As if this year hasn’t been crappy enough, I decided to get my first colonoscopy – seven years before the recommended screening age.
My mother had some troubling results with her last colonoscopy and while her situation was easily treated, it had a strong genetic component. Her doctor asked my mother to urge all of her biological children to be proactive about their own colon care.
Full of a complete lack of understanding about what a colonoscopy entailed, I dutifully shared this information with my primary care physician, who, after many months of Covid induced nonessential medical procedure delays, secured a spot for my colonoscopy.
Soon after, a well-stuffed letter appeared in my mail detailing the steps I would need to take to prepare for my colonoscopy. Being a classic procrastinator, I shelved the information making a note to pull it out a few days before my procedure.
The week before I was picking up a prescription for one of my children when the pharmacist said, “I have your prescription ready as well Jessica!”
Nothing good ever happens when people use my full first name.
Imagine my shock when I was handed a giant container with a white powdered substance in the bottom. “What am I supposed to do with this?” I wondered as I raced home to read my previously ignored colposcopy prep instructions.
It’s true, the prep is the worst part!
In addition to the recent addition of a pre-procedure covid test, colonoscopies require a lot of preparation.
A lot is an understatement.
It’s more accurate to say that colonoscopies require a profuse amount of strict and intense prep.
That container had to be filled with water and consumed regularly over the weekend before my Monday procedure could take place. The medicine inside cleaned out my colon in a way that had previously only been achieved by an unfortunate episode of food poisoning from a Mexican restaurant during my college years.
Sure, that was as bad as it sounds, but it was significantly worsened by the strict diet I was required to adhere to in order to not refill that which was being actively emptied.
Think lemon Jello and chicken broth and Sprite and white grape juice. And, worst of all, no dark soda. No Diet Coke! Insert caffeine headache here.
While the poo moved through my body with the speed of a race car, I didn’t feel sick like I do when I otherwise have a case of the runs. As a result, I felt my normal hunger and wanted to eat what my family was eating, not a cup of noodle-less soup.
I took to my bedroom to avoid food temptation and remain near my newest best friend, my toilet.
It gets better, at least that’s how I remember it…
When I arrived at the gastroenterology clinic, things got easier. I was a little surprised they required a pregnancy test before they would begin my procedure, but it’s protocol for those of us who are lucky enough to still be menstruating when we need our first colonoscopy.
I was gowned and received an IV of fluid before entering the procedure room. I remember nothing else after that point. Only walking with my husband to the car. And that they gave me a Diet Coke, at my request, while I was waking up.
(Actually, my husband snapped this super attractive photo of me in recovery and told me about my request after the fact.)
Clearly, the anesthesia had done its job and I was ready to hit a drive-through for some real food!
Most importantly, my results came back showing a healthy colon and I am now able to go ten years before needing another colonoscopy.
As I’m aging I’m starting to realize that new adventures are still found around every corner. It’s just that more and more often the corners are located in specialized medical clinics.