Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Yikes! What to expect when you're expecting your first Colonscopy.

I am a 39 year old with Celiac disease. I was only diagnosed a little over a year ago and recently went to my first Gastroenterologist appointment. She is calm and level headed and kind; all very important qualities for the person about to photograph up your butt.
My Aunt was diagnosed with Colon and Rectal cancer about 8 years previous to my first Colonoscopy. She survived but the battle scars she bears are not easy to live with. She is so strong. She is a fierce advocate for preventative screening. Early detection is key. She doesn’t mince words ….. “go get checked. Just do it.” My husband’s Uncle was diagnosed about 2 years before; he wasn’t so lucky. It took him quickly. Just 2 months before an old friend was diagnosed with a complicated cancer which involved his Colon. There was nothing they could do. He died in 6 weeks.
In 2011 the Canadian Cancer association released a sobering statement. “If 80% of Canadians aged 50+ were screened over the next 10 years, it is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 deaths could be prevented.”
What’s the problem? We think it’s gross. We’re not getting tested because we’re uncomfortable with the whole thing.
Flash back to my first GI appointment. I’m 39, Celiac, and 14 months Gluten Free. She says “I always do a follow up biopsy to check for Celiac and the healing which should have happened by now, and while we’re at it we might as well check up your ass with a giant camera.” …… OK maybe she didn’t quite say that, but that’s what I heard. Thump. Heart fell into stomach; stomach hoped heart was Gluten Free. But I’m only 39. Right?! I said “yes” because I believe in prevention, because knowledge is power, because I did not want to chicken out and find out later there was something I should have known, because my Aunt’s words were ringing in my ears and I could not (would not) let her down. Crap.
I decided right there that I would share this experience so anyone who read it might know that we all have the same insecure, embarrassed, fearful, and icky feelings about this. And we have to do it anyways.
I wrote My Colonoscopy Story as a series of FaceBook posts. I’m sure I horrified many, but hopefully I helped some people see that it’s just an experience, neither good nor bad. It’s certainly survivable, and definitely empowering, because you do it for yourself. And life is SO funny if we just let it be. The original FB posts appear in black.

The announcement.
August 22, 2012
Next Wednesday I have the long awaited follow up endoscopy to ensure my Celiac gut is healing. I will also be having my first Colonoscopy. ............... Insert random horrifying statements about anal probing here. I am petrified. Yikes. Plus the Dr. is a friend of a friend and both are very cool ladies ........way too cool to be friends with wee nerdy me so this is all too 'six degrees of separation' from my asshole close for me, but I digress. .......... Honestly this started out as a post about embracing preventative health and taking responsibility but has unraveled quickly into a paranoid rant ..........Anyhoo; I will be sharing experience. It is important for me to do everything I can to be here as long as I can and as healthy as I can so I won't miss a thing from this life. Seeing my children grow is truly a present I open every day. Some days it feels a little like unwrapping an iron but mostly it is Christmas morning. I will put on my big girl pants and try not to be a baby about this. And I will share .....probably more than most of you want to hear so feel free to tune me out for a week. Xo

Irreverent detachment …… still happening to someone else.
August 25, 2012
3 sleeps until my Alien-Abduction-free anal probing. :( Would have at least liked a trip to Outer Space.)

Bitterness and Resentment is creeping in so I went on organizational binge through my house. Long overdue. Perhaps should have Colonoscopies more often.
August 27, 2012
You know what is more awesome than a Colonoscopy with a lingering chest cold? Yes, that's right, a Colonoscopy with a lingering chest cold AND your period. Goodie. On upside, I have torn through my den and basement depositing 15 bags of recycling, and 10 bags of garbage OUTSIDE of my home. This fall I hope to tackle 8 year backlog of photo albums (and lack of actual printed photos to put in them) 
and 5 years of "art" by my wee virtuoso's which may require carbon dating to sort out. Also have not kept proper record of my children's growth and tooth loss ........ making me a terrible parent. Again. However I am determined to piece together a logical and believable set of dates and measures this year in order to lie to them about it in the future. I am nothing if not humane. There, I have metaphorically purged in preparation for literal purging ......

Prep day.
August 29, 2012

I know you all wonder what's "wrong" with me. How I ended up so weird? My Mom gave me her loving words of sage advice for my prep today: "Drink lots because by the end your lips will feel sucked in to your asshole ............. I'll bring you some ginger ale." Thanks Mommmy. Xox

The next series of posts took place over a 5 hour period in the evening. The prep is basically drinking 4 Ls of “prep solution” in a 4 hour-ish period. It’s roughly one cup every 15 minutes. I had my choice between flavoured and unflavoured and I choose the unflavoured …. I didn’t want koolaid ruined for the rest of my life. My Aunt gave my some very good advice: “suck a candy while you drink each cup and it helps.” Lifesavers are my new best friend. Also here’s a few things you don’t really want to know but, trust me, you’ll be happy you do. Have a zinc cream in the BR and use it after most wipes. No point in making it angry. Baby wipes were also recommended but I found regular TP fine if I used the cream. Also have some sort of disposable (Clorox or Lysol) wipes around to clean the toilet each time. Believe me, keeping this area of your home pristine for the next 5 hours will help make this bearable. Just don’t get the wipes mixed up!!!!
First glass down ..... barely. If dog water and caviar made a baby, and that baby swam in pickle juice; it would still taste better than this. Gack. Just 3.75 litres to go. Let the games begin.

