When one reaches the half-century mark, there are some perks, as I learned after receiving AARP discounts and helpful newsletters from the same.
There are also new personal responsibilities that are not nearly as perky as my AARP card. One of such responsibilities upon turning 50 is to ensure you do all of the age-appropriate health screenings. While I don’t want to live forever, I sure don’t plan on being struck down in my golden years by some terminal, yet treatable malady that, if caught early, would increase my mortality by a few (dozen) extra years.
Sadly, age 50 puts a colonoscopy at the top of this list. Now, while I am really anal *ahem* about getting my annual mammograms, I kind of drug my feet last year about scheduling my first Roto-Rooter procedure. New boss, busy work schedule, you all know the drill.
Some of you may be wondering why I would be blogging about something this personal. It’s really quite simple; prior to the procedure, I was doing as much as I could to get information on the prep as well as the procedure, itself, and there really weren’t that many things out there on the ‘Net. I did find a blog, and some patient reviews of some of the prep meds (weapons of ass destruction, if you will), but I realize that everyone’s experience will be different, so I wanted to share mine in hopes of reaching someone that might get some comfort or at least a giggle out of this, knowing they aren’t alone in their fear/unease/etc. So grab your clear liquid of choice, settle in, and bottom’s up!
In December I had my annual physical and my awesome doc asked me why hadn’t I gotten it done. I explained that I honestly just had a lot going on and told her to go ahead and hook me up. I’d honestly forgotten all about it until I got a call from Dr. M’s office scheduling me for a consult last month.
Now, because I work at the hospital and have shadowed and done many transports from our endoscopy department, I had gotten to know a lot of the nurses. I was a little leery that those seeing my face regularly would get to see another side of me, but it turned out I needn’t have worried. Because this was a simple screening, I could have it done in the procedure room at the doctor’s office. Immediately, I felt so much better about the whole process.
I was scheduled for the following Friday (last week), with my Prep Day the day before. Okay. Two days off from work. No biggie, plus two extra days to stock back up on calories I wouldn’t be getting on Thursday, haha. I ran by the pharmacy and picked up my prep kit, which consisted of a box of generic Dulcolax and a box of something called SuPrep (this is simply a catchy name for Drain-O, let’s be real).
The night before the prep we ran to the store to pick up some essentials: Jello mix (not red, blue or purple), ginger ale, some REALLY big rolls of Charmin Sensitive with lotion, Sprite and some other sundries.
Clear liquid diet day dawned sunny and warm, I had my customary couple of cups of coffee (without dairy), and knocked back my pills at ten, per instructions, got another cup of coffee and waited until noon, when I poured the contents of one bottle of SuPrep and filled to the 16 ounce mark with diet ginger ale. I had 15 minutes to drink it, and managed, barely. It wasn’t terrible, but that was a lot of fizzy liquid in a short amount of time. I was supposed to drink sixteen more ounces of clear fluid within the next 45 minute. My beverage of choice was Dasani sparkling water, raspberry lemonade flavor. That was difficult for me, as I had already had my coffee.
The results were as expected. A lot of unpredictable water coming out of me at a rapid rate, so I just set up camp on my throne with my Kindle and only got up to get jello, water, ginger ale or chicken broth. I learned that plain, warm chicken broth is simply awful to me, and I could only get half a mug in me before the smell made me gag.
I had to repeat the pill/SuPrep combination again later in the day. By this point, I was cranky, tired, and soooo hungry! Any time I would hit the fridge for something to drink all the solid foods mocked me, and that just made me cranky.
Every time I drank something after 9:00 that night, it would send me flying back to the bathroom, but I wanted to get all the clear stuff in me by midnight, because it was NPO after that. (No food or drink until after the procedure.)
I got up and made it to my appointment, and even though there are no food or drinks allowed in the waiting room, some asshat brought his hot fast food breakfast in with him and I swear, if I’d only had the energy to jump those rows of chairs to go after him, I would have been in his face. We are at the ENDOSCOPY CENTER, you idiot! Half of us haven’t eaten in a day or more. You are lucky we all didn’t descend on you like vultures! (Granted, most waiting were in their 70’s and 80’s, so I would have beaten them all there, lessening the whole angry flock effect.) I kept telling Johnny that I would be sooo happy to have this behind *cough cough* me and not have to worry about it for another five or so years.
I finally got into the room where I got to drop trou, put on my lovely paper gown (over my UNC tee, thankfully), and hop on to my chariot/stretcher for blood pressure, temp, and IV stick. There was some waiting for my procedure room to open up, and they finally wheeled me in.
