Monday, November 14, 2011

Life As a Dinosaur: The Colonoscopy Edition

*Alternate title for this post is "The TMI Edition" - which means you may not want to read all the way through this. Although, it's not too graphic either.*

Several weeks ago I began having some issues with blood on my stool. My family practice doctor said it was probably just internal hemmorhoids, but because I've had some issues (a anal fistula - ouch!) in the past she referred me to a colorectal surgeon.

The colorectal surgeon confirmed that I was indeed having issues with some internal hemmorhoids, but, again, because of my past history and because people with ankylosing spondylitis have a higher rate of gastrointestinal issues she recommended a colonoscopy. So WHHEEEEEE, today I got a colonoscopy.

When the procedure was scheduled, they gave me instructions to follow so I would be prepped and ready to go. After reading the instructions, I put the process out of my mind until a few days ago when I picked up the necessary items for the prep work which started yesterday at noon for me. Here's what I had to do:

1. Step one: take four (4) dulcolax laxative pills 25 hours before the procedure. At the same time, start a clear liquid diet which consists of ginger ale, broth, water, jello (just not red or purple in color and doesn't have fruit), hard candies (not red or purple in color), fruit juice with no pulp (apple, white grape, etc). - This step was actually easy, I mean you pop a few pills and drink "clear" liquids.

2. Step two: Five (5) hours after taking the dulcolax, mix 56 ounces of Gatorade (not red or purple) with 8.3 ounces of MiraLAX powder (that's 14 days! worth of the stuff folks), and drink eight ounces of the resulting solution every 15 minutes until it's gone. Yeah, this step was a little difficult, and took nearly two hours to complete. The instructions I was given said that this stuff usually starts working within about 30 minutes so stay near a bathroom. For me, I was just left incredibly bloated and decidedly anti-lemon lime Gatorade. It actually took about 2 hours from the time I finished the solution to the time it started to work. And WHOO-BOY did it work. (And here's a gross part, so you can skip the next sentence) I was lucky enough to be one of the people who actually has the pleasure of puking and having diarrhea. Yay me!

So after I finished Step 2, and TheHusband generously cleaned the bathroom (he is my hero for doing that), I crawled into bed for the night. Surprisingly, I only had to get up once during the night. Not surprisingly, it was not a fun experience. Once I recovered from the cold sweats, ringing ears, and slight bit of nausea I drank some water and crawled back into bed. I had hoped to sleep in, but no such luck with TheAnnabelle determined to have her breakfast. So I was up by 6:30AM (which I suppose is actually sleeping in for  me) and drinking more water until it was time for the third step.

Step three: Four hours before the procedure drink a 10 ounce bottle of lemon flavored magnesium citrate. After the fun of the previous evening I was not looking forward to this at all. I managed to drink it all down, but I'm swearing off lemon flavored drinks of all kinds for quite some time. Also, by this time, my body was pretty well empty of stuff to get rid of so it did not affect me as much.

For the next hour I sucked on Jolly Ranchers (to give me some energy) and drank water. Then at three hours before the procedure I had to stop taking everything. No water, not jello, no nothing. Up until this point, I had not felt hungry at all. But now that I wasn't able to take in fluids the hunger started. It wasn't so bad at first, that is until I had to walk past the hospital cafeteria on my way to the procedure area. (Tip to medical facilities - if you have patients that have been fasting or on a clear liquid diet, please do not make them walk past the cafeteria. It is just cruel.)

The procedure itself wasn't so bad. There wasn't any pain, just a little discomfort. And I was able to watch what they were doing, which was cool (if you're a nerd like me). The doctor did a couple of biopsies but said everything looked good. So now we just wait for the results of the biopsies to find out for sure that my spondylitis isn't affecting my digestive system (at least not yet).
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