Emily Lund: Something to Remember

I lived in Spain for two years in the late 90’s. I was going to school and basically hanging out with my then boyfriend.  It was super fun times.  Occasionally, we would go out to eat, usually to a local Spanish place.  However, once (and only once) a friend suggested a Chinese place.

The experience at the restaurant was very typical, and the menu was what we were accustomed to experiencing.  There was nothing remarkable about the food, but we ate it.  Life went on for about 4 hours until I started getting sick.  Vomit and other fluids started flowing, and I knew that food poisoning was probably the culprit.  After every ounce of chicken fried rice had left my body, I thought I would be fine. Two weeks later, I was still sick and still losing fluids and unable to keep anything down.  Two weeks of clear broth and pineapple juice, and things were not getting better.  I forged on with my life until blood started mixing in with my flowing fluids.  ACK!!!

After a cab ride to the emergency room and 7 hours of waiting, a lovely young woman stuck her finger up my butt and declared there were no hemorrhoids, abscesses or tumors.  I was ordered to stay on clear liquids and go to the gastro-intestinal specialist on Monday.  I was relatively concerned since I was in Spain and shitting blood, but I had confidence I wouldn’t die before Monday.

The next Monday, I met with the recommended specialist and discussed the problem.  A colonoscopy was needed and after my initial visit, would be scheduled for the next afternoon.  I would need to go home and begin preparations.  He wrote me a prescription and sent me on my way.  I was not at all fazed as I assumed preparations included a pill and some fasting.  After the case (yes a case) of teeny tiny packets (or envelopes) was placed in front of me with the instructions to mix with water and drink every half hour for 10,000 hours (my Spanish might have been off on the exact quantity) until all the envelopes (sobres) were gone, I began to worry.

It was awful.  The teeny tiny packets contained something so foul tasting that it took me the entire 30 minutes to drink the first 8 ounces, only to have to start again.  By hour 2 (4 sobres in), I started vomiting and couldn’t stop.  I called the doctor and said I couldn’t keep it down. He said he would prescribe me something else…an ayuda.  I was to go to the pharmacy and pick up my ayuda.  Ayuda meant “help” so I figured it was a good thing.  I soon learned ayuda was a big ol’ enema, and I was to mix warm water and olive oil together and “ayuda” myself 4 times.

Moving on to the actual point on this story, my boyfriend was unable to attend the colonoscopy, so he enlisted his mother.  This in itself is rather awful and having her go with me to my colonoscopy, was probably the worst thing that I thought could happen. I was wrong.

I walked in, and they gave me a gown and told me to get undressed and meet them in the examination room.  As I walked in, Spanish mother was seated behind the table at about eye level to my asshole, how nice.  I hopped up on the table and was asked to roll over to one side and WHAMO…tube up my ass…hello!  Not only was there suddenly and shockingly a camera now up my rectum, this camera device was blowing air as well.  I soon learned this was to expand the colon so they it could be seen more clearly.  I was able to watch the show on a TV above my head as my Spanish mother made comments about how many poop remnants still remained even after 4 ayudas and two weeks of clear liquids.  Right then, I started sweating and shaking and thought the camera was going to pop a hole straight out of my belly button.  The discomfort was at a level I had never experienced, and I couldn’t control my breathing due to the panic attack that was now in full force.  When would this torture ever end?  200 years later (or possibly 45 seconds later), the doctor found a laceration in my colon associated with a bad bacteria.  He took some photos and slowly snaked his camera backwards and finally out!  It was pure misery from beginning to end, and I kept wishing there was valium or something to ease the pain.  There was not.

The doctor then asked me what I ate.  I mentioned the Chinese place from weeks before.  He asked me why I never told him that.  He went on to say he would never allow anyone he knew, including his enemigos to eat at a Chinese restaurant.  He told me that Chinese restaurants do not have the same food handling and safety requirements as other restaurants and to never ever go there.  EVER.  He made some aside comment that if he had known that, he probably would have skipped the colonoscopy.  I was still crying from the pain, humiliation and incessant Spanish mother comments, but I think an additional sobre of tears fell from my eyes at that moment.

At least it was over and I didn’t die.  I forgot all about the pain of it all for a moment until Spanish mother and I started walking home.  Having air blown up your ass for a period of time has its consequences.  By step 4, I was farting uncontrollably and loudly which interrupted Spanish mother and her thoughts on my insides.  This farting action continued for 30+ minutes and through the duration of Spanish mother telling Spanish grandmother, Spanish sister and Spanish boyfriend about my colon and the questionable behavior of Chinese cooks.

I later learned that in the US, you do have to drink some stuff but you can mix it with Gatorade, you do have to fast, but you don’t have to have an ayuda. You probably still fart uncontrollably but you probably don’t care because DRUGS! Most importantly, you don’t have to be awake for your colonoscopy.   My experience did not make me stronger, wiser, nor did I become a better person for it.  If ever asked if I want to be put under for any procedure including a teeth cleaning, I will always accept the sedation and be glad that the next time I have a colonoscopy, there will be no Spanish mother and even if there is, I won’t remember her.





  1. Oh, Em……as usual you have me laughing so hard (unfortunately at your expense!) that I am crying 😄 A colonoscopy is bad at any time….but in a foreign country, with Spanish mother there, and no drugs and after 2 weeks of food poisoning…..oh vey!!!! You may not have experienced childbirth, but you are my hero for enduring all of that. I don’t think I’d ever be able to eat Chinese food again, if I were you 😩 ok,……belly laughs have subsided and I think I can breathe again. Love you, Em!!!!

  2. Oh my word! This episode sounds more at home in some horrible film called ‘There’s Something About Emily’… Glad you eventually recovered with no ill effects.

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