I am never one to take my own advice, especially if my own advice has anything to do with a medical procedure. Against my better judgment, I’ve been hounding everyone I know over the age of 50 to tell me exactly what would happen to me during my first colonoscopy. They usually made a face and said, “Bleccch! The worst part is the prep!!” This translates into “The worst part is the part for which you are totally conscious and awake!”
To put this in perspective, I’m only 33. So, yeah, I’ve had some problems for awhile. Are these problems related to a hormonal imbalance or something more serious? Am I too young to develop a life-threatening disease? How can we make a true diagnosis unless other possible problems are taken out of the equation? Lingering in the back of my head was that thought, that inner voice, that kept telling me You’ll never be able to have peace of mind until you do it.
So I did it. It wasn’t that bad. However, I do have some advice:
- Pretend your bottom is the most precious bottom in the world. Take your precious bottom to the grocery store and buy all the things you can think of that a mother would buy for her baby’s precious bottom.
- Your doctor will instruct you to drink, within 3 hours, a 64oz bottle of Gatorade mixed with an entire bottle of Miralax. You could and you probably should. But I didn’t do that. I decided to drink 16oz of sweet tea, 16oz of water, 16oz of flavored water, and a final 16oz of water again. I would have thrown it all up if I had to drink so much of the same thing.
- You will be hungry. In fact, hungry doesn’t even begin to describe this sensation. The hunger is, in my honest opinion, the worst part of the prep. It is so bad that when I was fixing Elle’s dinner last night, a drop of macaroni & cheese sauce dripped onto my finger and I licked it off. After I licked it off, I made all these lusty sounds and kept sucking on my finger. It was nearly pornographic but yet it was the best dayum drop of macaroni & cheese sauce EVER.
- You will most likely be able to go to sleep in your own bed that night before the procedure. If your doctor has instructed you to not drink after 6am on the morning of the colonoscopy, set your alarm for 5:30 and chug-a-lug-lug. You’ll be grateful you did this when, at 10am, you are swallowing your own tongue because you are so freakin’ thirsty and know that, had you not so miserably climbed out of bed for that bottle of water at sunrise, your thirst would be 10 times worse. Hopefully, you packed a bottle of water for yourself to drink after you’ve been released. Water is wonderful, isn’t it?
- Make friends with your nurses. They will be your caregivers and advocates throughout the entire ordeal. And they just might let you keep those cute little footie socks they gave to you to wear during the procedure.
- When you wake up, don’t yell at your nurses and tell them to go sit back on the couch and watch TV. And promptly apologize to them once you get your wits about you. “I’m sorry, Stacy. I thought you were my daughter waking me up from a nap on the loveseat because I kind of forgot where I was.”
- Go home and eat slowly! Yes, you are starving but keep in mind that your stomach has probably shrunk a little by this point (nearly 30 hours without solid food) so your eyes are bigger than your appetite. Pay attention to your belly – when it says stop eating, you’d better stop eating. Then go take a nice, long nap.
As you fall asleep in your bed, thank your lucky stars that you live in a country that, as of now, provides first-rate healthcare that is accessible to nearly everyone. These last 30 hours of misery and discomfort are an easy price to pay for peace of mind and early detection. Then remind yourself, “Hopefully, I won’t have to do this again for another 16 years!”
I honestly debated with myself whether or not to post about such a personal experience because, you know, nobody likes to talk about this stuff. But then I realized that everyone will have to go through this at some point. Some people refuse to go further into their treatment out of fear of having to go through a procedure such as this but it’s really not that bad. Besides, I think a couple of days of discomfort is worth it – getting the diagnosis and going forward with the treatment. And if this procedure yields nothing, then I know the route I need to take from this point.
I’m so happy I did this.