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My New Perspective That Makes Colonoscopies Less of a Pain in the Ass

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In the summer of 2002, a few months before I would be diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I found myself in the bathroom, a lot. The ripping lower abdominal pain and indescribable fatigue I was experiencing only got worse. My mouth filled with ulcers, making it painful to eat or talk. When I was finally referred to a GI specialist, he suggested a colonoscopy. Hell, he could have suggested a lobotomy and I probably would have agreed!

Almost everything about my first scope was awful. I wasn’t ready for how yucky the prep solution would taste or how fast it would hit. (There were some close calls whilst running to the bathroom!) Being cleaned out left me cold, dizzy, and dehydrated. And let’s not forget my sore bum!

Next week, I am scheduled to have my 11th colonoscopy! Why so many? Well, because of where the disease has decided to take up residency in my body (large intestine), I’m at a higher risk for colon cancer. To stay on top of things, my gastroenterologist recommends I get a surveillance colonoscopy every two to three years. I usually dread the procedure but this time around I have decided to embrace the process.

A picture of the writer's colonoscopy prep supplies.

Old Thinking: “I’m a prisoner in my own home.”

New Thinking: “This is the perfect time for some much deserved self-care. I will put on my favorite sweats, read, write, and nap – until ‘go time!’”

Old Thinking: “Clear liquids, ugh!”

New Thinking: “I can sip my favorite tea, eat lemon Italian ice, and all the lime Jell-O in the world is mine!”

Old Thinking: “The prep tastes horrid!”

New Thinking: “True, the prep is not the best tasting stuff, but back in the day I used to drink Coors Light. GoLytely is a step up.”

Anesthesia is awesome! I always try to fight it like Schwarzenegger in “True Lies,” but I never win. I wake up wondering when they will get started only to find 40 minutes have passed, the test is over, and I feel surprisingly refreshed.

During the procedure, the doctor will fill your intestines with air. While in recovery you will be encouraged to let out all that air. Yes my friends, this is a safe zone for letting farts fly!

While you and your new colonoscopy buds are recreating the campfire scene from “Blazing Saddles,” the compassionate nurse monitoring you will offer some of the best medicine: a warm blanket, ginger ale, and Lorna Doone cookies.

As a parting gift, you are given colored photos of your innards. Maybe I’ll use mine for a Christmas card: “Deck the halls with bowels of Kelly, fa la la la la…” Well, maybe not.

Because of the anesthesia’s lingering effects, driving yourself home is forbidden. My husband will take the day off work to be my personal escort, valet, and advocate. He’ll also take me out for a nice lunch. He’s a great guy!

Once home, I get to enjoy more “me time.” My discharge papers will instruct me to avoid operating heavy machinery (I consider the stove, washer, and dryer to fit into that category) so I will have no choice but to lounge around, drink tea, and nap some more. It really is an “all about me” kind of day. And this time, I am looking forward to it.

This story originally appeared on Write Down the Middle.

Originally published: August 22, 2018
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