Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Glad its Done...

Yesterday I had my first routine colonoscopy.  Yes, I know it should have been done 5 years ago at least, but I tend to put things off that sound yucky, and wasn't cornered into it until last year by my healthcare professional.  She talked me into a bone density test along with the routine mammogram which I had been having, and a colonoscopy.  The bone density was kind of cool, but cool costs money and I could just hear the cash register on our health care doing its "cha ching".  Kind of like the electrical meter outside the house, going round and round and you can just hear the money leaving your bank account. 
The colonoscopy was scheduled for a few weeks later and when they called to pre register it, there was a hassle about the insurance, and as it turned out we were switching over, so I just called and canceled rather than deal with it until it was changed.  Of course, in the back of my mind, I had received a reprieve and completely forgot about rescheduling when the new insurance was installed.  A crisis from a good friend, who had gone in for a routine colonoscopy only to find there was cancer in a segment, which promped immediate surgery, reminded me about my postponed appointment.  I called before Christmas and a date was decided in January. 
A month ago I received the instructions from the doctor doing the colonoscopy.  Included was a prescription for the "solution to clean me out beforehand".  Oh goody...I tossed it in the drawer, and marked on my calendar the date and the "before date" so I could get the prescription filled. 

My first indication this was not going to go totally smoothly was getting the prescription filled, the Friday before the Tuesday procedure.  The pharmacist asked which one I wanted to use.  There were two prescriptions and both were marked.  I had no idea they were both separate prescriptions as I had never done it before, but the pharmacist was pretty adamant I didn't want to attempt both.  She tried calling the doctor's office which was futile, it was Friday afternoon after all, of the approaching Martin Luther King holiday.  I think its a written rule doctors never work on Fridays anyway.  We were trying to decide whether to wait until Monday to fill it when the pharmacist started laughing at what we both thought was an ink scribble was actually an "or" written between the two prescriptions.  They filled it out for the first, and a $40 co pay later I had my Halflitely and Biscodyl tablet firmly in hand for Monday's "fun". 

On Sunday night I carefully read the directions and I was ready for the process on Monday.  It started at noon when I took the Biscodyl tablet.  I was told that it would work in one to 6 hours.  It took about 3 to do its thing.  OK, got through that with only minor discomfort, and thought if this is as bad as it gets...not bad....
Little did I know....
I had premixed the Halflitely with water and one of the included flavor packets.  Oh the choices.  Cherry flavor.  Nah.  Cherry reminds me of cherry cough medicine as a kid.  Never could get even a tablespoon full down easily.  Orange reminded me of Tang and I was never a Tang fan.  Pineapple?  Just couldn't imagine anything good would come of something with Pineapple flavoring in it.  So, I went for the last choice, Lemon-:Lime flavoring, hoping against hope it tasted like Squirt.  I had been fasting all day.  I discovered the white grape juice I could have and bought especially for today was really sweet and just didn't do it for me.  I stayed with water and made some orange jello, the only non red or purple jello I had in my cupboard.  It was probably from around 1990 or so.  If you've guessed we're not big jello people, you would be right.  So I had the orange jello which managed to be soupy on the top and like rubber on the bottom, and dined with Kurt that night and the scalloped potatoes and ham I had saved for him.  It might have been worse but the biscodyl tablet had kind of kicked in and I was suffering intermittent cramps, so avoiding food wasn't all that difficult and I had the orange jello.  I scraped off the mushy, jiggly part and ate that and after one bowl full it was enough. 
At 6 pm sharp I took my first 8 ounces of Halflitely.  Not awful, but the after left a salty, sweet lemon  taste in my mouth.  Thereafter I had to take 8 ounces again at 6:10 and 6:20.  I was to wait an hour then finish off the Halflitely in 10 minute intervals.  By the third glass, the Halflitely wasn't going down nearly as easily and still didn't notice any really cleansing beginning.  I tried to gamely drink what looked to be 4 or 5 more glasses of the mixture at 7:20.  I got down 3 more glasses and believe me when I tell you, the last one felt like I was drinking a lemon flavored ocean.  I decided it was enough and dumped the last probably two glasses of the mixture.   In hindsight I must have had a genius moment, as I was paying for the 6 glasses of Halflitely I did manage to swallow for the rest of the evening and night and even into the day of the colonoscopy.   Most people will tell you the prep is the worst, and they are right.  Getting down that vile tasting stuff was bad enough and then having to camp out in the bathroom for the rest of the evening and several times during the ensuing night was akin to being in labor.  At least at the end of that, I got a baby. 
Up at 5:45 to shower and have more bathroom time, Kurt and I left the house at 7:45 to assure driving time to the hospital where the procedure was occurring.  It was snowing, when we left. and it was wet, heavy snow that piled up on the road and while it was supposed to stop long before noon, it made morning driving slow.  At the hospital by 8:30, an hour before my 9:30 appointment.  No Cicinelli on the registration sheet downstairs, so she took us up.  In the Endoscopy wing they had my name and told us to be seated while I filled out the forms.  Life is made up of forms, I've decided and the more along in life we are, the more forms we need...
The nice receptionist came over to ask me what time I thought my appointment was.  When I told her, she said they had me down for an hour later.  Obviously a mix up, but I had written it down on my calendar.  Geez, another thing to worry about, early onset Alzheimers.  She said, she would let the doctor and her staff know, but as it always goes, we didn't get in before the time they had me down for.  The prep nurse apologized for the mix up and they put me in a bed in a room with a television so at least Kurt and I had that.  They started the IV and apologized again, and said the doctor was running even a bit more behind, "what with the weather and all".  Yup, the story of my life. 
After she came in a third time to apologize, I figured they really were sorry for the delay, which at the least was refreshing and a handwritten note from my prep nurse made me think that the cold, sterile hospital really might have a heart.  Finally I was taken down to the room where the colonoscopy would take place.  I met the doctor and she explained the procedure.  The sedative was added to my IV and then I remember things only as a dream until I awoke back in the room with Kurt.  I distinctly remember voices though, and something being being inserted and removed.  It didn't hurt but I knew it was there.  All as if in a dream....the only way to go...If only we could leave life this way....maybe we do.
While I woke up, we waited for the doctor to come in.  The very good news was there was nothing.  I was clean and pink, and healthy according to the doctor.  While it was the news I expected, I was also immensely relieved.  I guess in the back of my mind, I needed to be reassured.  And its nice to go through all the discomfort and have a happy ending.  Best of all, I don't have to do it again for ten years.
We came home and I was warned that the air they have to put in your stomach during the exam, has to be expelled and to expect to be gaseous for a time.  I was certainly gaseous for a time.  The rest of the day to be exact and finally getting to eat again wasn't quite as charming as I thought it would be.  The Halflitely was still there and everything I ate last night pretty much went right through me, the express route.
But this morning, I slept in a bit and didn't feel guilty.  I did my "Fit and Firm after Fifty" exercises and embraced it, as I could do it, even if I didn't really want to.  I could do it and that was the important thing...
I still have to schedule my annual mammogram as I now know, things can change, even though they are supposed to remain the same. 
A good thing to know and embrace....

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the wonderful description on that... ;)