Wondering where I’ve been? Why, I just took a little trip to colonoscopyland. This is what I learned on my travels, presented for your edification and guidance:
My colon is free of all dread diseases. That’s a relief, because I’ve had weird digestion since I first got sick in January of 2009, and because my dad has lived with Crohn’s disease (which tends to run in families) for 50 years. So it seemed prudent to rule that out, even though I’m a bit younger than the average colonoscopy customer. Requests for pictures have already been pouring in. Sadly, I can’t oblige with the DVD. (Sorry, Hydraargyrum.) But I will say that I saw a few still photos while I was coming out of the sedation, and they looked much like the Caves of Altamira – minus the artwork.
If you must travel in my footsteps: Expect a two-day journey. The prep will kill the better part of day one. At first, I was able to do a little computer work, but so intermittently that I think I may have wrecked one of my Blackboard classes for lack of focus. The second day is divided between final prep (if your appointment is in the afternoon, like mine) and then, once the deed is done, feeling stoned from the sedation.
I know a lot of people worry about colonoscopies because of their feeling toward The Butt. I am here to tell you: Forget about The Butt. Apart from having to don one of those flapping-in-the-wind gowns, I had no conscious interactions with anyone regarding The Butt. All Butt-related activities take place under heavy sedation.
The prep is the worst segment of the journey, partly because of the sheer volume, which I badly misunderestimated. A gallon is not 64 ounces as I’d thought; it’s 128! Oh why are we not on the metric system? The other nasty part was its fetid taste. I’m glad I didn’t come up with the descriptor “fetid” while in the fray, or I might have given up altogether. After really gagging on the first of the 16+ glasses, I figured out a good system: Make sure the liquid is very cold. Take a breath and hold it. Use a straw and suck as furiously as you can. By the time your tastebuds notice how gagworthy this stuff is, they’ll be half frozen and you’ll be able to get the rest down. Then, chase it with a little apple juice, which will also help you keep hydrated. Worked for me.
If you consume green jello – one of the approved “clear liquids” – during the prep, expect to see green the next morning. I woke up, finished my prep, then thought I’d suddenly developed a truly dire condition. It was worth the shock, though, because the jello wasn’t plain old boring American lime; it was German Waldmeister jello.
(You will spend a fair amount of time scrutinizing the contents of your toilet bowl. Get used to it.)
The objective at the end of the prep is to be emitting the sparkly excretions of a unicorn, or at least of My Little Pony.
Their seeds will continue to present themselves for inspection at the point where you really ought to be seeing nothing but rainbows, sparkles, butterflies, and violets. And as you stare into the bowl, you can only see the spectre of COLONOSCOPY FAIL – and facing a redo, after all this fuss and fiddling, just because some tomato seeds mistook your viscera for a nice place to live until germination.
Once you’re surrounded by kind helpers, ask for lots of hot blankets, and let the kindest-looking nurse know that you’d love a little something just to “take off the edge” while you wait. Hey, you’re not driving this train, you’re only the caboose! So why shouldn’t you party it up? Alternatively: Just be like me and get red blotches on your neck whenever you’re nervous or psyched up, and maybe the nurse will offer you some Versed. Worked for me. Next time, I’ll be sure to have some Grateful Dead cued up so I can fully savor the buzz.
The moment between the sedative entering your vein and bearing you off to colono-lalaland is absolutely fascinating. You can feel your consciousness bend. I wanted to freeze that brief moment – to have that experience in slow-mo, again with Jerry laying down the soundtrack. The drug in question is Propofol. It’s what killed Michael Jackson (in combo with Ativan). Now I know why Jackson died. I also know why I will never experience more than a fleeting second in that state. It is too dangerous. Too seductive.
Afterward, expect to remember nothing of The Butt. If you do, either someone screwed up, or you’re in the evil hands of Dr. de Sade. This is why you need to figure out the doc’s approach to sedation before you commit yourself into his hands.
In recovery, I drank a Diet Pepsi to mellow out my caffeine withdrawal; only too late did I hear that the dude next to me got a Mountain Dew. But he had a polyp and I did not. Also, in the competition to pass gas (required before discharge), he was trouncing me. That quenched my envy. I was still jonesing for some Jerry, because even though I was clearheaded, I was also still tripping.
Now, ten hours later, I’m still loopy enough to write a TMI post like this one (cleverly disguised as a PSA!). My legs are still a bit wobbly – a late effect of overdosing on Waldmeister jello? I’ve got a mild headache; a hangover, I presume, from the Propofol and general dehydration. But I’m told I should feel fine in the morning.
If anyone stumbles upon this post while gearing up for your own trip to colonoscopyland: Bon voyage! As y’all know, it’s not just a trip – it’s a pilgrimage for the over-fifty set, which calls you once a decade. Early diagnosis likely saved my mom from developing colon cancer. I strongly recommend you take the journey, too. Just remember to leave the tomatoes behind … lest they never leave your behind.
P.S. Feel free to share TMI, fears, and potty humor in comments … or if you’re just irredeemably squicked, you may sing “lalalalalal” and hold out for another cat post, which I promise is coming soon. (Just remember, though: Cats have butts, too! And they are quite inimical to sparkle ponies.)