Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Your Virtual Colonoscopy--You're Welcome

What did you do today? I bet it wasn't as much fun as the way I spent my day! Actually, today, having a colonoscopy, wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday, which I spent mostly in the bathroom. Me and this lovely bowel-prep kit.

My Fun Day Today!

For those of you who've never had a colonoscopy, let me walk you through the process. First, you spend the day before your procedure totally cleaning out your lower intestine. I know, right? The last time I did this, I had the option of either drinking the vile atomic laxative solution or taking two little atomic laxative pills and drinking lots of water--I, of course, chose the latter. Unfortunately, this time around, I was informed that the pills are no longer an option with this doctor, because some buzzkill patients had to go and not follow instructions with their water drinking, which resulted in kidney failure. THANKS FOR RUINING IT FOR ALL OF US, PUNKS.

So, you go and get your bowel-prep prescription filled, and you come home with two giant Dulcolax tablets and this big gas-can-shaped plastic jug with powder in the bottom. For some reason, this will cost nearly $50. You add one of the three included "flavor" (I use that term loosely) packets, and reconstitute the powder, filling the jug with water and mixing well. Let me just tell you right now that it does not matter which "flavor" packet you put in that jug, because the taste of that HalfLytely is going to override anything you could add to it. And that taste? That taste is...well, like a saline solution with an oily finish. Sounds GREAT, right? It's a real challenge getting it all down, because your gag reflex will kick in after a few swallows every time. Personally, I recommend having a glass of juice or soda nearby to "chase" every drink of HalfLytely. You're going to be at this a while, because once you've given your Dulcolax tabs a little while to kick in, you'll be drinking 8 ounces of HalfLytely EVERY 10 MINUTES. This brings up an interesting problem, because you'll be going to the bathroom much more often than that, so it gets tricky to time the HalfLytely consumption.

During this day, while you're "cleansing" (And can I just suggest some Tucks medicated pads, here? Trust me.), you're restricted, food-wise, to a "clear liquid" diet. Interestingly enough, "clear liquids" in this case include black coffee and soda and fruit juice and Jell-O and things like that, just as long as they're not red or purple. Of course, none of this matters, because you will be so miserable from the atomic pooping, and so nauseated from the taste of the HalfLytely solution, that being hungry will be waaaay down on your list of priorities. Try to schedule your procedure as early in the day as possible, so that you'll be miserable for as little time as possible.

I've seen television and movie depictions of people having colonoscopies while watching the process on a television monitor, but I've never been conscious during mine. Maybe that's because I've had the esophageal endoscopy at the same time (insert Alex's bad joke about "hoping they rinse off that scope good" before switching from colon to esophagus *here*). Anyway, if your procedure is like mine, you'll be having it at a hospital or clinic's surgery center, and you'll be pleasantly unconscious for the whole thing. This almost lets you forget that strangers are going to be/have been scrutinizing your butthole. Almost. On a related side-note, I have to confess to being uncomfortable with the proliferation of boy-nurses nowadays. Yup, I'm a sexist. Especially when it comes to strangers looking at my hiney.

(I guarantee you my mother just cringed at reading the word "butthole.")

The sooner they get your I.V. Versed going, the better, because you're going to want the "amnesia drug" in full force, due to the whole butthole scrutiny issue. Unless you're OK with that, then you can skip it. Whatever. I think they also give you some IV Demerol/Phenergan, but I never make it past the Versed. This morning, my procedure was supposed to start at 7:00AM, so I was be-gowned, IV'd, hooked up to monitors, and parked alone in the freezing cold surgical suite at 6:50, to wait 45 minutes for the doctor and his team to show up. A note: If you leave a patient alone in a surgical suite, with all the surgical machinery running, you should FULLY expect that patient to play with the butthole camera and monitor. I mean, come on. What am I, made of stone? (By the way--Sony? You make a mean butthole camera monitor. Apparently my colon was viewed in high-def.)

The whole thing can't take very long, because I was waking up in recovery shortly after 8:00AM, talking to my doctor, who wouldn't really tell me much at all, because he kept insisting that due to the Versed, I wouldn't remember anything he was saying at that time. Hey, Doc--guess what? I remember everything. This anesthesia-defying trait runs in my family. He basically said that he didn't see any signs of cancer or polyps, just some mild diverticulosis, no more than would be expected in a person my age, and that while I do have some esophageal damage from reflux, it's no more than was visible at my last endoscopy 5 years ago.

I have shiny new prescriptions for Prilosec (which is OTC now, so I'm sure my insurance will reject it) and Levbid, which are apparently somewhat contra-indicated, but for now that more or less covers the distress at both ends of my digestive tract. We hope. I have an appointment with the specialist again in a month.

No colonoscopies for another 5 years. Try not to let jealousy over my wild, exotic life eat you up inside. You'll get the diverticulosis.


