Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Friday, April 5, 2013

How to Get ready for Your Colonoscopy or A Night at the Races

As we meander, and drink and eat, our way through earthly life and earthly delights, we get to experience new adventures. Some of these may be the direct result of too much of those earthly delights. One such adventure is a kind of light at the end of the tunnel called a colonoscopy. It is something you keep hearing you should get when you reach a certain age.  I am actually past that recommended certain age and had never had this procedure. I am not big on doctors and hospitals and needles in the arm.

However on Palm Sunday after coming home from church I felt extremely tired and fell asleep for a couple hours on the sofa. When I woke up, I found I couldn't walk across our living room without feeling woozy and having to sit down.

I thought I was getting the flu back, specifically the stomach flu. I had been going through a wretched couple weeks as far as my body was concerned. Two weeks earlier arthritis visited my left wrist and
hand. I had never had an attack there before and this was one  like the invasion on D-day; Mr Arthur Itis brought his heavy forces to bear. The pain was intense and basically rendered my left hand useless. (Oddly coincidental that one year ago my mother had a stroke that took away her use of the left hand.)

The pain was so bad I began doing something I rarely do. I began popping pills, first Tylenol and then aspirin. Oh, I was swallowing two aspirin tablet every eight hours every day. Then in the middle of the following week I had an ache across my midsection and I felt tired and cold. I could not get warm at all. That was when I decided on The Flu. It seemed mild, though, until Palm Sunday afternoon. And then Monday morning came.

I awoke early as usual, but the need to get to the bathroom was not as usual. Yes, waking up and having to immediately empty the bladder is pretty common, but this was the sit down variety of things and that was not normal. It was urgent, and it was messy and it was a lot. Well, you expect that with the flu and I figured maybe this is the start of getting it out of my system, until I reached to flush and saw it was black.

When it is black, and sticky like road tar, it means one thing. I was bleeding internally somewhere.

Of course, first thing I did once cleaned up and dressed was Google the matter. What could cause this phenomena?  One of the possibilities was the stomach flu or more specifically gastroenteritis of the bacterial form, something more common in us older folk and has the symptoms I had. I decided to let some time go by and see if it all went away, as my sickness generally do, but not this time. I was weak and woozy and tired and cold as anything on Monday. I was able to walk a bit further on Tuesday, all the way across a room. Wednesday I was about the same, but things were still coming out black, so I called my doctor and got an appointment for the Thursday before Easter. (Yes, that's my doctor on the left. Yes, I have a female doctor. Now some may be wondering why I resist going to the doctor when she looks like that? I sometime wonder the same thing.)

Doctor Sue (first name), looked me over and expected I might have an ulcer. I drink a lot of coffee, drink some alcohol, was popping aspirin and pretty much eat whatever I want, plus this has been a stressful year. My blood pressure was up, my weight was down and she thought I was down a pint in blood. She wrote me an order for a hemoglobin test. She said go directly to the lab, do not pass go, do not collect $200. She put STAT at the top of the order. She said the results would reach her by 3:00 PM and if my hemoglobin was too low she would put me right in the hospital.

I didn't want to go into the hospital -- ever, but especially then. I wanted to be at Iron Faith Fellowship's Sunrise Service atop a hill at 6:00 AM Easter.  I did go to the lab, she did get her results, and although my hemoglobin was down some it wasn't terribly low, so I avoided hospital.

Dr. Sue arranged an emergency colonoscopy for me, which I could not avoid and that brings me to this week and this subject.  The video is of my day before the procedure as I went through the dreaded preparation. Oh, what tales of woe and terror I have heard about this preparation, especially during that week when I told the world it was coming. People chuckled knowingly, patted me on the back, consoled me and some wanted to see my reaction when I began to drink the required magic potion and so the resulting video. I promised my friend, Ron, I would record that moment.

I had seen his video doing it, his grimace, his attempted to sip it down, his frustration, his grasping his stomach in disgust and his gagging (photos of Ron's agony surround these lines)  and I knew he wanted to see my suffering in return.

