Being tested

I was one of those kids you hated in school. Most people fear tests—they get the shaky, dry-mouthed, sweaty sensation; lose every bit of knowledge they have even if they’ve studied for weeks. Pulses race, breakfasts return.

I liked tests. I enjoyed them. They appealed to my inner-showoff. They let me prove my abilities. I was calm and collected, happy even. I used to go to the movies the night before the big exam. Yes, you hated me.

Last, week, I lost a great deal of sleep staying up until the wee hours of the morning two nights in a row writing a test for work. It was grueling, but it did let me take the more corporate side of my brain out for a walk, which I have to admit I enjoyed. I’m presuming the tight 48 hour time period for two fairly weighty assignments was part of test itself—to see how one managed multiple tasks in a short time frame.

Afterwards, I felt like I bet really physically fit people must feel after a tough workout—that I could take on anything. Bring it. I’ve got the stuff.

This coming week, I have another kind of test; the kind everyone over 50 should have, me in particular considering my mom is a colon cancer survivor. It’s one of those messy, embarrassing kinds of test that take place below the belt, the kind most people aren’t comfortable talking about.

Luckily, my mother has had enough of these tests to give me the inside dirt. Pun intended. And again, luckily, two of my neighbors are nurses; one practicing, one retired. Neither of them had any reservations about explaining the “ins and outs” of this particular procedure. Although the funniest explanation I’ve found is by columnist Dave Barry. Anyone one having one of these has to read it.

Time was when you couldn’t exactly study up for a medical test, but the Internet has changed that. At this point, I know so much about what’s going to happen, that if I wasn’t going to be sedated and had better coordination, I think I could do it myself. But I’d actually rather not think about that.

My mom, my nurse neighbors and the other 43 people I know who have had this test all agree one thing—the procedure itself is nothing—it’s the preparation that’s a rough and rocky ride.

There’s the pre-fasting. No nuts, seeds, tomatoes, cucumbers, Red River Cereal (Really? They still make that stuff?), nothing to obstruct the equipment. I wanted to ask if they meant theirs or mine. Then fasting. No solid food after midnight. But all the (non-red, blue or purple) Jell-O and popsicles I want. Which is wonderful because when I’m really hungry, Jell-O and popsicles top my go-to list. Lunch and dinner will be clear broth.  Good, I get a hot meal out of this. At least I can have coffee. Black. I have to slurp back three litres (that’s about a cup short a gallon for the non-metrics out there) of (non-red, blue or purple) Gatorade, plus another litre of some sort of clear beverage I’m thinking white grape juice in a wine glass to make me feel special.

But then I’ll want Brie on a cream cracker. Damn.

Last week, Miss-Always-Prepared laid in the medical preparations needed—a box of Duculax and a two-pack purchase of something called Pico-Salex, an oral “purgative”. For some reason, the name made me think of Mexican food, which obviously I really shouldn’t be thinking about at all. For a long time to come. The box boasts “natural orange flavor” and shows a milky beverage in a fancy cup. I know I detected a sympatric smirk on the very young man who had to retrieve this for me from behind the pharmacy counter—apparently, it is a fav of bulimics everywhere and can’t be kept on a shelf.

My schedule on Wednesday will include medicating myself, taking the dog for VERY short walks, lying on the couch, drinking copious amounts of fluids and hopefully, between events, watching many episodes of The West Wing, I have all seven seasons thanks to my love’s eagle eye at Wal-Mart’s. On Thursday morning, my weak and hungry body, events finished by that time, will be transported to a clinic and at 9:40, kindly nurses will stick a needle in my arm. Having been sedated before, I know I won’t remember much after that. I’ll sleep the better part of the day and wake up hungry as a post-hibernation bear. I’ve been saying that I want Almond Chicken Soo Guy from the take-out place up the road, but something tells me that may not be the best course of action.

I will have been tested. And I promise not the share the gory details next week. It’s a test everyone should take when they hit the mid-century mark and I don’t want to spoil the adventure for the rest of you.


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