, and pulled up the thickly padded adult diaper. At least my baggy sweats would fit over the unexpected undergarment.
Shuffling out of my enclosure, I peeked at a mirror. My hair had dried while it was splayed out on the gurney, and confused spears of it now pointed in all directions, not unlike the Statue of Liberty’s crown. My paralyzed right nostril was still streaming clear liquid, and now my eyes had also begun to run, perhaps out of sympathy for my traumatized nose. A white-haired woman in the waiting room stared at me as I passed through on my way out.
John helped me into the car, and we headed for the IHOP.
Inside, toddlers whined, dishes clinked, and pop music floated from hidden speakers. There were young women packed into tight jeans, stocky men with stained baseball caps, and harried mothers clutching young children who tossed fistfuls of cracker crumbs. John and I sat ourselves at the open booth smack in the middle of everyone.
My only decision was how big an order of French toast I would get. I scanned the menu, but couldn’t see much through the constant cloud of tears. With my last Kleenex, I dabbed my eyes with my left hand while keeping my right index finger pressed against my nostril.
But the dam was ready to burst. In desperate need of more tissue, I lurched to my feet, acutely aware of my unsightly appearance. Across the table was my tall, handsome, bright-eyed husband who’d gotten up at 6:00 to drive me in.
I heaved a shuddering sigh. “I’m headed to the bathroom – again.”
He glanced up at me and nodded.
I had to know.
So I gestured at myself in exaggerated fashion from head to toe, and asked John, “Hey – what’s it like, seeing your fifty-three-year-old wife waddle around like this, looking so fine?”
Instantly, he was Moses parting the Red Sea, thrusting his arms out to the sides, proclaiming, “Stand back, gentlemen! She’s all mine!”
Too weak to laugh so hard while upright, I slid back into the booth. John just grinned.
When I was twenty, I never imagined that I could feel so loved.
Sue Granzella’s work has won awards in the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and from MemoirsInk. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Hippocampus, Write Place at the Write Time, Lowestoft Chronicle, Prick of the Spindle, Rougarou, Crunchable, Switchback, and elsewhere. Sue teaches third grade in a public school in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves baseball, stand-up comedy, road trips, hiking, and reading the writing of eight- and nine-year-olds.