Colonoscopy and what it “Entails”
WARNING!!! The following is rated “R” – restricted only to those who are not offended by “TMI” – and want to know the ins and outs of this procedure, which most people must undergo in the name of health. This is my personal account of my BEST colonoscopy yet!
Having had some not-so-pleasant experiences with my previous 3 colonoscopies, I was NOT looking forward to my “procedure” in 2013. Matter of fact, the minute I opened my new appointment calendar for 2013, I thought – “Oh no – this is the year for yet another colonoscopy”. However – I realized it was a necessity – as my maternal grandmother died of colon cancer, and it’s always good to catch these things early.
Three weeks before the date of the procedure, I received the notice from the Doctor in the mail about the “prep instructions”. Despite promises three years ago that there would likely be a more effective prep for my next one – the tired and familiar instructions to buy “Kleen-Prep” were unearthed when I opened the envelope. My heart sank. With Kleen Prep – one must fast the entire day before the “procedure” – having only clear juices and broths (and staying away from red jello or juice). Then you’re supposed to begin drinking this at-first decent tasting mixture – every 20 minutes, beginning at 6pm. The instructions say you can stop drinking the liquid once the effluent runs clear. Hmmm. Then you repeat the same procedure beginning at 6 am the morning of the procedure. Now if your digestive system is anything like mine – you end up drinking the entire 4 litres, and NOTHING happens for another hour, which keeps you up and running until at least 1 a.m. And if your digestive system is like mine, and you do the 6 AM repeat – good bloody luck getting to the hospital without having an “accident”.
This year, St. Michaels Hospital called me 2 weeks before my procedure, and asked if I would like to be part of a research study, which may give evidence that colonoscopies may not be necessary if blood samples and stool samples are checked on a regular basis. I felt very willing to take the time to do this – maybe to save my kids and grandkids from having to unnecessarily undergo the dreaded “procedure.” So, a week before my colonoscopy date, I went to St. Mikes – had some bloodwork done, and was instructed to take poo samples during the week previous to my procedure, and send them off in a safe, sealed container via UPS to be analysed. Although this process was a tad unpleasant, it wasn’t even in the same ballpark as a colonoscopy in the “yuck factor”.
While I was at the hospital for these preliminary workups, I confided to the nurse about the unpleasantness of Kleen-Prep with my particular system, and I also told her I was a musician – and 6am is absolutely NOT in my vocabulary!! She was so very sympathetic, and sent me to Dr. Kandel’s nurse down the hall, who would give me a requisition to purchase a relatively new product called MOVI-PREP. Apparently the Dr. was having great success with the “cleanouts” this formula provided to the patients.
Four days before my procedure, I went to the pharmacy to purchase the Movi-Prep, and was told it had to be ordered. Yikes!! This was Thursday. My procedure was Monday! Luckily it arrived in on Friday, ready for the big “day of rectuming”.
I read the instructions – and found it a delightful surprise that a light breakfast AND LUNCH were allowed the day of the “CLEANSE”. PLUS!!! It only entailed drinking TWO litres of the mixture instead of four – and no 6 am crap!!! YAY.
So, on the Sunday I began the Movi-Prep at 5 pm, after a decent breakfast, and a light snack for lunch. The mixture had a pleasant lemony flavour – but was quite sweet. I have to say, after the 3 hours of drinking every 10 minutes – the imbibing turned into a most repulsive undertaking – and it got to the point I could only do one sip at a time. With my slow system, it took a LONG time after I’d consumed the 2 litres before anything happened.
Because my blood vessels are very temperamental, and it’s difficult for healthcare workers to find good veins for taking or giving blood – a nurse friend of mine told me to DRINK DRINK DRINK WATER all day and all night and the morning of the procedure. (Last time, it took seven painful pokes before they finally found a vein to administer the sedative – and I think they damaged a nerve in my wrist). I drank copious amounts of water and herbal tea as a chaser to the MoviPrep, even though I felt I was full of liquid already.
I was up ‘til 1 a.m. and a few times in the night. In the morning – it worried me that the clarity they’re looking for in the effluent wasn’t quite there, and I was sure the Doctor was going to be very perturbed.
My procedure was scheduled for 12 noon. I went by subway to St. Mikes, and checked in. I gave them the questionnaire I filled out for the study, and they handed me an envelope with $35 cash in it for my participation! Gettin’ paid fo’ sheeyot! Whoo HOO!
They showed me to a room with lockers where you can store your valuables, and I got undressed, and into the 2 little gowns they gave me to wear – one worn frontways, one worn backways. I sat and waited. And waited. And waited – and had to use the loo a couple of times to get rid of all the water I’d been drinking. FINALLY an hour after the procedure was booked (they squeeze in emergency cases, which always ends up holding up the schedule) the nurse came and took my vitals, asked questions, and managed to find the right vein in the left hand, first poke! I was happy and relieved, and I was sporting an IV attachment ready for activation.
More waiting and waiting. Interestingly enough – I wasn’t in the least bit hungry, and it had been more than 24 hours since I ate.
Finally they led me to the room, where I got up on the table. Dr. Kandel asked me how I was, and I said “Pretty good for an old broad” giggles – Then in answer to what I “do” I told him I was a singer – and while the nurse began to hook up the sedative solution, they asked me to sing them a song. I sang the beginning of Freddie Mercury/David Bowie “Under Pressure”. That is all I remember. At one point I woke up to see a bit of my insides on a screen beside me – all pink and shiny – but right back to sleep again. Unlike previous procedures – there was no pain, and no consciousness of what they were doing to me. I think finding a good vein for the sedative definitely helped!!
Suddenly I hear them say “You’re done. Roll over” WHAT??? In my previous procedures, I was aware of every painful corner that little scope went around, and every conversation that went on while I was “under”. In a previous procedure they had removed a couple of polyps – and one in my stomach too. (I usually have endoscopy at the same time as the colonoscopy). But this time – I was all clear. No polyps. AND the Movi-Prep apparently did a fabulous job of cleansing – making the sightlines much easier for Dr. Kandel.
As they wheeled me down to recovery, I couldn’t help thinking of the scene in Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” and the “machines that go “ping” as I looked at the ceiling racing by. They set my gurney up beside another person or two in recovery, all of them sleeping – and I was sitting up drinking juice and eating cookies in no time. I also was instructed to fart – the Dr. puts gas into the intestine to maximize clarity and room for the scope – so they won’t let you leave until a pfffft or two. No problemo!!!
I felt on top of the world. Immediately perky and alert, and so happy with the good news of a clear passage, and no necessity to return for another 5 years.
I didn’t bring anyone with me to take me home – I didn’t need anyone to do that. It seems that sedative they give you only lasts for me as long as it’s coursing through my veins. I’m wide awake once they remove it.
So where did I go after I got back in my civies? I went across to the “Eatin’ Center” and had a lovely “breakfast croissant” and bought myself some new “post colonoscopy” clothing.
Five years!!! Hopefully, if I’m still around, that next one will be just as good as this one was – the BEST of all of them!!