1 litre down. Am convinced there are 4 jellyfish and an ornery octopus living inside me. 3 more litres not seeming possible. New best friend is lifesavers - all 5 flavours. Headache has rejoined party. Glad he could be here to support me. They can put an unmanned robot on Mars but can't find a way to "clean out your bowel" with less than 4 LITRES OF FISH WATER!?!?!?! Seems suspect. Someone high up in "pharma-world" has a very sick sense of humour.

1/3 of the way through vat of Golytely ..... though I swear someone keeps filling it back up. Screw waterboarding as torture method ..... this would work fine. Terrorists and Criminals would "sing like birds" by glass 3, I swear. Famous scene from "Dumb and Dumber" is much less funny now.

1/2 way. Family is eating KFC since I am fasting and they can indulge in Gluten without guilt today. Am noticing how hungry I feel since have not eaten since 6pm yesterday and will not be eating until after 5 tomorrow. I am making mental note to be mindful and grateful when I eat tomorrow ..... realizing that so many go without so often......... but not right now. Right now I am plotting the death of maker of Golytely and inventor of Colonoscopy. Right now.

All those well meaning suggestions for things to do while "prepping" are wrong. They suggest things like a home pedicure, watching a favourite movie, crosswords, a good book ....... all wrong. What they all should tell you, what they all would admit if they were really your friends, is just walk around in manic circles trying not to poop your pants between trips to the bathroom and glasses of liquid death, and just keep doing that for 5 hours. That's what they should tell you.

Actually managed to do some filing of files. Also had out of body experience during which I cursed Body for not having the decency to drink 2 more glasses of fish water in my absence. Things I won't even be eating until Thursday are leaving my body. Avoiding all deep knee bends. Had hysterical laughing fit in bathroom for no reason .......................... none of these things were listed in the brochure.

Finished last cup over an hour ago. This experience has, despite my dramatic rants, not been too bad. I am engaging in preventative health measures, and being a really real grown up, and accepting (while simultaneously embracing) my age, and so happy I picked such a soothing lovely green colour for my bathroom since I have now spent more time in it than I thought possible. It really was ok. ..................... and my Colonoscopy should be a cakewalk now since most of my bowel is hanging in tatters down my pant leg. Bwahhahahaha - kidding. Good night.

The day of the anal probing.
August 29, 2012
Good morning! Night not too bad - not up too often. It's odd (but good) to not have cramping during this whole process. Grateful for that. Am having cuppa joe sans milk and a gingerale for breakfast in celebration. I'm pretty sure that's what Wonder Woman had every morning so I'm in good company. I am remembering not to fart. That's important. Trust me, when you do this, it's important. There is no way to be lady like during this process so giving up completely is quite liberating. I have shared and will share because I really really really want you all to do this. Over 20 000 Canadians are diagnosed with Colorectal cancer every year and it takes over a third of it's victims. (For the record Breast cancer takes around a quarter). It is the the leading cause of Cancer death in Canada after Lung Cancer, and that says something. My very brave Aunt has fought it and come out on top but at a steep price. Mark's Uncle battled bravely but lost. Go do it. And if you can't find some of the humour in it then there's something wrong with you ........ because seriously, it's HAlarious. ;)

But I missed the whole thing!!!!
Well all, it's over. I would like to tell you all about it but I missed it. The whole darn thing. Arrived at Hospital a full half hour early for my check in time, so sat a bit extra in the waiting room reading the "Martha" magazine my lovely mommy bought for me and watching "Ellen" on the little TV. They called me back and had me change into the sexy blue uniform of naked hospital patients every where. Signed the "I promise not to sue" forms and then a nurse spent 15 trying to get one of my veins to take the iv .............. since it usually takes at least 2 nurses and 30 minutes for this to happen with my microscopic veins, I was pleased. They wheeled me in and Dr. McDermid, attired in a fabulous orange dress, met me with a smile. The nurse started the drugs and asked if I was feeling tired yet .................. I said "no" ..................................... next thing I know I'm in recovery. I was asleep less than an hour and woke up a little groggy but fine. My mom came and we left. Report said colon was clear with no polyps; small bowel (upper GI) did not look inflamed so the biopsies she took should show good recovery from the Celiac damage. Yeah!!! Must go see her in a month for official results. Other than knowing what a Macy's balloon feels like (since they puff you up with air) there's nothing to it. Also noted that Royal Alex has a serious case of "nice". Every single staff person I dealt with were very kind. It was a good day. And tonight I am the one who gets to play "pull my finger" with the boys.

So that’s it. What to expect when you’re expecting your first Colonoscopy. Please go. Don’t say “no”. Don’t conveniently forget to book it. Don’t let your Dr. forget to talk to you about it. It can save your life. And it’s really really really not so bad. If you laughed at ANY of this, then you’re ready.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you I have been avoiding this , I am an old work colleague of your aunt & will mention to my Doc on today's visit as I have IBS anyway!.