My First Colonoscopy

Warning: This may be a lit­tle too much infor­ma­tion for some. I find it fun­ny that almost a year ago, Tiana crowned her­self the win­ner of our inad­ver­tent com­pe­ti­tion on gross-out bod­i­ly func­tion blog­ging, and specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned that to top her peri­od-blog­ging I would need to do a live blog­ging of a colonoscopy. I was too sedat­ed to do a live blog­ging, so this is a night-of blog­ging.

Bishop takes rook-pawn, Tiana. Your move.

Before

The first (overnight) lax­a­tive is to clean out your colon of all sol­id wastes. It does­n’t kick in overnight, it starts work­ing in about an hour, which means you aren’t going to get much sleep.

The sec­ond lax­a­tive (mag­ne­sium cit­rate) makes your intes­tine absorb water through osmo­sis, so that you start pass­ing liq­uid for a more thor­ough clean­ing. The mag­ne­sium cit­rate was­n’t as bad tast­ing as I expect­ed (sort of a chem­i­cal­ly sour lemon­ade), but that, along with hav­ing to drink ten glass­es of water to make it effec­tive, did make me slight­ly nau­seous.

When liq­uid comes out of you from this end, it does­n’t make a nice con­tained splosh. No, it goes every­where. I lost track of how many times I went to the bath­room, and used almost two rolls of toi­let paper in two days. And when you wipe this many times, even three-ply, ultra-soft toi­let paper feels like it’s coat­ed in dia­mond dust and dipped in acid.

I was able to get through a decent chunk of my nov­el, The Last Light of the Sun, and learned from GQ how to “Work That Tan”, why Shia LaBeouf is the upcom­ing bad boy of Hollywood, and that Rolex makes a $37,500 nau­ti­cal watch.

You real­ly don’t feel like doing any­thing but lie around when going through this. As such, I was able to fin­ish God of War 2, and unlocked the awe­some Cod of War cos­tume, which still makes me laugh every time a Greek sol­dier address­es Kratos as “My lord!” when he’s wear­ing it.

During

Every per­son I spoke to who had a colonoscopy said that it was a breeze. Not so for me.

Pretty much as soon as they inject­ed the seda­tive into my IV, I passed out, only to be awok­en by bouts of agony. I’d say that for the entire pro­ce­dure I was only con­scious for about two min­utes in total, but those two min­utes were not fun. I don’t think I would have wok­en up if it was­n’t for the pain.

Part of the dis­com­fort is sup­posed to come from inject­ing air into the colon so they can bet­ter see the colon. I could­n’t tell if it was that, the instru­ment they used to do it, or the endo­scope itself snaking into my colon, but I felt a sharp pres­sure on both the anal cav­i­ty, and inside the colon.

I remem­ber scream­ing through grit­ted teeth, grab­bing the han­dles of the bed, swear­ing, and think­ing that I should have bet­ter man­ners before pass­ing out again.

At one point, some­one also had to hold me down, and uttered com­fort­ing words, but I could­n’t make out what he said.

After

Since the colon is inflat­ed with air, I was warned that I’d be pass­ing gas for a while after the pro­ce­dure. This is true, and very invol­un­tary.

I have severe ulcer­i­tive col­i­tis, which is an inflam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease. The doc­tor showed me pic­tures of my colon; the right side is fine, but the left side is so inflamed that it’s black, red, and bleed­ing. All the infor­ma­tion is being sent to anoth­er spe­cial­ist, whom I’m very glad to be able to see soon.

I was pret­ty grog­gy for a while after, par­tial­ly because I had­n’t eat­en in two days, and par­tial­ly because of the seda­tive. Every time I stood up, I felt like I was going to pass out.

Right now, I have to take 12 pills a day, one of them being pred­nisone, a steroid to sup­press the over­ac­tive immune sys­tem respons­es, the oth­er being mesalamine, an anti-inflam­mi­to­ry drug to bring the swelling under con­trol. These drugs are scary. The side effects are pret­ty bad, but the doc­tor judged the ben­e­fits to out­weigh the poten­tial risks.