  1. i was compelled to attend a meeting at work today that was almost, but not entirely just exactly like this. except without the anaesthesia :)

    glad your butthole's ok ... did i just say that? i did! oh wow.

  2. I can't even imagine. You know what I'd do? Use an NG tube. Then it bypasses the mouth/throat and you can avoid the wretched taste. Make one tiny thing a bit better during the constant...er... flushing and wiping. Poor doll.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  3. (HUGS)

    My MIL who is a veteran of these things says the prep is the worst part. I'll probably have one in 4 years (I hit the lovely recommended age) - not looking forward to it!

  4. I cannot drink diet sprite/7 up due to the fact that I mixed my bowel prep drink with that and just the thought of it makes me gag.
    This whole post, however, reminds me of one very funny Thanksgiving, when my grandmother recounted her colonoscopy for the family..."A gallon of 'golightly' and 6 foot of hose up my rectum" my cousins and I still say that to each other...it busts us up every time.

    Glad to hear that you are well and have 5 years to anticipate the next colonoscopy!

  5. Oh man, I can't wait to get one. Maybe someone will get me one for Christmas!

  6. Ah! I thought they banned that half lytley/golytley shit years ago! That was the worse thing about the whole procedure. Last time I had one, I got to drink a version of Fleets enema with Sprite. That was a much more tolerable experience. Glad to read there wasn't anything of major concern seen. Maybe by the time the next one rolls around, they'll made improvements to the treatment program.

  7. Oh god. I have to have these every TWO years. I have ulcerative colitis so I have a higher risk of colon cancer. Let me tell you, two years goes by really fast. I dread the prep but I have learned if you don't eat any meat for a few days prior it makes it WAY easier. I'm glad you got a good dx so you can wait 5 years before you have to do it again!

  8. Oh man, colonoscopy prep is the WORST! I have Crohn's disease so I've had five in the last few years. I only used the prep solution you used the first time-- I literally could not gag it down.

    I was awake for my first one, but highly drugged. Let me tell you, that is a STRANGE thing to see on TV while stoned. Be glad you don't have to remember it!

  9. Ugh - I HATED the prep. So miserable. Then I woke up during the procedure, and let me tell you - there is a reason they sedate you.

    Glad there was nothing anomalous!

  10. Oh my stinkin heck. I hurt for you, Belinda (shudder)!

    Um, what are these other commenters talking about with their 5 year exams? I thought all I had to look forward to was the mammograms.


  11. Well thank YOU. I have my second colonoscopy scheduled for way-too-soon-for-me. Had my first 5 years ago. Just reading about going through the prep again makes me nauseated and no, I only ever had the one (nasty, liquid) option and got to stay awake through it so I beat you! (Except it sounds like this is more than your second so you beat me). The weird thing about being awake is that it was uncomfortable, but because of the drugs I was only aware of the discomfort after the fact. I was too focused on the heart-rate monitor (I was uber fit 5 years ago as opposed to now and obsessed with my heart rate) to remember to watch the procedure.

    OK, I have to go puke now with anxiety.

  12. Belinda,
    You COULD HAVE said "anus" and spared your poor mother.

    Your poor mother

  13. "ANUS?" Are you kidding me? That word is so ugly! It's worse than "rectum!" (Rectum? I hardly knew 'im! HAHAHAHAHA!!)

    Butthole butthole butthole.

    Aren't you proud of how I matured?

  14. After mixing the HalfLytely I put it in the fridge, and drew a skull and cross bones on it with black marker so that no one would pour themselves a glass. Raised a few eyebrows among the paramedics when they asked to see the container of whatever had put me in such a state. 3 EMTs in the bathroom with you at 4am? Not on my life's highlight reel. Yeah, I'm good for another 2 years, but thanks for reminding me so I can start anticipating the next event. I need to shop around for a doctor who still uses the pills and not the HalfLytely.

  15. One time at a party I got cornered by a man who insisted on telling me every graphic detail of his colonoscopy. His wasn't nearly as entertaining as your was. Way to make a colonoscopy story enjoyable.

  16. You know what is TOTALLY awesome? Being informed by your GI guy, right as you are in twilight sleep, that he shares a lot of patients with your husband the oncologist! He's just about to scope you, and making social conversation, and thankfully... the lights go OUT.

  17. I got one for my 40th birthday - lucky me! My son insisted on telling everyone I was going to have a camera stuck up my butt! And the kids both stood in the way when I was rushing to the loo the next morning. OMG did I feel awful! Good news - no cancer OR polyps (have friends who were not so lucky). They sent me home with a complementary DVD of my colon - hey, guess what's NOT going to make it on the telly next time friends come around?

  18. I am drinking the HalfLytely as we speak and I am miserably bloated. It's not working...

  19. I am drinking that half whatever it is now...I cant even finish it my gag reflex keeps kicking in and I gave up.... is that bad? I am heading in tomorrow at noon...36 hours for a fat kid not to eat...this is a huge issue!

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