Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Fifth Colonoscopy - Part One

Good morning!

Okay, I know.  The word colonoscopy and you want to run away, screaming.  Please, don't. If you don't want to read this, fine; you're not hurting my feelings.  I'm hoping you'll read it, though.  It's important.  Yes, even you kids in your 30's should read it, if not for you, for a loved one.

  According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the United States. However, an early diagnosis often leads to a complete cure.  Three key words in that sentence:  early and complete cure.  How do you achieve that?  Get that colonoscopy if you are having any odd poo-poo symptoms;  Pain while having a BM, and blood in your stool are the two main signals that you need to get to your doc ASAP.  It could be just a tear or a hemorrhoid, but that's still better than cancer.  It needs to be checked.

If you know me well, you already know that I have already had four of these lovely tests done.  Oh... well, maybe you didn't.  Now you do.  Yes, tomorrow I will have my fifth colonoscopy.  "But you're only 45.  Why so many?"  Without pulling out my three-inch medical file, I have a condition called Diverticulosis;  a condition where pouches (Diverticula) form in the wall of the colon, or large intestine.  80% of people that  have Diverticulosis never develop Diverticulitis -  a condition in which those pouches (diverticula) that form in the wall of the large intestine (colon) become inflamed or infected.  Meet one of the  20%.  I had four bouts of diverticulitis within  a five week span.  During the third bout, I was extremely ill.  I developed Peritonitis and nearly died.

What's that have to do with anything?  They found the Diverticulitis via the Colonoscopy.  I had nearly a foot of my colon removed and it was resected - or put back together, and it saved my life.

During my last colonoscopy, my surgeon discovered not only a polyp, but a large polyp, that had been hiding in a corner of my colon.  He was shocked.  He told me had he not found it, it most definitely would have turned malignant.  Again, life saved.   Because of that and that my colon is delicate now, I have one bi-yearly, which is certainly not the norm. 

I had some surgery back in October;  a hysterectomy.  While I was healing, my pain increased a lot and a trip to the ER was warranted.  They did a CAT scan (I should glow in the dark with all of those I've had) and it turned out that I had simply overdone things.  Well, my beloved surgeon looked at that CAT scan, and did not like what he saw.  Seems the resected area of my colon is thinning.   That's why I'm having this done.  I won't lie;  I'm pretty damn scared.  I'm scared he'll find another large polyp.  I'm scared of what my resection looks like. I'm trying not to worry.

So, the reason I am sharing this? Certainly not to scare you.  Quite the contrary.  It is so very important to have this test done.  I am going to share the experience.  Not to worry;  I won't go all Katie Couric on you guys!  No videos.  No photos.  Just my experience, and to prove to you that it truly isn't as bad as you might imagine.  And if I -- the biggest baby on the planet -- can honestly say it's nothing;  it's nothing.  The prep is the worst part.  That's where I am, now;  a total clear liquid diet all day long.  All I can say is thank God I can have coffee (cream-free, of course)!

I will post this in two parts.  The first part is the Prep.  The second is the procedure.  Part two will come tomorrow night.  Onto the prep.

What's the prep like?  Okay kids, I can't lie;  It sucks. Again, it is the worst part of this entire event.   In addition to the clear liquid diet, you are also required to give yourself the runs. Your colon must be completely free of stool in order for the surgeon to see clearly (Go ahead, giggle.  I am.  I can hear my dad now:  "Well, who could see through all that shit?"  Moving along... AH... I need a rim shot).  How is this achieved?  Medications.  Here is my surgeon's recipe for achieving that:

Four Dulcolax tablets taken at 1:00 p.m. -- all at once.

At 2:00 p.m. drink 10oz. of Magnesium Citrate.  Chilled and with a straw.  (this stuff tastes like bitter Sprite, and is VERY carbonated)  Yes, the straw helps a LOT.

At 3:00 p.m. mix one  bottle of Miralax powder with 64 oz of Gatorade (Not red or purple...can dye the colon) and drink 8oz every 15 minutes until it's gone. .It's not horrible  (It's tasteless), but after about 32oz, you you may get a bit nauseated.  If you do, slow this part down.  Take a break for an hour (have some tea), and then resume until it's gone.  Again, chilling and that all-important straw are very helpful.  I also have a chaser of soda (Clear) or white grape juice.  It helps immensely.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Be sure to keep drinking water, or your allowed bevvies in between sips of your meds and after you have finished them.  Keep drinking until you are not allowed to drink anything else, usually ending at midnight.  Why?  If you don't you are certain to become dehydrated.  This happened to me during my second colonoscopy.  I woke the morning of my procedure with a wicked headache.  By the time I got to the hospital I was vomiting repeatedly and vomiting repeatedly with a severe dehydration headache will make you CRY.  It is the worst feeling on the planet.  Plus it's bad enough trying to start an IV without being allowed even water to drink, but inserting one while dehydrated is painful.  KEEP DRINKING!

Now, that Magnesium Citrate works pretty damn fast, so be close to the john.  After the 64 oz of spiked Gatorade is down, you'll be 'busy' for about 3 hours.  It sounds ridiculous, but I highly recommend buying two things the day before your prep:  A&D ointment (yep, that diaper rash stuff), and some flushable wipes, also found in the baby aisle at the store.  Believe me, plain ol' 'TP' is not your friend, today.  Your bum will be sore... sore as HELL. Kandoo wipes are the gentlest out there.  They are cooling, and really help with the sting.    Yes, they are for kids.  So what.  Suck it up, and buy them.  Your bum will thank you, I promise.

By then, it's suppertime.  Chicken broth, or beef consume' with an orange Italian Ice, and some white grape juice.  Okay, yeah, it sucks.   But by then you don't care because you're not running to the bathroom anymore!  You're all finished!  Take a shower (you'll want to),  put on something comfy, and allow yourself to relax as much as you can.  A cup of decaf coffee (no creamer or milk) or tea (No herbals two weeks prior to anesthesia... sorry), a good read or TV.  Grab your laptop and head over to Netflix to watch an old TV show or movie.  Catch up on Facebook.   Head over to or and play a game to get your mind off of the next day's anxieties.  The worst part is OVER, folks!  Really, it is.  Remember, I'm the biggest baby on the planet.  If I say the worst is over, the worst is over.  Get some sleep.

I hope I didn't scare you too much, or gross you out.  Bottom (giggle) line is this:  if you need to have this test done, don't worry.  You'll sleep peacefully during the whole procedure.  The prep is the worst part, and in the grand scheme of things, even that isn't so bad.  You can do it.  I know you can.  It's important. 

Well, I'm off to enjoy some chicken broth.  I plan on doing a bit of light cleaning and getting prepared before 'rush hour.' 

Thank you for reading!


Read Part Two, below!

Colonoscopy Part TWO

Colon Cancer Coalition
The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screening - The American Cancer Society

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