Monday, March 15, 2010

After the Colonoscopy

Harry Smith was all over the news and internet last week, with his colonoscopy, broadcast live and in color, on morning tv. Jimmy Kimmel and others made jokes about it, which you can see on You Tube and other places. The colonoscopy can also be seen as a repeat on various websites from KBTX to CBS. Live-Harry's Colonoscopy. On You Tube, you can also see an informative Lower GI Colonoscopy and Colon Hydro Therapy. There is even a listing for Colonoscopy Karaoke, which is supposed to have someone singing during the procedure. I only found a picture, but wonder what it actually is. I imagnine someone kind of out of it from anesthesia, singing away, during a colonoscopy, but I don't really know. I wonder what people do. I thought they slept, but maybe they talk-and sing! Could be embarrassing!
Katie Couric, who had a colonoscopy on tv about 10 years ago, stood by Harry's side during the event last week, and joked, as well as tried to inform viewers about a very serious health issue.
Of course, they didn't show the really difficult part, which is the preparation day-the day before. They just said that it was hard, and involved going to the bathroom a lot, and drinking a lot of required fluid.
Well, I thought, "How timely!" They should have showed it last December!"
For probably 20 years or more, my dr. told me that I should have a colonoscopy, especially considering all the stomach trouble I've had. I knew that I couldn't drink all that bad tasting stuff, and I was really scared to go through what I had heard about and imagined. I thought about it for years. I decided that I had social anxiety from things I had seen on tv, and nothing really wrong, physically.
The last straw, though, came when I had my knee replacement. All went okay, except for pain, until they gave everyone in the "class" a stool softener, the day we "graduated" and could go home. I was planning to stay an extra day, anyway, while they tried to get me in a rehab facility. (I didn't qualify.) Their reasoning was that almost everyone gets constipated after surgery, so everyone got a stool softener.
At the graduation ceremony, I felt a little gassy, which I was told was normal after surgery. However, when I had to stand up and walk to get my diploma, there was a little puddle of brown stuff in my chair. I was soooo embarrassed! But no one could see anything on my dark clothes and it was on all the padding they had on the reclining chair.
When I got back to my room, I told the nurse and she said that was normal. But, all the rest of the day, it got worse.
I couldn't get to the bathroom or a potty chair fast due to my knee. So, they finally put me in a hospital gown and a diaper. I just kept going and going and had to have the nurses change me.
They gave me lots of Immodium and it didn't work. They finally switched me to Lomotil and that didn't seem to work either. They took stool samples, which came back negative. Nothing seemed to work, and they didn't seem too concerned about it. I quit eating, just taking my meds and sipping Sprite or 7 Up and nibbling on crackers.
When my fever was clear and they couldn't find a reason for the diarrhea, they sent me home. I had bad diarrhea for a solid week after taking that stool softener. I thought that the hospital should have kept me and tried to find out the problem. But, no. They sent me home.
I still wasn't able to make it to the bathroom fast, so we put a potty chair by my bed, which my family didn't like. They refused to help me, so, eventually, I drug myself to the bathroom to clean everything up myself. Home Healthcare came to the house, and they wouldn't do that either, and got mad because my family wouldn't help. They weren't around very long.
Eventually, I was able to get to the point where I could get to the bathroom on my own, and take care of myself. But it was a miserable time!
When I went back to my doctor, she was horrified that I had never had a colonoscopy, at my age. These are supposed to start at about age 50.
I decided that I just had to do something about the stomach problems, so I agreed to schedule a colonoscopy again.
Dr. D. wanted to have a consultation with me before hand, and said he wanted to wait so many weeks after I had had anesthesia, so he scheduled me for January 4. A terrible way to start the new year, I felt. He had done two endoscopic procedures to check my stomach and stretch my esophogas, already. I think he joked about now checking me from one end to the other. It's hard to tell about him, in my observation. Maybe I was just scared.
The nurse gave me a little brown paper sack with instructions and two small bottles, like the old milk bottles, of a fizzy liquid, and 2 small brown pills. I put it in the cabinet in the bathroom and thought that I would probably back out and never use those things.