I had about a half an hour to wait and I killed time by thinking about what I’d eat as soon as I was sprung from there and playing with the display that was monitoring my heart rate, BP, oxygen saturation and respiration. Yawns make crazy drops of the line, regular breathing is just wavy, and relaxation breathing breaks up the monotony. Who says I can’t entertain myself without my phone or tablet?
The anesthesiologist came in right before the doctor, told me I would be out within 6-10 seconds after pushing it into my IV, which she did shortly thereafter. I had just enough time to say, “See you on the other side’, before the lights went out. This was at 10:01. I came to in recovery at 10:19. That was quick! The colonoscopy was supposed to take 20 minutes, and waking up, up to 30, yet there I was, 18 short minutes later, Johnny seated across from me with some kind of look oh his face. Houston, mission aborted. The prep didn’t actually work all the way.
I have to do it again, but this time with a TWO day prep.
Here I was thinking I had five years to mentally prepare for the next time, but the reality was that I had, like, five DAYS!
Nowhere on the Internet had I read about such shit, pardon the pun. I was prepared for hemmeroids, polyps or nothing at all. Anything but THAT!
We left, with me in tears and instructions on how to do a two day prep. I had scheduled for the following Thursday (today) with prep being Tuesday and Wednesday, because the sooner the better, and I would have fewer days to focus on easily digestible food. (Read: stay away from salads, as they are hard to digest.) Thee more days off of work. Ugh! My vacation time is dwindling, and that displeases me.
At any rate, Tuesday was soft foods only (applesauce, pudding, soup, yogurt, mashed potatoes) and lots of fluids, and two bottles of magnesium citrate and laxatives to get the potty started. Yesterday was pills and a demon jug of COLYTE – which is similar to GoLytely & NuLytely- which could be mixed with Gatorade, water, or powdered drink mix. This jug holds four liters. This is about a gallon. To be taken as follows: 8 ounces every five to ten minutes until half is gone, then repeat six hours later for the ride of your life. Side note: I’d also read where crunching on popsicles would feel like eating something, but damned if we could find anything that wasn’t red, blue or purple as the majority of the bag, and good luck finding do it yourself molds before summertime, so word to the wise? Get them early!
I won’t go into a repeat of the details, just more of the first time, spread over two days, except that we installed a padded toilet seat for this most recent two day adventure.
I will say this: two lemonade flavored Crystal Light packets added to the powder will taste a lot like bottled margarita mix before the addition of tequila, just for the record.
Things came out great this morning, and I don’t get to deal with this for another decade, thankfully, but I do want to share some hits and tricks that helped me during the second go around…
- Don’t get diet anything. You are going to be wanting those calories, because calories = energy, and you will lose yours soon enough.
- Find a broth that doesn’t turn your stomach BEFORE your prep day. I love miso soup, and purchased instant dashi broth, because I knew I could imagine it with mushrooms and tofu in it, which I found comforting.
- Avoid carbonated or fizzy beverages…they make you feel really full. I used fizzy for SuPrep and plain tea and apple juice to hydrate during my COLYTE experience, and that made things a LOT easier, and believe me, the COLYTE required 16 extra ounces in less time than the SuPrep, so that is a LOT of bubbles in your belly which means more bloat and discomfort.
- Have witch hazel pads (Tucks) on hand. They do help.
- I read that if you Vaseline or A&D ointment (not cream) that it would help with irritation. Don’t do it until you start blotting. Wiping (for not-liquid evacuation) will wipe it all off.
- Speaking of blotting, do so, as soon as you are peeing out of your backside.
- Dont fart. Not until you can and don’t have to wipe. You are just asking for trouble and extra laundry if you do.
- When things slow down, just stand up and move around. Shortly, you won’t be the only thing moving. 😉
- A lot of people complain of chills and muscle aches. Chills can be a result of consuming a lot of cold beverages in a short period of time, so consider hydrating with warm cups of your favorite tea. Muscles get achy when you stay in any one position for too long. Get up when/as you can to stretch your legs and move about the cabin.
- Most importantly, go into it with a sense of humor and try and keep a positive attitude. My first go around sucked because all I could think about was food, how miserable I was, and …well… food! This second time I made a game of it. Let’s see if we can down this mess every five minute, rather than every ten. The faster you get it down, the sooner it’s gone.
- The procedure itself is a cake walk. Seriously.
Dave Barry’s Colonoscopy experience.
Colonoscopy & Colyte Can Be Fun if You Do it Right.
Where the killer Game of Thrones toilet came from.
If this TMI blog helps even one person, then that is all I can ask for! 🙂
If any of you have experiences, tips or tricks to share, please post them in the comments section. Yours could be one that helps someone else! Please and thank you! ❤
Until next time….
Good luck dealing with the scope, Jules! 😉