Brigitte Fires (brigittefires) wrote in vaginapagina,
Brigitte Fires

update re: colonoscopy & full description of the process

First off, thanks everyone for the help leading up to my colonoscopy the other day.

Preliminary results are: no internal intestinal involvement with the (as yet technically suspected) Endometriosis; no sign of Crohn's disease. Caveat direct from the doctor that since I have IBS and a family history of Crohn's and am only 28 that I'm not out of the woods on that yet, but at least it's not an immediate concern.

Mostly I just wanted to share the joy. But if anyone is getting one in the future and wants to know the process, follow me down the rabbit hole.

My appointment was 8:40am Friday. My directions said to start a low-fiber diet on Tuesday, but because I'm prone to constipation and just kind of how the meal planning for the week worked out, I pretty much started low fiber on Sunday. In this case I ended up eating a lot of simple carbs, and felt kinda gross Tuesday and Wednesday when I REALLY got into the diet. I was enjoying the foray into junk food, but I'm glad for my own home cooking again. But I digress.

Wednesday night I had to drink Magnesium citrate, which gave me the runs, as designed. It was because of that bout that I posted the entry linked above, and I can't recommend enough that you plan ahead for some baby wipes, diaper rash cream, and a squirt bottle--a dollar store ketchup bottle ended up being fine enough. The bile really did a number on my anus and surrounding tissue.

Thursday was an all liquid diet. Technically I could have eaten a low fiber breakfast, but again see: constipation and also I was too tired to eat by 10am. So after I ate dinner at 9pm wednesday, it was all liquid until after my procedure. I stocked up on juice and gatorade (nothing pink, orange, purple or red because it mimics inflamed tissue on the camera), and had also made chicken stock a few weeks back that I saved for this. I was so hungry that nothing would satisfy me but broth--it was the only thing that seemed enough like eating real food. I made green jello, but I don't really even like green jello and by the time I was that hungry it was totally not appetizing at all.

Thursday I'm glad I didn't make ANY plans. I basically sat around, napped, watched some TV, and drank constantly to make sure I wasn't dehydrated. At 7pm I had to drink the first half of the bowel prep, a half gallon of the stuff. It tasted kind of salty, but not anywhere near as bad as the CT prep I had to do a few weeks ago which tasted absolutely horrible. With that fresh in my mind this stuff was a cake walk. I had the best luck by chugging 8 oz at a time and setting a timer for 10 minutes at a time to remind me to drink. Still, because I had been drinking so much, my stomach was full when I started and it took me 3 hours to finish the prep--it's supposed to be done more quickly. What concerned me was that at 4:40am (5 hours before procedure) I was going to have to drink another half gallon within an hour which meant drinking more quickly than the first half. And I was getting really nauseated.

So first off, if you have access to anti-nausea medication, I do recommend taking it an hour ahead of time. I also recommend drinking the prep on a solidly empty stomach--stop drinking other liquids about 2 hours ahead of time. Refrigerate the bottle instead of putting it over ice, because the ice melts and adds bulk--I must have chugged an extra two pints with the extra water from the ice.

I ended up calling the on-call doctor for the gastroenterology office around 10pm, and he said that instead of starting my prep at 4:40am I could start at 3:40am. I'm glad I did, because even on an empty stomach I still almost got sick a few times from feeling SO FULL. They tell you to drink through a straw, but straws put air in your stomach and you're already too full from chugging so fast. Once I switched to chugging from the glass and doing 4 oz every 5-7 minutes instead of 8oz every 10, I was a bit better. I still didn't finish the last almost-pint before 5:40 when I could have nothing by mouth. But I figured that since the entire bout of diarrhea this time was totally clear except for yellow bile, I was probably fine.

I didn't end up taking a shower because I was too tired and dizzy but I made sure to clean up the diaper rash cream before I left the house. When I arrived at my appointment right on time, they said I would be out of there in about two hours. I got undressed, put on a gown, covered up with a sheet, and then the anesthesiologist came by to discuss the sedation with me. He said I'd be unconscious but because of the light sedation I might wake up toward the end of the procedure. He said I shouldn't be in any pain, maybe a little uncomfortable, but if anything hurt to let him know right away and he'd give me more medicine. He said there's a higher risk of dying in the car on the way to the hospital than there is from the anesthesia. He said I'd have an oxygen mask put on me just to help me breathe more easily.

Some nurses came in to ask some questions and stick me with an IV. They were doing them simultaneously and I HATE needles, so frankly I don't remember much of the questions. I know she asked when I last had solid food and whether I finished the bowel prep. Beyond that I have no idea. But the IV got put in (in my hand! Ugh!) and they started IV fluids. Soon my doctor came and went over risks with me, asked if I had any other questions, and made me feel totally confident in the whole thing. The biggest risk is perforation which happens in about 1 out of 10,000 patients, and occasionally some bleeding from any biopsies that are taken, more bleeding if there are polyps.

