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.
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.