The Ins And Outs Of A Colonoscopy

I had a colonoscopy this week and decided to write more seriously about this than I normally would to convey how easy this procedure is and help take the scary out of it.  I had to start getting colonoscopies earlier than normal due to some of the GI issues I have and as a precautionary measure since members of my family have Crohn’s Disease.  My diagnosis is much less than Crohn’s but I have had major issues, a false appendicitis, and surgeries.  In 2006 I had my first colonoscopy and it did not go well for me, I woke up mid-way through and promptly demanded that the procedure stop immediately.  Reason being; the gastroenterologist was testing a new prep in which you take pills instead of the traditional fluids to flush your system (OsmoPrep).  This process did not go well with my insides and lessened the anesthesia they were allowed to administer in California.  It was not fun…but it wasn’t horrific.  This time around I did things the old-fashioned way and it was as easy as can be.

The day before you can only consume clear liquids (anything other than red or purple) so I stocked up on apple juice, white grape juice, orange Gatorade, pineapple popsicles, lemon Jello, and chicken broth.  (Note: make Jello a day in advance)  The broth is a great way to get a warm meal in you without going off the plan and Jello is helpful when you miss the sensation of chewing.  At the prescribed time I began my pre-treatment which involves taking Dulcolax and Mirilax to flush your system.  My prep called for drinking an 8oz glass of Gatorade and Mirilax every 15-20 minutes.  This is the hardest part of the prep because after an hour or so you are sick of chugging a glass of sweet Gatorade.  My tip is to chill the Gatorade thoroughly the day before – it tastes better cold.  I don’t need to go into detail but prep involves flushing your system and it is like having a mild case of the flu, only you know it will be over by morning.

After Midnight there are no fluids allowed and I had dreams of mashed potato mountains, oceans of cheeseburgers, and plates of rice with spinach.  Rice with spinach?  Yup…that was what my brain attached to in my hunger – so that was what Kate made as my first meal after all this.  I felt fit as a fiddle in the morning and no longer had urges to go to the restroom.  I slept in slightly which helped cool my nerves.

Checking in at the doctor’s took only a few minutes and like any procedure you sign a lot of paperwork.  We then went to a room that resembled a miniature hospital recovery room where you strip down to your birthday suit and don a gown…opening in the back.  Tip: no matter what the weather is outside it is always cold in these places – wear socks, you can leave them on.  A few more signatures, some nice nurses to answer questions, and then the anesthesiologist comes over to discuss anesthesia.  I then got a standard IV inserted into my right arm and a heart rate and blood pressure monitor to my left.  Warm blankets are nice but the experience is best when you have nice nurses, which I did.  Then you are rolled into the procedure room.  Now…this is where the ole ticker starts thumping.  I don’t care how macho or femininely sound you are, when you see the scope you start picturing where it is about to go and what is about to happen.  It is jet black with numbers written on it and seems to be about 8-10 feet long.  The numbers are spread about 6-8 inches apart, they start at 1, and go up to about 60.  Please don’t go past 20 I found myself thinking.  There’s a TV displaying what the scope sees, in my room it was facing back at itself hanging from the hook high above.  With the wide-angle lens it made the scope look even longer on the screen.

After a brief wait everyone came into the room and began recording what was going on.  This is where your comical defenses kick in and force you to say something like, “jeez doc, how about dinner and a movie first?”  They’d heard it before.  The anesthesiologist said, “Okay, this will tingle a bit in your arm.”  Then there was a tingle in my arm and my head felt light as a feather.  “Mmmmm…back to the 60’s,” I said quoting Paul Senior from American Chopper.  “The 60’s?” Someone far away asked.  I replied, “Hmm?  Oh…its a quote from…mmmm…good night.”  And then I slept.  Propofol  Time did not stop or get disjointed, I simply slept for 30 minutes.  The nurses and Kate woke me up back in the recovery area.  There was Max, smiling away at me.  I was groggy and still spinning a bit, like getting woken up from deep REM sleep in the middle of the night and being asked important questions that don’t seem to make any sense at the time.  “Don’t drink alcohol, operate machinery, or carry the baby for the rest of the day…” the nurse told me.  I was mostly awake now.

Then I got escorted to the front door of the lobby in a wheel chair where Kate and Max were waiting in the car to pick me up (you must have a driver pick you up) and home we went.  A few hours later I was eating mashed potatoes, chicken, and of course rice with spinach.  Later that day I felt fine.  Today (day after) I feel 100%.  This was super easy.  So if you think you should get one, have been told you need one, or are over 40…stop procrastinating.  Its easy.  …And because it wouldn’t be appropriate to have something TOO serious on my blog I will tell you that the nurse greatly encouraged me to ” …pass gas as often as possible…” after the procedure…so I’ve been walking around the house practically bug-bombing it for the past 24 hours and saying “Doctor’s orders!”

2 thoughts on “The Ins And Outs Of A Colonoscopy

    1. If you have no family history of problems than it is recommended to have it done by 50. If you have any medical history or family history that suggests you may be at minor risk it is suggested to have one by 40. If you are at high risk it is suggested you have one by 25. I had my first endoscopy when I was 22 to investigate a hiatal hernia and then the colonoscopy at 26. My endoscopy was helpful in diagnosing my reflux and during my colonoscopy at 26 I had a polyp removed…very glad I did it.

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