To BE or
Not to BE?
or: How I Learned to Stop
Worrying and Love the Barium Enema
You know there just aren't enough good stories about barium enemas. (Or as the medical profession prefers to call them, BE's).
For those of you who don't know what a barium enema is: First, they stick a balloon up your hiney and inflate it.
Then they shoot a barium solution through the balloon
and into your colon so they can take X-rays. This all takes about 8-10 minutes. Then they remove the
balloon, and you rush into the restroom to flush the barium solution from your colon, if you know what I
The balloon is not just to add frivolity to the
occasion. It prevents the barium solution from leaking
out during the X-ray. I will have to admit, however,
that I now look twice at any clown bearing wiener dog
balloons. In fact, I'm downright suspicious of anyone
with a balloon.
I had a spare ten minutes one morning and went down to my local radiologist for a
barium enema. After the procedure was over and I returned from the restroom, the radiologist asked me a question. Now you tell me, was she making light of the situation or asking a serious question when she
said, "Do you still have your appendix?" I wasn't sure either.
Believe me, there is nothing I find more attractive than a woman with a sense of humor and a pair of rubber gloves, but her question caught me off guard. I could have handled,
did everything come out all right in the end?" Or maybe,
"Would you like a glass of water?" But "Do you still have your
appendix?" was not the question I expected. All I
knew was that I had one before we started.
Before you have a barium enema, you are given what's known as a Prep Kit. A Prep Kit has a series of instructions and some laxatives to take at predetermined times. The idea is to remove all substances from your colon so that you can get clear X-rays. Well, I found the instructions in the Prep Kit rather funny.
First, you are told to follow the instructions exactly because if your colon is not completely cleared out, you may have to repeat the barium enema. I must have read the instructions, I don't know, 30 times. There were no parts left over when I finished my prep kit.
Second, try to guess which word was used to describe going to the restroom. Bowel movement? No. Defecate? No. #2? No.
Poop? No. They chose to use "evacuate." Danger. Danger. The building is on fire. Please evacuate the premises immediately.
Third, you are warned that "Individual responses to laxatives vary widely. Remain within easy reach of toilet
facilities." Luckily, the toilet in my apartment
was strategically located in the center of the building. That way, regardless of where I
was in my apartment, I could evacuate as quickly as possible. I also
had exit signs installed which clearly indicated the fastest route to take in case of an emergency evacuation.
To BE or not to BE? Definitely not to BE.
James G. Lewis