Dear diary, the saga of my colonoscopy

December 21, 2016, at my physical exam

“You are overdue for your colonoscopy.”
“How is that possible, doc? How overdue am I?”
“Three years.”
“I might have canceled it a few times. Do I absolutely need to go through this again?”
“Yes.”

January 15, 2017

I get a notice in the mail, “You are scheduled for your screening colonoscopy for July 6!” like I won Publisher’s Clearinghouse. I toss it aside and go outside to shovel snow.

June 4, 2017

A flood of pesky voicemails reminds me to preregister for my ‘upcoming test.’ I realize someone dares assume I will sacrifice summer vacation days for this procedure and I call to reschedule for October.

Every day between June 4 and October 1

Me: I don’t want a colonoscopy. I hate jello. I love food. Do I need to do this?
Patrick: Yes

Essentials to get the job done

October 2, 2017

8:00 AM

After I finish my black coffee, I sip chicken bouillon for breakfast.
“Not too bad.”

10:00 AM

I snack on apple juice.
“Yum.”

11:00 AM

My stomach is growling, and I’m obsessed with thoughts of saltines rationalizing that once they dissolve in chicken broth, I can drink them so they would technically qualify as a liquid. Patrick hears the crinkling of wrappers and intercepts before it’s too late.

12:15 PM

In a moment of rebellion, I take my Dulcolax – a full forty-five minutes ahead of schedule.

1:00 PM

It is a beautiful day, and I decide if I can’t eat, I’ll go for a walk. The last time I went through this, it took hours for the Dulcolax to take effect.

1:15 PM

I feel a cramp and tell myself if I turn around now and run I can be home in seven minutes. The pain subsides, and I continue walking, enjoying the autumn colors, and brilliant blue sky.

1:30 PM

I hear a rumble and look overhead for a thundercloud. I realize it is my lower intestines. My neighbor is getting her mail, and I knock her over racing by, while I break the record for a half-mile sprint in my age category. Who knew Dulcolax was a performance-enhancing drug?

6:00 PM

I drool as I watch Patrick cook his dinner. He offers to get me more Gatorade, but I decline. I sip putrid chicken broth and raise my fist, “If food scientists can make pumpkin spice Doritos, why can’t they make bouillon that tastes like lasagna?”

8:00 PM

Patrick investigates my activity in the kitchen and catches me pouring buttered popcorn jellybeans in a blender for my evening snack. I grumble about why the food industry doesn’t make popcorn-flavored bouillon as he hands me a cup of bile colored liquid.

9:00 PM

Last two Dulcolax down the pie hole. Pie. That’s what I want. Pie flavored bouillon, but please, God, not pumpkin.

October 3, 2017

9:00 AM

I’m as clean as I’ve ever been, Patrick loads me in the car, and we drive to the gastroenterology suite to reap the reward for all this suffering – top-notch drugs that will make me forget this ever happened.

10:00 AM

Staff comes into the waiting room to inform me the doctor is running a ‘little behind.’ I become belligerent, and they sequester me in a curtained enclave away from the other patients. A nurse starts an IV, and I ask her if they make lasagna flavored IV fluid. She is on my side, and says, ‘Sure. That’s what I’m giving you now.’

5:00 PM

I ask Patrick if I had lunch and he said, “Don’t you remember? You insisted on going to McDonald’s for a Big Mac.”
“Yuck! I thought I told you I wanted lasagna.”
“I offered, but you muttered something about having it earlier through your IV.”

I give myself a high five, knowing I’ve endured another colonoscopy that obliterated four tiny polyps before they could develop into cancer. I wonder why I put it off. It’s no big deal.

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73 thoughts on “Dear diary, the saga of my colonoscopy

  1. Ugh. You’re right that it’s not the end of the world, but it’s no fun either. On the other hand, it’s way better than cancer! Start planning the next one so you can procrastinate and reschedule for a few years and still have it on time. 😀

    • Yes, and now I’m on the three year plan! But I will take it more seriously since I had the precancerous lesions. How can you actually have precancer? Is that like being pre-pregnant? Or Pre-dead? Anyway, I don’t want cancer so I’m going to be a very compliant patient from this day forward. In the meantime I’m doing a letter writing campaign to the bouillon makers to see if they can get more creative with their flavors. Beef, chicken, vegetable? C’mon, they can do better than that!

