Posts Tagged ‘Colonoscopy’

Colonoscopy Science Project

August 10, 2018

I went in this week and got my dreaded colonoscopy. Good Girl! My last one was ten years ago, lucky for me, no polyps, and my recall was ten years. Whew! That ten years sure flew by. I remember thinking two years ago, that I still had two years until my next colonoscopy, as if every day I was dodging a bullet.

They really aren’t that bad, except when you think about it. The fasting the day before, the dreaded prep, the procedure – you know, that scope going up your butt. The potentially bad news delivered on the spot in your still-sedated state … Huh, what did you say, doc?? You found WHAT??

So I scheduled mine several weeks back, and got the prep – “Suprep” which translates into ‘a super amount of chemical liquid you gulp down on an empty stomach to turn your intestines into a washing machine.’ I shoved the package in the buffet. Why think about it until the time comes?

The time came this past Wednesday – ‘colonoscopy day’. First thing Tuesday morning, fasting day, my husband, David, made sure I woke up to a ‘Do not touch! sign on the coffee pot. Okay, fine. I pull the stack of printed material out of the buffet and fish out the ‘prep’ page. The instructions contain several ‘you musts’ – as in, “you must follow the clear liquid diet the day before your procedure.” Okay so read up what they mean by ‘clear liquids’

Yellow highlighter to emphasize the ‘musts’

Hmmm. I see we have apple juice. And some chicken broth. Yum! Okay, apple juice for breakfast. Then another glass of apple juice, because I’m hungry. Lemon herbal tea for lunch. etc etc. Massive headache by 2pm. Too much sugar? Coffee withdrawal? I switch to chicken broth. Head is pounding at this point so I take two Advil. By evening I’m reading the instructions that came with the Suprep kit. Oh, no NSAID drugs, it says somewhere in fine print. “Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs” such as Advil. Oh well. The Advil did knock the headache a bit.

7PM – time for the prep! Okay will spare you of too many details here. Mix one bottle of 6 oz chemical with water to fill up 16 oz container, gulp it down (sipping is a slow regurgitant torture), followed by gulping two more 16 oz containers of water – 1 1/2 quarts total. There. Doesn’t that feel great. Way to assuage your hunger! Relax now while you feel your stomach gurgle the concoction cup by cup into your small intestine, wishy-wishy-wash-wash, entering your colon now, cup by cup, loosen up your bowels, baby… until your colon goes into spin mode, don’t delay! Sprint to the toilet!

You start your first intestinal washing machine routine at 7PM because the cycle isn’t complete till after 10. Yippee! Set your alarm before bed – you don’t want to miss the 5:30 am start on your second prep cycle tomorrow morning.

Of course, you don’t sleep well, for fear of oversleeping way past 5:30 am. I had this horrendous dream that I had arrived for my colonoscopy at the wrong facility, and was hiding under a blanket on the gurney all prepped for a procedure no one knew a thing about. The nurses would find me and kick me out(!), and I couldn’t remember – did I forget to do that second prep?? What the hell time of day is it? I need to bail! Whew. I wake up, check the clock and see that it’s 4am. Okay… back to sleep…

5:30 AM my i-Phone alarm blares off on my bedside. Quick! Jump up and turn it off! (so as not to disturb David). Hey, why is the alarm still blaring away? What the heck? David reaches up to turn his i-Phone off. “I set my iPhone alarm too, as a backup.” What a thoughtful husband. But at 5:30 am it’s a bit unnerving when you turn off your alarm only to still hear it ringing on the other side of your bed.

Okay, I’m a pro now. Second dose, same as the first. I have downed the whole 48 ounces in one half hour! – by 6am. Easy peasy this time since the stuff should wash right through me. Uh-oh. It’s coming up! Just stand up by the toilet now and breathe … and … oh no, here it comes! A projectile of vomit shoots out of my throat like a rocket on a trajectory that crashes into the toilet. Wow! Wasn’t expecting that. Huh. Oh well. Expelling the prep from both ends will surely speed up this process!

