April 9, 2014

This is going out as a deeply felt "Thank you" to all those at Swedish Medical that made yesterday so memorable....

with a very special shout out to the anestheologist who made me completely forget all the detailsthis stirring memoir by David (I got one too) Barry;

You know you're supposed to get a colonoscopy. But you haven't. Here are your reasons: 1. You've been busy. 2. You don't have a history of cancer in your family. 3. You haven't noticed any problems. 4. You don't want a doctor to stick a tube 17,000 feet up your butt.
Let's examine these reasons one at a time. No, wait, let's not. Because you and I both know that the only real reason is No. 4. This is natural. The idea of having another human, even a medical human, becoming deeply involved in what is technically known as your ''behindular zone'' gives you the creeping willies.
I know this because I am like you, except worse. I yield to nobody in the field of being a pathetic weenie medical coward. I become faint and nauseous during even very minor medical procedures, such as making an appointment by phone. It's much worse when I come into physical contact with the medical profession. More than one doctor's office has a dent in the floor caused by my forehead striking it seconds after I got a shot.....
My friend the doctor the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, ``HE'S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BUTT!''....
On the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes -- and here I am being kind -- like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.
MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.
.....When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand. There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was Dancing Queen by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, Dancing Queen has to be the least appropriate.

Which is, as far as I can tell, pretty much how it went for me. I think. After I woke up and was taken home by a dear friend it took me about ten more hours to remember that I didn't remember I woke up and was taken home by a dear friend. As for the aftermath, well, we'll see. But for now just let me stay that with that procedure behind me I am again sitting pretty. And not in the smallest room in my house.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at April 9, 2014 9:59 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

What's for dinner?

Posted by: Sushisistah at April 9, 2014 10:21 AM

What's for dinner?

Posted by: Sushisistah at April 9, 2014 10:21 AM

That's pretty much how I mis-remember it too...

Posted by: Dex Quire at April 9, 2014 10:22 AM

Dear Sushisistah,

You are a very baaaad baaaaaad person.

Posted by: vanderleun at April 9, 2014 10:28 AM

Do it. It may be the smartest 2 grand you ever spend.

Posted by: arcs at April 9, 2014 10:37 AM

It has been my observation that gastroenterologists are the kindest of all doctors. I think they just try harder to be thorough, compassionate, and gentle.

Posted by: DHH at April 9, 2014 12:20 PM

I'm surprised you didn't talk a little about the immediate aftermath in the recovery room. As you may or may not know there's more than just 17,000 feet of tubing that enters the colon during this procedure. There's also air, lots of it, in order to inflate the colon and make it possible for the doctor to have a good look around. In my case the anesthetic that was used was apparently kind of mild because I came to a few minutes after I was wheeled into the recovery room. There were a couple other people just waking up at the same time and a nurse breezed through and encouraged us to, ahem, clear the air before we left. It sounded like a warm up session for a brass band. Cracked me up. I guess I never lost my juvenile sense of humor.

Posted by: D S Craft at April 9, 2014 12:21 PM

C'mon guys and gals. Person up and get scoped. Colon Cancer isn't funny. And you may wind up with proof that you are a perfect a*****e. Photographic proof.

Posted by: Glenn at April 9, 2014 12:41 PM
There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was Dancing Queen by Abba.
I remember a book called Prisoner without a name, Cell without a number. It was written by Jacobo Timmerman, an Argentine newspaper publisher who was 'disappeared' in Argentina in the late 70's. He described how they would torture people in the room down the hall from his cell most every night. They would play very loud music to try to disguise the screaming. It was dancing queen by ABBA. I've always thought of that song differently after that. Posted by: Tim P at April 9, 2014 12:42 PM

I got an upper and lower GI at the same time. More efficient than looking at the problem from only one viewpoint, as it were. Didn't feel a thing, didn't wake up until I was supposed to, and the anesthetic they used made me drop off quickly and almost too pleasantly. Yes, the bowel flush drink tasted like piss, and spending most of that day in my hotel room's bathroom wasn't fun, but overall, it could have been much worse.

