Innerspace: The Story of my Colonoscopy.

Disclosure: By not closing out your browser window now, you are acknowledging and taking full responsibility for any mental or physical repercussions you may experience from reading the content contained herein.


I’ve never noticed how much the line art in my blog background looks like intestines. Have you?

So I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy Wednesday.

Or, as was listed next to my name on the whiteboard, I had a ↑↓.

Most people were just having a , so I will admit that I felt a little special to have been chosen for a bi-directional procedure.

Because when you’re walking back to receive a pair of “surgical shorts” and a backless gown in order to have countless people see parts of you that you’ve never quite been able to see yourself, you have to take your pride where you can find it.

We all know what a colonoscopy is, but an endoscopy is basically the same thing, but starting in your mouth and ending, based on the soreness I’m still experiencing, somewhere in your stomach.

But let’s back up 36 hours. Because a colonoscopy wins the Kanye “Imma let you finish but this test is one of tha most life-invasive tests of all time” award.

And as such, I found myself, Monday night, at the grocery store having the most unsexy shopping event of my life.

Clear juices…Gatorade in a flavor I didn’t mind hating for the rest of my life…Chicken broth. To eat solo.

I texted Chris.

“Juicing would surely count as a liquid, right?”

“I don’t see why not…”

I bought frozen peaches, grapes, and grapefruit juice. In hindsight (something there was a lot of this week), I’m pretty sure my frozen fruit smoothies did indeed break the rule, as they contained pulp.

But I really don’t give a rat’s…oh nevermind.

I arrived home with my groceries and surveyed with discomfort my diet for the next day.

I was not meant for this.

I was meant for chocolate and marshmallows and cheese. All of which technically could be melted down…

That night, I tossed and turned with apprehension. When I finally did sleep, I dreamed repeatedly of all five My Little Ponies preparing for and receiving colonoscopies. But they were oddly happy about it, prancing around on rainbows…

I’m sure they’ll cover that in Season Four.

The next morning, I woke up to half a dozen helpful signs, lovingly crafted in the wee hours of the morning by my adoring husband.

A Colonoscopy Tale

A little background: it had been bothering Ali that Chris never referred to me as “Rachel”, and she had been interrogating us both for days – as if the future of our marriage relied on it.

“I know you call her Mommy in front of us…but what do you call her when we’re not around?? AND WHAT DID YOU CALL HER BEFORE WE WERE BORN?!?”

“Um, well, I call her babe…or darlin’….things like that.”

“But WHY don’t you ever call her RACHEL!?!?!?”

I think the inclusion of my Christian name on those signs really helped Ali believe in us as a couple.

And they helped me, too – only once did I completely bypass the sign, go into the pantry, grab a snack and almost eat it before I remembered the illegalities of my current state.

I dutifully drank smoothies that morning, and finally busted out the Chicken Broth that afternoon.

And was shocked at how delicious it was.

Followed by immediate depression at the sad, sad statement of my life.

I liquid dieted until 5:30pm, when I began this, which, despite its very misleading name, is disappointingly NOT something that can be substituted for popcorn and Twizzlers.

A Colonoscopy TaleIt’s sitting on Ali’s birthday party tablecloth. I’ll leave it up to your imagination what it was destined for.

MoviPrep consists of four powder packets that are to be mixed into water or Gatorade in two 32 ounce doses, creating A Liquid Which Can’t Be Named.

I chose Arctic Blast to be my first Gatorade I’d never touch again.

A Colonoscopy Tale

When mixed, it looked and tasted like toilet bowl cleaner mixed with urine.

Salty, nauseating, and thick.

Meanwhile, my darling husband, who had been searching the internet for ColonoscopyHacks, was thinking ahead again – perhaps too far this time.

A Colonoscopy TaleThis charger was not used. I repeat. This charger was not used.

He also found this frightening piece of advice.

Colonoscopy Tips

I do not want to know why she used quotation marks where she did.

At Midnight, I was instructed to drink the other 32 ounces. 32 Ounces which, in my opinion, were wholly unnecessary.

