After years of avoiding medical screenings, I broke tradition and scheduled myself for a colonoscopy. It was my first, at age 55, and I was reluctant, resistant, and recalcitrant.
My main problem: I do not like to be hungry. My worry about a day of no eating plagued me for weeks ahead of the appointment. I also didn’t like that I was required to have a ride home after the procedure. I asked the pre-screening person if I could walk. She said I might get lost and fall in the snow and the hospital would be liable. I started plotting a way to, well, lie. I’d tell them my ride had arrived and I’d waltz out the door and walk home. But they accompany you and make your ride sign something. So I made arrangements with a kind and understanding friend.
I received my emailed instructions, and read them - a dozen times. I purchased the needed prep items days in advance, laid in supplies of chicken broth and carbonated water, and contemplated the prospect of black coffee. I researched, online, and marked on my calendar all the things I should not eat: “no nuts, seeds, popcorn, raw veggies!”
I learned a thing or two on Prep Day. Chicken broth is delicious, especially when you’re starving. Black coffee is horrendous and if I had to take my coffee black I’d quit tomorrow. The prep went as preps go. I did not get much sleep, partly because I was convinced my prep did not work the way it was supposed to. I had failed Prep Day.
I hoofed it to the hospital first thing on C-Day. I told the nice check-in woman that I needed to speak to the nurse as I didn’t think my prep had worked. The nurse and I chatted for a good while, then she checked with other nurses and the surgeon. It seemed that perhaps it was fine. That perhaps I was a wee bit paranoid.
I could see that colonoscopies were moving along on this particular morning. They were rolling the people in, rolling the people out. Everyone seemed to be healthy and happy. Perhaps it was the Propofol? The entire staff was upbeat, energetic, and so friendly. I was starting to think about applying for a job.
Then it was my turn - it was game on! The nurse popped the IV in, I signed the papers for the surgeon and the anesthesiologist saying that I would not sue if I died, and that I actually DID want to have this procedure WITH anesthesia. I felt like a celebrity, the star of this show, as they wheeled me inside. The anesthesiologist began whistling the theme to Rocky! This was gonna be awesome!! Suddenly my palms were sweating and felt my whole body tense up. I told the nurse in the darling flowered cap that I was really anxious. “We have drugs for that!” And indeed, they did.
When someone shook me awake a few short minutes later, I was having a dream that I was giving massages to the entire crew: nurses, doctors, everyone. I told the anesthesiologist, and he said one person did their taxes while they were under. The miracles of medicine.
I felt a huge sense of relief that it was over. The surgeon told me everything looked great, and that I had a ten-year pass before my next one. Also: my prep had definitely done the job.
Jacqueline Denny, ACC, CHPC, LMT