C-day

The day is finally here. The day of my first post-surgery colonoscopy. I’m also getting an endoscopy which I’ve not had before. For those who wonder, the endoscopy is a camera that is inserted orally, whereas the colonoscopy goes in the other end. I have had it scheduled for over a month, but the reality of it only really set in sometime on Tuesday the 26th. Incidentally, that was the last time I ate. (Also, the first sentence is kind of a giveaway, but the rest of the post contains information that might be considered gross–just so you know. Also x2, the following is MY experience, not medical advice. ALWAYS follow your doctor’s instructions as they are given!)

Something obvious to most people that know me is: I really like my food. Part of my everyday routine is to have breakfast as soon as I wake up and go upstairs. I don’t know, it just seems to start the day off right, and gives me fuel for the day. Food is also comforting, delicious, and has such an amazing variety of textures that can be combined in soo many different ways. Needless to say after that short love letter, I am not a happy camper right now.

Colonoscopy prep has 3 main components: Fasting, purgatives, and laxative pills. The point of these three things is pretty much to get the bowel as clear as possible, so the camera can clearly see what it needs to see. Fasting is pretty self explanatory. All food you eat leave traces in the large intestine for a while, before it is “eliminated”. For at least 24 hours before the procedure, you’re only allowed to consume clear liquids–no dairy, pulp, or other bits. Pretty much this means things like coconut water, sports drinks, broth, apple juice, and, strangely, Jello. And of course water–although it’s important to drink other liquids too so one does not get dehydrated.

To make absolutely sure there’s nothing left, the evening of the day before the day before the procedure, I took 2 laxative pills. These are the regular ones you can buy over-the-counter in most drug stores. They can take 6-12 hours to work, so I feel most comfortable not going to bed until they’ve had their effect. I am so angry at cartoons for freaking me out about laxatives–specifically The Iron Giant. They usually show laxatives being taken by mistake, and then the victim running instantly to the bathroom. In reality, between taking the pill and going to the bathroom, there will most likely be time to pet the cat, eat some jello, watch something online, and mentally prepare yourself for a massive bowel movement. Anyway, after this point is when the fast begins.

The day before the procedure can be pretty horrible. All manner of stomach growling, lots of going to the bathroom from all the liquids you’re drinking…my depression will be well underway at this time due to worrying about the discomfort I’m going to go through, not being able to eat, and avoiding physical activity. Most of yesterday I spent watching Netflix and Youtube, reading, knitting…all activities that could be done from the couch. Obviously the human body needs to move around a lot to stay healthy, but I just could not being myself to even go upstairs.

I kind of wonder what this process would be like for someone who does not have depression, actually. I’m positive that my mental state makes the whole thing worse than it is, but to what extent?

The part of prep that I hate the most are the purgatives. The kind I took, Pico-Salax, is an orange or cranberry flavored powder that you mix into 1/2 cup of water, and drink. It’s a really powerful laxative to remove ANY remaining traces of residue from the bowel, to the point where by the end, you should be pooping clear fluid. Even though it is really not that much to drink at a time, I HATE having weird things in my mouth (minds out of the gutter, people). This includes food that might be bad, dental equipment, mouthwash, those molds that they put in when they’re making a cast of the teeth…with the first dose, I sat and stared at the damn cup for an hour past the time I was supposed to take it. Raising it to my lips, chickening out and putting it down, trying to mentally talk myself up to it, pretending I was a badass like John Bender from The Breakfast Club, who OBVIOUSLY would not act like such a weakling in this situation…the stuff does not taste THAT bad, kind of like Tang or something, but still…

I took the other dose this morning. I don’t like medical stuff, but already the worst is over for me. Soon enough I’ll be leaving for the hospital, then after that–glorious food!! During the actual procedure they don’t give you anesthesia like for getting stitches or having surgery–it’s kind of different. You still can’t feel anything to speak of–I think some people might feel a slight cramp or bloating. Many people fall asleep during the procedure, and don’t remember anything about it. That’s what happened to me last time, fingers crossed for the same today…

In conclusion, I really wish I could say something to make people facing this feel better, but let’s face it–it’s not a fun process, and it depresses me to think that I’ll need to get them regularly for the rest of my life. However, the diseases and conditions that colonoscopies check for are even LESS fun to deal with. Please get them done whenever the doctor recommends it. The sense of relief when the whole thing is over feels sooooo good, and so much better than dreading and wondering that might come  with putting it off. You can do it! Show your fear who’s boss! 🙂

P.S. I just now had the thought that I should have watched the episode of Futurama when Fry got worms, and the gang got shrunk down and sent inside his body to deal with them. So many hilarious lines in that one!

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