Posted by: waltj at April 9, 2014 1:00 PM

Dr. Rawls will see you now: http://alturl.com/75rsm

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at April 9, 2014 1:06 PM

Given that both my wife and myself are in our 50's and both have family histories, we've been getting "scoped" for some time. We plan "His&Hers" colonoscopies tri-annually on successive Fridays in August. Its all very romantic.

Its also very funny. The short-term amnesia induced by that anesthetic is a hoot.

On the drive home.....
Colonoscopee: Did I have any polyps?

Driver: Yes, you did. Two small benign polyps that the doctor snipped. You're totally fine.

Colonoscopee: That's good news.

Two minutes later....
Colonoscopee....Did I have any polyps?.....

Wash, Rinse, Repeat till they've slept it off sometime later that day.

Posted by: azlibertarian at April 9, 2014 1:13 PM

I had symptoms that demanded a colonoscopy. Got scoped at ten, woke up in the TSA line at the Airport.

I thought of a great joke for the blue glove brigade but my heart just wasn't in it.

Posted by: TmjUtah at April 9, 2014 3:00 PM

When I had mine they gave me something called fentanyl, which has to be the Best Drug Ever. It kind of balances out the nastiness of the prep. I was pretty much floating in a vast ocean of being for the rest of the day.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at April 9, 2014 4:25 PM

I had both the endo and colonoscopy this morning. The cleanout has been improved, substituting Gatorade and miralax for the toilet bowl cleaner, but the procedure sucked. It was supposed to be demerol and versed, maybe it was, but not enough. I felt altogether too many attempts to go around the bends down below and the endoscope caused my fully conscious vomit reflex to work overtime -they literally had to hold me down for that part. I did not enjoy it even though I got to watch the whole thing on a wide screen tv.

Posted by: Old Surfer at April 9, 2014 5:40 PM

Far better than Gatorade, which is vile stuff, is tonic water. Gin is optional.

Posted by: Fat Man at April 9, 2014 10:31 PM

Well said, both of you.

"Yes, the bowel flush drink tasted like piss”

You’re far too generous.

Posted by: ErisGuy at April 10, 2014 12:25 AM

I've had both this and a prostate biopsy. For the biopsy you do the same wonderful prep, but you don't get the general anesthetic, they just poke a novocain needle in there and after a little while they introduce a rivet gun...the kind powered by blank .22 cartridges...

Posted by: bill l at April 10, 2014 5:20 AM

Ah, the good ol' colonoscopy. My own experiences are many and varied. For my first one, I didn't have insurance and couldn't afford the anesthesia so I got to see the whole thing live and in color. Very painful, but also very interesting.

My subsequent ones were all done normally as I had insurance at those times so they went as others have described in the comments. I have also had the experience of a camera endoscopy (twice!) which is also pretty cool. You get to swallow a camera capsule the size of an Easter egg and it takes pictures of your bowels from top to bottom (literally) and beams them to a hard-drive strapped to your body for eight hours or so. The battery pack and hard-drive are very uncomfortable to wear and you have a bunch of sensor patches taped to your body (you have to shave off your chest hair if you have any all the way down just past the treasure trail--I recommend doing this yourself rather than let them do it with a cheap disposable razor). But it's still a neat procedure.

One of my co-workers just turned 50 and had to get his first colonoscopy procedure done so I had endless fun giving him grief about it.

Posted by: Malcolm Hays at April 10, 2014 5:27 AM

I am in florida, and every scope since 2000, when the doctor tells me what he found, I ask him if he found any more votes for Al Gore.

Posted by: Pops at April 13, 2014 5:10 PM

That description is absolutely true.

No one told me the part about being blown up like a party favour. I woke up in the recovery room to incredible intestinal pain. I then released a ripping, thunderous, 4 octave spanning trumpet.

I laughed, felt better, and then passed out for another hour.

Posted by: pdwalker at April 13, 2014 8:26 PM