I may have to take pills (con­sid­ered “main­te­nance med­ica­tions” to pre­vent relapse) for the rest of my life. While I feel this low­ers my qual­i­ty of life, it’s much bet­ter than deal­ing with the flare-ups and side effects of col­i­tis. Aside from that, the only cure is to have part of my colon removed in surgery, which I real­ly don’t want to do.

The diag­no­sis of hav­ing a chron­ic diges­tive dis­ease is not great, but I’m very relieved to have an expla­na­tion of the mys­tery pains, along with a treat­ment plan.

I hate, hate, hate being alone when I’m feel­ing sick. My stom­ach still feels very fun­ny and unset­tled. So Julie came over last night to hang out a bit and to take my mind off every­thing, and watch some Robson Arms.

31 comments

  1. I had total­ly for­got­ten about the gas part!!! Now that I think about it the nurse did come in and tell him that if he was hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty pass­ing gas he should get on his hands and knees and stick his behind in the air so that it would move. And because I am from the south and my the­o­ry about toi­let humor and south­ern­ers is that they go hand in hand, I am gig­gling all over again at the thought of it. (sor­ry!) Thank good­ness you now know what your issues are and are on a road to find­ing some­thing that will work. Things are look­ing up!

    • It’s fun­ny that you men­tion the gas-pass­ing posi­tion, because it sounds just like a pos­ture in yoga that my friend does for the same pur­pose.

  2. Oh that was­n’t so bad! More insight­ful than gross real­ly! I think you and Tiana should reign togeth­er as gross-out cham­pi­ons.

    • I guess if infor­ma­tion does­n’t kill you, it makes you stronger. :)

  3. Not pleas­ant from the sounds of it, but at least you know what’s wrong now and can treat it. Here’s hop­ing the med­ica­tion won’t have any of the neg­a­tive side effects and you’ll just be able to feel bet­ter :)

    • Yeah it’s still ear­ly for me being on them, and noth­ing too major so far. I think if I had an aller­gy, I would have expe­ri­enced an adverse reac­tion already.

  4. The cure for the toi­let paper=sandpaper issue is DEFINITELY a remov­able show­er head wand thingy. It also comes in handy for oth­er things *wig­gles eye­brows*

    So I guess you are win­ning but that is only because my pla­cen­ta tour video is on Brent’s com­put­er, is too big to upload as-is and I don’t have any method of trans­fer­ring it to my mac for edit­ing FOR NOW! So you are safe… but don’t rest easy my friend.

    • But does­n’t that mean you’re essen­tial­ly show­er­ing your low­er half sev­er­al times (over two dozen, in my case). I imag­ine that the con­stant water and tow­el­ing off would lead to a major case of dry skin. Now I know why some coun­tries use bidets.

      If you have real pla­cen­ta footage, then YOU WIN…I TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT!

  5. hey man sor­ry 4 OZ like doc vis­it
    on the oth­er hand u know whats going on in my opin­ion i would get the bad part teak­en out over pills every­day peo­ple go under the knife 4 alot less i say risks r nill go 4 the gold bud­dy

    • I would gen­er­al­ly agree with surgery over pills, but a colon-removal oper­a­tion has TERRIBLE con­se­quences, since the colon is what stores feces. Instead, the poo would go into a bag that you wear, that needs to be emp­tied. I so don’t want to go that route.

  6. I admire your courage, both for going through the whole pro­ce­dure and telling your read­ers about it. I’m the scaredy type and would rather not know, out of fear that I might have some­thing very seri­ous — a mind­set that is prob­a­bly a dis­ease in itself. But if I ever do decide to seek med­ical atten­tion, I’d prob­a­bly go the “alter­na­tive” route.

    • I was think­ing of post­ing pic­tures actu­al­ly, more for my own record than any­thing, but got some feed­back on how appre­cia­tive peo­ple were that there weren’t any visu­als.

