On Surprise Parties, Fat Pants, and a Little Something Called a “Fleet Prep Kit”

On Monday S wandered into my office, sat down on the futon, and motioned for me to join him there. He put his arm around me, and gently broke the news: My surprise 40th birthday party was canceled. Since I had no idea he was planning anything (see: surprise party), the announcement that it wasn’t happening was, well, surprising. It was the second jolt I’d had that day. The first was a bit bigger: after meeting with a surgeon that morning, she scheduled me to have a laparoscopy next Thursday. (The surprise party would have been just two days later, hence the cancellation.)

It appears that I’ve got endometriosis. Female Trouble. I won’t go into gory detail here since it’s not germane (y’know, this is a food blog, not an episode of Nip/Tuck), but the surgery itself is supposed to be relatively minor, outpatient. Hopefully it’s going to clear up the enduring mystery of why I’m not getting pregnant and—even more hopefully—make pregnancy more likely.

(Note to readers: If you’re squicked out by this kind of chitchat, feel free to browse my site index instead of reading this entry—I hear there are some very delicious dessert recipes…)

In a weird way, I’m looking forward to the lap. We’ve been TTC (that’s Trying to Conceive, if you’re lucky enough not to know) for fifteen months now, with little to no explanation for why things aren’t working. I’ve been seeing an RE (reproductive endocrinologist—a fertility doc) since April. I’ve taken Clomid, the wonder drug that made me wonder why I was having an emotional meltdown over a stubbed toe. Injectible meds: check. IUI (intrauterine insemination—the advanced turkey baster method): check. I’ve peed on dozens of sticks—OPKs (ovulation predictor kits) and pregnancy tests both. (My, there are a lot of acronyms in the strange land of infertility…) No baby, and no reason why. Now, finally, after all this time, they may have found a reason. The lap will a) confirm the diagnosis and b) treat the condition. If I wake up from the anesthesia and those two things have happened, that will be enough for me.

Heck, who am I kidding? At this point two pink lines on a pregnancy test is the only result that will be enough. But first things first. Surgery.

Acting on the counsel of a friend who’s had the procedure, yesterday I stopped at Old Navy and bought two pairs of fat pants—soft, stretchy ones with drawstring waistbands, a size bigger than I’m currently wearing. As part of the surgery, my abdomen will be inflated with carbon dioxide, and apparently it can take a few days to deflate. Plus there’ll be some sort of bandage on my belly, so there’s the no-rub factor. Now, for most of you buying a size larger than usual is probably no big deal. But for me it was positively traumatic: In my quest to lose even a little bit of the weight I gained in 2004, I’ve refused to allow a larger size into my closet, for fear that it would signal acceptance. Instead, I’ve simply been uncomfortable in my clothes for a full year. Right now the vast majority of my pants are gathering dust on their hangers—I no longer even consider trying them on, just to see. Instead, I squeeze into the five pairs that do fit, barely, and wear my shirts untucked. Sometimes I get a stomachache just from the compression. Did I mention that I’ve been doing this for a year? Clearly, this stubbornness hasn’t spurred me to lose the extra weight, but at least I’m aware of it every freaking second I’m clothed.

This is why the thought of buying fat pants was troubling: I was afraid that if I brought them home, I’d soon gain enough additional weight that they’d actually fit. But since everything I own right now is already tight, not buying something would’ve meant going bottomless for a few days post-op. Not a pretty thought. So I sucked it up and bought two pairs of XL sweats—and was secretly relieved that I didn’t need the 2X, which was the first thing I tried. Still haven’t taken the tags, off, though. I guess I’m fantasizing that I’ll be able to return them afterwards—how disgusting would that be?

The thing that’s scaring me most in all of this is the preparation for the surgery. On Wednesday, I’m to use something called a Fleet Prep Kit #3—yes, Fleet as in enema. The kit itself contains a liquid laxative, a pill laxative, and an enema. A better name for it might be Super Explosive Colon Blaster Pack. The instructions are:

8AM Eat a light meal (a single egg or a small portion of chicken or fish, a piece of white toast—no butter, and an Ensure shake, plus any items from the “clear liquids diet list”)

9AM Drink at least 8 oz from the “clear liquids diet list”—water, lemonade, strained fruit juices without pulp, clear broth, coffee or tea (without milk), plus any of the following that are not colored red or purple [they don’t explain the color restriction, and I find it oddly amusing]: Gatorade, carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, Kool-Aid, Jell-O, and ice popsicles.

10AM Another 8 oz clear liquids

11AM Ditto

12PM Lunch: clear liquids only [scuse me, but where’s the lunch in my lunch?]

1PM Take Fleet Phospho-Soda Solution [There’s a small bottle of laxative that’s supposedly ginger-lemon flavored. I’m to mix 1 T. with 8 oz of cold clear liquid and guzzle it down. Sounds like an absolute treat, after all the garden-variety clear liquid I’ll be drinking.]

2PM Yet another 8 oz clear liquids

3PM Uh-huh

5PM Take 4 Fleet Bisacodyl Tablets [These are small orange pills, which I assume are yet another form of laxative.]

9PM Use Fleet Bagenema [The highlight of the day, I’m sure!]

After midnight Wednesday I’m to have nothing at all until after the surgery. Can you see why I’m a little nervous about this? At the same time as I’m not eating solid foods after 8AM, I’ll be dosing myself with a variety of pharmaceuticals intended to empty my body of any and all waste. Just when I’ll be most nervous, most in need of a Teddy Graham to sate my anxiety, it will all be taken away. It’s really not going to be a very pretty day. And did I mention that I have trouble making it past 4PM on Yom Kippur without a snack?

Yeah, overall this is not the ideal strategy for a woman with disordered eating habits and a bad case of body dissatisfaction. But if it gets me one step closer to holding my newborn in my arms, well, sign me up.

And who knows, maybe I’ll lose a few pounds.

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