By 7am I’m trying to nap on the couch. Just jump up about every six minutes to run and squirt in the toilet. Like clockwork. If I were more of an engineering type I’d graph the data – you know, say, of time elapsed vs. amount expelled (a true scientist would catch each squirt ejected from your butt into a cup for accurate measure and comparison, but it felt like about 2/3 cup each time.) You could literally divide the total amount of prep ingested by the amount expelled at each sitting, over six minute time intervals, and closely predict when your bowels would be empty. Or, just trust the directions: You must finish the morning dose of Suprep 3 hours prior to your check-in time. Hurling up a third of the prep at the get-go turned out to be an act of genius, though, enabling me to cop a restful little nap before jetting off to the surgical center by 9:30 am.

Now if you think my blog is verbose, try sitting alongside me lying on a gurney in a sterile medical facility calming my nerves for a medical procedure. I constantly chatter – like, at the nurse: “I’m not about to be awake for this! I’ll take the sedation!” Which means the nurse has to poke a vein, right? Dammit! “I don’t want you poking around for a vein only to shove in the needle, jab it around several times once its in there, trying to hit the vein, then declare, “Oh, it’s a roller!” which has happened to me more times than I can count. The veins in both my arms are rollers! I need the most professional phlebotomist on the premises to attach the IV … trust me, I don’t know how many nurses I’ve been through who can’t even locate a vein in my arm!…”

At this point the nurse has attached the IV to the back of my right hand. Donned in my backless gown and booties, covered by a cotton blanket, I’m prepped and ready to go. I then wait several minutes in this tiny prep room for the new nurse “Brian’ – he finally shows up and wheels me across the hall to a room which houses the ‘colonoscope’ surrounded by a wall of machines, for my colonoscopy. Another nurse greets me. “Hi, I’m Charlene” (or something) Then I start in on Charlene about the prep and how it expelled so regularly I could have made a ‘flow’ chart, had anyone thought to do that? I bet you had an engineer or physicist or someone who came in here with a graph or chart like that, that would be just like them! And what about this procedure, did that nasty prep strip the bacteria right off the lining of my intestines? What’s it called, mucosa? Should I get on probiotics right away to whip my mucosa back in shape?…The doc comes in, I’m chattering at him too, and he makes some comment about the ‘reliable valve’ at the end of the small intestine…

But mostly I wanted to pay attention to the moment they sent the sedatives through the IV (Fentanyl – 50 mpg, Propofol- 120 mg, and Versed – 2mg). I anticipated the rush and count-down into dreamland, you know, that half-sedated place where your muscles completely relax and your mind takes you to a land of dragonflies, shooting stars and fairies where you can reach out and touch the moon, uh … it’s possible, right?

But no. I’m chattering away about engineers and their flow charts and probiotics, and the next thing, I’m being awakened by a strange nurse in a curtained cubicle in a large room with a view of the check-out desk. “You’re done” the lady says. “We’ve called your husband to pick you up and as soon as you are dressed you can go home.” She hands me some papers and tells me something about how the test went well, my intestines were fine. (Yay! check that one off!) I don’t recall seeing the doctor. I do recall stumbling out and riding home with David.

But no worry. Everything is explained in the report. The terminal ileum was reached, the cecal sling folds were seen, the appendiceal orifice and the ileo-ceal valve were identified.

And now my gut is filled with air from the procedure. No big deal. We’ll drive downtown and take a walk to work it out. I could see myself releasing air out of my butt with every step! But no, the science project expands here to include the nature of hot air and how it rises, even when it’s in your intestines. So instead of seeping out my butt as I walked, the air rose inside, ballooning out in my duodenum, and my stomach, judging from my area of pain, but in any case, I was certainly not burping up any clouds of air. At this point, buckling over with pain getting back to the car with David, I would guess that maybe the mass of air got sealed in by the … esophageal sphincter at the top of my stomach? (Could maybe save this question for the gastro doc at my next colonoscopy?)

So, yeah. A word of advice for those of you getting your colonoscopy. Get a ride home and go to bed. On your side, with your butt in the air. And let the air in your intestines rip! I would say, based on my experience, it takes about five minutes for a healthy fart to build. Their release is pretty consistent. You could chart the data for a another flow chart.

Either that, or just take a nice long nap and visit a land with stardust, lillypads, and butterflies, where you can climb over rainbows.

Oh, one more thing. Did I mention that David has his colonoscopy next week? His prep kit is up on the desk in his office. Here, I took a photo:

You must fill to the line at the top!

Not to worry. We got it covered. Colonoscopies are becoming routine around here.