This time, I chose a green flavor. Which was very talented at keeping its color and transparency, I might add.

A Colonoscopy Tale

Surprisingly, it tasted a slight bit better in green, or perhaps I was so dehydrated that actual urine + cleanser would have been a savory treat by then.

——-

D-Day. The lobby was so crowded that I had to share a settee with a woman I didn’t know. And the inhabitants were so old that Chris and I were the only ones looking at our phones – something I assumed only occurred in Nursing Homes and Piccadilly’s.

We got assigned a number, giving us the feeling of false anonymity. It’s not like we didn’t know what each other was there for. We were all about to be invaded in the most terrible of ways, yet relegated to being a number.

I was number eighteen.

And, after hearing the receptionist yell out, “Number Two!! NUMBER TWO!!!”, I couldn’t have been happier with my number.

Because no one should be forced into that number. Not here. Not now. Be human and skip it like the thirteenth floor.

I desperately attempted to maintain my personal space on that institutionally small settee until my number was announced a few years later.

I turned in my phone to Chris and plodded through the first room of ten curtained indignities.

I heard a guy with a SOUTHERN ACCENT (because there are southern accents and then there are SOUTHERN ACCENTS) bashfully tell his nurse, “Weyell golly – I wore mah naaace boots today, but didn’t think abawt wearin’ mah decent socks!! Sorrah ‘bout thayat!”

I shuddered at the shaming happening within each of those curtained cubbyholes and dreaded my own impending humiliation.

I was led me back to a room of only four curtains. Nurse Cindy introduced me to her trainee, a brand new first-day-on-the-jobber, then left us to begin the millennia of questions.

“Do you have dentures? Any family history of lung, liver, heart, hand, foot, knuckle, or eyebrow disease? Have you ever been a man?”

Then she got into the meat of the interrogation.

“Why did your doctor order these tests?”

“Because my bloodwork indicated Crohn’s Disease.”

“C-R-O…… CINDY!!!!!! HOW DO YOU SPELL CROHN’S??”

“Have you had constipation or diarrhea? Wait a minute – CINDY!!!! HOW DO YOU SPELL DIARRHEA??”

Now I know it’s an unsavory word that is despised above all words except moist, but if you’re going to be a nurse in the Colonoscopy Center, YA MIGHT WANT TO LEARN HOW TO SPELL THAT ONE.

Then she left me.

Everyone says the prep is the worst part, but it’s actually laying in a curtained prison with no phone for over an hour.

Just as I was going to flee, leaving my robe and surgical shorts behind, someone came for me. She wheeled me to the procedure room, where brutal-looking tubing was shooting in every direction and Journey was blaring over the speakers.

Really? JOURNEY?!

Why not go ahead and have a track of Captain Picard proudly exclaiming “TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE.”

The anesthetist then gave me the first drug while telling me the doctor would be in soon, and I’d be able to talk to him, but wouldn’t remember it. Which is the cruelest thing you can do to a paranoid member of society. I need to know what inanities I said. And if there’s ever a YouTube video crop up of that conversation, somebody’s getting sued.

Then I woke up in recovery, yelling over and over.

“Cold….COLD….CCCCOOOOOOLDD!!”

I continued yelling for a good ten minutes, as nurse after nurse brought me a warm blanket, piling them onto me until I looked like a misplaced soiled linens cart.

The curtain between me and my neighbor was open, and our faces were five feet apart. We were the same age. I was a recovery yeller, she was a recovery crier.

She felt my eyes on her and turned to me, but didn’t stop wailing.

And so, the crier and the yeller watched each other, through tears and shivers, both weirded out by the other one’s recovery tactics, yet bonding nonetheless.

Until one of the nurses shoved a blanket up around my neck and over my mouth to finally shut me up.


Epilogue: They took a set of horrifying full-color pictures of the inside of my colon and presented them to my husband (See? This post could have been worse.) Nothing was conclusive, but they took several biopsies and may have me swallow a camera if they don’t see what they expect to see. It’s possible that if I do have Crohn’s, it was that all along and never Dysautonomia. I have no preference, except for a correct and final diagnosis.

