Yesterday I had my second ever colonoscopy. I am young for one, much less two, of these procedures. But when you have symptoms, they like you to get one. So yesterday was my second. Now, I am here to tell you that it is not as bad as you may have heard……well….totally subjective.
Two days before the procedure, they advise you to drink a lot of water. That is OK for me because I usually drink a bunch of water during the day. Then the day before you are allowed to have clear liquids, no food. You can have clear broth, jello and popsicles. No dairy. No food. No nothing. I was hungry but drank water and came to work prepared with a bunch of cold brewed coffee. Hungry but not starved. Not yet anyway.
Then, at 5:00 p.m. the day before, that’s when all the fun began. That is when I began drinking the approximately four liters of laxative that assisted in cleaning out my colon. It is a lot of liquid. And despite putting something in it that was called “lemon lime” flavor, it still tasted a bit like distilled water from the ocean. Along with a slightly unpleasant taste which was, if truly tasted, pretty gross. The instructions say to begin drinking this magical elixir at 5:00 and have 8 ounces every 15 minutes. So that is three hours of consuming a laxative. It doesn’t kick in till about an hour into the consumption but by the time that three hours expired, my colon was pretty darn clean. Yes, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. Yes, I used a lot of toilet paper. I think that my decision to not eat anything during the day was a good one. I would recommend it if possible. Just think that if you put it in during that day, it will be coming out later on. So why put it in in the first place? Just a thought.
Then, most unfortunately, in the morning, there is one more liter to consume. My procedure was scheduled at 1:00 p.m. which meant that I had to finish the lovely drink by 7:00 a.m. and after that I could not consume or drink anything. Nothing. The instructions said that I could brush my teeth but I could not swallow the water. I finished when I was supposed to and had some water before the “do not drink anything” time. I spent the morning on many, many conference calls for work going back and forth to the bathroom (thankfully at home).
I took a late shower since I had a 12:15 check in. We got there too early and of course had to wait. By 12:30 they had still not called me back. I was feeling tired, grumpy and dehydrated. They finally called me ten minutes later. A lovely woman came in and quizzed me about my medical history and told me to change into a paper gown. I have to admit that it was better than most. It was semi-lined and came with socks, real socks (yay, socks). And the gown actually came with instructions. I changed and then the nurse came in to put the catheter in my vein that would deliver fluid and anesthesia. I gave her my standard vein stabbing warning. I have fainted in the past. It has not happened in a long time. But I want to fully disclose. I have issues with the needle puncturing me, my skin, myself. It makes me queasy just thinking about it. It is worse if I can feel it. So I told. And maybe because I told, it made her nervous. She first told me that my veins were good. She put the tourniquet on the middle of my forearm and then tried to stick me on the top part of my hand. This alone is disgusting. And then, it was good, till it wasn’t. She told me that she had “blown my vein”. I did not know what that was so I googled it today (it means that the needle has gone entirely through one side of the vein to the other – ew!!) Then she told me that she would have to take it out. So she did. And put a lot of pressure on it. My initial reaction to this was wanting to burst into tears. But I didn’t. I felt really badly for her. She was trying her best. So I didn’t cry. She easily got it into the vein in the crook of my arm (she used a smaller needle) and it was fine.
Then I walked into the procedure room. It is a surreal experience for a healthy person to have tubes hanging off of one arm and a blood pressure cuff on the other. The nurse told me that she would be administering anesthesia. She told me that if I woke up near the end to just keep breathing. This happened and in my anesthetized state I was convinced that I had not been under at all. I was adamant that I was awake the entire time. This was not the case. I woke at the end and it was definitely uncomfortable. I saw the inside of my colon on the screen. It could have been two seconds or five minutes. I have no idea. And then it was over. The procedure itself was as if it did not happen which I think is the goal. They wheeled me to the recovery area. They were telling me to pass the air out that they had pumped up into me and gave me water (hallelujah) and crackers. I could have kissed the nurses in the recovery room.
When I was finally deemed good to go. I was wheelchaired out and was treated to a very late lunch when we left the facility. I devoured my meal. After the procedure, I was told that it all looked good but I will receive my official results in about a week. Despite all of it, I am glad that I had it done. I know that the symptoms I am having are not indicative of something worse. So if it is time for you, if you are fifty years old or if younger and have colon cancer in your family, go and have a colonoscopy. No one wants to. Everyone is afraid. The preparation is completely unpleasant. But when you are done, you know. And when you know, you just feel better. And knowing is way better than not knowing.