  2. Do they make you have one of those every three years? Wow! We get to ‘poo’ on a stick (I resisted the urge to use a word that sound very similar to stick) and post it back to whoever has the dream job of studying the pooed on sticks. That’s what we here in the U.K. have to look forward to when we get to a certain age. We no longer get exciting things like bus passes at 60, but we do get the poo stick kit in the post. Isn’t it strange how our mother’s led us to believe that poo sticks was a charming game played by Winnie the Pooh? And then wham, we get the real truth at 60. If they detect blood in your poo – THEN you get a colonoscopy. Now that I have told you how archaic our medical checks are, I would forgive you for thinking I am typing this out on a massive old typewriter because we haven’t discovered IPads yet ?. That was very funny and made me laugh – thank you.

    • Your comment made me laugh, Gilly. The schedule in the US is first colonoscopy at age 50 and if no precancerous polyps or family history of colon cancer, repeat every 10 years until you are so old you wouldn’t live long enough to develop colon cancer. I have a family history of colon cancer so I’m supposed to have one every five years and now that they’ve snipped out precancerous polyps I’m on the three year plan. I like the idea of poo on a stick better than this, but it did put a scare in me this year so I’ve decided to be compliant. Yikes! I hate that word! Should I have written this up and sent it to you via carrier pigeon?

      • Oh gosh – my dad had bowel cancer two years ago and they removed his whole ascending colon – I guess that means I should worry about mine🤔I hope your tests continue to be clear. I think most of us have different diets to our parents now, my dad ate loads of pickled, salted and smoked stuff with nitrites in throughout his life but I never even look at any kind of food that is pickled salted or smoked as they are all said to be carcinogenic. We need to do everything we can I guess to make sure that gene in us is never activated. 🤞

        • You should do your tests diligently, Gilly. I also blamed lifestyle factors on my relatives contraction of colon cancer but when I recently had precancerous lesions, I couldn’t ignore the fact that daily intake of broccoli and brussle sprouts may not keep the wolf from the door. I’m now a big believer in having colonoscopies even though I hate them!

  3. Well written, a humorous way to get a serious message across. I’m glad you’re clear. I only went through this once, but it was a sigmoidoscopy, so not the full monty. I booked the upstairs bathroom and told everyone else to use the other one! My mum had just had surgery for colon cancer so I had the screening. We just have the stool tests every couple of years at the moment.

    • I have a family history of colon cancer too, and was in denial about what that means to me until this year when I produced polyps that were precancerous. Now I’m going to be less complacent, believe me! Glad you got a chuckle out it!

  4. If anybody could make this tale funny it would be you, Molly. And you did (and I even spelled it right – lol). So glad it is behind you now, no pun intended – along with the bouillon.

    Next time you must insist that your hubbie go OUT to eat anything solid – he can hire a sitter to make sure you don’t break the rules while he’s gone, but it truly is cruel and unusual treatment to flaunt actual food while you sip vile salty liquids. I might have knocked him out and eaten his dinner.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  5. This did make me laugh. A lot. Which is a very good way to get an extremely important point across. I can’t say I’ll be singing form the rafters when the reminder comes through the door next year but I won’t miss it for the world 😉

    • So glad I made you laugh! That is my number 1 mission and as you can see from this blog post I had a number 2 mission as well. Don’t postpone your colonoscopy! Glad you will be diligent about yours and now that I’ve had precancerous polyps, I’ll be on time for mine!

      • I had my first one last year (they are not routine in Britain but I lived in Massachusetts the whole of last year) … I too had a precancerous polyp removed and with it all huffing and puffing about the disgusting process of getting to the surgeons table!!! ?

    • I’ve been pretty complacent about getting my colonoscopies done on time since prior to this one, I had no polyps. It is lifesaving though, because this time I had precancerous polyps and I’m glad they are gone! I hope you’ll have yours when the recommendation comes your way, Terri. It isn’t pleasant but when I think of the alternative, I realize it was a minor inconvenience.

