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Colonoscopy: The Good, The Bad and the Recovery

September 30, 2018

 

 

 

Hi Everyone! I have been MIA and I am sorry. I was literally sick and I didn't have the strength to juggle many things. I let a few things slide because I just couldn't do it and I needed a break. That whole fog thing was in FULL EFFECT. I couldn't cope. Now I am a bit tired but I felt that I needed to write this post.  I had a colonoscopy yesterday and the week before I search for what to expect and I found forum posts but the rest were medical pages. I really needed a personal touch. So I thought I would share my experience with as little gross details as possible.

 

If you weren't aware, I just turned forty this year and I am about five years too young for the recommended age for your first colonoscopy according to the American Cancer Society. You can read up more about their recommendations here. However, I have suffered with digestive issues for 20 years and in the last five I have had about as many surgeries and procedures concerning my digestive system. My Gastroenterologist recommended that I have colonoscopy this year. The mere mention of it makes you cringe mostly because of the idea of having a hose where a hose should not go. It is fearful enough the people skim over the fact that there is the prep to consider. I have heard about the awful substance that you have to chug by the gallon and that gave me shudders too.

 

To prepare for the procedure my doctor suggested that I eat lighter up to two weeks before the procedure to make the Prep easier. By eating lighter she meant that I eat soft easy to digest foods like yogurt and applesauce and back away from high fiber foods and heavy meats. This would ensure a clean prep and a good procedure. The prep would start five days before with my purchase of the necessary items. As I considered this the stories came back to my mind about the gross drink and being miserable for hours locked in the bathroom. I still went ahead and  and purchased the items needed:  two 5mg Dolculax, 8.3 oz of Miralax, a bottle of Magnesium Citrate and  64oz of Orange or Yellow Gatorade. They were the key items in the two part prep to start the night before and finish four hours before my appointment. 

 

The day before the procedure I was on a clear liquid diet which could include broth, tea, coffee with no milk, jello and clear soda. I had to avoid milky items and even though I make my shake with almond milk I decided to forgo it that day. I had my bottled water and green tea for breakfast. I was afraid that I wouldn't make it through the day without being HANGRY but surprisingly I made it to lunch without so much as a mean look. I had to work that day before and I just kept busy with the usual work to keep myself distracted from food. For lunch I went in search of soup with clear broth but there was only heavy cream based ones in the cafeteria so I decided to have a ginger ale instead and another cup of tea. I loaded myself up on the water, tea and the one soda to keep me through the day. I was surprised that it worked. The only problem was that I had to pick my son up from school at 6:30 pm and I had to start the prep by 4 pm. I decided to not set myself up for a very messy and embarrassing failure and waited until I got home at 7 pm to start. 

 

 I was a bit nervous about it all because I have one bathroom and there are four of us in here. However, everyone was forewarned so I didn't have a problem fighting for bathroom time. I took the two Dulcolax and then an hour later I mixed the Miralax with the Gatorade and began to drink 8 oz of it in fifteen minute intervals. It didn't taste bad if you don't mind the taste of bland Gatorade. I set a timer on my phone to remind me to keep going back for my next allotment in 15 minutes. I started going to the bathroom about a hour after I started the Gatorade and Miralax mixture. I would continue to go every thirty minutes thereafter. The time went fast but after the first 90 minutes I started to experience nausea. Less than a hour later I started to vomit nothing but bile because of my empty stomach. At this point I felt like I wanted to stop it all. I had this bitter disgusting taste in my mouth and I was constantly running to the bathroom. I didn't care about the prep, I didn't care that I have a family history of polys. I didn't care that I would incur a $150 fee if I didn't show up for the procedure the next day because I was miserable. I wanted to quit but I looked at it from a different perspective. I already took the day off, I arranged from my son to drive me home and I already committed most of the way through this prep process. I did not want to this again and since I go this far, I wanted it to mean something. So I took a much needed break from the Gatorade and made another cup of tea to break up the monotony. It helped settle my stomach and I started the drink up again an hour later. 

 

By 1 am it was over for the night. My need to go stopped and I was exhausted and literally drained. I checked and rechecked an online reference to see if I made it to a "clear" stage that would make me ready for the procedure but I was just shy. You can check here for your own visual aid. I knew I gave it my best and I hoped that it was enough. It was hard to get to sleep because the idea of having an accident in my sleep caused me to stir the next couple of hours. I woke promptly to my alarm at 5:15am to take the Magnesium Citrate. The house was still asleep but there I was trudging through the darkness looking to inflict part 2 of this nightmare on myself . I got the bottle of the Magnesium Citrate and a bottle of water and returned to my room. I cracked it open and took my first taste and gagged. It was too sweet and syrupy and it made me want to vomit. To prevent that I alternated a few sips with water and I waited. 45 minutes later I started to go again and I was surprised that I had anything left to off. However, I did and for the next hour and a half my body achieved the almost "clear" status.  After an hour of no further activity I took a shower and my son and I headed to my appointment.

 

The ride there was accident free but my stomach was in knots. I didn't know if I did enough work and then I remembered the part about the hose. When I entered the room I was nervous again but not surprised because I saw that I was the youngest person there by far. The other people that checked in were in their 50s or more and needed to be there for their recommended screening. I felt again that my internal age was beginning to show despite the look of youth on my face. I was called and I had a nice staff of nurses to ease my fears. I had my usual nervous jokes ready and when my doctor came in I was aware of what was going to happen and a bit calmer. She is smart and thorough and most of all, I trust her because she already saved my life twice. 

 

I was wheeled in to the room after I had one last bathroom visit and I found that yes, I was "clear" and I had my I hooked up. The team in the room were all ladies and that helped too with such a delicate situation. This made a GYN visit feel like Brownie level merit badge. It was just weird all the way around. However, all of the women there was nice and comforting and I slipped in to a haze after the propofol was given. I woke up sometime later and I was greeted by a lovely nurse. She keep me warm and made sure that I was fine. Best of all I didn't feel a thing and there was no discomfort at the time. There was extra precaution taken since I have fainting issues and I thanked them for it. My doctor came back and told me that everything was fine. I had two very small polyps and they were removed. There were no blockages or tears and I would have to come back in five years due to my history. A short time later I had some apple juice and it went down well. My son came back and collected me and off we went. 

 

I didn't feel and physical issues when I got home, just grogginess from the anesthesia. I experience that after ever procedure. I had some food, nothing fried or spicy as I was instructed, and I took a nap. Even now as I type this, I am a bit groggy still and that has something to do with Dysautonomia and a possible link to Ehler Danlos Syndrome. I am undiagnosed at this time but I strongly suspect it. However, I am fine. I did experience horrendous gas in my stomach. I couldn't pass it and for hours it felt like something was burrowing in my intestines trying to make its way out. It was loud and very painful. I was told that there would be air trapped inside because they had to inflate the intestines to see all the nooks and crannies (my description not theirs). I was told that they would suck out as much as they could but some would be trapped. Yea it was trapped and looked to get out. I eventually passed gas hours later but I was afraid it would not be just gas. Thankfully it was. That was the most uncomfortable part and I am glad that it is over. I am here now with no complications and happy to know that there is nothing lurking undetected in my lower digestive system. Hopefully, in five years the prep will be made easier and my results will be unremarkable, which is medical speak for just fine. 

 

If you find yourself hearing the dread words "colonoscopy" from your doctor, don't fret. It is not pretty but it is worth your best effort so they can make theirs. If you have further questions please let me know in the comments below or simply share your experience with others. 

 

One day at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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