Well, today’s the day for my colonoscopy. It’s a routine test. I have no symptoms to indicate anything is wrong, but you never know. Fingers crossed. Knock on wood.
Just to let you in on the fun, here is what’s went down this week.
Monday to Wednesday: My diet was restricted in preparation for the big event. I could not eat peas, corn, nuts, popcorn and other small foods that might not be fully digested by my stomach and small intestine. So I changed my diet for a few days. Pizza for lunch! (My advice is to add jalapeno peppers to the do not eat list. You’ll thank me for this.)
Wednesday: No solid food today. Just clear liquids. Breakfast was a can of Sprite. Through the rest of the day I drank four cups of coffee, a jumbo Gatorade, an Arnold Palmer (may he rest in peace), a Mountain Dew, and lots of water. I had chicken broth for dinner. (And, yes, I still biked to work.)
Wednesday evening: I began drinking what my mom called “the stuff.” This is a liquid laxative that flushes your system out. Years ago this meant drinking two gallons of really nasty tasting fluid. Now the stuff is a six ounce bottle of clear laxative topped off with 10 ounces of water. This is followed by two pints of water. I cheated. I had two cans of broth and some water left over from my bike bottle.
Based on my experience, there is no telling when the laxative will start flushing you out. So you would be wise to do this at home. This time it was about an hour after I drank the stuff. Basically, your stomach starts feeling like Vesuvius, then you hightail it to the WC where you sudden are doing a rather good imitation of the launch rockets on a Saturn 5.
This continues at random intervals for the next two and a half hours. With each “launch” the flow is clearer. This is good.
It did not hurt. At all.
Thursday morning: At 8 am I take my second dose of the stuff. Drink two pints of water. We have liftoff!!! After three trips to the Kennedy Space WC, I have achieved clarity. Mission accomplished.
My next task was to avoid any thought of food. Chocolate chip cookies. Pizza. Tater tots. Beer. Burritos. Ice cream. I have a three-hour wait until I go to the hospital. I take a nap a and dream of all the foods.
Thursday afternoon: Mrs. Rootchopper drives me to the hospital. I already paid by phone and gave the hospital my medical information but I still go through check in and registration because hospital redundancy makes the military look like amateurs.
I walk to the prep room. Mrs. Rootchopper is sent to a waiting room. I put on the standard hospital gown, open in the back, of course. And some yellow sticky socks. Then I climb on a hospital bed. I am covered in warm blankets. I am given a binkie. (No, I just made that up. But it was super comfy under the blankets.) My prep nurse reviews my medical info because redundancy. Another nurse starts an IV for fluids. The fluids are cold, but that’s just the contrast with my body temperature.
The prep nurse sees my pulse is 44 to 46. “Do you work out?” I love when they ask this. I’m a bike commuter! The nurse anesthesiologist appears. I tell him I’m a barfer. He starts me on an anti0nausea drug. He says the anesthetic is pretty short acting but I won’t feel anything during the procedure. I am also given something to raise my heart rate. This is just in case the anesthetic causes my heart rate to drop unexpectedly. It gives him room for error.
Another tech nurse comes in. He positions me for the procedure. I move to the right edge of the bed. Then I roll onto my left side. My knees come up near my chest. My feet and shins are cushioned by warm towels. The doctor will, um, see you now.
Then the doctor shows up. All set? Let’s do it. The anesthesiologist starts the anesthetic. It’s 2:00 pm.
I wake up. Another nurse is there. She tells me it’s over. I look at the clock. 2:15. I felt absolutely nothing. I am lying on the same bed that I started on. On my back. Under warm blankets. The nurse starts asking me how I am doing. My mouth is incredibly dry. She brings me some ice water. Ahhhh! She confirms that my prep was done properly and that the doctor had no problems doing the exam.
The doctor bursts in. Stinking of gin. No, I made that up.
The doctor comes by. He has pictures from the procedure. He found two polyps. In different parts of my colon. He says they both look benign but they are being sent to pathology for confirmation. I’ll know more in a week. The doctor is unconcerned. I think he will keep me on the three-year screening cycle because of the polyps and my family history.
Mrs. Rootchopper comes in. The nurse gives her my post-op instructions and she signs the release form because I am still legally not allowed to do so since I am still groggy from the anesthesia.
I feel fine. Drink some more ice water. I stand to get dressed and stagger back against the bed. I start putting on my underpants backwards. Then I start doing the same with my sweatshirt. Mrs. Rootchopper gets a laugh out of it. Okay, I’m gonna chill for the rest of the day.
A volunteer comes and gives me a wheel chair ride to the car that Mrs. Rootchopper has pulled up to the hospital door. In five minutes I am home eating a light meal.
That’s it. Easy peasy. I should be fine to ride to work in the morning. Rachel “Don’t Call Me Bob” Cannon has offered to buy me a cookie at Friday Coffee Club. I just might take her up on that.
I was going to include pictures from the procedure but that might gross you out. They are of the inside of the colon. The irregularities are obvious which is why this screening is so useful to doctors. I think the pictures are really cool, but I know some people find this sort of thing off-putting. (I used to like looking at my father’s medical journals. My colonoscopy pictures are pretty boring by comparison.)
I encourage you to talk to your doctor, especially if you have an immediate family history (mother, father, syblings) of colon cancer. Or if you have any abnormal symptoms that might involve your colon.