Leave your comment below!

Comments

  1. Oh Rachel! I am SO sorry that you are experiencing such medical drama! At least you got to be knocked out for the actual procedures (but both ends at once – poor you!)

    I’ve never had a colonscopy but I have had several biopsies of the small intestine and I didn’t really enjoy the experience, mostly because it felt like there were SNAKES moving inside my gut and it was creepy. Not to mention that I have a very strong gag reflex so having a tube down the throat is not nice. Afterwards I found I felt kind of nauseated and gassy for days. Yuck.

    I hope I never need to be intubated. At least I didn’t have to “prepare” aside from not eating after supper.

    I hope they figure out what is wrong finally and that you don’t have to have any more invasive medical procedures!

    • Oh it’s ok. I’ve come to terms with my role in life…I just consider myself a Medical Test Reviewer. Kinda like a secret shopper! Except the doctor was doing the shopping. And the purchases weren’t pretty.

  2. As I mentioned, my husband had a colonoscopy several weeks ago (to rule out things like Crohn’s or IBS — thankfully nothing was found) and oh my god I am SO GRATEFUL that they did not give me pictures….

    Also, they let me come back and sit with him while he was getting a little loopy.

    • Did he say anything fun to you? I wish I’d had someone I trusted there so that I could find out what I said! Or maybe I don’t.

      • Nothing too hilarious, sadly. When I went back to the recovery room I was expecting him to be dazed but he was sitting up chowing down on Lorna Doone, though he did have some trouble forming complete sentences for a few minutes. :)

  3. I love your storytelling skills! And I would like to see the photos. When I had a cyst removed from my ovaries years ago, they sent my home with the video of the procedure.

  4. I feel really bad laughing so much when I got to the crier and yeller part. I’m sure my time will come soon…

  5. I’m sorry. This is awful. But I laughed, hard, throughout your entire post. Mainly because I can commiserate, and your experiences brought back memories of my springtime colon-probe. Did your prep not make you sick as a dog?! I threw up so many times, and I’m not sure that was its purpose… I also thought the worst parts were passing out when they put the IV in, waking up in my surgical shorts listening to the man next to me draw a picture of his nether regions to describe where the rashes are, and not being able to remember the actual event. Did I talk? Did it hurt? I need to know these things!

    Fingers crossed your tests come back negative! It turned out I don’t have IBS or Crohns – I just run too much and make my insides angry and bloody. Imagine that.

    • I did not get sick from the prep!! Yes, I think your puking was not helpful in the whole don’t-get-dehydrated thing.

      And…a picture of his nether regions?!?!?!? WHERE did he get paper in recovery?

  6. HAHAHAHA, “Be human and skip it like the thirteenth floor.” PROBABLY MY FAVORITE PART :) But seriously, you might be one of the only people capable of making a colonoscopy story entertainging… props to you.

  7. Um, no pictures? DISAPPOINTMENT.

  8. I’ve had more colonoscopy’s (colonoscopies?) than a person my age should have, thanks to a variety of medical issues (which included being mis-diagnosed with Crohn’s at one point) and the fact that my mother has had colon cancer, and let me tell you, they have gotten better.. They used to give you four jugs of stuff with the consistency of buttermilk that you had to drink 8 oz at a time in 1 hr increments, and it was not easy to keep down.

    …anyway. I’m also a recovery screamer. I usually just go with ‘Mommy’ or ‘Josh’, depending on who was unfortunate enough to be driving me that day.

  9. LOVE the part about your daughter being concerned that your husband doesn’t call you by your Christian name. :) I love your blog, you always make the most potentially-awkward subjects hilarious. I hope you start feeling better soon (whatever the diagnosis). Also if it is Crohn’s, a friend of mine treated his by switching to the paleo diet and he said it’s improved a LOT, so might be something to keep in mind if that is the case!

