The Inside Story

Hospital RunI’ll be willing to bet no one gets excited about having a colonoscopy. A look inside with a scope doesn’t sound fun, but no food for a day and a prescribed drink which is meant to give you diarrhea sounds even worse. It’s unpleasant enough when you can get yourself to a toilet, but when you have to count on someone else to get you there…it’s horrifying for you and your caregiver. Ten years ago Mark and I were unfortunate to have such an experience. After a dreadful day and night of cleansing and no sleep for either one of us, we were sent home for another day of it because Mark was not completely cleaned out. That dreadful day turned into two with the end (no pun intended) result of a completed colonoscopy with two polyps removed and the recommendation to come back and repeat the procedure in five years.

The years passed quickly and I still shudder at the memory of it. I didn’t want to ever relive that experience, so we didn’t follow the recommendation. However, for the past five years it was always in the back of my mind, haunting me because I knew it was something we should do for the sake of good health.

Last year while Mark was hospitalized for blood clots, a shiver ran down my spine when the doctor asked when Mark’s last colonoscopy was. To justify my guilt for not taking him in as recommended, I retold how horrifying the cleansing experience was for both of us. He said, “You know, under these circumstances they can do the preparation in the hospital.”

I thought, why wasn’t I told this before or even after the previous colonoscopy? I guess no one thought about how useful that information would’ve been, so I just said, “Great, let’s get it done.”

“We can’t do it now with the blood clots and the anticoagulation medicine (warfarin) needed to treat them. He will have to wait at least a year before we can consider even taking him off the warfarin long enough for the procedure,” the doctor said.

So for the past year I’ve been worrying about this procedure and the ramifications of putting it off for so long. A few weeks ago Mark had another doctor’s appointment and ultrasound on his leg where the blood clots started. There was still evidence and scaring of the blood clots, but the doctor felt like Mark would be fine to be off of the warfarin for five days prior to the colonoscopy. Before we could change our minds, it was scheduled for November 7, 2014.

Mark was able to have a light breakfast on November 5th. One piece of toast and two eggs were allowed. At 11:00 am he was admitted to the hospital for two days of no food and drinks mixed with the intent to clean him out completely. Most of us only need one day, but due to our past experience and his limited activity, he was scheduled for the needed two days. Finally, the waiting and preparation was over and we were anxious to get this procedure behind us. With great anticipation, I followed the nurses as they pushed Mark in the hospital bed down to the procedure room. The doctor explained it should only take a half hour to do the colonoscopy. An hour later the clock ticking became louder and with every tick my worry increased to a higher level. An hour and a half later the colonoscopy was completed with one large, but assumed noncancerous, polyp was found and removed.  After the biopsy is analyzed, the doctor will call us and confirm the results.

“In all my practice, Mark’s colonoscopy was the hardest procedure I’ve ever done. His colon is elongated and floppy due to his inability to be mobile, making it hard to get the scope through.  We tried three different scopes and still couldn’t get to the end of it, meaning we didn’t see the last six to eight inches of his colon. I’m not sure when I recommend we do this again. Let’s wait until we get the results from the biopsy and then we can discuss when you need to come back.”

I don’t know if I should feel relieved, but I do. It’s over and I believe the doctor is about as anxious as we are to do it again.