Friday, January 18, 2013


This isn’t the most pleasant topic for a blog post, but I thought what the heck. Maybe if I describe my experience somebody that is reading this and putting it off will decide to go ahead and get it scheduled. Besides, now that its over, writing about it will help me process the experience.

I had a colonoscopy when I turned 50 (yes that was ten years ago!). We were still living in Missouri. Daniel and Nicole were 16 and juniors in high school, and Cody was also living with us and would have been in 7th grade. I don’t remember a whole bunch about the experience, but I do remember a little. I know that I didn’t have to drink the gallon of Golightly that some people do, that even back then I did the two bottles of Gatorade and Miralax concoction. I don’t remember it being at all difficult to drink back then, and I definitely remember it working quickly, and very well. I remember sitting in the rec room, very close to the bathroom, most of the evening, but by the time I went to bed everything was running clear. It wasn’t painful and I didn’t feel nauseous at all.

I don’t remember anything about the actual procedure, except climbing onto the table and looking at the monitor. I know we were talking and joking, and then I was in the recovery room. That’s probably the biggest difference between back then and now. Back then the anesthesia really knocked you out. I woke up while I was standing there putting on my clothes and talking to Lee. I was still groggy when I got into the car, and only very slowly started to feel normal again.

This time I wasn’t as worried about the prep as the first time, but ironically I had a harder time with it.  The day before I started on a liquid diet, jello and beef broth for the most part, plus a lot of tea. That part was easy. I didn’t even get that hungry. At 5 pm I took 4 Ducolax tablets, and an hour later started drinking the prep, 8 ounces every 20 minutes. I found the 64 ounces of Gatorade and Miralax pretty nasty, but I could drink most of it without any nausea. It took a couple of hours for the prep to start to work, but once it started working it just kept going and going (or I did) all night long. It turned watery very quickly, but never ran completely clear. I’m still puzzled by this and wonder why my system acted so differently this time. Was it age, my fitness level, or what? Apparently I was clear enough for the doctors because nobody complained about their ability to view my colon.

Another big difference this time is the ubiquitness of the Internet. Every time something about the process made me nervous, I would get online and Google it. I usually ended up reading reassuring information from doctors and horror stories from other patients. The combination inevitably calmed me down because whatever symptoms I was having were never as bad as what somebody else had experienced!

After a long night of interrupted sleep it was finally time to get up and head to the Salem Surgical Center. I wasn’t nervous but I was ready for this all to be over. We went in, signed in, registered, and sat down to wait. And wait. And WAIT! After 40 minutes I went up to the window and asked them what was going on. “Oh Dr. Cohen just got here, the nurse will call you in a few minutes”. Pooh.

Then my name was called. I followed the nurse into the back and they led me to a room with a recliner. They gave me a bag to put all of my clothes in and one of those attractive hospital gowns that fit me like a tent. They reminded me to take off my rings and gave me a baggie to put them in, which I took back out to Lee in the waiting room. I didn’t want to be responsible for them when I was groggy!

They put in the IV, but so far it only had a saline solution in it. They gave me a couple of magazines, and a blanket because it was a little chilly. At one point the anesthesiologist came in and talked to me for a bit. This was nice; except he had a very strong Spanish accent and I had to keep asking him to repeat himself. It seemed that he was telling me stuff that was important enough that I ought to understand it! Other than that I sat there in the recliner…and waited, and waited, and WAITED! I could watch the nurses and doctors out in the main area going back and forth. I had to wait so long that I had to get up and go to the bathroom, hauling my IV bag with me. I finally asked a nurse, again, what was going on? “Oh since Dr. Cohen was late we’re just catching up now. You’re next!" Lucky me. You know, I don’t really mind having to wait, but it would have been nice if someone had told me why the doctor was late, and had checked in and let me know how things were going. If I had known it was going to take so long I could have at least told Lee he could go home for awhile.

FINALLY I was ushered into the examination room. I met Dr. Cohen, a nice man, who introduced himself and shook hands with me. One thing that was interesting was that at each stage of this process they asked me my name, my birthdate, why I was there and if I understood what they were going to do. It was repetitive, but I know that it is part of one of those hospital checklists that help them reduce their error rate, so I appreciated it!

They had me lay down on the metal exam table, and then the table rose higher so that I was at a good level for the doctor to do his thing. They even asked me if the pillow was comfortable, and folded it double so that my head was supported properly. Dr. Cohen told me I was kind of “small” and asked me to scoot closer to him. That endeared me to him; I love being considered small! I could see the monitor, but nothing was happening there. The anesthesiologist hovered over me and murmured that they were going to start putting the drugs into my IV. As soon as they did I felt a sharp pain in my hand. “OW!” I exclaimed. The anesthesiologist told me to move my hand around and told me the pain would go away soon. “Its still hurting,” I kept repeating. “At least you all know that I’m still awake,” I joked, and the next thing I knew the nurse was telling me that it was over.

The doctor told me right away that my colon was great, no polyps, nothing suspicious. I was good to go for another 10 years. And best of all, this type of anesthesia wears off almost immediately. Although I was a little woozy on my feet, I could get up within minutes, get dressed, and go out and be with Lee.

Before I knew it I was back home, curled up on the couch with the dogs, eating chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I was very glad that it was over. The rest of the day I was a little tired, but that was it. By Wednesday morning I felt ready to exercise and on Thursday I went for a run.

It did take until today (Friday) to have things start “working” again down there. I had a couple of days of farting, but they pump your colon full of air so they can see things better, so that’s to be expected.

I can’t say the prep is pleasant, but it’s not really horrible. I know this experience is different for everyone, but I’m a big wimp, and really it wasn’t that bad.

I wonder if I will do it again when I’m seventy though. As we get older our bodies really don’t like being messed with that much. And my colon seems to be pretty happy. I think I’ll just continue to have All Bran for breakfast occasionally and wait and see.

However, I definitely have no desire to eat Jello again any time soon!

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