  10. Goodness you tell fantastical stories! I had to drive my dad to his colonoscopy and he was just weird post-op. I hope you get a diagnosis soon and can figure everything out. I wish you the best of luck!

    • Did you have to sit for hours and wait on him? That waiting room was not a cheery place…dozens of people looking forward to having their insides scoured with a video camera…and I’m assuming it’s some sort of Inspector Gadget device, since it videos, biopsies, and can cut polyps off!

  11. Oh joy, colonoscopies, eh? I’ve had one and really should be nagging the Dr for a regular programme to check for colon cancer. I think we had slightly different prep stuff but it was still disgusting, especially having to drink it first thing in the morning. I put mine with ginger ale as ginger is supposed to be good for nausea. Put me off ginger ale!

    Also, I was supposed to be sedated (not totally asleep) but I didn’t want to be, so I just stayed awake and was aware of the whole thing. It didn’t hurt.

    They gave me a cheese sandwhich afterwards and I asked the nurse how they got such amazing cheese sandwiches. It was just and ordinary sandwich but I was hungry so it tasted better!

    Anyhoo, I hope you get a diagnosis and some good treatment soon!

  12. Oh sweetie, I love your humor, but I know from experience that some of us use humor to make light of a difficult situation :) I will be praying for you, and I sincerely hope you’re able to get an accurate diagnosis. I’d appreciate your prayers as well if you think of it, because I’m in the same boat. In my case the specialists are flummoxed and aren’t even sure what tests to order next :(

    Anyway, I got a really good laugh out of your post. Thanks for cheering my day!

  13. Celiac and dysautonomia sometimes correlate, have you thought about that? I have a friend with those two conditions. My husband had both tests together, inconclusive too and he did do the camera. Funny thing, the camera covers more area and is cheaper then the endoscopy and colonoscopy combo. Wonder why they don’t just do that? I guess that thing can’t take biopsies. In his case, he was slightly anemic and no one could find out why. He had a slight GI bleed that had healed itself, that is what the camera revealed. He was due for another colonoscopy last year, funny not sure why he did not make his appointment…. It was so fun the first time.

  14. Don’t die. I remember waking up from a surgery and attacking the nurses. I think they did something to knock me out again because I woke up later and was more civil. My sister is a nurse and said that is actually rather common. I am so glad I am not a nurse.

  15. Melissa MH says:

    The tone in this post tells me this was truly a traumatic experience for you. You sound miserable. I’m sorry you have to have it done.

  16. Oh my!
    I am glad it was last Wednesday and not this coming! I totally have to settle on that being the bright side of such an event. I will say a prayer for you,. I agree, I just want to know what is going on with my body. My mysteries normally have to with rashes and allergic reactions. I am amazed how there never seems to be a clear cut answer. I once had doctor tell me a rash I had on my belly could be there because I swallowed something that I was allergic to and it created a rash from the inside out. I am pretty sure they only make that stuff up in sci-fi movies and doctor’s offices.
    Julie
    (The flu is gone, but the morning sickness presses on!)

  17. Hilarious. Every word. So glad you documented it.
    At the same time… Praying for you for you friend…for a clear diagnosis. Keep us updated.

  18. I’ve been there, girl. It’s strange, horrifying, and oddly hilarious at the same time. Except that my doctor had the nerve to chastise me for not drinking every drop of his glorious “prep.” Mine came in a 17 gallon jug (it had to have been 17 gallons), after I had been sick and having, well, issues. I sat right there in the curtain zone and told him that he had no right to fuss at me for not finishing something he’d never even tasted (I asked), and that I could not be convinced I, at 110 lbs, needed the same amount of that stuff as a 300 lb man. The nurse had to leave my curtain so as not to laugh and appear disloyal. And I didn’t even have the drugs to blame it on yet. I was just plain cranky.

    Anyway, I hope you get it all figured out. The not knowing is the most frustrating part.

