Generally speaking, if there is a big sister and a little sister, the big sister is responsible. It is most certainly so in my family. My sister, almost two years older and much wiser, meticulously follows her preventive screenings and our family medical history. By the time I turned 45, she had already had three colonoscopies due to our family history of colon cancer. I was always in “I’ll get to it” mode.
Once the age for testing officially dropped to 45, I finally took my sister’s nagging (i.e. worry and attention) to heart and scheduled my first colonoscopy.
I was a little nervous, more about the preparation than the procedure itself. It is important to note that if you do not have the ability to plan ahead, this is a circumstance where you will want to. You’ll want to take a trip to the grocery store to have some supplies on hand! It is also important not to eat any nuts, seeds, corn, or popcorn for five days before the colonoscopy.
The day before the procedure, it is necessary to follow a clear liquid diet. That, fortunately, doesn’t just mean water. Black coffee is allowed, which helped me get through that first morning. You can also have popsicles, gelatin, broth, and even hard candy. One caveat is that you cannot consume anything blue, red, or purple. I excitedly bought a bag of hard candies, but neglected to notice that most of the flavors were prohibited colors. At least I had lime, while my kids ate the rest! Following the clear liquid diet was the hardest part of the experience. It didn’t take long for me to miss chewing and also to determine that I wouldn’t be alone in the desert for long without food.
My preparation started with two laxative pills in the afternoon. Then the real action began around 6 p.m. the day before the intervention. This meant half a container of powdered laxative (prescribed by my GP) the evening before the procedure and the other half in the morning. I wasn’t scheduled for my appointment until 1:30 p.m. I’ve heard that some people prefer early appointments to get it done as early in the day as possible, but that also means getting up VERY early to start the second day cleanup. The prep plan I followed involved dividing a massive amount of powder equally between four servings of the sports drink flavor of my choice (assuming it wasn’t blue, red, or purple) and drinking these portions 30 minutes apart.
I didn’t find the powder too grainy or bad tasting as I had read online on some accounts. I’ve seen recommendations for using a straw. I think it helps get the solution done faster and with less grit hitting your taste buds. This part of the process went as I expected.
It was absolutely necessary to stay near the bathroom for about 45 minutes after the process began. I will say it provided a good distraction from being hungry. And I was able to sleep through the night without interruption. I woke up hungry and enjoyed a lime popsicle at 5am.
The second preparation lap went exactly like the first. Specified instructions to make sure I was done with all of the solution four hours before my appointment, and that was no problem.
My sister drove me to the health center in Village Pointe. She had the option of staying in the room all the time, or the staff would call her once I was taken to the operating room so she would be there when I woke up. The healthcare team called me back almost immediately after I sat down in the waiting room. I brought a book but I didn’t even have time to read it! My team was ahead of schedule, so the whole meeting went by in the blink of an eye! A nursing assistant took my vital health stats and showed me my room, which looked like a hospital room. There was a shared bathroom adjoining two examination rooms. I put on my glamorous hospital gown and it wasn’t long before the IV was in place for my anesthesia. The nurse anesthetist came to meet me and explained to me what awaited me. My doctor for the procedure was Timothy McCashland, MD. Dr McCashland also came by before they took me back to review any potential risks and to make sure I was comfortable, prepared and had no last minute questions.
After that, it was time to leave. I hadn’t been in a hospital bed since my last pregnancy over 10 years ago. I had not been under anesthesia since having my wisdom teeth removed 20 years ago. It is always a strange experience to feel this level of helplessness. I must say that the team that took care of me did their best to make me feel comfortable. They quickly realized that humor was my calming mechanism, and their jokes helped make it easier and even fun. I trusted them immediately. Getting anesthesia is a strange feeling. A quick, tight pinching sensation on the back of my hand – and then – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I woke up to find my sister and a very friendly recovery nurse in the room. I felt like I had slept for a week instead of 20 minutes. Things were hazy, but I quickly realized the nurse was offering to pour me a drink. The diet sodas sounded good! Expect! I hadn’t consumed many calories in the last day and a half – so this was the all-sweetened, all-carbonated version. And it was delicious.
It was even better to learn my results. Completely polyp free and clear to repeat the procedure for 10 years! After putting it off for so long, the feeling of relief was invigorating. I was almost stunned that it was over and that it was so easy. My post-care instructions even included a photo of my beautiful clean colon. At that point, I kind of wanted to frame it. Do not worry; that feeling has passed.
My sister took me to lunch afterwards. I heard a lot of people wanted a burger and fries or a pizza. My craving was for mashed potatoes. I ordered them with a hot beef sandwich and savored every bite. It was one of the most satisfying meals I have eaten.
I’m certainly glad I have a decade before I have to go back. Yet I have many friends and family members who need colonoscopies more regularly. Once you’ve gone through the process, you realize it’s really not that bad! Especially the procedure itself. I’m so glad I finally did it! I’m especially grateful to the professional team who took great care of me, and I’m grateful for the warm, buttery mashed potatoes. But above all, my thanks go to my insistent big sister. Do you have one too? Listen to her.
#Nervous #colonoscopy #firsthand #account #expect