The story of a woman and her `oscopy
Back in the 80s in the UK, there was a famous television advert with Maureen Lipman. She is on the phone to her grandson talking about school and education. She can be heard telling him “if you get an ‘ology, you’re a scientist!’ Well, I didn’t get an ‘ology. I got an ‘oscopy. Let me tell you the saga.
Here’s the story. I mean, where do you start when talking about a colonoscopy? Well, let me start be talking about my late husband. He went through this. He’d had lots of signs of something wrong in that department and had to go to get his test done. He came home from the Drs with his prep. We made it up and he camped in the bathroom, quite literally. Our bedroom was next door with a T.V. but he made the decision to camp out in the bathroom. The bathroom was big enough and he could get comfortable there (as much as you can do, while chucking laxatives down your neck!)
So, roll forward several years. When you reach 50 in Australia, the federal government send you a present. It’s a kit that invites you to check your faecal matter for blood. Get a sample. Send it off and cross your fingers that all is good. It’s at this point I want to say that other members of my family have done these several times with no problems. I get my first one. I send it away. Result: positive for blood. Seriously! You couldn’t make this **** up. After everything I’ve been through since my cancer, Marks illness, caring for him, losing him, then caring for and losing mum…..could I be that unlucky?
Apparently yes, , here I am. I’ve seen my GP who reassures me that 95% of people are not diagnosed with cancer. He reassures me I have no bowel cancer symptoms apart from the little blood they found in the test (I’ve never seen any?). He reassures me (after my million questions) that yes, a colonoscopy is needed and not to worry. (Seriously, don’t worry? Is he the one dieting on laxatives and fluids for a day – nope!) He tells to go home and not worry.
I know what you’re thinking. What am I documenting this? A few reasons really. Firstly, it’s one of those medical tests that fills everyone with dread right? If I can do this, lighten the mood….can’t fail!!! Secondly, while I am waiting for effects of the prep, it gives me something to do. Thirdly, I’m a writer and get an article out of it. Win-win!!
The week prior
For 7 days prior, your diet changes. No grain. No nuts. Nothing that has the potential to cause issues through the test. No fried food. Limited types of meat. For someone who eats well but at times can be particular with food….this week had the potential to be tough. I’m known for getting up in a morning and cheerfully chowing down on a bacon and egg muffin or sandwich. A week without that…? Ouch.
At three days prior, small changes again to the diet.
Prep day is the “clear fluids only and no solid food day”. The day took a whole new meaning though, after the routine check in call from the hospital. I asked about ice cream and whether sorbet was something I could have today. After all, it’s frozen water and flavouring. After a big tick of approval for that, I took myself to the local supermarket. Ever heard that saying “license to print money”? I have a new saying “license to eat ice cream – a whole damn tub of it”.
Everything is prepped for this afternoon. 3 tablets. One glass of disgusting looking fluids at 3pm. Then at 5pm I start on 2litres of prep. I prepared it all in a big container and then put 2litres in one bottle (for today) and the other litre in the other bottle for 415am tomorrow morning. Yeah, you read that right. 0415 in the morning.
Now it is all about time. How much fluid to drink? How long between drinks? what time to start drinking it? When does it have to be finished by?
My clear fluids day begins.
0900:- Orange jelly and 2 ice pops for Brekky. One orange and one yellow. There’s a colour scheme to this prep you know! Treated myself to 250ml water as well.
1130:- I will admit the hunger pangs kicked in so lunch of orange jelly and 2 ice pops came early. Water too. I spared no expense.
1330:- Ok, I caved and had lemon sorbet ice cream which I am allowed. Surprise, surprise, I’ve taken no prep yet but “things are moving”. That’s either copious amounts of sorbet or my innards know what’s coming.
1435:- Now or never. Supposed to start at 3 but started now. What’s 30 minutes amongst everything inside you and the bathroom! Three tablets. The glass of lousy tasting magnesium drink has been downed. At 1630, I start on 2 litres of glycol-prep.
1530:- One hour after the magnesium. A little stomach cramp but one hour in and no action yet.
1630:- On the heavy stuff now. Added a tiny amount of lemon cordial to make it drinkable. Failed there. Sucking a mint to death in between each glass. Glass one done. Timer set for 20 minutes.
1830:- Heavy stuff all finished. Well, the drinking part anyway. Have you ever drunk 2250ml water in 4 hours? It’s not an easy feat and one I hope I never have to repeat. If I said I felt bloated and uncomfortable, it would be no surprise right?
Did it work? Yes it did. Let’s just say from 1600 – 2200 there was action. I suppose this is one of those necessary things to do but I have another litre to drink from 0415-0500 tomorrow morning. Then it’s off to get this thing done.
When I get there (thank you covid) I get a rapid antigen test. The first one I have had done since covid kicked off. I smile to myself tonight. Define irony? I’ve gone through all this tonight. I go there tomorrow and am covid positive without knowing
Prep Day 2
It is 0455 in the morning. The final litre has been had and there are rumbling noises. What I can’t make out is if it is hunger or this horrible stuff working again. I’ve sucked my last sweet to take the horrible taste away and had my epilepsy tablets. Officially now, I’m nil by mouth.
I seem to have an inbuilt body clock for waking, when it comes to things like this but today, thunder and lightening at 0310 tried to give me a head start! But I’m up. I’ve done what I needed to do and now it’s just the final part to go. The bit where I’m sedated and remember nothing! The best part.
When I arrived at the hospital I was checked in and my RAT test done. Thankfully negative. I changed into the incredibly sexy backless gown and we were ready to go.
It literally feels like a few minutes between that immortal “you’ll be asleep in a minute” line before they call your name. The sedation they give you is so light that you can get off the bed you’re on and walk to recovery. There was not a single ounce of pain or discomfort at all through the procedure. A sandwich and a welcome mug of coffee later, I was visited by my doctor who told me the outcome.
What’s my verdict?
Was it as bad as I’d originally thought? I’d say no. The prep makes you uncomfortable but that’s it.
Pain from the procedure? Absolutely nothing
Here I am now 2 days later and I can tell you that the most I have had is a little stomach cramping.
Now it’s just a wait for pathology results. This is the worst part.