    • You make a good point!! I am positive that I was just as clear after the first 32 ounces as I was after the second two. If there’s a next time, perhaps I’ll be stubborn like you. :-)

    • hoosiermeema says:

      That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, Melissa! You tell ’em! You are so right. Doctors and nurses should be required to go through a procedure before they should be allowed to take a patient through it!

      • Wouldn’t THAT be a fabulous rule? One time a doctor performed a (foot) surgery on me, and then after the surgery, told me, “I’ve never done that before and will probably never do it again.” – great timing, Doc.

  19. Wow, had mine 6 months ago and it wasn’t like this, except for the horrible taste stuff. I was only in the curtain room briefly and then they took me to a closed room where I met the Dr before they put me out. Woke up just like from a nap. Went shopping with my husband afterwards, out for breakfast, and then slept the rest of the day. Best advice I got was to lay off solids a couple days in advance, get the first appointment of the day, buy moist wipes, and use diaper butt stuff before you start.
    Praying for you to get a correct diagnosis soon and a path to wellness.

  20. Rachel, you have an AMAZING gift for finding humor in the worst situations! “Hindsight”, hehehe….if I ever get a colonoscopy I’m going to find this post. I had an mri recently and your mri post made the experience that much better for me!

  21. I only recently learned that Haribo sugar free gummy bears do the same thing as the yucky stuff you drank. You will enjoy these product reviews., I think.

    http://www.amazon.com/Haribo-Gummy-Candy-Sugarless-5-Pound/product-reviews/B000EVQWKC/

    I’m sorry you had to suffer such discomfort and indignities. And yet you, as always, manage to use your less than savory experience for the amusement of the masses. I hope you get a definitive answer soon. Praying for you!

  22. My hubby has to get a colonoscopy every two years. I look forward to watching him come out from under the anesthesia. He’s cute when he’s groggy and disoriented. And he really likes the juice boxes they give him.

  23. Lindsay D says:

    This was hilarious. I am glad you can post this to your blog and bring a smile. You can take not so fun situations and make them truly entertaining. I hope you have a definite and final diagnosis soon.

  24. I love how you infuse humor into even the crappiest of situations. My favorite line of this post was ” In hindsight (something there was a lot of this week)” – that made me laugh out loud.. I do hope that you have fully recovered and that you are able to get a diagnosis without having to go through that again!

    My parents had to get a colonoscopy a couple of years ago when they turned 50 and my dad still likes to brag about how the doctor said he had the cleanest colon he had ever seen…

    • What?? EVERYONE has the cleanest colon after their prep… I wonder what made your Dad’s stand out so much. Ahem.

      • LOL That’s what I was thinking…I assume it was either the doctor’s first procedure or he just says that to all of his patients to make them feel like the nasty drink and starvation was worth it.

  25. so sorry you were invaded like that…
    but I love that you mentioned Picadilly. we used to have one of those in East Texas where I grew up and I loved it. haven’t heard that in years!

  26. Amanda Sheren says:

    Ouch! My Mom had one done when she was around 50, not sure why other than she was having horrendous migraines, but I can’t ask her anymore. I like the part of your post where you talked about your 1st day-er prep person not knowing how to spell some really basic words for her area of expertise. That’s just sad. I hope you enjoyed the photos, I still remember my Mom’s, that’s something you can’t really get out of your head. I hope they finally get the correct diagnosis for you so you can start to heal your body.

  27. OMG I am CRYING… from laughter! I hope you get the answers you seek… but OMGROTFLMAOWTFBBQ!!!

    fwiw – I had a colonoscopy when I was 14… they thought I had colitis (it was food poisoning). I was awake, it was in the doc’s office and my mom was there, watching the screen TOTALLY engrossed like it was freaking Downton Abby (although, I was 14 in in 1986, so more like… LA Law ;p). Be glad you weren’t awake for the procedure…

    Poor baby. The husband loaded you with chocolate and wine for DAYS, yes?

    Good luck!

  28. What sort of drugs do they give you? Is it through an IV? I as an 18 yr old have one tomorrow.

Speak Your Mind

*