On Monday I had the dreaded colonoscopy. In case you don’t want to read all the following details, I’m just going to go ahead and give y’all the “bottom line” (no pun in this case!): The results were perfect. No polyps, no nothing. Just a healthy colon. Thank God!
When I called to schedule the colonoscopy, I asked if there was a specific gastroenterologist at The Endoscopy Center who did the procedure on patients with a colostomy. They told me all of their doctors had experience doing them with colostomy patients. Dr. Hoverson, who discovered my tumor during my first colonoscopy in June 2009, had been very compassionate with me then, so I asked for him. Unfortunately, the only time slot he had was at 2:30 PM. Having been through the awful cleaning-out process several times last year, I knew an afternoon appointment would not be fun – I’d be starving and dehydrated and grouchy if I had to wait until 2:30. But, my desire to have a doctor I felt comfortable with outweighed my desire to have an early appointment so I agreed to the 2:30 time slot.
Before I hung up, I somehow thought to ask if the prep was the same for colostomy patients. The woman I spoke with said it was, but she would ask Dr. Hoverson if I could have the “Half-Lytely” solution instead of the full “Go-Lytely” prep. When my paperwork and prescription arrived in the mail a few days later I was happy to see they were prescribing the “Half-Lytely” (half as much to drink!).
So, after breakfast on Sunday morning, nothing but clear liquids for the rest of the day. In the afternoon I took the pills that come with the Half-Lytely, then began drinking the solution in the evening. I’m sorry, but that stuff is vile! I’d drink eight ounces as quickly as I could, then set the timer for 10 minutes. It felt more like 2 minutes when the timer would go off and I’d have to drink 8 more ounces. After a while you just can’t get the stuff down very quickly so the 10 minute intervals begin to feel like about 30 seconds.
I was also naive enough to think that since I had an ostomy bag, I wouldn’t necessarily have to run to the bathroom every few moments. Duh! The bag would fill up in a matter of seconds and I’d have to empty it quickly before the next round! It got to where no sooner would I get the bag emptied, clean the pouch up, and wash my hands – before the bag was full again! Of course it was also rapidly becoming liquid, which my ostomy pouch is not really designed for. Emptying it soon became a very, very messy affair. One unfortunate incident occurred when the contents of the bag spurted out all over the place in the bathroom: on the floor, on the little bath rug, on the outside of the toilet, on my clothes, on my thighs and hands – everywhere! If it hadn’t been so disgusting, it might have been hilarious to witness me trying desperately to clean everything up while also trying to keep the bag from spilling “liquid stool” all over again – all the while stripping off my soiled clothes and trying not to pass out from the stench!
I was also pretty alarmed by how much was coming out of me. It seemed like it would never stop. I was reminded of Dave Barry’s comment in his wildly funny column on having a colonoscopy: “And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of … prep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.”
The whole thing seems rather inhumane. Of course, somehow I survived. On Monday morning I could still have clear liquids until 8:30 AM, but then nothing – not even water – until after the procedure. I had a cup of tea and took my last sip at 8:31. It was a long, long time until 2:30.
My friend Carol, who’s been staying at my house for a few days while she waits to move into her new casita on Oct. 1st, agreed to be my “driver” for the appointment. (They will not do the procedure if you don’t have a “driver” waiting there for you during the entire appointment). I came up with some errands for us to do just to get us out of the house and occupied instead of sitting around waiting. We finished up the errands and still had almost an hour before we needed to be at The Endoscopy Center. It occurred to me that there was a labyrinth nearby at the Museum of International Folk Art, so we headed up to Museum Hill and walked the labyrinth together. It had the wonderful effect of calming me down just in time for my appointment.
The procedure itself went very quickly. They sedated me well enough that I don’t remember a thing. I awoke and it was done. I got the good news from Dr. Hoverson that all was healthy. He even said I didn’t need to have another colonoscopy for three years! (Dr. Fekrazad may want me to do it annually anyway, but it was nice to hear that Dr. Hoverson thought I could wait even longer.) I got dressed and Carol helped me to the car – I was still groggy and my legs were a little rubbery – but I was clear enough to know I wanted something to eat!
We went to Pranzo and had a wonderful Italian meal of bruschetta, caprese salad, and risotto with shitake mushrooms and asparagus. Okay, we also had just a little wine (even though I read a notice before my appointment that said I probably shouldn’t have any alcohol for 24 hours if I was sedated for the procedure). We were home by 6:30 and I was sound asleep before 7:00 PM.
So, that was it. The dreaded colonoscopy!
Next up: a PET Scan on Wednesday, October 6.