  6. My favorite line – “Who knew Dulcolax was a performance-enhancing drug?” Thank you for the laugh! I had mine last year after postponing it for three years – I get it! I’m glad that you were a responsible nurse, however, and set the example of taking care of yourself. Now go have some lasagna!

    • Thank you, Sheri. I’m planning to write to the Olympics Committee to suggest they add Dulcolax to the list of drugs they test for when evaluating these super athletes. LOL. I’m glad I did the test too, since I just found out my polyps were precancerous. Now I’m pretty motivated to keep on schedule and will likely be back at the GI suite in three short years!

  7. Ah, yes, the dreaded prep. Like you, I have to have a colonoscopy every five years, and my most recent was in April. I have to say that the prep has gotten more tolerable. Actually, the worst part of my last exam was post-procedure when, still not in complete control of my faculties from those wonderful drugs, I decided to freshen my nether region before getting dressed and reached for some antiseptic wipes on the recovery room sink. Turns out, they were for solid surfaces, not skin. Yowza! There’s a reason they tell you not to drive or sign contracts after sedation…

    • You just made me snort coffee out of my nose, Roxanne. How hilarious your tale of tidying up is! Where is that amnesia when you need it, right? This is something you’d probably rather forget. Patrick left me sleeping on the couch for about an hour in the afternoon after my procedure and he believes I didn’t move since I was in the same spot when he came home. Nevertheless, there is an hour that I could have been up to mischief and we may not know for months what sort of crazy things I did in that unaccounted for hour in time. So good to hear from you, my friend!

  8. At least you’re able to “reminisce” about the experience with humor! My hubs had one of these about a month ago. The prep is the worst, but the best is knowing at the end everything is good. I dread when my turn comes, because I react badly to anesthesia. It’ll be a few years down the road. At least you don’t have to go through this again for 5 years. Maybe by then they’ll have invented pizza-flavored bullion 😀

    • Ahhh, pizza flavored bouillon would be the best! Why hasn’t the bouillon industry gotten off its butt to help those of us having a procedure involving our butt?? They are way behind in the development of new products. Maybe by the time your have yours Julie they will have an array of choices for you.

  9. I’ve only had a colonoscopy once, and the sedative they give you to make you unaware of what’s happening worked AFTER the procedure!! The nurse regretted offering to hold my hand as I nearly ripped it off!! I had a nice sleep on the trolley afterwards…bloody useless!!

    • I have had three of theses lovely procedures and didn’t remember anything about the first two. This last one was a little more memorable, but I made it through. I don’t think anyone offered to hold my hand, and I’d say that was a wise decision based on your experience!

  10. I am so glad you lived to tell the tail Molly. It is not for the faint hearted. Like you I have cancer in the family and I have survived 2 colonoscopies and 2 proctograms. Not nice but necessary. ?

  11. This read was hilarious! I too have colon cancer in my family so I’m religious about going for my Big Procedure. This year I decided to make it especially memorable and scheduled it for Valentine’s Day . I even got into the spirit by writing Happy VD on my backside with little pink hearts with my trusty sharpie. While the amorous sentiment was lost on my long suffering hubby that night while I recouperated, the doctor and staff in OR said I’d made quite the memorable impression for an otherwise routine colonoscopy.

    • You have just cracked me up, Mellie! I wish I’d thought of writing something on my butt. Next time I’ll have to do that. I’m not sure what made me laugh the most – the thought of the surprised hospital staff or the image of writing on one’s own backside. Way to put creativity into an unpleasant procedure! Now I want my next one on a holiday so I can do an appropriate holiday message.

  12. Geez, my hubby was given a big bottle of something vile to chug down and disappeared into the bathroom with a stack of magazines.
    I’ve only had the UPPER GI – for which I forgot to stop taking some med 1 week before.

    And when my turn comes, I want to be put out completely. I don’t need to remember any of it.

    • Believe me, Jenn, I’ll never have another one without being completely out. It wasn’t as simple as your husband’s prep. It really was a two-day affair by the time I was on liquids for the prep day and had various laxatives and concoctions to drink and the procedure itself which didn’t actually take place until the afternoon. I’m thankful this ordeal is over until hopefully another five years.

