My colonoscopic adventure

Hi folks! Now that it’s the end of April and Easter is several weeks behind us, how was everyone’s? Mine was okay. I didn’t have any special plans, so it was a pretty normal day. I know we were supposed to be celebrating the Resurrection, but I guess I hadn’t been in that victorious of a mood, so I couldn’t get into the spirit very well. :-\\

On to today’s topic! I warn you it will not be appetizing.

My Good Friday was spent in the hospital. 🙂 Part of it was anyway. Since about the middle of December I’ve been having these weird bowel problems, mostly a strange and stubborn case of diarrhea. When it didn’t go away after a month, I decided to go to the doctor. Not a bad idea, since I hadn’t had a checkup in ten years. Well, he said it was probably chronic constipation from not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and he put me on some laxatives. Those didn’t really help, so he sent me to a gastroenterologist.

I went to the gastro last Thursday, and he said yeah, my symptoms sounded weird, so he recommended a colonoscopy. How about tomorrow or Monday? o.o I’d been putting up with this for four months already, he reasoned, so why wait? I concurred and decided on Friday, since I didn’t have work that day. My friend Joel agreed to be my ride, since I wouldn’t be allowed to drive afterward.

So that night I got to prepare for it. Joy. I didn’t mind having to go to the bathroom every few minutes. I did mind having to drink a gallon of that disgusting medicine. And I mean literally a gallon, 8 ounces every 10 minutes for three hours. The pharmacist provided these flavor packets, but that didn’t help. They gave it a weak fruity odor, but the dull, salty taste was still there. The consistency was almost like regular water but slightly thicker, so it was like drinking oil. It wasn’t too bad at first, but after about eight glasses of it, it got a little nauseating. Plus I felt like my stomach didn’t have time to catch up with its digestion before I was pouring more content into it. So I dragged it out to every 20 minutes or so. Finally when there was one liter left I took my doctor’s advice and added some Crystal Light lemonade mix, and that made it much more tolerable, so I recommend that.

The next day we drove to the hospital, I signed in, the receptionist told Joel to come back about an hour too early, he left, I waited, my name was called, and I went back with the nurse’s aid to get ready. The patient’s waiting area was this big room with a desk of some sort in the middle and small rooms along the walls with curtains instead of doors. We went into one of these, he took my blood pressure and asked some questions, I signed some forms, and he gave me my gown to change into and left.

After I had changed into my gown, a nurse came in and gave me the remote to the TV that was mounted on the wall in the corner of the room, since there was someone ahead of me and I’d be waiting for a while. A few minutes later she came back in to put in my IV, and I turned off the TV because I knew I’d be trying to pay attention to both the TV and the IV at once, and it was too much stimulation for my little brain. She said I could keep the TV on, but I said I’d rather watch what she was doing, and she smiled and said that most people wouldn’t. But I didn’t think it would be a problem, and it gives me more of a sense of control when I can observe stressful events happening. I said at least it wasn’t a PICC line! She put it in the crook of my elbow, which was good, because I get a little weirded out by the thought of inserting needles into the back of my hand.

After the IV was in, she left again and I flipped through the channels, but the only thing on that was at all interesting to me was Spongebob, and I didn’t feel like advertising that fact to the medical staff, so I turned off the TV and lay there on the gurney, contemplating. I thought about how the spot with the IV needle was a little achy, but other than that I was fine and not even nervous.

I also thought about something my friend Don told me when I told him I was having this colonoscopy. He said he would be praying that I would know that God was with me. I paralleled this with Natalie Grant’s song “Held” and its statement that “[God’s] promise was
when everything fell we’d be held.” And when it comes down to it, this makes sense because his promise was certainly not that all our problems would be solved in the present life or that we’d be protected from all danger. Many Christians have been martyred, after all. No, the promise is something like moral support. God will be present with us, and the more we are aware of this the better. Since then I have added to this thought that God’s presence with us means that he is able to bring about good in our bad situations if he decides to. So he’s ready both to comfort us spiritually and to physically help us.

