in Checking In, Musings

What a colonoscopy is like

I briefly mentioned last year about getting a colonoscopy in December 2015. I was scheduled for a follow-up colonoscopy a year following and so I’m going back on Wednesday morning.

I didn’t go into much detail about the whole process though I find medical procedures somewhat fascinating. I chose not to do much blogging about my experience because it seemed a bit embarrassing. This time around, I will share details because I’ve since learned how important this procedure is.

I recall last time gradually coming out of a sedation-induced fog as I lay on the post-op gurney, the doctor coming in to say that they had collected two polyps that were being biopsied. They turned out to be precancerous, fortunately, but gave me a start. I was 46 at the time and on the young side for anything like this to be discovered. It was not an enjoyable experience (or prepping wasn’t, anyway – more on that later), but I’m glad I got it done since who knows what might have happened if I had put it off.

So that brings us up to now. How does one prep for a colonoscopy? Months ago, I got a prescription mailed to me from Wake Endoscopy for two laxatives and a “prep kit.” Starting tomorrow morning I will be on a clear-liquids-only diet until I leave the clinic. Once the laxatives take hold I will be, shall we say, “indisposed” for a great portion of the day (and some of the night).

Then at 8 AM Wednesday, I’ll arrive at the clinic. An hour later, they’ll take me back and I’ll change into a patient robe. I’ll be wheeled into the procedure room and meet the doctor and staff doing the work. They’ll have me lie on my left side, hook an IV into my arm, crank up the sedative, and before I can count to 10 I’ll be out like a light.

Thirty minutes later, I’ll be wheeled back into the post-op area, though to me it will seem as if an entire night has gone by (I remember last time dreaming deeply under sedation). The nurse will continually poke me until she rouses me and, even though my eyes are open and I’m responding to my name, for a little while what I say and hear will be utterly nonsensical due to the sedation. It will appear I’m there but I won’t be, in other words. Kelly will collect the post-op instructions while I get loaded into a wheelchair, after which I’ll be helped into the car for the trip home.

The drug kept me sleepy last time and I went straight to bed. With this procedure being at 9 AM, I’m sure I will be ready to nap for a few hours at least, if not all day. I recall being very hungry afterward last time so I urged Kelly to stop by the nearest McDonald’s for breakfast.

The worst part of a colonoscopy by far is the preparation. Consuming nothing but clear liquids, Jello, and the like is not fun. And certainly are all the frequent trips to the bathroom the day before are not fun. At least the medicines taste better now than they did before – last time around they weren’t the best-tasting but I had no problem drinking them.

With any luck this will be the last colonoscopy I’ll have to do for a while. The second time around won’t be nearly as anxiety-producing for me, though, and hopefully it won’t be for you now should you ever have to get one done.