Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy 50th- Here's Your Colonoscopy!

Oh yeah, I'm going there. Because we have to talk about these things. I had my first colonoscopy (hopefully the last, at least for a while) yesterday, and since it's so important to have it when your doctor wants you to, I'm going to tell you all about it. First of all, it's not that bad. Even the prep, which I was dreading, wasn't horrible for the most part. When the gastroenterologist said she wanted to schedule me for one, she handed me some paperwork with directions for how to get ready. I gave them a glance then set them aside until a couple of days before, which was mistake number one. There are some medications that you have to stop taking a full week prior to the test! There are some others, like NSAIDS and iron pills, that you have to stop taking 5 days prior, but I was already only 2 days out and had taken an Aleve AND my iron pill the day before- ooops! I called, thinking WHEW, I can reschedule, but no such luck. They said it would be OK just make sure to tell the nurse and not to take anymore.

You also have to watch what you eat several days before the test- no roughage, things like nuts, salad, popcorn, and so forth. Then there's the medicine to really clean things out the day before- some pills and a powder (both over the counter) you have to mix with 64 ounces of liquid, either water, Gatorade, or Crystal Lite. 64 ounces!! That's the hard part. The powder had no discernible flavor whatsoever when I mixed it with Gatorade; as far as I could tell it dissolved completely. Mixing it with Gatorade, however, was my second mistake. See, 64 ounces is a LOT of liquid, and you have to drink it all within a two hour period. The first glass went down, no problem. Same for the second and third, but after that, not so much. Let me tell you, for someone who strictly drinks water, that Gatorade gets cloyingly sweet after that third glass. I couldn't do it! I just physically could not drink down the last quarter or so of that Gatorade. Trying to get it down was the worst part, because my body was reacting to the medicine and trying to get everything back OUT. Everything in me was saying "NO MORE INPUT, NO MORE INPUT"!!!!! I figured I would be able to drink more down as soon as at least a little was back out, but I just gave up, because once, umm, "output" commenced it was pretty obvious I didn't need any more of the medicine. Blech. I was sick to my stomach and going through the worst of the "output" for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half total, then I was fine. (As long as I stayed near the bathroom!) I couldn't take anything else sweet, though- all those popsicles and jello and Italian ice that I bought- the kids had a party because I wasn't going anywhere near it.

Luckily DH took pity on me and made me some broth by throwing a bunch of veggies (carrots, onions, and celery braised in olive oil) in a pot with half a bouillon cube and a bunch of water then cooking it to death. He didn't even add salt since he figured the Gatorade had me salted up enough, and he was right! I strained the broth, then, since I could see the olive oil floating on the surface, I put it through my de-fatting cup. (The directions said clear liquids, so this helped make it as clear as possible.) That was really soothing, but just a little bit went a long way.

As for things I did right, I kept my schedule light and finished up really early the day before the procedure, then nothing on the calendar for afterwards. I was able to eat breakfast the day before so an early doctor's appointment (at an office close to home) was OK. After breakfast it was all liquids so I knew I would be really shaky and wouldn't have the energy to do much, and that's pretty much how it happened, but I wasn't as physically uncomfortable as I thought I would be. The clear liquids (especially that broth) kept me going just fine, especially since I didn't have anything much I was trying to get done. Having some movies and a good book on standby helped keep me distracted as well.

On to the actual procedure. It was absolutely no sweat; I breezed right through it. They gave me an IV in the prep area, then I had to wait just a bit to go back to where they were going to actually do the procedure. (I had an endoscopy too- they looked in both ends!) They had me turn onto my left side and strapped a weird mouth guard in to keep my mouth open for the endoscopy, and put the oxygen tube thing in my nose. (The kind everyone has in those TV hospital dramas- it tickles.) Right after that, the nurse said "OK, you're going to sleep now", and that was that. The next thing I was back in the prep area and roused up enough for the nurse to see I was awake. She brought me an apple juice then things got fuzzy again for a bit, then I was more alert and she told me I could get dressed, then DH came back and they sent me home. I didn't get sick from the sedation at all, which I was worried about since I've seen DH get sick after his surgeries- apparently they don't sedate you as heavily for this as they do for an actual surgery, so I felt fine coming out of it. I was still a little woozy the rest of the day; they don't let you drive or go back to work for the next 12 hours.

The best part- as soon as it was over I could eat!! I had crackers waiting for me in DH's back pack- another good idea. I also had some lollipops which helped my scratchy throat, but one was enough because, yeah, sugar; still not over the Gatorade.

So there you have it- my colonoscopy de-briefing. This is not meant as a substitute for medical advice by any means, and is specific to my experience, especially since hospitals may have different prep directions. But if anything is helpful for anyone else facing their first colonoscopy, then yeah! Feel free to ask questions- I told DH I should do an "AMA" (ask me anything) on Reddit but he said they can run like 6 hours long, so no. But you really can AMA about the procedure; if my experiences can help you get through your own colonoscopy then I'm a happy girl.

PS: And yes, I just turned 50. I had the procedure both because it's recommended when you turn 50 and because I seem to be rather anemic these days, and the doctors are trying to figure out why. The colonoscopy and endoscopy results were perfect, so they have to look elsewhere for the problem. I may get to swallow a camera!!


Kathy said...

I'm such a big baby, I do NOT want to go through this. Can't they just knock me out for like a whole day and I wake up and have no memory of it? I felt woozy even reading this. I'm gonna need some serious hand-holding when my time comes. Not even kidding. Because baby.

Kim said...

Make your husband go through it first. (I was the brave one and now I'm bugging DH to have his done, but he's being a big chicken.)

Lauralee said...

Thanks for sharing... I'm waiting for a "package of info in the mail" .... hoping it just never shows up.

My new doctor is very ~thorough~ ...which I suppose is a good thing, but...

mrdvmp said...

I am supposed to get one this year as well, has not happened yet. Dreading but not worried. Figure its just a pick pain in the a@%.

Kim said...

The worst part was the prep, and the worst part of that was over in an hour, hour and a half tops. If you can handle that, the rest is a breeze.