      I used to be the type who would rather not know too, but the pain just got so bad that I decid­ed the ven­ture into know­ing was worth it. Hopefully you don’t get to that point some day.

  7. I was kin­da half hop­ing for some pic­tures. Ha ha, ah well.
    Glad to know that you’re on the road of get-bet­ter, dude. You have the brav­ery equiv­a­lent of a naked Viking in bat­tle, to have some­one to shove a cam­era up yours, and tell the whole world about it.

    • A naked Viking in battle…that’s a fun­ny image, as I’m prob­a­bly the least Viking-ish per­son I know. Maybe a Scot with a kilt on. :)

  8. I’m def­i­nite­ly glad that after read­ing this that my diges­tive engi­neer­ing appears to be able to take on just about any­thing with­out a prob­lem. For some your pro­ce­dure might sound just like ‘some­thing you go through’; for me it’s the epit­o­me of a night­mare. (And Oh, A $37,500 WATCH???). There’s a Pulp Fiction joke in there some­where.…

    I think you might con­sult some­one in alter­na­tive med­i­cine on a restora­tive food plan strat­e­gy; that’s what any good Californian would do. Sounds limp I know, and you def­i­nite­ly need to heal first. But stay­ing on meds for good isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly your only path, I should guess. Remember, your liv­er has to hold up for the rest of your life, too. Having had immune response relat­ed junk, I know some­thing about that. Take care of ALL of you.

    How to work a tan .… ha!!!

    Very relieved for you that it’s noth­ing more seri­ous.

    • I total­ly envy those with iron stom­achs. My friend is one of them, and I jeal­ous­ly watch him eat any­thing (even foods I would­n’t dream of mix­ing) with­out a prob­lem.

      I’ll prob­a­bly find out more about Traditional Chinese Medicine, but I don’t think it has a direct solu­tion, aside from prac­tic­ing Tai Chi to calm the mind and body.

      • I don’t mean nat­ur­al alter­na­tive meds even; Check out yin and yang foods with some­one. What things go with what.

      • Ah right…I’ll have to look into that. I’m pret­ty sure that most of the food I eat right now is yang, which is why I try to drink so much tea (which in yin). Ginseng and lingzhi is also sup­posed to help bal­ance the two.

  9. you HAVE the pic­tures? I want to see!!

    • Sorry, no pic­tures. I was think­ing of ask­ing for them, but I think it would just scare me unnec­es­sar­i­ly. Maybe one day, when I have this under con­trol.

  10. ya ok have­ing to wear a bag o poop sucks go with the pills

    • I’m glad you see it my way. :D

  11. hey jeff,

    sor­ry to hear about your diag­no­sis. but don’t wor­ry; i’m a phar­ma­cist in aus­tralia and have seen a lot of patients with the same con­di­tion who live per­fect­ly well-round­ed lives despite hav­ing to be on tablets/enemas all the time. and you’re right about the surgery; i think tablet pop­ping beats poop­ing out of a stoma (hole in stmoach) any­day! a bit more hygien­ic too, no doubt.

    good luck with the pill tak­ing!

    • Thank you very much for the infor­ma­tion. I’ve nev­er had one, but I’d real­ly rather not go the ene­ma route though, so I’m hop­ing it’s one or the either!

  12. You were so brave to con­front the prob­lem direct­ly.

    For chron­ic dis­eases, Chinese med­i­cine can be quite effec­tive, and it’s cer­tain­ly much less dis­rup­tive to the sys­tem, com­pared to west­ern med­i­cine, even though it may involve a rel­a­tive­ly lengthy course. Hey, isn’t Tai Chi also good for the immune sys­tem ?

    Special dietary regime can be very impor­tant too, I’m not sure if your doc­tor has told you what food to avoid and what food is pre­ferred.

    A chron­ic dis­ease takes some patience and deter­mi­na­tion to cure. With a young body like yours, it will cure.

