Sunday, July 26, 2009


It's 9:30 a.m., and I'm at Bonjour drinking my last coffee of the day. At noon or thereabouts I start the "bowel preparation" phase of my laparoscopic myomectomy. I've met with the surgeon twice and with a nurse practitioner, pre-registered, filled out all the paperwork (I hope, because it was left a little vague), and filled four prescriptions. Now comes the hard part—a part I didn't learn about until the second appointment with the surgeon, although perhaps I should have guessed. Since with age I'm trying to hone my philosophical approach and attitude, if this proves to be as unpleasant as many have hinted I'll try to see it as a prelude to the colonoscopy that's sure to be in my future.

There's something I've been reading that puts a day on GoLytely/GaviLyte into perspective. At age 45, Nabby, the daughter of John Adams, underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer without anesthesia. It took longer to dress the wound than to inflict it. As author David McCullough notes in John Adams, her suffering is inconceivable. Four years later, she traveled 300 miles in 15 days so she could be with John and Abigail. Emaciated, she had to be carried indoors, where the only comfort modern medicine could provide was opium. When she died three weeks later, Adams was saddened by her loss, yet relieved at her release. Her calm stoicism impressed all who witnessed it.

Suddenly, the discomforts required by 21st-century medical practice seem as nothing, and my anxieties, like life, are as dust in the eternal wind.

Addendum: If you want to know the effects of four liters of GoLytely/GaviLyte solution, imagine how it might feel to forcefully evacuate the contents of Lake Michigan every two to five minutes for several hours. Feels so good.


  1. I hope everything goes well.

    Thanks for the reminder of what that awful brew is like. What flavor did you pick?

  2. You're welcome. ;) The surgeon was surprised I'd never experienced it.

    The pharmacist stuck on a "lemon flavor pack." It didn't really taste like anything. I'm just not much of a drinker, and getting four liters down was not easy. Then there was an especially painful and unpredicted side effect that I'll spare you, but I came close to crying for the first time in years!