Health News

Do You Know How Many Steps It Is To Your Bathroom?
By Cheryl Killam    11-14-19  

Oh how we take some seemingly insignificant, but hugely important, things in our daily lives for granted.

Let me tell you how nice it is to have solid healthy good tasting food when you just went 40 hours without it and how sweet it is to sleep 8 hours without the fear of waking up in a puddle. Neither of those to be taken for granted ever again. 

Well, at my last physical, my doctor at Lamprey Health Care convinced me that I really should just make the dreaded colonoscopy appointment.  I procrastinated for many years because I just did not like the idea of anything going up my butt.

Are you ready for the truth and a couple laughs at my experience?

Let’s discuss the multi-day preparation for a colonoscopy.

Three days prior: no nuts, seeds, corn, beans or any vegetables with skins.

I had to really change my clean eating whole foods to low fiber foods like white bread with apple jelly, peeled apples, banana, musk melon, scrambled eggs, mashed peeled potatoes,tuna and plain chicken (no gravy). This killed me because I never eat processed white bread and I snack on cashews, almonds and raw veggies like carrots, celery, and sliced peppers.

The entire day before: No solid food, no dairy or juice with pulp and nothing to eat that is yellow, red or purple.

 For me that meant no milk in my tea, no cheese of any kind, no fruit smoothie with strawberries, blueberries and dry oats; no healthy crunchy salad for lunch and no steak tips. I had to just drink clear fluids and fortunately low sugar apple juice was my savior. I did warm up some chicken broth because the chilled apple juice was making me cold but then the broth started to be too acidic, so over to just plain water cause I had to stay really hydrated. 

When I saw the size of that gallon jug with white powder (PEG 3350 with Electrolytes also called GoLytely) which needed to be dissolved in 128 ounces of water and consumed starting the night before my morning appointment, there were some not so nice words coming out of my mouth.

OMG, I have never fasted in any way before this and holy crap was it ever gross drinking that laxative crud. 

The rules said to start drinking at 6 pm and swallow 8 to 12 ounces every 10 to 15 minutes. Nope that would certainly make me puke. So I was in for the long haul of drinking 20 ounces per hour, with the addition of a packet of sugar free Lemonade to each glass and sucking it down fast through a big straw, for the next 7 hours until everything coming out of me was as clear as when it went in. 

By 1:30 AM I had a headache from no food and I was exhausted tired. I managed to fall asleep for 2 hours only to jump up at 3:30 AM and sprint to the bathroom. (Huge Hint: Know how many steps it is to the toilet, you will be holding those butt cheeks very tightly cause you’re just not sure if it’s going to be just fartsy hot air or an old faithful geyser.)

At that point, I decided I might as well stay up since the alarm was set for 4 AM to get up and drink even more of that crud for the next hour. They mean it; you absolutely have to be cleaned out.   You might want to make sure you have extra rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom, too, trust me you will need them.

Thank God they said no more fluids at least 3 hours before my appointment. Finally, at 5 AM I could stop sucking down that crud.

The bottomline (ha ha) is you must be seriously empty and clean so they can clearly (yes another pun) see any irregular bumps or spots in your intestines or polyps, as they are called.  

The online searches and the Exeter Hospital paperwork that I had said it would take 2 ½ to 3 hours. I had the 8:15 AM appointment and sat in the waiting room for 30 minutes, a sure way to raise my blood pressure.

Well, this is how it went.

I got called into the back check in room at 8:45, answered a few questions and waited a bit longer for a bed to become available. 

Some of the surgery nurse’s pre-op questions (Q) and my answers(A):

Q -  “So how are you feeling? Are you ready?
A-  “ Well if you want the truth, I am a ravaging hangry bitch with a screaming headache and grumbling gassy stomach. I have never ever fasted like this in my life. I am starving!!”

Q - Ok so are your stools clear with no clumps?
A - Of course I have never peed so much in my life or had so much rushing diarrhea and feared not making it to the toilet in time. 

Q - Do you drink alcohol? A - Nope

Q - Do you use drugs? A -Nope

Q - Do you use marijuana? A - Nope

Q - Have you had any stomach surgeries?  A – Nope,..... as my husband interjects - um, does a C-section count? She said, Yes it does.  Omg, yes I forgot about that, ooops. My internal voice is saying.... I am getting stressed, lets get this show over with fast.

With all the basic questions and answers done, it was 9:10 and time to get me onto a bed and get the intravenous (IV) tube inserted so they could sedate me and do their thing. I was so looking forward to a good solid sleep.

But first, the doctor came bouncing in to talk with me to make sure I understood what the procedure was. I said, “YUP, I got it, but how did you EVER choose this as your profession?”

His response was, “Trust me, it was easy. I know that I am helping everyone I see and with many, I am saving their lives and the best part is I get to play video games all day.”  All I could do was laugh and hope I didn't pee the bed.

Think about it, they use a camera that moves down this narrow strange ever changing hallway, going around bends and curves, looking for globule things to remove or kill.  What a perfect way to look at it!

He shared this with me, “I found a chunk of cancer in one guy, removed it and told him to come back in 3 months for a recheck.  Good thing I found it because he might have started feeling miserable and he would not have known why. Most people do not know they have cancer until it’s too late.”

If that doesn’t scare you into taking preventative measures, I don’t know what will.

I sat on that bed worried that I still needed to pee a couple more times, until they wheeled me into the operating room (OR). Yup, I saw the clock on the wall that said it was 9:50 AM. The nurse put the oxygen tubes on my nose and asked me to roll onto my left side and that is the LAST thing I remember. Bam, I was out cold within seconds.

Next thing I knew, I woke up in another curtained room at 10:35 or so. The recovery nurse told me, "Don’t stand up too fast". Ha ha, she was not kidding, all I did was sit up too fast and the room started spinning.

Being the type-A personality that I am, as a precise logical clear thinker, I could never find joy in that “dizzy room spinning, I am going to fall down” drugged feeling.  Trust me I can fall down all on my own, even with a clear head running agility with my dogs, no influential substances needed.

It was a good thing that I brought my own banana, strawberry, blueberry, oatmeal smoothie to suck down as soon as I woke up! It was the best way to shut up the grumbling stomach. I know they could hear it across the floor. Oh and those graham crackers tasted better than Christmas cookies.

Regardless, I still had to hold onto the bed to get dressed and I was very happy for the UBER (hospital chair) ride down the elevator to the front door. 

Thankfully, I was on my way home before 11 AM with my husband as the chaufer, so their time frame was pretty accurate.  Now, if I had known it would take 30 minutes to sit in the waiting room and another 45 minutes to an hour to be interviewed and prepped before going into OR, I would have taken the first appointment at 7:30 AM and given up those precious 2 hours of sleep. 

Even after the sedated sleep in the OR, I needed a 2 ½ hour nap so that I could function the rest of the day and get back to eating real food again and rehydrating with just plain water. Oh my gosh, fresh cold clear water never tasted so good ! 

If you are as nervous to go in for your first colonoscopy as I was, do it and get it over with. I never felt anything and my own embarrassement was what held me back the most. Oh and he only gobbled up three tiny polyps.

Here are a few suggestions:

Lastly, DO IT, JUST DO IT!  It just might save your life!

Remember CANCER SUCKS and nobody wants to lose a loved one to it.  

I really hope you laughed at my story, but in all seriousness, call your doctor and make that appointment.