Every party needs a “pooper,” right? This one had four.
During an annual routine visit to her OB/GYN, Kaelin Scholle was reminded she was turning 50, and with age comes responsibility – 50 being the magic number for when it is time to screen for colorectal cancer. Rather than put it off, her doctor encouraged her to schedule a colonoscopy for early 2021. That routine conversation between doctor and patient sparked Kaelin to recruit her friends Gail Bittermann, Sara Worre, and Amy Adsem, all also turning 50 in 2021, to become The Party Poopers. Super heroes? Maybe not, but they embarked on a potential lifesaving mission: scheduling their colonoscopy for the same day, the same time, and at the same outpatient endoscopy center in March 2021.
What transpired from the time the appointments were made until the morning of their colonoscopies at MNGI Digestive Health in Bloomington, MN, was lots of funny, encouraging text messages and phone calls, matching t-shirts, and planning for the all-important post-colonoscopy lunch. The four were really happy to embark on the journey together, helping overcome fear and anxiety over the prep and procedure. They also realized the great opportunity they had to share their story and encourage others to get this important cancer screening, especially now when so many people have put off healthcare appointments and cancer screenings due to Covid-19.
We asked this hilarious group some questions, and needless to say, the quartet had a lot to share. Nothing off-limits or TMI here!
Colon Cancer Coalition: Kaelin’s doctor recommended the colonoscopy but whose idea was it to schedule together?
The Party Poopers: I (Kaelin) have been dreading getting a colonoscopy for well over a decade – it seemed like the worst part about turning 5-0. I mentioned to Gail that my doc recommended I get one, and since I really trusted my doctor I knew I had to buck up and do this. She instantly said she was “with me,” plus, she needed one too. It was Gail’s idea to ask everyone else in our friend group to join us. Gail is our most immature friend in the very best way possible, because she’s always full of shenanigans. She’s the kind of friend that likes to leave a lady’s public restroom with toilet paper streaming out from the waistband of her pants just for fun. So naturally, this was a good idea to her. And if I’m being truthful, I’m a mom of 3 boys and the potty humor never gets old.
CCC: Who designed the t-shirts?
TPP: With this being a foursome, we absolutely needed an outfit. I (Kaelin) found the t-shirts on Etsy, and Sara had the idea to design our own hats and add coordinating feather boas. But this was in spite of Gail’s wish for a hat that resembled a toilet plunger; we ultimately went with a bright blue cowboy-style hat that Sara designed with “Party Poopers” on each hat. The coordinating boas added more fun, and coordinated with our shirt colors and left feathers like a Hansel and Gretel trail all over town.
CCC: What was the best part of doing this together?
TPP: The NONSTOP banter, texts, FaceTime calls, and endless jokes were all incredibly supportive AND fun(ny). We could easily create a novel, or stand up comedy routine with the text thread. During the prep, we drank together via FaceTime until, well, the “magic” all started. One-by-one people had to go. Literally.
CCC: Did you share colonoscopy prep tips? Do you have any tips for other people prepping for a colonoscopy?
TPP: As part of the banter we each texted pictures of our grocery carts filled with all our prep goodies (all the while hoping we wouldn’t run into some high school boyfriend with our cart loaded with that stuff). We all mixed our “Poo Punch” in a large Kool-aid container earlier in the day, and then chilled it to perfection. At 4 p.m. sharp the party started. We hopped on a group FaceTime and poured our first 8oz glass. We toasted, we laughed, and we guzzled until the entire 2 quarts were gone. The only bad part was the Magnesium Citrate the morning of the big show – this tastes like Sour Patch Kids!
Our advice is to drink this stuff chilled and with a straw as fast as you can. Gail would say the best part was the Propofol-induced nap, she’d like to return weekly for one of those. LOL. None of it was difficult, terrible, or even embarrassing, come to think of it. But we all agree that doing it together was great because you could ask “Is THIS normal?” over, and over, and over. And we laughed. And we pooped. And we laughed.
CCC: What else does this group do together?
TPP: Other than group poop? We’ve been friends for many years, some of us since elementary school and others have married in. We have a larger group, but not everyone was up for getting a colonoscopy together (chickens!). We get together for happy hours, dinners, spend time up north at our lake places, and take trips together too.
CCC: Would you recommend a group colonoscopy to others, and will you do a group colonoscopy plan again in 10 years?
TPP: Definitely recommend doing with a buddy – it makes it all so much better, doable, and well, even fun(ny). There was nothing scary at all! Everything I’d been dreading about this completely disappeared thanks to the camaraderie of having my friends in it with me. Another benefit is that it also forced us to make the appointment and to follow through with it all. Plus, all the memories we made are priceless! We will definitely go back together. Absolutely.
CCC: Any advice or anything to add?
TPP: It would have been easy to put this off another year, another month. Don’t let fear or embarrassment override taking care of your health! Everybody poops.
CCC: Did anyone have polyps removed?
TCC: Just Sara. One cute little one. If you’d like a picture, she has it in a jar on her mantle. J/K. She has to return in 7 years, the rest of us were told 10. We will definitely come back to support her so she doesn’t have to “go” alone!
Editor’s note: Thank you to Kailen, Gail, Sara, and Amy for being so open and for sharing your story of friendship and colonoscopy. For the record, we did NOT ask for a photo of Sara’s polyp, but wish her the best of luck when she returns to the endoscopy suite in seven years, with her feather boa and friends cheering her on!