    • I would­n’t say brave, just fed up. The pain got pret­ty bad before I decid­ed to seek more med­ical help, because I was so frus­trat­ed with my pre­vi­ous doc­tors.

      Tai Chi is def­i­nite­ly some­thing that’s rec­om­mend­ed for those with ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis, so I’m already on that path. I don’t believe there’s any spe­cif­ic food that can trig­ger a flare-up though, because it’s dif­fer­ent for every per­son. I’ll have to fig­ure this out on my own.

      Unfortunately, there’s no cure for this dis­ease, aside from remov­ing the entire colon. The best I can hope for is time that the dis­ease is in remis­sion, which is what the pills are sup­posed to do. Remission can last years with­out flare-ups, so that’s my goal.

  13. jeff,

    i’m glad you final­ly have a diag­no­sis that takes you out of the dread­ed “somat­ic zone”.

    i’m w/ xibee on the idea of seek­ing out alter­na-med info. chi­nese med­i­cine is one such path, but i would sug­gest that you also look for online patient sup­port and advo­ca­cy groups. i have an auto-immune thy­roid con­di­tion. i’m final­ly on the road to recov­er­ing my health thanks to my yahoo group bud­dies who told me what tests and med­ica­tions to ask for — and no thanks to mul­ti­ple doc­tors, who first dis­missed my symp­toms, and then even post-diag­no­sis, denied that the symp­toms were thy­roid-relat­ed. fun­ny, on the right thy­roid meds, in the right dosage, those “unre­lat­ed” symp­toms are all dis­ap­pear­ing.

    i’d be very sur­prised if your con­di­tion did­n’t have some dietary com­po­nent. i would­n’t expect your tyi­cal allo­path­ic doc­tor to know any­thing about that, though. again, i’d seek out a patient group (or two). don’t be deterred by the wack­i­ness you will like­ly encounter in these com­mu­ni­ties; just go with what sounds plau­si­ble to you. you may also find, as i did, that some con­cepts prove to be less wacky than they ini­tial­ly seem. of course, noth­ing beats the wack­i­ness of the tra­di­tion­al main­stream md’s that repeat­ed­ly told us both that there was noth­ing med­ical­ly wrong, right?!

    • Thank you so much for shar­ing this infor­ma­tion. With life-affect­ing con­di­tions like this I’m going to try as much as I can to alle­vi­ate the symp­toms, so I’m def­i­nite­ly not rul­ing out alter­na­tive med­i­cine. The inter­net has become such an amaz­ing resource for this; even though peo­ple aren’t MDs them­selves, they can offer sup­port and sug­ges­tions about the way to approach Western med­i­cine.

  14. Hey Jeff,
    Has any­one sug­gest­ed you take some mas­sive dos­es of vit­a­min D3? Living in Canada, you are par­tic­u­lar­ly like­ly to be defi­cient and it is great for many things, includ­ing IBS, colon can­cer, the list goes on and on and includes ulcer­a­tive col­i­tis. It could­n’t hurt and it might help. I’m in Washington State and I take 2000iu a day from Oct to April. They even rec­om­mend 3000 or more now. I helped my son with a col­lege term paper about Vitamin D or I would­n’t know this myself. Good luck!

    • I’m going to ask my spe­cial­ist about that next time I see him. Thanks for the tip.

  15. I see a lot about the dis­ease and the results of test­ing but I am try­ing to find some­one that can shed some light on tak­ing care of the oste­my site it self. A friend spends a great deal of time clean­ing the site and the bag but still has trou­ble keep­ing down the red­ness and try­ing to treat the skin to stop sore­ness. She also has a prob­lem with blood ooz­ing out. Sometimes there is a lot of blood. Her Dr. said it is just a small ves­sel that breaks once in awhile. Even when the bag has been tak­en out for clean­ing there can be sud­den gush­es that end up all over the bath­room. Anyone with these prob­lems? How do ou han­dle them. Good ideas will be appre­ci­at­ed.

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