Tuesday, July 12, 2011

health 101

The plunge of a colonoscopy unveiled. 

Plunge, literally and figuratively, because once you get started there is no return. 

If poo grosses you out ... you may want to stop reading NOW.  But if gross doesn't effect you then read on.  And I really won't be too graphic.  Really.  Because for the worst part, I was asleep.  On a personal honeymoon. 

I vowed I wouldn't write about this medical procedure.  But I have changed my mind.   I decided to do a colonoscopy medical review for all you wondering people.  And because nobody talks about it.  Nobody tells you about the prep. 

The prep is far worse than the actual procedure.

So, if you have reached the age of 50... make your colonoscopy appointment now.  Colon cancer is 100% treatable if it is found.  However, at the same time, it is 100% death if it is not found.  Personally, I prefer the 100% treatable to death. 

And if you are one of the lucky ones who have medically proven "family history" then you get to take the plunge into the colonoscopic world at the early age of 40!! 

Imagine my surprise when I made my husband an appointment to get "Cleaned Out".  The joke ended up being on me... I was the one who ended up with a "Cleaning Out" because of family history.  And my doctor who's name begins with "Caca...".  I mean really, Dr. Caca.  It's like he was destined for being the King of Poo.  I never did get beyond the Caca part of his name... I just call him Dr. Caca.   And secretly, I am hoping that his wife maintained her maiden name.  And that the mini Cacas actually have a different last name... or perhaps he did not add to the gene pool. 

So back to my husband's appointment.  Which became my appointment. 

A routine medical procedure.  I can do this.  Besides, I will be asleep.  A medicinal-induced sleep for a sleep-deprived mom.  I even asked the anesthesiologist to up the meds so that I could sleep for an additional 60 minutes.  Actually, I begged.  I pleaded.  I groveled.  "Just let me sleep!!"

The week before the plunge, one must stop taking all vitamins and meds (unless otherwise noted by your doctor).  One must not eat any corn, seeds, or nuts.  For obvious reasons.  But in case this one has escaped you:  corn, seeds and nuts are difficult to digest and take a lot of time to break down in the digestive system.

Two days before the routine procedure, one must stop eating.  The fasting begins.  A clear diet becomes your way of life. 

Chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth.
Gatorade.  No reds.
Jello.  No reds.
Popcicles.  No reds.
More water.

And for those of us who did not receive A's in Art 101 and Science 101... No reds also means NO PURPLES.  Because... blue plus red equals purple.

Reds are not easily broken down in the digestive system.  And you do not want to have the colon probe detecting red!!

So fighting off a major headache in 105 degrees of heat, in hindsight, I would opt to do a colonoscopy in December.  Cooler temps.  And a fast to prepare for that fancy black holiday dress. 

One day before the medical procedure, one must begin taking a PREP.  A PREP to cleanse you.  There are different preps.  Most doctors feel that a liquid prep is the best course of action. 

The prep is a powder to be mixed with water just before drinking.  It is 4 cups.  32 ounces.  And, let me tell you, it is the BIG GULP from HELL.  One must drink this liquid dynamite in one hour.  Yes, one hour.  Fill your gut with this PREP so your intestines can blow up.  This PREP that tastes like a bad salted gatorade drink from a kids science experiment kit that has gone bad and very wrong.

I have an extremely weak stomach.  Loose teeth make me want to vomit.     

So after choking down the first PREP, I went to bed and tried to sleep off the horrible lingering feeling.  The feeling as if you drank too much tequila and you just want to go to the ER and get your stomach pumped so that you feel a bit better. 

And when I woke up, it was time to complete the second PREP.  Another 4 cups.  Another 32 ounces. 

The smell is like one I have never smelled before.  Words cannot describe the taste or the smell, but I know my nose and mouth will never forget. 

I managed to get 1/4 of the way through the second PREP before my stomach went into serious convulsions.  Gag reflex in full force.  And the vomiting begins.  For the next five hours.  I am not sure how that was even remotely possible since I had not had any solids in almost 36 hours.  Just liquids. 

So panic struck.  Shit.  IF I don't have this PREP in me, I won't be able to proceed with the colonoscopy and then I will have to do all this prep again.  And I cannot.  I physically cannot ever drink the PREP or smell the prep or do the prep ever again.  Ever. 

I called Doctor Caca at 6:30 -- twelve hours away from my appointment.  And do you know what he said to his anxiety-ridden, vomiting, panic-stricken patient... "Don't worry, you will be fine, just drink slower."

So I sipped.  And vomited. And sipped.  And vomited.  For the next five hours. 

The goal here is to be doing number 2 in CLEAR.  Yes, CLEAR.  What exactly is clear?

I have learned that CLEAR can come in many shades depending on the person.   So if you are in the midst of a colonoscopy or about to have a colonoscopy... clear is a shade.  Clear can be clear.  Clear can be lemon-lime gatorade color.  Clear can be tea color.  

Well, the advice from Dr. Caca did not work.  So I had my dear husband go to the pharmacy and buy enemas.  Yes, I believe that purchase is way more humiliating than asking him to pick up tampons.  I would have preferred tampons -- those don't even register on the humiliation scale. 

So, people, if you are vomiting, an enema is your only hope of moving on to the final step. 

It is vague, mainly because I have blocked out this moment of my life, but I managed to do the big E.  And finally hours later, I managed to fall into a slumber filled with thoughts of "I have colon cancer" and "I have colon polyps". 

The best part about this procedure is that my arrival time at the hospital is 7AM.  I am the first scheduled appointment with Dr. Caca.   I did not have to spend too much time wondering about my shade of CLEAR or the fact that I hadn't eaten in days, or the fact that I vomited for five hours, or the fact that I may have to repeat the entire prepping stage and reschedule my colonoscopy.

I prayed.  I took the Buddhist approach and prayed to every living thing I laid eyes upon. 

And then I got to take a nice sleep.  The nurses were telling me about their recent anniversary vacations so I fell into a lovely vacation paradise slumber.  My personal honeymoon to Koh Phi Phi.  I am sure it was a lovely trip.  I just wish I could remember it.

The only souvenir I received was a photo post card.  Not to be viewed by the queasy!  If you know what I mean. 

And the good news is that I am healthy!
And the bad news is that I need to be seen again in two years due to family history. 

Next time, I will be asking for Prep PILLS. 

WARNING:  if you have a sensitive stomach be forewarned about the taste and smell of the PREP. 

Please get your routine colonoscopy today!


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