Whew!

Sorry, blog. I’ve been distracted. Fortunately, not with cancer-related stuff. The good news is – colon is clean as a whistle. Yay!

Got the colonoscopy done last week. (Scheduled it for after my big “I survived cancer” bike trip in Italy, so that’s the reason for the delay.) I watched the whole thing on the big monitor in front of me. It was really pretty cool to see the inside of my colon all pink and healthy.

You don’t feel a thing. Really. They give you a shot of something that relaxes you, turn you on your side and it’s all over in about 10 minutes. I was surprised at how many people were in the GI clinic – about a dozen, with another dozen in the recovery beds. It’s like a factory line – they prep you, send you into the scope procedure room, do the colonoscopy, wheel you out to recovery and go back down the hall and get the next person. Very efficient.

Everyone tells you the preparation to have the colonoscopy is the worst part – and they’re right. Drinking the stuff that cleans out your colon – awful. Horrible tasting stuff. It, too, is very efficient. Within half an hour of drinking it down, you’d better be beside a toilet that is exclusively yours for the evening. As my best friend said – you feel really thin after. No kidding.

The clinic nurse gave me the heads up that it can take a week or so for your gut and intestines to get back to normal. (That was another reason I decided to wait until after my trip to Italy to get it done – I planned to eat lots of wonderful food in Italy and no way was I going to have to deal with GI issues!!) It’s 5 days since the colonoscopy and the “normal” part is still a work in progress.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Clarity of language counts – a clinic nurse calls after you’ve been referred and asks a bunch of questions about your health. One of those questions is “are you constipated”. Here’s the thing about that question – they don’t define what constipation means. To me, constipation means not going poo every day. Ask your friends what they think constipation means – mine all thought the same as me, that it is not having a daily bowel movement. It turns out that constipation is more than that. It can also mean hard, dry stool. It can mean straining to pass your stool. The reason it’s important to be on the same page about what constipation means is that the answer to the question determines what they give you as preparation to cleanse your colon. People who are not constipated get one version of the bowel prep and people who are constipated get another version. You might think that it would be self-evident who is and who is not constipated, but if you don’t know the full definition of the word, you might not get what you need for bowel prep and then have to do it all over again. Clarity counts.
  • More detail could be shared about how long it takes to get back to normal. I was lucky, the clinic nurse answered my questions about that because when we were talking about scheduling, I shared my concern about enjoying Italy and she said that it can take a couple of weeks for things to completely settle down. If I hadn’t asked, that kind of detail wasn’t shared as part of the orientation. They tell you what to stop eating a week out (seeds, nuts etc.), a day out (milk products) etc., but there is no info in the brochures they give you about post-procedure recovery time. Fair enough, everyone’s system is different, but a heads up that you can expect these things to happen would be nice. Something other than the sheet of paper they hand you that warns you about blood or black, tarry stool. 😉
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