Sunday, April 7, 2013

Colonoscopy - Second Edition. What?!!! it's that time again already???

       
Either this is my colon or my semi-colon or THE BLOB
          I never got the chance to write about the first edition since I wasn't blogging yet five years ago, but time does fly when you're not eagerly anticipating another visit to the gastroenterologist knowing what's going to come up next. In this case, a tube that comes up from under and inside your body. But we do what we must because of our family history. Oh, the horrors of getting old: high blood pressure from my father, colon cancer from my mother, and anxiety from who knows where.
          It's has been five years since I had the first de-virginization of my rear end and since then, my mother had died of colon cancer. So it is a necessity for me to have this procedure done every five years instead of the usual ten years. Shall I call this de-virginization part 2 even though that's not technically possible? Call it what you may but it still involves inserting an endoscope up where the sun don't shine and in my mind it feels like I'm going to be violated. Perhaps that's why it's called an ENDoscope. And to think that they blow air inside your intestines and shine a light where I previously said "the sun don't shine", so the doctor can see what he is doing. Good thing I'm unconscious through all that, thanks to Michael Jackson's sleeping drug of choice - Propofol.
          Shall we backtrack a little bit though? Because it's not just a matter of going directly to being violated, you have to prepare for it first. It's the so-called dreaded PREP. For all of you who have gone through this, you already know what it's like: a clear liquid diet the day before the colonoscopy (Wait, did you say clear liquid diet? Does white wine or vodka count?), drinking a liter of an electrolyte concoction in the evening, in my case it was something called MoviPrep,  which after you finish, you are primed for BLAST OFF! The purgative literally blasts off whatever you have hiding in the nooks and crannies of your chitterlings and sends it down the drain in several installments. You might as well keep your pants and undies off for the duration to save time between toilet visits so you don't accidentally soil yourself. Because just when you think you had ejected everything, another spasm makes you sprint faster than a leopard in the savanna, back to the crapper. Then after you exhaust yourself with all the sprinting, you try to get some sleep before the alarm wakes you up at 4:30 in the morning so you can repeat the electrolyte drinking process and subsequent bathroom dashes all over again. To paraphrase Dave Barry: it's as if you are ejecting whatever you might have eaten tomorrow. Never in the annals of mankind has anyone used so much toilet paper as I have in such a short period of time.
MoviPrep Blast Off Drink
          Now for the boring and mundane stuff. It was time to go to the surgery center. Five years ago, I had my colonoscopy at Lakewood Regional Medical Center which was three miles from home, but this time, due to the dictates of the insurance company, I had to travel more than 15 miles to Los Alamitos to a building called the Reagan Street Surgery Center, which is located on, um... Reagan Street, just a stone's throw away from Los Alamitos Medical Center. Last time, my Auntie Beth who used to live in Long Beach, drove me to and from the hospital, but she has since moved to the Temecula area. So I had to find someone to drive me, or take a cab. With a taxi, it would have cost more than $80 round trip with tips. I called the insurance company, my gastroenterologist, the surgery center, and my internist to find out if they had some kind of free or affordable shuttle service for patients. Alas, they had none. My last resort would have been to call my Uncle and Aunt from Cerritos and ask if they could drive me. But since they are now in their 70's, I hesitated. Instead I posted my dilemma on FACEBOOK (hey, that's what social networking is all about, isn't it?), offering $40 to take me to and from the surgery center, using my stick shift car or theirs, and they didn't have to wait while my procedure was being done. Then I can call them whenever I was ready to go home. I didn't expect very much from it, but within minutes, my cousin Jeanette, who works in L.A. but lives in Thousand Oaks, offered to adjust her work schedule and drive me. I was hoping for someone closer to Long Beach who would not be inconvenienced too much, so I declined her generous offer. A couple of hours later, a friend from my running club (AREC), sent me a Facebook email message offering to drive me. Since Nancy is a real estate agent, she said she could also adjust her schedule. After exchanging a few messages, I took her up on her offer, with the promise of buying her and her husband Johan, a good bottle of wine. Believe me, I don't know good wine from bad, and Nancy used to sell wine before she went to real estate, so I had to ask another friend of hers - Bennett, who works at the Wine Country in the city of Signal Hill, what he thought Nancy would like. After a few suggestions at the store, I picked out a French red. I don't know if it's good, but I hope Nancy and Johan will enjoy it. Nancy, thanks so much again for driving me. You are a Godsend :)
          So after verifying my address and destination, Nancy picked me up and dropped me off at the surgery center. I signed in, signed a few consent forms and was sent to the GI lab in a few minutes. I was asked to change into a gown, then this Filipina nurse who also happened to have graduated from my alma mater (University of the Philippines), and whose husband is from Zamboanga City, inserted an IV in my right arm and hooked me up to a blood pressure machine. Well, it seemed like taking my blood pressure medication and an anxiety pill earlier(which were the only solids I was allowed to take) kept my blood pressure within normal limits. Thank goodness for that because my BP usually goes sky high when I'm anxious. Then another nurse and the anesthesiologist introduced themselves, and in short time, my bed was wheeled into the surgery area. Dr. Weiss asked me if I was ready and I responded - " well, I'm here", and he said - "so am I". I guess we were both ready. I was asked to turn on my left side, then the anesthesiologist placed an oxygen mask on my face and told me to breath deeply. All I can remember was taking two or three breathes, and then my name being called to wake me up. And just like that, the violation, I mean the examination was over. Over and done with for another five years. I asked Dr. Weiss if a video of the procedure was available, but he said the computers they had didn't have enough storage. I also asked him about withdrawal time or how long he takes to slowly withdraw the endoscope while examining the length of the colon (the slower, the better). He said that time was a good criteria for doctors who were new at doing colonoscopies. Having done more than 30,000 of them, he said he already knows what exactly to look for. My preliminary results indicated: no polyps, no cancer. Yipee! As a consolation prize, they gave me a photocopy of the pictures they took of my colon and some apple juice. Then they called Nancy to pick me up. She actually had to go upstairs to where I was and sign my discharge instructions so the staff was certain that I wasn't driving myself. After Nancy dropped me off at home, my wobbly legs managed to take me back to my condo without falling or passing out.
Preliminary Results
          I had been without solid food for almost 40 hours by then. Why so long? Well, starting at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, I was on clear liquid diet until the evening, then nothing to eat or drink at all after that except the second dose of MoviPrep on Thursday morning. Then the procedure was done at 1:30 p.m. and I was back home at 4 p.m. and that was when I had some noodle soup. So if the Propofol hasn't clouded my brain so much, that adds up to 40 hours of no solid food. Right? Right?!
          I followed the discharge instructions as closely as possible, namely: no driving, no alcohol (darn it!), and no vigorous exercise for 24 hours after the procedure. The next day, I got a follow up call from Jean, the Filipino nurse, to find out how I was doing and I said everything went well and that I already mailed the feedback form that came with my discharge instructions. Of course, I checked Excellent in all categories. My question is - was that colonoscopy procedure really done on me? Because my butt doesn't even hurt and I don't even feel violated!
          For a more humorous account about colonoscopies, I present Dave Barry's version:   http://www.miamiherald.com/2009/02/11/v-fullstory/427603/dave-barry-a-journey-into-my-colon.html

1 comment:

larry de las penas said...

I like the idioms that you used. But I like the results better.

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