Colonoscopy Adventures

There are some topics that inspire pause before diving into writing a blog post.  Some deal with politically sensitive issues like the twinning (or not) of a local highway or funding changes at a local educational institution.  Others contain subject matter that is very personal, like the story of how a homeless man's girlfriend died in a dumpster or the series of posts about my Ideal Protein weight loss journey.  I'm not sure where a colonoscopy would fit, but there is definite hesitation in writing about this one.

The probing procedure, a preventative maintenance item, was originally scheduled months ago but got bumped to yesterday.  To prepare, I had to ease myself off solid food on interPLAY Saturday, getting by on vanilla pudding, Greek yogurt and water.  By Sunday, it was a couple of cups of coffee followed by many cups of water, two of which were mixed with a product called Pico Salax, designed to clean out the pipes.

Surprisingly, I had loads of energy and absolutely no hunger pangs, up until the second dose of the purgative medicine. Then I really felt the lack of nourishment and needed to spend a lot of time horizontal, curled up under the covers.

Heather drove me to Ambulatory Care for noon on Monday, going through a maze of doors and hallways as much of the first floor of our hospital is in renovation mode.  I was required to have an adult sign me in as following the fast and the Pico Salax flush, it was probably best that I was not behind the wheel.  She would also have to sign me out when the procedure was finished as driving post-procedure would be absolutely out of the question.

Almost immediately, I was whisked away to my curtain covered room and instructed to strip down to nothing and slip into a hospital gown.  One of the nurses popped in to get an IV in place for the sedative to come, but she ended up having a helluva time finding a vein, as by that point I had dropped almost 10 pounds in just two days, and my circulation in the extremities - especially the hands - was causing sub-arctic conditions.

As she prodded and jabbed in search of a vein, her frustration was building.

"This is retarded," she muttered several times as a pool of sweat began forming on my brow.

"I should let you know that I'm prone to passing out in these situations," I said.  "A tiny little nurse was once giving me a blood test and I ended up crashing right on top of her."

Thankfully, I was already in a bed, and the nurse quickly dropped it into a horizontal position as I struggled to stay conscious.

She quickly got some oxygen going up my nose, rushed out of the room and returned a few moments later.

"Take a couple of sips of apple juice," she said.  "The sugar will help."  It did.

It took about 15 minutes, but eventually colour returned to my face and she was able to find a vein.    It was 1:15 when I was taken into the colonoscopy procedure room, a small space crammed with monitors, surgical accouterments, and myriad electrical outlets, each numbered with the circuit it corresponded to, some regular, some a part of the uninterrupted power supply (UPS) - it's strange what you notice when you are stuck looking at the same room for over an hour.

It was nice to see Dr. Zuk again, as we had several vasectomy encounters, the second inspiring a line that I've shared dozens of times:  "I've done about 2500 of these, and had to redo four.  You're going to make it a handful."  Classic!

The nurse injected the sedative into the IV and asked me to turn on to my left side.

"Do you feel anything?" she asked.

"I feel absolutely nothing..."

That's the last memory I have of the procedure.  I woke up back in the curtain-surrounded environs of my original space, seemingly an instant later.

They had warned me that the sedative would do a number on my short term memory.  Don't sign any important documents or contracts for the next 24-hours, the paperwork warned.  As I lay in bed late last night, struggling to find sleep after luxuriating with some of Heather's amazing chicken noodle soup and a couple of cups of coffee, I tried to grab some memories.

As I explored the recesses of my mind, I couldn't find a trace of recall of getting out of bed and into my clothes.  I have a foggy memory of the nurse saying that my wife was already here, but that is it.  I remember seeing Ben and Heather in the waiting room but have no memory of walking out to the car, parked on Fitzgerald.

I guess the best news in all of this, especially if you're starring in the face of a future colonoscopy procedure, is that there was absolutely no residual pain or discomfort from having the surgical camera exploring my insides.  Outside of the weakness from the fast and the fog of the sedative, I felt 100% heading home by late afternoon.

At 45, I am of an age where taking my health for granted is no longer an option.  The November cancer diagnosis of my father was the catalyst for me to begin a full diagnostic check of my various systems.  In a sense, I feel like I owe it to him to learn from that which he did not do.  I owe it to my wife and boys to do everything I can to ensure a long and healthy life.  And, at the end of the day, I owe it to myself.


  1. Good story. All men owe it to themselves and their families to have this procedure. How much pain could their actually be from a nurse shoving a Nikon up one's butt? I said that to Charlie Parmer (Parma) years ago when he went in with the "camera".

  2. Great post on a very personal yet important issue.

  3. Hi Russell. I know this story all too well! Have had 4 colonoscopies in the last year, plus several more since being diagnosed with Crohn's in my early twenties. Never the nicest of days, and the prep well... let's just not go there. But this procedure is so important to my health care, and to millions of others, thus to share our stories and encourage others is a job well done. Plus... the drugs really do help!! Apparently, I am quite entertaining when 'under'... A nurse friend of mine accompanied to one appt. with Dr. Sauve in Ft.McMurray, and told me I had the room in hysterics. Guess I became very chatty, loudly saying out "Now showing... Barb's colon... two for one popcorn... front row seats still available!" Glad someone got a laugh out of the day. Anyway... share the message with those you know... it'll save a life or two to be sure!

    1. Thanks Barb for sharing your story. It must make a world of difference for the medical caregivers when patients demonstrate a positive attitude and a sense of humour.

  4. Excellent column,one that actually makes having a camera up the bum seem interesting.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts