As always, it’s so good to be on the other side of my theoretically annual colonoscopy . Don’t get me wrong: I’m very glad to have done it, and it went pretty well, but it’s always a challenging ride. As a followup to my prep post, here’s a little recap of what to expect on the day:
The Big Day
Monday morning, we showed up as directed at the medical center. I’ve been joking that our little rural med center is the one stop shopping mall of medical care, since each time I need something, I’m directed to go across the hall, downstairs, in a different door. My primary care doc, gastroenterologist, the lab…all in the same complex, across the road from the outlet mall. Convenient.
So we showed up, me shaky, dehydrated and exhausted (as one is after staying up all night with the prep) and E as my wingwomyn (also quite tired from an overnight gig). I was striving to not be PAINFULLY JEALOUS of the cup of tea she was holding. That last 4 hours with no liquids at all is harder than the rest of the day, where I was swept away on a veritable flood of coconut water and homemade chicken broth.
You are required to bring someone with you, and they have to stay the entire time and drive you home. The staff will repeat this several times, along with the warning that you MAY NOT make any legally binding decisions or drive for 24 hours, and shouldn’t travel for three days. It takes a bit for all the anesthetic to wash itself out of your brain, and you want to be sure to be nearby in case of complications. In my experience, I am nearly always dozing much of the day after the procedure (and pretty fuzzy-brained when I’m awake), so I’d made sure to let my current work folks know I wouldn’t be available at all that day.
Everything went smoothly. I was checked in, had my pregnancy test (not pregnant, SHOCKING), and was tucked up on a gurney in a fashionable, open-at-the-back gown in no time. For most folks, it’s super fast from here: insert an IV, they wheel you into the procedure room, you go to sleep, wake up…it’s over. But me, I have to be difficult.
You see, I have TERRIBLE veins. Tiny, hard to find, easy to collapse. It always takes multiple times to start my IV and today was no different. I was pretty sleep-deprived and out of it, but I think it took 5 people and 11 attempts to get this one in, since I was dehydrated from the prep and my veins were even smaller than usual. My delightful new gastroenterologist (not gay, as it happens) even took a turn.
THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN TO YOU. For most folks, as one of the nurse anesthesiologists said, “their veins are so big, you can practically toss the needle from the other side of the room like a dart”. Fast, easy, over. Not the case for me. At one point, I had someone excavating for a vein IN MY FOOT while AT THE SAME TIME someone was stabbing around in my left arm. Not fun. But finally, the IV was in, and they were whisking me away.
Once in the procedure room, they hooked me up to an EKG (little stickers on your chest with leads on them), popped an oxygen cannula into my nostrils, hooked up a blood pressure cuff on my left arm, attached the glowing pulse reader to my right forefinger tip, the one that always makes me want to point and say “phone home”, and we were off to the races.
I swear, the staff was so nice and considerate: apologizing MANY MANY times for the difficulty they were having with my IV, making sure I was warm and comfortable, but the high point was in the procedure room, when the nurse (male) was super careful to be sure I was well-tucked-in as I rolled over onto my left side. I did point out that I KNEW they were going to be all up in my ass in about a minute, but he just grinned and tucked a bit more carefully.
Then they sent a little lidocaine through my IV, because the sedative itself burns a bit, warned me that it was about to start….
….I said, yes, that’s a little….
…and woke up in recovery.
It’s sort of magical. You’re there, then you’re not there, then you wake up. I always ask when we’re going to be starting, it’s always already over. A little blip, like time travel, and meanwhile they’ve been inserting cameras up my butt, taking samples and pictures, removing polyps. I had a delicious drink of water, E helped me back into my clothes, and then we were on the road home.
I must have asked for fried chicken right when I woke up, because after drifting in and out in the truck, we were home, and E was fixing me a plate. I spent the evening alternately napping, dozing, snacking, and enjoying the glorious warmth and gorgeous pink sunset on the porch, and slept like a baby that night.
As directed, I didn’t buy a car or get married that day, nor did I do any shopping online (a codicil added by my sweet E). According to my paperwork, my test prep was EXCELLENT, which pleased this chronic academic overachiever…and with the exception of the biopsies, which we won’t know about until the pathology comes back, all is well up in there. I still have Crohn’s, of course, but there was nothing unexpected.
And today, I’m totally buying a new teapot. This one, I think:
Until next time, when plants and animals again become our focus,
Did you miss the first part? Read Hooray, I’m Having a Colonoscopy: Part one, the prep
(I totally have pictures of my squeaky clean colon, but again am choosing to make this post photo-free. You’re welcome.)