Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Countdown to Colonoscopy!

WARNING: The following post may contain language concerning bodily functions that some might find uncomfortable. (And when I say "some," I mean "everyone.")

Have you ever gotten out of bed and told yourself, "I'm going to give myself explosive diarrhea today! On purpose!" If so, that probably means that you're getting a colonoscopy--or you've decided to eat at Taco Bell. Either way, I wish you luck.

What is a colonoscopy? It's when a doctor takes a camera and pushes it into your body through your back door in order to look inside your colon and intestines. (And when I say "back door," I mean "rectum.")

Why get a colonoscopy? Because doesn't everyone wants a camera shoved up their butt? No, to be serious for a second, doctors like this procedure to be performed so they can check to see if you have colon cancer, which is a terrible disease. Finding it early can save lives.

When should I get a colonoscopy? You should only get a colonoscopy when it is recommended by a doctor. This is not something you just walk in off of the street and ask for. Also, make sure your colonoscopy is performed by a trained medical professional. (Stay away from Discount Dave's Kolonoscopy Klinic, and not just because Dave can't spell.)

It sounds scary, but it really isn't. (Well, some of it is.) I recently had a colonoscopy, so I will take you through how it went for me.

One year, four months BC ("BC" stands for "Before Colonoscopy"): While getting a physical, my doctor recommends that I get a colonoscopy. It is generally considered a good idea for all men to do so when they turn 50 years old. I tell him I will get one in the summer, when my wife (a school teacher) is off from work.

One year BC: I completely forget to have the colonoscopy done. Oops.

One month BC: I remember that I forgot to have the colonoscopy done last year.

20 days BC: I call my doctor to make an appointment to get a colonoscopy. My doctor doesn't do colonoscopies, so he connects me to a specialist. (Apparently it takes special training to place a camera into someone's rectum. I'm okay with this; if I'm going to have someone put a camera up my rectum, I'd prefer it to be someone who knows what he's doing.)

17 days BC: I get a call from the colonoscopy doctor's office to set up a time for my procedure. I am told to go to a pharmacy to get a subscription prescription for a product that will help clear my bowels before the procedure.

14 days BC: I go to the pharmacy to get my prescription. It is a very large jug with a little bit of powder in the bottom. I am told that I must fill this jug with water and drink it all the night before the colonoscopy. It will help flush the contents of my stomach out of my stomach, via my bum. Suddenly, having a camera pushed up my bum isn't the only thing I'm concerned about.

Yes, I get to drink the entire jug! (It's okay, though, because I'm sure it tastes good.)

14 days through 2 days BC: I am not looking forward to this. I talk to people who have had colonoscopies. After hearing their stories, I am looking forward to this even less.

40 hours BC: It is my last chance to eat before the procedure. I make a late night run to McDonald's to get a triple cheeseburger and two chocolate chip cookies. (Yes, I most certainly will regret going to McDonald's--even more than usual.)

34 hours BC: It is the day before my procedure, and I am limited to a diet of only clear liquids. The only thing I can "eat" is Jell-o, as long as it's not red, blue, or purple.

32 hours BC: I fill my prescription jug full of water, shake it to mix in the medicine, and put it into the refrigerator to chill. I'm really looking forward to giving myself diarrhea!!!

24 hours BC: I "eat" my Jell-o. Now that's a satisfying meal!

19 hours BC: I begin to drink from my prescription jug. I am told I need to drink 8 ounces every ten minutes. I fill a little red cup and gurgle it down. It tastes like cold water mixed with cardboard and just a hint of brussels sprouts. (Or possibly feet.) Yummy!

One down, 15 cups to go!

19 hours through 17 hours BC: I chug 8 ounces of this vile-tasting liquid every ten minutes. That's 12 full red cups. That's not fun.

18 hours BC: The information that comes with my prescription jug tells me that about an hour after starting to drink it I will feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom. It is time, but I do not feel any urgent need. I'm beginning to think I'm drinking this swill for no reason.

17 hours, 20 minutes BC: It turns out I'm drinking this stuff for a reason after all. As I sit on the toilet, words like "urgent," "uncontrollable," and "explosive" come to mind. I'm a bit hesitant to leave the toilet to go drink my last two or three doses from my prescription jug, for fear that I won't make it back in time.

17 hours BC: I'm finished drinking my vile drink--for now. (I had to leave a little bit in the jug to drink in the morning. It's nice to have something to look forward to.)

17 hours through 13 hours BC: I spend this time on or near the toilet. I do not stray far. (I most certainly am regretting that triple cheeseburger.)

5 hours BC: I have to finish off my prescription jug. Five more 8 ounce swigs of nasty drink over the next 50 minutes.

4 hours BC: Nothing more at all to drink or eat until the procedure. Just waiting. (On or near the toilet.)

15 minutes BC: Check in at the hospital. The waiting room is full.

5 minutes BC: I'm taken back to my room and told to take off my clothes and put on my gown. (I've always wanted to wear a gown. I feel like a princess.)

2 minutes BC: The nurse is having a hard time finding a vein in order to put an IV line in. I tell her it would probably be easier if I wasn't so dehydrated because I haven't been able to drink anything for several hours. The nurse sticks a needle in my arm and finds a vein...eventually.

Colonoscopy: I'm wheeled into an operating room, where I meet my doctor for the first time. He looks young enough to play a high schooler on a bad sitcom. I'm told to turn onto my side, and asked if I'm beginning to feel the effects of the anesthesia. I say, "No." Five seconds later I say, "Okay, now I'm starting to...."

Seemingly seconds later: I wake up as I'm wheeled back into my room. I'm rambling something about "Monte Crisco sandwiches," then I realize it's "Monte Cristo," not "Crisco," and I start babbling about how we used to buy big cans of white lard to grease pans whenever we made cakes or casseroles. I am definitely loopy from the drugs they used to put me out. (This is why they tell me not to drive or make important decisions for the rest of the day.)

2 minutes AC ("AC" stands for "After Colonoscopy"): The doctor steps into the room, says, "Everything was fine. See you in ten years," and leaves. Through the whole procedure I've seen the doctor for a total of about twenty seconds.

30 minutes AC: I'm told it's okay to get dressed and leave. So, I do. (I can't decide if I'm disappointed that they shoved a camera up my bum, but I didn't get to see any of the pictures.)

40 minutes AC: I haven't eaten for 42 hours. I am hungry! I make a decision: Denny's. (Don't judge! Denny's has some good-tasting food!) They don't have a Monte Cristo sandwich, so I order the closest thing--the Grand Slamwich.

I missed food.

46 minutes AC: Food! I really like food. I also order a Vanilla Coke, because it is so nice to be drinking something that doesn't come in a big prescription jug or taste like feet.

Now that it's all done, I'd say that the colonoscopy itself wasn't bad at all. It was the preparation for the colonoscopy that was nasty. I just hope that in ten years, when I have to do this again, they'll have found some way to perform a colonoscopy without forcing me to drink a jug-full of yuck. (No one likes explosive diarrhea.)

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