May 12th, 2023
The above rendering is of a human colon. It's complicated looking organ is it not? Yikes! What a mess! But I needed some sort of image for the top of the page and this suited since I thought I'd write about the colonoscopy I had this past Monday. And what an absolute delight that was. Insert a great deal of sarcasm here.
Well I suppose the actual procedure is no biggie. As far as I was concerned, it was simply a nice little nap. As anyone who has ever actually had a colonoscopy knows, it's the preparation for the procedure that is the issue.
This was the third one I've ever endured. One in Connecticut, one in Colorado and now one in Florida. There were lots of similarities but I don't think the differences were so much state to state as it is that things change in the medical world over ten years time. And thank goodness for that.
The first time for sure was the absolute worst. Possibly in part just because it was a new experience. But also because I was instructed to drink a literal gallon of the worst smelling and nastiest tasting stuff it has ever been my displeasure to be made aware of. And even worse than just having to drink it was the span of time in which it was supposed to be ingested. It was twenty (?) years ago so I do not recall the exact time frame but it was too short. I am positive of that part. Trying to force my body to not just drink, but keep, something that smelled and tasted that bad by essentially chugging it was just too much to suffer. It was revolting.
The second time, ten years down the road, was an improvement at least in that I was given a wider span of time to get it all down and it didn't seem to taste quite as bad (or was I getting used to it?) Also I had gotten smarter and ate less and less as the week prior went by. My thought process was that the less I ate, the less I had to eliminate. Turns out I was correct.
This time, another ten years later, I was given a choice of A) the drink and that would be a big no thank you or B) pills. Without knowing anything else about the process I quickly opted for the pills. As it turns out "the pills" means 24 tablets. Holy Cats!~ 24?? That doesn't sound right. And yet it was. 12 pills taken: 1 every 5 minutes for an hour at 7 pm the night before and another 12 pills again taken 1 every 5 minutes at 7 am the day of the procedure. It was a long night. But it worked exactly as it was supposed to and I was several pounds lighter by the end.
The first two colonoscopies were scheduled for very early in the mornig so while I wasn't allowed to eat the day before and then also drink nothing at all including water after midnight, I didn't really mind. As any woman of my era who has dieted throughout her entire life can attest, being hungry is nothing new to me. I can go without food. But I definitely got thirsty. This time the procedure was scheduled for 3:30 in the afternoon but actually didn't happen until 'til after 4 sometime. My lips were dry, my throat was getting sore and the inside of my mouth felt like I had been eating sand. I was Very Thirsty.
Still, I tried to just keep images of what I would eat and drink afterwards in my mind. And I had some great ideas too! It wasn't visions of sugar plums going through my head but more like pizza and burgers and ice cream and mostly water. Hot water, cold water, tepid water, iced water. Just anything liquid. My voice was gravelly from lack of moisture by the time we arrived at the surgical center and I was processed in very quickly, popped into my little cubicle, changed into a hospital gown, blood pressure taken, O2 tested and a needle was quickly and relatively painlessly stuck into the big vein in my hand. They gave me a lovely toasty warm blanket right out of the dryer to keep me warm and then I waited. And waited. And waited.
It was soooo boring. I did all sorts of games in my head: trying to list all of the states in alphabetical order, trying to remember every address and phone number I've ever had, trying to come up with 5 boys and 5 girls names for every letter of the alphabet, making mental pictures out of the acoustic tiles on the ceiling.......... I was really bored.
But eventually they came for me and wheeled my bed down to the procedure room, got me hooked up to everything and positioned properly quickquickquick then before I could say nighty night, it was lights out.
It took them three tries to wake me afterwards. Like I said, it was a really good nap. The first time, the doctor was in the room and reviewed the results. I remembered that he was in the room but that's it because I fell back to sleep. Probably before he left the room. How rude of me! The second time, a nurse reviewed the same information with me and I retained that a little better but I couldn't focus my eyes probably so I kept one closed the whole time aaannnddd fell back to sleep once again. The third time I suggested raising the head of the bed. My thought being that if I was more vertical, perhaps I would stay awake better. And I was correct.
I sleepily dressed myself and she walked me out the door to Tim waiting patiently with the car. I half dozed as we drove through Culver's to get some food. I half snoozed through the drive home. I nodded off a little bit while eating and fully just gave in and crashed afterwards.
All in all, it wasn't that horrible. A colonoscopy is an important test. And a great nap. If your doctor has recommended it and you have been procrastinating, stop putting it off and just do it. If I, the biggest whiny baby in the world, can go through the prep, then anyone can do it. It's kind of annoying but only for a little while and it could save your life. Literally.
To keep my spirits up the day of the procedure, a friend of mine sent me the following piece by humourist Dave Barry about having a colonoscopy that made me laugh out loud so I'm attaching it for your amusement. Hope it makes you laugh too:
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.