The nurse doing the procedure with my doctor came, my boyfriend headed back out to the waiting room, and they rolled me into a surgery suite. I got turned on my side, the anesthesiologist put an oxygen mask on me and I made a crack about getting a free oxygen bar with purchase of a camera up your ass. Everyone laughed, and he started the sleepy meds. He told me to take some deep breaths, and warned me he was starting the drugs, and that sometimes they ache or feel kind of cold going in but it will pass. It definitely ached, but no more than my arthritic knee, and I could feel myself getting sleepy. The nurse made a comment about the fact that I had the least irritated area she'd seen in a while, and I said I used super soft homemade cloth baby wipes, diaper cream and a peri bottle for the last two days of diarrhea. I could hear her say she was impressed, but I was already getting sleepy. In any event I was falling asleep two deep breaths later to the sound of them telling me to think happy thoughts about whatever I wanted to dream about. I was imagining a cheeseburger when I closed my eyes.

My prep paperwork says that it's called conscious sedation typically with memory loss of the event, but when I got there they told me I'd be completely asleep. Whichever it was, I was somewhat aware of time passing, but have no memory of any sensation or talking or anything. Next thing I know I was back in my little curtained cubicle, still on my side, and the nurse was right there. I woke up very quickly, not unpleasantly so but it wasn't even like waking up slowly from sleep either. I was a little groggy, and my eyes felt kinda funny, my vision was a little wavery, but could talk just fine. The nurse said everything looked good, and that I was completely cleaned out so I did very good on my prep. She went to get my boyfriend. A minute or two later my doctor came in to tall me that everything looked good, no crohn's, no visible endo involvement but she said she doesn't usually see that even in worst cases of endo anyway. No polyps or growths. She said they took biopsies of healthy skin throughout to see if there's a bacterial infection or food allergies that may be causing my ongoing symptoms, and I would have results of those in about a week or two.

The nurse came back with my boyfriend, told me I could get dressed, and that I shouldn't push myself for the rest of the day but to go home, eat and take a nap to wear off the rest of the medicine. By then I was feeling like I could have driven myself home, though they insist you have a driver, and in retrospect I was still pretty out of it. I walked out under my own power at exactly 10:40, two hours from check-in, as predicted. My ride picked me and my boyfriend up, we stopped at a local burger joint for lunch, took it home and ate it. By the time I finished my burger and fries, I was TOAST. So tired. Took a 3 hour nap and woke up feeling fantastic.

To illustrate how much of a non-issue it was, once I woke up from my nap, I did 8 loads of laundry and remade the bed, cleaned my room, and re-arranged all my clothes. That's a pretty good day for me in general, let alone after 3 days of crappy food, liquid diet, anesthesia and surgery. I still had a little sensitive stomach at dinner so I just ate pasta, but otherwise was fine. I stayed up a little late, but slept fine that night.

All in all, it wasn't a horrible experience. Make sure you stock up on foods you like, even treats you don't normally eat if you're a high-fiber eater like me (like we got through a lot of the stash of pasta-roni this week, which I never eat anymore but is still in the house). Give yourself someplace to kind of nest in where you can easily run to the bathroom quickly without involving a lot of abs work to get up--a bed is actually somewhat difficult. Wear some pants you don't care about, dark is good, in case of accidents or just wet butt from the peri bottle. The first night of diarrhea was the worst as far as burning liquid fire, but the bowel prep the second night was definitely more, shall we say, insistent about making it to the bathroom on time. I have no shame, I cuddled my stuffed sock monkey and whined a lot, but it was all I could do. I couldn't read a book because I was never in the bathroom that long at a time. I couldn't watch a movie because we kept having to pause and it ruined the timing and concentration. I tried playing Words with Friends on my phone but ultimately I just couldn't concentrate on that either. I ended up just looking through Pinterest for hours and playing solitaire.

Having a candle burning in the bathroom helped, especially the first night of prep. Bile doesn't smell that much but half-digested food does. Having to share a bathroom was absolutely unacceptable, so I was glad we had a second one for my boyfriend to use for those couple days. I wish I'd had some sort of super-short-story, funny thing to read in the bathroom like the Clients from Hell book or Failblog, but I was all caught up on those.

So that's my experience. I'm a little tired today but that could be anything not related to the procedure as well. It's no fun, but it's not even that horrible either. You just kind of have to baby yourself a bit and follow the directions well and it'll all be over soon.

I tell you what though, that first cheeseburger when I got home was like a gift from the gods. Pure delight.
Tags: colonoscopy
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