  13. Instead of Dulcolax, they gave me some vile prescription stuff. It smelled like grape juice, but it was a trick. They managed to make something that tasted sickeningly sweet, salty, and bitter all at the same time! On the plus side, I lost 3 pounds in 24 hours. On the minus side, I gained it all back with breakfast in the McDonald’s drive thru on the way home.

    • That sounds horrid! Isn’t it great how the pharmaceutical companies try to make bitter tasting stuff delightful with sickening amounts of artificial cherry flavored syrup. Yuck! I didn’t lose an ounce during my ordeal and in fact may have gained a little. I believe it is fluid retention from all the salt in the bouillon. Vile, vile bouillon.

  14. This would be hilarious under any circumstances, but I just finished the craziness of a colonoscopy my self in September. (Why didn’t I think to mention it in my September recap post??)
    My act of rebellion was to stop eating a day in advance so that I’d have a fairly empty gut coming into the process. I think it helped.

  15. Molly, I hope you took a swig of that vodka with some tonic. My husband is a gastroenterologist. He includes white wine, beer, and and any see-through liquor on his list of CLEAR LIQUIDS…Really. So happy all is okay.

    • I didn’t dare to drink alcohol, Sharon, because I was afraid I’d lose control and eat a plate of nachos. LOL. I do wish your husband had been my gastroenterologist, though. And with his prep advice, I probably would have had better drugs for the procedure! I remember too much and did feel some pain. Still glad I had it done, though.

  16. As far as your prep — glad everything came out OK (rim shot). Very clever, whenever you listed an update, to include a colon in the timestamp (rim shot). Sounds like your gastroenterologist had a bit of an attitude — he gave you polyp service (rim shot). You know what they call the picture coming back from the endoscope when first inserted? A RIM SHOT.

    Here was my experience from a few years back: https://johnbranning.com/2014/01/20/dont-ass-dont-yell/

    • You made me laugh with your comments, John. Witty comments is something I expect to come out of you, whatever the topic. Where they come from is a crap shoot. I’ll check out your experience to see if it was anything like mine!

    • So I just left a comment on your hilarious rendition of this experience. I feel like I’ve passed a milestone in my blogging career as any blogger over 50 is obliged to write at least one essay about her colonoscopy, right?

  17. Hee…hee. I had my colonoscopy at St. Joseph’s Hospital. While I was waiting in pre-op with an iv attached to my arm, a very nice soft-spoken nun came by and took me by the hand to ask me if I wanted a prayer. I very politely declined but told her I’d kill for a doughnut ?.

    • Love this image of you and the nun, Michele, and it made me laugh. So relatable as I would have fought a homeless person for a crust of bread while I was waiting to have mine! Hunger and deprivation brings out the beast in us, right?

  18. Horrible prep. I wish there was a better way. I have to schedule one this year. Now here is a kicker that will make you happy to be nagged to go. The Dr. said, “you’re 68 right?” “Well this will probably be your last one because in 10 years you will be too old to treat’! Yikes!

    • Yes, there is an advantage to growing older, Bernadette. The ironic thing I see in medicine, however, is that if you fog a mirror the oncologists will treat you, so there is a disconnect between primary care (common sense) and oncology (aggressive treatment for all). At any rate, I look forward to the day when I’m ‘too old’ for this sort of thing, but I’m glad I had it done yesterday. Now if my polyps coopoerate I’ll be good to go for another 5 years.

  19. Yeah, no big deal !! I understand. I so understand. Mom had to take these before her abdominal surgery in June and she did everything you did and more and she couldn’t eat for about three days after too. What things go on in the name of health.
    Glad you are ok though and that you broke a sprint record in the process.
    Susie

    • This is my third one, Stevie, and I had one taking the mag citrate which was horrible and I never want to take that again. They stopped using it here in the US as it caused kidney issues. I dragged my butt on this one since I’d had two prior with no polyps but glad I finally did it since this time I had some. My mother and sister had colon cancer so I am supposed to have this done every 5 years. Ugh!

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