I worried all during the Christmas holidays and heard others talk about how bad it was to drink all that big container of nasty liquid. I looked for information online and thought, "I can't do this. I'll probably cancel."
But, with each thing that I had to avoid doing because I got sick at my stomach, I thought, "I had better see what the problem is and get it fixed."
"You're not going," my daughter told me. She said she had one, but I don't remember it. She said she drank a big jug of stuff, and others said that too. I wondered why I had only a couple of small bottles. I read the labels and it said that it was the same size as a Sprite. If it isn't so nasty, I can probably do that, I thought. The directions said that you only had to drink one at 5 p.m. and another one at 8 p.m., and the two little pills at 10 p.m. That shouldn't be so bad.
I worreid about this all through Christmas and decided that I should record it in my sketchbook.
My daughter told the dr. she wanted pictures, but the nurse said that he doesn't do that. I thought that he is behind the times, or, maybe he is really ahead of things, by not offering a big jug of nasty liquid to drink. I guess the little bottles are probably new, and improved, from everything I have heard and read.
I can't swallow big pills and have to crush them in ice cream, so the small pills were a plus, too.
I still told myself that I would cancel, so not to worry about it. But I did, anyway. One worry was what would happen if I took a strong laxative, considering how just a mild stool softener had affected me. I could imagine really terrible diarrhea, for a long time, that nothing would stop!
I was assured that, once everything was out, it would stop. I didn't believe that after having bad diarrhea for a week!
For years, my stomach would hurt when I had to go somewhere, even a place I looked forward to going. I couldn't go to the grocery store, shopping, to work, on a trip, without taking Immodium first. Otherwise, I was sure to get there and be miserable with a stomach ache, or just had to leave when my stomach started hurting. I decided that it was social anxiety, or something. I would be fine when I left home, looking forward to whatever I was going to do, and, when I got there, or got close, here came the stomach ache.
I told Dr. D. this during the consultation. He just listened, then said that it was good that I understood this. He said that some people can't go anywhere without taking something first, or they just quit leaving home. That's not an option, I thought. Surely there is some kind of medicine that works, if that is the problem.
Instead, he just scheduled the colonoscopy.
The New Year arrived and I started a new sketchbook. Of course, the first thing to document was the dreaded colonoscopy.
"You're not going, are you?" I knew mydaughter didn't want to take me anywhere, but she has always wanted people to go have surgery, etc. She should have worked hard at school and become a dr. or researcher, I thought. But, no, she just enjoyed it, like ghost hunting. Now, though, when I needed some support, she became squeamish and also didn't want to be bothered taking me places.
"I have to try. I've got to get over this problem." I said.
I took out the instructions and read them a few times.
My birthday came and I thought I should enjoy it, while I could. Who could tell what might happen if I had that test. I dressed up and even treated myself to a new camera and a haircut for myself and my grandson. I thought we would go out and eat and have someone sing to me. But, my daughter brought me home, then went to Rudy's and brought back some barbeque. I could have stayed in my houseclothes!
The next day was Preparation Day. The day that was supposed to be the worst of the procedure.
I slept late, then spent the afternoon in the stores, trying to figure out what I could eat. The instructions said,
Liquid Only
Nothing with fat, milk, or cream
Nothing with red or purple
You could have clear broth, but doesn't that have fat, and also salt which is not on my other diet
And that canned broth is really nasty by itself, and so are those cubes.
I wondered what ever happened to lime and lemon Jello! The shelves were full of orange and red Jello, and only one package of diet lime Jello. I bought the one little package, made it up, but couldn't eat it, it was so nasty. Threw that away and found an old package of lime Jello and made that. I ended up eating only Sprite, all day.
