Dan Demystifies the Colonoscopy Experience   Part 4 of 4

Recap Parts 1 – 3 – After my Medicare Insurance was denied by my preferred colonoscopy provider, I did eventually find another gastroenterologist.  The day before the colonoscopy, I began fasting.  Click here for Part 1.   Click here for Part 2.  Click here for part 3.

colon GoLytely jog

At 2P the day before my colonoscopy, I stare at the gallon bottle of liquid and find it hard to imagine that all this brew is going down my throat, find its way to my large intestine, and come spewing out into the wild blue yonder (tidy bowl blue).  Doubling my resolve, I man up and repeatedly suck on a plastic McDonald’s straw to finish the eight ounces of GoLYTELY; the brew turns out to be not as detestable as I remember.  With seven plus hours to go, I’ve got a helluva an afternoon and evening ahead.  Boo hoo!  Still my first glass of the vile concoction isn’t terrible.

At 230P, forsaking the straw, I just slug down the cocktail.  Glass two again isn’t horrible!  I expected horrible.  Maybe taking it over eight hours minimizes the nasty taste.

At 4P, I have drunk five of the roughly 16 eight ounce glasses of GoLYTELY that I will down this afternoon and evening.  After two hours of this witch’s brew, you’d think I’d be sprinting to the bathroom, but nothing is stirring down under.  Fact is, if I am going to drink this disgusting concoction, I want to see some results, some action!

Here’s my routine as I approach my eight ounces of GoLYTELY.  Once my iPhone alarm goes off after 30 minutes, I go to the fridge and take out the GoLYTELY jug.  Filling my glass with eight ounces of potion, I place my straw in the glass and suck up as quickly as I possibly can to just get it over with.  I never time it, but I must have polished off the eight ounces in less than 15 seconds; I shake my head back and forth vigorously yelling Woooooo, then sigh in appreciation that I don’t have to do it again for 30 minutes.

At 545P, after nearly four hours of drinking, I get all the action I could ever want as tsunami waves of liquid come again and again.

And when the process comes, it comes with the power of Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 8!  It’s not accurate that I dash to the bathroom, but I do walk purposefully without delay.  In the next hour, I relieve myself ten times or more.  As the evening wears on and I still have two liters to consume, I go back to the straw as the drinking process becomes tedious but not vomit inducing.  Helluva recommendation!

colon golytely bottle empty

At 830P, I drink my final glass of GoLytely.  Water logged but pleased that the ordeal is over, I can now watch The Good Wife with Julianna Margulies for a whole thirty minutes without dashing to the downstairs bathroom.

About 10P, I am ready for bed, for a night of up and down and up again making the toilet my new friend.  Reading Sue Grafton’s Y is for Yesterday, I settle in for regularly forays to the bathroom, but after three trips in the first half hour, I sleep through the night.

Colonoscopy Day itself – After midnight, I can have no liquids, not even water or black coffee.  Waking at 430A, I have four hours to kill til Hannah drives me to Southern Maine Health Care Gastroenterology in Kennebunk for the procedure.  I stretch, then meditate with Hannah.  I am not hungry, probably since I know that I can’t have anything nor do I want to screw up my 36 hours of fasting.  But in my mind I see visions of a heaping bowl of oatmeal with all the seeds, fruit, and nuts.  Sports Center fills the remaining time til we leave.

colon smhc sign

Arriving in Kennebunk, I fill out paperwork and then am brought into a hospital-type prep room where I am giving a johnnie and asked to remove everything but my socks.  The nurse Barbara sets me up with a drip IV of saline.  Eventually the sedation will come through a plastic tube to knock me out as the scope will wind its way through my rectum, along the sigmoid to the descending and ascending colon of my intestines.

At the start, air is blown in to widen the opening of my rectum for the scope, a process that might cause some cramping.  If so, the nurse tells me to let her know and she’ll give me more painkiller.  I never do feel any cramping.

Wheeled into the operating room by Julie the tech, I am hooked up again to a blood pressure cuff and patches with electrodes are applied to my chest to monitor my heart rate and oxygen level.  I learn that ten colonoscopies can be done on any given day, which pleases me no end that they are so experienced.

colon doc john thompson

The good doctor

Once the good doctor Thompson comes, the dirty work begins.  Dr. T looks me in the eye comfortingly and says, I’ve done 2000 of these in the past year (at least I think that is the time frame).  That is just what I want to hear.  Thank you, doc.  He says the whole procedure will take about 20 minutes as the drugs start mellowing me out.

colon d in bed apres with english muffins

And that’s it done.  I am awake and not awake.  The doc and nurses are smiling.  It feels like a triumph.  Served an English muffin and orange juice, I have completed a 36 hour marathon as I cross the finish line.

The paper work from Doc Thompson that I leave with says, 2 small polyps removed.  Both appear benign.  Both will be sent to pathology.  Depending on pathology results suspension of further screening or repeat in five years. 

colon d and h in bed apres

Once Hannah drives me home, I have a king’s lunch of oatmeal with all the fixins’.

One week later.  Electronically through my Maine Health My Chart page, I get the surgical pathology tissue specimen details; they were not in English.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS:
(A) Colon polyp, cecum base: Tubular adenoma.

(B) Colon polyp, hepatic flexure: Small fragments of benign mucosa,  clinically polypoid.

Calling Southern Maine Health Care Gastroeneterology, I learn that (B) one polyp was benign and not an issue and (A) the tubular adeoma may be pre-cancerous but because Dr. Thomspson removed the polyp, I am good to go for five years.

Despite the preparation process, I will be all over my next colonoscopy in 2023!   By the way, in June 2018 the American Cancer Society recommended patients get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45!  Previously the recommendation had been to start the screening at 50.

I received an email with two colonoscopy songs.  Who knew there are such songs!

One is from Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary who sings how getting a regular colonoscopy saves lives.  Click here for Peter Yarrow’s Colonoscopy song.

The Colorectal Surgeon Song by George Bowser and Rick Blue (Bowser and Blue) praises the colorectal surgeon.    Click here for their playful tune.

 

From the online SilverSneakers Newsletter, May 9, 2018

3. Colonoscopies

From age 50 to 75, most people should get a colonoscopy every 10 years. After 75, the USPSTF recommends stopping the regular testing because the risks of this test begin to outweigh the benefits.

“As you get older, your skin starts to get thinner. The same thing happens on the inside,” Dr. Green says. “That means you’re more likely to have your bowels punctured during a colonoscopy, which can be life-threatening,” she says. “The prep for a frail, older adult can also be very taxing, as it can lead to dehydration which may increase the risk of a fall.”

Another concern is that many older adults wouldn’t be able to handle treatment for colon cancer, should the test turn up anything suspicious. But again, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule. “If someone is in their late 70s and still out playing tennis 3 days per week, that’s a person who might still benefit from this test,” Dr. Green says. As always, the best way to make a plan is to have a conversation with your doctor.

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