Colonoscopy Time!

Per all the recommendations, it’s something that really should be done starting at age 50 and earlier if you have family history. I just had mine done and I’m 6 months away from 60.

One of the problems I’ve had with doing it at 50 was the cost. At around $4,000 and not always covered by whatever plan you’re on at the time, it wasn’t something I was financially prepared for. I’ve been saving over the past 2 years though through an HSA so I can have it done now.

I went in a month or so back due to a different medical problem (first time seeing a doctor in many years) and the doctor said I should schedule myself for the procedure. The big plus, last year Medicaid pays fully for the procedure making it cost me nothing. Even with a high copay right now, my cost and copay is zero bucks.

Sign me up then!

I heard the horror stories about making sure you were always a few feet away from the toilet because the preparation meds really really clean you out (really!) and quickly. I did get the 4 liter container with the preparation chemicals plus a small packet of lemon flavoring. I will say lemon does leave a film on the teeth. I started prep last night at 6pm per instructions after eating nothing after 7am (procedure was scheduled for this morning at 9:30am). It really wasn’t as bad as folks say in my experience. The fluid was a bit thick feeling, like taking the Alka-Seltzer Cold, but a touch on the salty side. Maybe due to it having electrolytes mixed in. While I did have to hit the toilet several times before going to bed and again in the morning, I mostly had a sense of fullness vs the urgency you feel with actual diarrhea when you eat something that disagrees with you.

I had to drink a glass every 15 to 30 minutes and drink until the liquid leaving the body was clear. You also must drink a lot of water because you will be dehydrated by the fluid (I drank about 5 liters of water throughout the day in addition to the 2 liters of laxative starting at 6). The nurse also said to drink half starting at 6 and the remainder before 7am this morning. By 7am I’d finished it off and exiting fluids were mainly clear with a yellow tinge to it.

Another thing folks mention is being very hungry. I have to say I felt almost no hunger throughout the day. I did spend my time hacking code and playing Doom after adjusting the Gamma to 1.0 (much much better).

Getting to the clinic was no big deal and the nurse said they were ready right now (8:45 vs 9:30) so I was brought back, given instructions, and signed the waiver that let them remove any polyps found. She did say at my age, about 30% of patients have polyps and that the most they’d ever removed was 49 in one session! She said smokers typically had more polyps than non-smokers.

I stripped, got dressed in the gown, lay down, and she covered me with a warm blanket. Did the blood pressure cuff, the finger cuff for heart rate, and then tried to locate a vein for the drugs. Being dehydrated even with the water I drank, she had a hard time. After many slaps trying to raise a vein, she finally tried my right hand. Insertion was pretty damned painful and it felt like she hit a tendon (the funny bone feeling along the finger). She pulled it out and observed “no bleeding”. Even with the large amount of water, I was still dehydrated. I pointed out that when I give blood, my left arm is generally the best place. She removed the cuff and was able to (again, painfully) successfully insert the needle.

And we’re ready to go!

I was wheeled down the hall into the room. The room itself was pretty cool itself with a large screen to my left and several screens and dangly bits to my right. I was instructed to lay on my left side and bring my legs up as if I was sitting down. She started the drugs and within 30 seconds I was feeling dizzy. The drug was a Conscious Anesthetic so I was awake but as friends say, I didn’t care. 🙂

Per the nurse, I wasn’t to drive, drink alcohol, or sign important documents for 24 hours and that I would have trouble remembering the procedure.

I do remember watching a part of the procedure on the screen and a few instructions or just a push by the doc or Nurse to shift around a little but that was it. I don’t remember being wheeled out or being taken to the reception area. I do remember farting though and getting a “good job” from someone. 🙂 My girlfriend was there to drive me home and I don’t recall asking her to take any pictures of me in the reception area still on the gurney but she has a few pics 🙂 Apparently I told her about the hand and tendon a few times. I don’t remember getting dressed. I do remember slightly leaving the office but not the elevator and vaguely recall the parking lot but not getting in the car. I just remembered her wandering around in the parking lot looking for a gas station so she could get me a soda (wanted the caffeine before headaches kicked in) and a few “there’s a long runway to get on back on the road” comments.

Later Jeanne mentioned I was in the recovery room and the nurse had removed the cuff and finger clip but I don’t remember the needle being removed. Jeanne did say I got up from the gurney, with just a T-Shirt and socks, and the nurse walking in on me, “oh my” 🙂 I remember the nurse asking if I wanted something to drink or eat; apple juice, orange juice, graham crackers, or animal crackers. I wanted apple juice. I remember that it was warm but I did drink it down. I drank down the apple juice and threw it away but do not, even with Jeanne reminding me, remember getting dressed.

I did take a slight nap in the car and as we getting close to home, I recall feeling cold sweats and nauseous. Probably because I’d been fasting for more than 24 hours. Jeanne was willing to get me something to eat but I only wanted some toast, unbuttered, and drank some of the soda. I tucked in to the couch and slept for about 4 hours (around 1pm). I felt a lot better after that and Jeanne headed out to get lunch.

Oh, and they removed 2 polyps so less than the record but in the 30% of patients. I do remember that

It’ll be about a week before they return the results of the biopsies. The results will dictate how often I’ll need to return for further cleanup. 10 years is the default but it could be less if there are problems with the biopsies.

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One Response to Colonoscopy Time!

  1. Cathy says:

    “Oh My.” My favorite part of an overall amusing tale. …

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