Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Colonoscopy Journal

As my wife (or just about anyone else I know will tell you) I hate doctors. I classify them as a necessary evil on society. A blood sucking bunch who generally thrive off the misfortunes of others (or is that attorneys.... but I digress) to have us help pay off those ridiculous student loans they took out in their youth. So when I tell you I have been blowing off a colonoscopy for 10 can understand my apprehension whenever the subject comes up.

Hey, I've read all the literature. Yes, I know it's important, I know the incidence of colon cancer is high and a real killer of men and women when left undiagnosed. But I, like many folks apparently, have an innate distrust of anyone that suggests introducing anything to traverse my Who-Who. As my doctor rattles on about the advances in the medical procedure, the minor inconvenience of drinking the colonoscopy cool aid and having your insides violently ejected from your inner being, my eyes roll back and I have flash-backs of the movie "Fantastic Voyage (1966)" and visions of Rachel Welch making a wrong turn and exiting out my butt instead of the eye. Ain't happening!

My wife, on the other hand, has always been quite the cheer leader for the medical community and I have gotten the speech and disagreeable stares about once a year when the question comes up about getting it done. I have always dodged and weaved the discussion by reassuring her I will contact my medicine man and get an appointment. We have this unwritten code that she asks, I nod my head in a serious manner and that's the end of it for the next 365 days.

Then a peculiar thing happened. A co-worker of mine (one of those damn rule followers who just turned 50) was extolling the virtues of this colonoscopy God who had done the procedure on him the day before and had nothing but great things to say about the experience. He was now on a crusade to get everyone he knew to get a colonoscopy from this guy. When he learned I had yet to have the "C" experience, he picked up his phone and called the office and handed it to me to make an appointment. I am usually not that spontaneous but not wanting to appear scared (he did double-dare me which meant I had to respond....right?), I made the appointment.

The strange part was they didn't ask for an office visit prior to the procedure. I have been brought up to believe that all doctors wanted that first "get to know ya" visit to collect copious amounts of personal and medical histories to transmit to whatever secret Government office they report to and pad their bill. These folks asked several pertinent medical questions over the phone, got my medical plan information and gave me dates to choose from. It seems that, unless there is some serious underlying medical problem, they don't need to see you. Cool.

A few days later, I got a package from the doctors office with a prescription to fill and detailed instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. I had to get something called Supprep(I love their website)and the day before I had to mix a 6 ounce bottle with 16 oz of water and drink one at  5 pm, chase them down with two more 16 oz glasses of water over the next two hours. I needed to do it again at 9 pm. The whole time not eating anything only drinking clear fluids (including soda and broth). Sounded easy.

Mind you I had heard all the horror stories of drinking gallons of bad tasting gunk but this stuff didn't taste like anything and had a little after taste I compared to the after taste of a cherry Fizzies(anybody remember those?). I downed the two glasses of water immediately and waited for a reaction. I didn't have long to wait. I took the time (because thats what I do) to read the two page information brochure which has this very medical explanation of what happens next and I quote,(big word alert!)" 12.2 Pharmacodynamics: The osmotic effect of the unabsorbed ions, when ingested with a large volume of water, produces a copious watery diarrhea." That was an understatement.

Exactly one hour later, I was quietly reading and got this distinctive urge to go to the bathroom. I assumed the position and indeed produced a copious watery mass that I can only describe as a "double flusher" if you know what I mean. For a moment I contemplated the possibility that something unintentional might exit as well. Quickly as it was over. Taking the second dose at 9 had the same but a lesser reaction. I felt good enough and confident enough to go to bed and slept through the night.

The next morning, I made breakfast for Dianna and strangely didn't feel hungry at all. We drove to an out-patient surgical center and checked in. Promptly at the appointed hour, I went to the pre-op room and disrobed into my gown, that really cool open back number. Besides I'm really not that into plaid. I thought the cap was a nice touch too. Dianna joined me and proceeded to photograph my situation and update Facebook as she always does(but forgetting to mention WHY I was there...lots of inquiries followed).

We then met the anesthesiologist. Yes..thankfully they were going to knock me out. My guy walked up and after introducing himself proclaimed, "I am going to be your best friend today." I had to agree. He said he was going to introduce something into my IV he whimsically referred to as, "Jackson Juice" (a little thing called Propofol)which would cause me to fall asleep and not awaken until it was all over. Dianna and I said our goodbyes and the sleep doctor and nurse wheeled me into the operating room.

As they plugged me into various devices a young man entered the room. At first I thought he was lost and I was about to direct him to the waiting room to find his mom when he introduced himself as Dr. Agha the colonoscopy God and icon of the Institute for Digestive Health I had contracted with. He gave me a brief explanation of what he was about to do and asked if I had any questions. With my usual aplomb (and inappropriate sense of humor) I asked if he had an opportunity to clean the probe off from the last procedure. Without missing a beat...he said he had. I asked if he had to do that little "X marks the spot" Sharpie thing surgeons do to insure they're in the right place. Again, he quickly said that, in this case, it wasn't necessary (as many of my friends can atest to)I'm really starting to like this guy.

I was placed on my side and the sleep doctor said I should just breath deeply about six times to relax. I distinctly recall breathing in an out once, twice, three and , "Hey Nick, we're all done." I looked up at the clock and realized I had completely lost track of the last 45 minutes.

Back at recovery, Dr. Agha reported a textbook procedure. He had photos of my inner workings and gave me a quick guide to the colon and intestines. I noticed some of the pictures were bright and some looked rather dark. The good doctor smiled and explained he first traverses the entire colon with light then (and yes, he actually seemed excited to report, almost giddy really), "I turn on my "polyp scope" and look for polyps on the way's one" like he was holding up a prize Bass. He also proudly remarked I had done an outstanding job on flushing myself which made his job easy. I asked if I could get a sticker or something to that effect (don't laugh, Dianna reported that they sent another guy home because he hadn't done it right). Again....without missing a beat he said they were out of stickers. Damn it!

Back into my clothes we were back in the parking lot two hours later. On the way home, thinking now of food, we agreed to get Cowboy Chicken take-out (I, of course, got the grilled chicken salad and Dianna got the cut up whole rotisserie chicken, twice baked potato and sweet potato casserole, lots of leftovers for lunches) for my much anticipated convalescence.