The Colonoscopy Diaries: Part 2

Posted by:
Susan Rooke
March 5, 2020

The day before, I had my nails done.

No one would be looking at my hands, but so what? I think it’s important to look nice for one’s colonoscopy.

The morning of, I put on a gift from The Daughter: my special socks.

Then Glen and I made the pre-dawn trip into town. He drove while I prayed silently for a good result. One week later, I got the phone call from the gastroenterologist’s office that my prayers had been answered. What a relief, I don’t have to go back for five years! But I already knew there was something else I wouldn’t be going back for. Not in five years, or fifty-five.

In "The Colonoscopy Diaries: Part 1," I wrote about a new type of prep called HyGIeaCare®. It sounds like a normal-ish sort of enema, possibly an appealing alternative to drinking large quantities of revolting fluids that can be hard for someone with a strong gag reflex to keep down. Like me. But after reading up on it, I wrote that I was going to do my prep the old-fashioned way. Revolting or not, drinking glup just seemed less . . . ew. After I wrote that post, however, a dear friend highly recommended the HyGIeaCare® method to me. That surprised me, so next I asked my gastroenterologist, who told me a member of her family had also preferred it to the standard prep. Two strong endorsements persuaded me, and I decided to give it a try. How bad could it be? Well . . .

There is a sterile nozzle, inserted. There follows a stream of warm water. That much I knew in advance. It was swiftly and professionally applied, with a minimum of fuss and embarrassment. That much I’d hoped for. So far, so good. What I was not prepared for was the quantity of water. Eight . . . gallons’ . . . worth. Eight. That’s one round. And if you can go for another round, for a total of sixteen gallons, all the better. I didn’t, but if you did, you’d have a colon so clean it squeaked.

Of course you can’t hold eight gallons of water, much less sixteen, all at once. No, indeed. Very soon after the ingress begins, so does the egress. And both processes keep going for what feels like forever. There’s a button you can push to stop the water streaming in if it becomes too much to bear. But there seems to be little benefit to that. You’re just dragging the process out. I stopped it once, for less than a minute. Even so, for a single round of eight gallons, I was in that small antechamber of Hell for about an hour and forty-five minutes. It seemed much longer. I had brought a book to help pass the time. I soon realized I couldn’t spare the attention to read it.

It was exhausting. Once it was finally over, though, I relaxed, thinking I was done. All I had left to do was link arms with Glen and stroll across the parking lot to the imaging center (conveniently close). I’d already done the hardest part. The colonoscopy itself would be a breeze!

But I was not done. And what happened next was even worse. It’s due largely to the fact that our colons have bends and turns, nooks and crannies. They are not, unfortunately, straight Teflon-lined tubes. When the technician came in to disengage the HyGIeaCare® apparatus, she told me to wait at least ten minutes before leaving my room. Why? Because, due to the aforementioned intricacies of human anatomy, not all of the eight gallons had found their way to the light again. “You’ll think it’s done, but it’s not,” she said. Are you KIDDING me? Until that moment, this was something I’d had no inkling of. No one had mentioned one word about this. And may I say that ten minutes was at least thirty minutes too short. I will leave it to you to envision all the inopportune moments that escaping water can choose to make its presence felt. Then, envision a few more. Luckily, they’re used to that sort of thing at the gastro imaging center. I hope.

It all worked out in the end (ha!), and it was a good learning experience. Obviously, there are people who find HyGIeaCare® very worthwhile. I’m just not one of them. But everything was better again once I came out from the colonoscopy. Under anesthesia, I’d had a dream, just as I had during my first one. Both had a fairytale theme. Seven years ago, I dreamed I had a goose that laid golden eggs. This time, I dreamed about a woodcutter who lived in a cottage in a magical forest. Whatever the Freudian significance, I enjoyed them.

And my special socks were a hit with the colonoscopy nurses.

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11 comments on “The Colonoscopy Diaries: Part 2”

  1. Yeah, that's a nope from me! Even though the normal prep makes me vomit, I'd rather go through that than your special Hell.

  2. Susan, thank you for sharing your experience. This is something we should all know about and the humor of it all makes it more bearable. And . . . your socks were a hit with me, too. Best, John

    1. I’m so glad to hear what you think, John. I did feel that there were some things about the process that should be shared because they are not generally known. Unpleasant, awkward (!) things. But the socks made it all better. I’m so happy you like them!

  3. Oh Susan, you poor soul. My husband went through a similar procedure a couple of years ago but there was no choice for him ...he endured the pints of a yukky drink. His results were good, I'm pleased to say. His comments about the drink AND the procedure I could not repeat.

    1. I can just imagine the things he said, Maureen, because I’m sure I’ve said them too! Thank heavens his results turned out well. Here in the US, we are encouraged to get colonoscopies every five years starting at age 50. I know that much of the rest of the world doesn’t do it that way. It’s not the most fun I’ve ever had doing something, I’ll tell you that!

  4. Oh my gosh, I am laughing rolling on the floor ...almost! In my rolling chair for sure! Once again, dear Susan, thank you for increasing my endorphins!! I feel so much better. My laugh lines go all the way around the back of my head! Thank goodness for hair! ... And for this KEY info about colonoscopy prep alternative. I shall stick with drinking the vile stuff. I figured out long ago to HOLD MY NOSE AS I SWALLOW VILE LIQUIDS! TO NOT TASTE... or at least not the full sensory perception of it... Glad all turned out well for you...And your lucky socks... Probably wouldn't hurt to carry extra undies and slacks, ya know... Had mine last fall...Good. One polyp removed, as usual. ... P.S... they changed it to every 5 years for everyone now?... Thought it was every 10 years unless 'risk factors' making it every 5 years, or less... hugs

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Claire, and I’m so glad you loved my nails! Thank you! Unfortunately they look awful right now, but someday I will go back to have them done again. As far as the frequency of colonoscopies, I have to have one every five years and Glen must have one every other year. But as far as I know, isn’t 10 years still the norm? I don’t think that’s changed, has it? Our frequency is dependent upon the types of polyps and the number. But as you can imagine, I am NOT going to be pumped full of gallons of water anymore!

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