Many of you saw the notice I put on social media that I wouldn’t be working on Friday June 7th. I didn’t say why, but there’s an important reason for me to come back to that topic. Tens of thousands of people are looking in on MySaline on a regular basis, so a friend urged me to share my experience from having a colonoscopy. If you don’t know, that’s where a gastroenterologist looks for polyps, cancer and other issues in your colon, by inserting a long tube with a camera on it into your nether region. Yep.
Now I’m not about to get super gross here with pictures of the process, but since I know I will never win any awards for journalism, I would be remiss not to include some screenshots of the funny discussion with friends. And after that, I will say why I did this, and give a little info on the process itself. Please read down for that also.
Some things to consider while you’re reading this:
Firstly, you can’t have any solid food the day before the appointment – just clear liquids like water, clear soda, chicken broth, and also popsicles and jello are ok if they are not blue, red or purple.
The second thing is you have to have someone drive you to the appointment, since you will still feel the drugs when you leave. My bestie and sis-in-law Gina Poole used to work at this particular clinic as a nurse, and she generously volunteered to take me.
The third and very important thing is that you will need one afternoon off work for the prep – and uninhibited access to the restroom. You will also need to take off the day of the appointment, since you will still be on some heavy medications afterward, and don’t need to attempt anything important at all. In fact, I avoided social media on appointment day, because I wasn’t too sure what I might say.
I took the first dose just before 2 p.m. and continued my work day Thursday. If you go back to that day, you’ll see the news stopped in the early afternoon. I didn’t have any choice.
I didn’t have the right words at first for what was happening but…
The fireworks finally began to settle. However…
I was hanging onto my faculties in the process. And my vanity…
It got late and Gina went to bed since she would be picking me up early. I was still afraid to go to sleep but managed several small naps. By the time the conversation started the next day, I was done with the procedure. I was super hungry afterward, so we had a late brunch. But they had given me fentanyl and versed, so I slept for until nightfall Friday.
Now some pics of me in the doctor’s office. Before, still chipper but sleepy. And Gina taking the picture of course.
And then afterward, I’m slightly sleepier. Actually I’m full out, on my side, even though he’s taking the needle out of my arm at this point.
I didn’t feel a thing all the way through the process and I wasn’t sore afterward. The staff was great to make me comfortable and let me know all kinds of details about the procedure – well, except for one. Just so it won’t be a surprise to you, I’ll disclose that there is something you are required do before you can go home. Because the doctor has had a long tube with a camera in your colon, it leaves behind air bubbles when they take it out. They don’t want you to go home with distress due to gas, so… you have to “make a joyful noise” before they will let you go. This sounds a little embarrassing to have virtual strangers as witnesses to your gaseous expulsion, but remember, they have just seen all up inside there. Also, there’s nothing left to make a smell!
So everyone knows, there were no issues found, and because of that, I won’t need another screening until ten years from now – unless I start to notice changes. After I asked my friends permission to post these screenshots, nurse Gina had more advice.
Now to the reason I did the colonoscopy – I turned 50 recently and it’s recommended to have a screening. My regular doctor noted in my last visit that I hadn’t checked that box yet since having my big birthday. I did take care of the mammogram already – ladies, those are very important, too. I made a face when she brought it up, but I knew she was right and I set up an appointment with a Gastroenterologist. They got all my info over the phone and mailed me a prescription and some instructions. The prescription had two bottles of something called “bowel prep” with a big plastic cup that I can keep for a souvenir! (I didn’t keep it). You can see the papers below, but when you do this, it might be different, so this is just to give you an idea. And after that is something that I don’t want to call “discharge” papers in this instance, so let’s just say post-procedure instructions. Click to enlarge the images.
If anyone feels they’re having issues because they notice something different about their “routine,” it might be an indicator that there’s a problem, and it’s a good reason to see your doctor. And if there are major changes, like pain or bleeding, it might be something serious already in progress. So because of that, it’s better to go in and get screened even if you don’t feel like there’s an issue. Most insurance pays for the screening and some companies even give incentives to do so.
Since I am in no way a medical professional, I can’t give advice about what’s best for you. Here is some more information about having a colonoscopy, from the National Institute of Health: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diagnostic-tests/colonoscopy.