7 things ive learned from colonoscopies (living with IBD)

  1. the prep isn’t great, but gets better with time – no matter what of prep youre prescribed, its not fun guzzling gallons of icky chemicals & chasing them with what will result in you will always relate to as your colonoscopy prep.  ive learned after my first few CT scans that i will never drink tang again.  it is totally a mental game & i admit, i want to forfeit every time.  is there vodka in this??WOOF. the gurgly belly, the bubbles, praying youll keep down the prep, feeling like an oompa loompa.  its a good thing i went ahead about organized myself a prep kit: stock of good TP, wipes/cream, new comfortable fuzzy pants, 100% charged iPad & a wonderful mixture of powdered gatorades, koolaids and flavored clear juices.  i recommend having the drinks already pre-measured so you feel more comfortable and dont find yourself mixing another drink and having to be somewhere else at the same time ;). (poor gatorade – i bet that company never knew IBDers would never want to look at another yellow liquid ever again)
  2. buy the good TP.
  3. dont drink soda – as terrible as it is, use a mix (powdered gatorade) you can add to the prep drink that you will ONLY associate with prepping for a colonoscopy.  i use yellow gatorade mix. only use bubbly soda (sprite) as a chaser to get the taste out of your mouth, not a large glass that counts as 8 oz. there will be enough bubbles in your tummy, dont make it worse.
  4. humility – the chance of you leaving your procedure with all of your pride is slim to none, but having sedation helps progress the memory loss. speaking of humility, i will never forget the one time i had a rude nurse tell me that i “had an accident on the table” for better lack of words. clearly that wasnt my intention, but ive never forgotten how that made me feel. lets be honest, the day your diagnosed with any bowel disease, you find yourself throwing your humility out the window. 10 years ago, it may not have been widely-accepted to talk openly in public about a bowel disease, but as an advocate not only for myself, but also for others, i feel responsible to inform people, no matter how humiliating or hard it may be to answer some questions.
  5. reality – the level of control from the start of the prep to the finish of the procedure makes you feel extremely vulnerable.  from having no control of your bowels to waking up having (mostly) no recollection of the room you were just violated with a camera in front of several hospital staff.. when it comes down to it, it can be a very scary thing to face.  GI appts are terrifying for me (and anyone with a Disease) – i think ive left every appointment ive ever had in tears only because walking out of the doctor’s office, its hard to deny having a disease you have no idea where it could take you next.  all of the pictures of ulcerated intestines, types of infections & things that could possibly go wrong – theres no way to block out some of the images.  ive had several episodes of crazy anesthesia-induced panic attacks going under/coming out of anesthesia that makes me terrified.
  6. find something to do during the lengthy process – most people without bowel disease i’m sure are thankful their preps go much smoother than those of us with issues. in my case this time, i was on a liquid diet at least 2 weeks before my procedures. everything i ate made me sick & i was terrified i would not be cleaned out. as was the case in other scopes.. my actual prep process lasted about 24 hours running to and from the bathroom. thank God for iPads & modern technology. the first few times i had colonoscopies, i had no access to anything i could take to the loo but a handheld solitaire game. thankfully, my brother lent me his netflix password so at least ive been able to do something productive with my time (shark movies, Breaking Bad) – thanks Justin!
  7. who you have at your side when you are put under and who is there when you wake up is probably the most important thing.  anytime anesthesia is involved in a procedure, there are risks.  having that one person that can look you directly in the eye in the most terrifying of moments when something goes wrong, is the most comforting feeling in the world.  thanks dad.
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