Saturday, March 22, 2008

Colonoscopy: you bet your sweet ass!


Yep, it was that time again. People will tell you that the worst thing is the prep, not the procedure. They're right. Now, I've gone through this a few times before and have had a different purgative each time, but this one was the easiest.

But I'm jumping ahead.

When your doctor schedules you for a colonoscopy, here's what will happen. First, you'll have a preliminary meeting with the internist or whomever is doing the procedure. They'll ask questions and you'll have brought a nice bottle of scotch as a gift so that your pleadings of "don't hurt me" will not go unnoticed. If your internist is a woman, you might think that you should bring a lovely gift basket of assorted fragrant bath products. Don't fall for this obvious trap, bring the scotch.

You'll answer all medical questions truthfully while looking around the office for clues on how to answer those seemingly innocent social queries: see the game last night?

Consider your response carefully while scanning the shelves for Habs memoribilia or a Yankees pennant, that kind of thing.

Apply this to religion, politics, tv shows and popular music as well. And watch out for the weather question, it's loaded.



When you make the appointment for the actual thing with the secretary you'll be given a sheet of instructions to follow. Follow them. It's a list of do's and don'ts for the days leading up to the event.

You'll need to buy a purgative.

In the past this has consisted of a foul tasting brew which may involve gallons, yes gallons, of liquids to clean you out. Lately though many docs are directing Pico-Salax. This is the best. By best I mean the easiest, least foul tasting of the lot. Ask for it by name. See if your doc will allow it, if not beg and plead; maybe you should have brought a better scotch.

This stuff is taken the day before and prepare to spend some time in the little room. Be prepared: books, music, incense, a recording device, diary, or live blog if you will.

I cheat. Sort of. I ease up on heavy foods a couple of days prior. It makes things a lot easier.

You'll be told to drink plenty of clear liquids, soups, broths, jello (but not red.) You're tough, you're strong, you can do it!

You need to be totally cleaned out for the procedure to go well. You do not want to be told: Uh...we have to reschedule, you're not clean enough.

When you start expelling an almost clear fluid, stand up and cheer. You've done it. But stick close to the toilet anyway. Just in case.

You'll also be told that someone will need to pick you up after the procedure. You'll be given a drug that will make you drowsy. Normally you'd have to pay some pimply faced kid on a street corner for this, but here it's free!

When you check in at the hospital or clinic, you get a nifty wrist band to wear. Check to see that it's your name that's been printed on it. You'll then be given a locker and instructed to change into two hospital gowns, open at the back first, then on top of that, open at the front. If you feel like a dork, than it's achieved its purpose. You need to be humbled.

An iv line is put into your arm with a little saline solution to keep it open until you're given the real stuff in the actual room.

When it's your turn, you'll be wheeled into the room and the nurse will administer the dope. At this point you may go hush-a-bye-lulu or you can try to stay awake and watch the whole thing on the plasma screen. Do not ask for a different channel. They've heard this line before. Trust me.

You may feel a little cramping (air has been forced in to expand the colon.)

If you do stay awake, this is what you'll see on the screen.


If you nod off, you'll wake up in about an hour or so, saying: I'm starving, who do I have blow around here to get some food?

It's just the drugs talking. Otherwise you'd have said "whom do I have to blow?"

That's it, you're done. Eat lightly until tomorrow. Do not drive, do not operate heavy equipment. Do not play Scrabulous for money.

If something was spotted during the procedure, like a polyp, they snipped it (bottom half of the above pic) and sent it to the lab for biopsy. You should be able to have the results in about ten days.

If something else was spotted, it was probably caught early enough to do something about.

Oh yeah, no booze for twenty four hours. No matter how much you might need it.


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