Then Joel came in. They had brought him to my little room for some reason, and he thought my procedure was already done, but I told him no, they had given him the wrong time to return to the hospital. So we talked for a while, and then they sent him back to the waiting room and wheeled me in to the operating room.

The operating room was large and kind of dark, and there was a long counter along the wall with cabinets underneath and probably overhead, but I don’t remember. They stopped me off to one side of the room next to where they had the monitor and other equipment set up. Then another nurse stuck heart monitoring electrodes to me, put the oxygen tube in my nose, and told me to turn over on my left side. I tried to get in a comfortable position.

The drugs were my favorite part. 🙂 They gave me a painkiller and some non-anesthetic drug to put me to sleep. They had told me that I wouldn’t remember anything that happened in the next couple of hours, but they were wrong. My herculean mind defeated their puny drugs! I do have some blanks in my memory, but I think they said I was awake the whole time, and I can even remember watching part of the procedure on the monitor. I was hoping for an out-of-body experience like the ones I’ve read about, but oh well, not this time.

It was fun to feel the drugs take effect though. First I felt light headed, then my eyes started doing that thing they do when you spin around and suddenly stop, and then the people’s voices started sounding echoey. But I don’t remember dropping off. I just sort of lay there waiting. And then I remember watching the screen and seeing them pluck out bits of my colon for testing. The doctor did this sort of three count thing, and whoever was operating the device got it into position, stuck it to my colon wall, and pulled it off. The painkillers were working quite well, and I could tell they were moving around in there, but that’s it. I vaguely recall the doctor whipping the scope back out, but the next thing I remember was being back in the curtained waiting room with Joel and one of the nurses.

The nurse gave me my clothes back and told me to change my shirt and when she came back she’d help me get my pants on so I wouldn’t take a nosedive. I felt stable enough to do it on my own, so I did, and I stayed upright. Another nurse brought me apple juice and some tasty Lorna Doone cookies, and later the doctor came in to give me my diagnosis.

He said I had a mild case of ulcerative colitis on the left side of my colon near the end, and he gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory. Ulcerative colitis is a rare bowel disease that may or may not be autoimmune, and it can be treated but apparently not cured without removing the affected parts of the colon. It can go into remission for decent periods of time.

The nurse walked me to the bathroom, and the next thing I knew I was on the road with Joel. He asked me if I wanted to go to Taco Bell first or to the grocery store to pick up my medicine. I was surprised and asked how he knew I wanted to go to Taco Bell. He told me I had told him on the way to the hospital. I thought that was funny. So I hobbled into Jewel with Joel (actually I was walking okay by this point), bought my rather expensive medicine, went through the drive-through at Taco Bell, and was dropped off at home.

Joel told me he would call me that night to make sure everything was okay, and I learned something that I didn’t fully appreciate until reflecting on it later that weekend. There are different kinds, perhaps levels, of goodness. I am a nice person, in that I try not to offend people or get in their way if I don’t have to, and I am even a good person to talk to because I try to listen carefully without judging. And I am cooperative and generally willing to help people when asked. But my form of goodness is fairly passive. I usually don’t go out of my way to find good things to do for people. So I would be happy to drive people to the hospital and the pharmacy, but I doubt I would even think to check up on them later, or if I did I would be lazy and dismiss the idea. It was a small gesture, but Joel’s ownership of the situation impressed me. That’s the kind of goodness I want to strive for.

I took it easy the rest of the day as the doctor ordered, and right after I got home I called Don and my family to tell them the results of the colonoscopy, after which I forgot whether I had called them, so I called again the next day to make sure. hehe

The medicine seems to be doing something. Some of the symptoms are clearing up, while others are pretty much the same, but I’ll see what the doctor says when I go in next week. I’ve decided it’s building my character in any case.

So that was my expedition to the hospital. I don’t go very often, so I thought the experience was worth recording. It was all too much information, I’m sure. 😉

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1 Response to My colonoscopic adventure

  1. Kaz says:

    hmm interesting how the drugs affected you, do you know what drug they used?
    I think it would be freaky to watch the op tho.
    it was interesting to read about it 🙂 you write well ((((((andy))))))

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