If you watch my video, I suggest scrolling down to the bottom of my Blog and turning off the music. It will be better viewing if you click the little square of corners on the lower right of the video frame and make it full screen view. (Don't worry there are no gross images in this film, unless some think my face be gross enough.)

I certainly didn't look forward to last Wednesday with glee. I didn't really worry about it either. I just went about as normal and you know what? It came without me worrying anyway. I had to drink a half gallon of a special brew, doing one 8 ounce glass every half hour. I was amazed how quickly each half hour went by, but you know what they say, "Time flies when you're having fun."

After the elixir I was also amazed at how fast and often the results came as well and how they lasted
long into the night. I managed to fall asleep at some point only to be awoken at 3:50 for some more emptying. And before I knew it my sleepy wife and I were on our way to the Endoscopy Center of Delaware.  I am glad I insist on always leaving early for unfamiliar destinations. For a while it appeared I made a mistake and we would arrive a half-hour early. Traffic had zipped down I-95 despite construction. We were off the proper ramp and then realized we couldn't quite understand the Google Map claims of where streets were supposed to be. After a few missed turns we did manage to locate the center.

My wife is not an early riser. I would normally allowed her to sleep (my appointment was for 8:15 AM), but the center insisted I needed a driver to collect my carcass afterward, so she had to get up and come along, but not without reason. I was in no condition to drive home with the euphoric high I experienced from the anesthesia. I was as mellowed out as a projectionist at a Cheech & Chong film festival.

The people at the center from receptionist to physician couldn't have been nicer. The nurse got my IV in with almost no pain. She got me a blanket because I was cold. There was a reason for my shivers.

 "Take everything off, except your socks," she said, "and put on that gown."

 You know, that gown, the one with the air conditioned back.  (How do you tie those things anyway?)

"I can tie the neck for you," said the nurse, "but I'd just leave the waist untied."

I was hooked up and soon wheeled to another room. The doctor was there and a nurse and a technician and...people just kept joining the let's see what's up Larry party. The doctor suggested we get an Endoscopy as well as the Colonoscopy. We all signed some papers and I was prepped for attack from all sides. One of these strangers, who now had more familiarity with my nether regions than most, stuck this plastic bite do-dad between my teeth and told me to roll over on my side. The anesthesiologist put something through the IV and_________

_______And I woke up back in the dressing cubicle with my wife. I dressed as she went for the car. I was escorted out and we rode home with me repeating things over and over again just as giddy as can be.

These were the results of this Star Trek episode, people going where no person has gone before.

Angioectasia in the cecum
Medium hiatal hernia
Normal mucosa in the esophagus
Granularity and friability in the antrum compatible with gastritis (biopsy taken)
Ulcer in the distal bulb (biopsy taken)

Yeah, I looked all those things up on line, now it's your turn.

Upshot is, yeah, I got an ulcer.

The recommendations are:

Regular diet
Resume current medications
Follow-up with the Doctor in three weeks
If bacteria are present on the biopsies, may recommend treatment with antibiotics.

It other words, if I do have gastritis I'll get medication.  I will find out more on May 1 at my follow-up.

But now you have seen how really simple this all is, don't fear having one if over that certain age.


Ron said...

Well, I have to admit I was a a bit disappointed that you didn't retch and "arrgh!" more when swallowing your pre-colonoscopy elixir. Still, it was fun watching you on FaceTime. As friends of some sixty years you KNOW I wanted to see SUFFERING.

I am so relieved that your procedure came out "clean as a whistle", so to speak. Now you can rest easy with the knowledge that you'll probably never have to have another hose stuck up your nether regions in your lifetime. We're just getting too old for this kind of fun stuff Lar. I just can't wait until my procedure on May 2nd. I was told today that I would be peeing blood for awhile. Can't wait for that. Also a "burning sensation." Just lovely. Plus the catheter. Don't forget the catheter. That is something I've haven't experienced yet but will soon. Maybe you will too....I hope.

Your friend,

Retired in Delaware

Ron said...


Just finished watching your "colonoscopy" movie. Excellent! You are a movie maker! I know you didn't intend that to be a comedy but at parts I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Just a wonderful "production" all the way around.

Retired in Delaware