I had chilled the bottles of laxative, as directed, and started sipping that at 5. Not too bad, if you like sour things. Very strong lemon flavor, that fizzed, like champagne, I told myself. After a few sips, though, it was too sour, so I would drink a sip, eat some lime Jello, and wash it all down with Sprite. That worked okay, but the second bottle was harder. I got it down, though.
I had put new carpet in my bedroom, so everything was in the living room. I decided that I needed to be close to the bathroom, according to what others had said. I moved the trundle bed near my bathroom, temporarily. Put the potty chair beside it, in case! My grandson's tv was small, so I put it in the bedroom, temporarily. I put some plastic drop cloths in the bathroom, also in case... I put extra toilet paper, wipes, magazines, and adult diapers in the bathroom. Then the top light burned out in the bathroom. I couldn't climb the ladder to change it, due to my knee. I asked the tall people in the house to change it, and they all said, "Later." Weeks later, the youngest changed it for me! So, I couldn't read, but I had lights from the next room, so it was okay.
"Haven't you gone yet?" My daughter asked.
10 p.m. and it was time to take the pills and I still hadn't started going. I decided that I hadn't eaten much in a few days, so there wasn't a lot to get rid of.
I thought that I might vomit if I had to drink anymore of that sour stuff by the time I finished the second bottle.
I thought about when my grandmother, great aunts, and aunt used to go to Marlin and had those high colonics, and thought it was wonderful! I thought they must be a bit sadistic, to think that was something to do willingly!
And I thought of Katie Couric, doing this on tv. I sort of would like to watch, too, but I think I am too cowardly.
By 5:30 a.m., I was getting sore from going so much, but a warm, wet cloth helped, more than the wipes. Couldn't make it through the 2 rooms to the bathroom, so I used the diapers and was glad I had them from the hospital. I was getting too miserable to read the magazines, if I could have seen them in the dark. I wanted to sleep, but couldn't stay in the bed long enough. Finally dozed off for 30 minutes about 6 a.m. By then it was time to get up and get dressed to go to the clinic.
I worried that I might have to go and couldn't wait.
My daughter and oldest grandson drove me to the appointment. The nurse took us all into the exam room. They sat in the chairs and I looked, nervously, at the guerney with the IV, waiting. The nurse told me to go into the bathroom and take off my lower clothes, put on the hospital gown. I asked about leaving the diaper on, for now, in case....
She said they could work around it! It was okay.
In the above drawings, are some of the things after the colonoscopy. More in my next post about the actual colonosocopy.
"I Finally Had A Colonoscopy". This was in the New York News.
The top drawing was started in the waiting room of my doctor's office.
Second and third drawings were a few days when I was sick at my stomach at home, after the colonoscopy. Maybe it was something going around, or maybe it was my usual self!
Fourth drawing was on Daddy's birthday, when I got my results. My daughter spent the day sleeping, as usual, and I was in the bathroom, fixing my hair, when the nurse called with my results from the colonoscopy. Everything was okay. Just keep taking my meds, I was told.
I felt like I had been shuffled through the door and didn't learn a thing or resolve the problem.
I guess it was good that I finally went through with it, after backing out for years.
In the last drawing, I was standing in line at the clinic, waiting to see the dermotologist, when the old stomach pains hit, and I really couldn't wait for my turn at the window. I wanted to run around to see the other doctor for Help! I managed to check in, then run to the bathroom. I could hardly focus on my dermatology appointment.
If you need to have a colonoscopy, maybe the experiences of others will help you get through it. Or maybe you can identify with these experiences. Or maybe I'm "in style" with Harry Smith on tv. I didn't have a camera crew and news anchor to go along with me. I was sure wishing that I had someone to help me through it! But I survived, with a good report, and another "adventure".


lisasmith said...

well, my surgery messed me up something good but i guess i wasn't alone. har har. i love how your sketches follow your experiences...must be very therapeutic!

Cecelia said...

Yes, Lisa. It does fill time, too. I feel like my experiences might help someone else. I show these to my doctors, and that helps when they ask me when or what happened, what I'm taking, etc. I always write down what I want to ask when I have a visit with a dr. and the pictures help. I started doing this with my vision problems because I couldn't find anything that showed what I was seeing.