Monday, November 28, 2011

Tonsil Exam - From the Bottom


Ever had a colonoscopy? This will be my first, unless you count the sigmoidoscopy I had when I was 40 when they were ruling out other causes and homing in on a diagnosis of gall stones. I was awake for that one. I got the ask my doc if he'd found my tonsils yet.

Hah! The joke's on him: I haven't had tonsils since I was 5.

This time should be better. They tell me I get to sleep through it.

I've been putting this particular procedure off for years. It was a combination of not having insurance, or having $3,000 deductible insurance, or not having insurance again, and not having another driver to bring me back home. Now that I have good insurance and Steve has moved in, I'm out of excuses. Today's the day.

Of course, this doesn't just involve one day. There's a whole lot of fuss and bother beforehand.

First there's the shopping. You need just the right items to give yourself diarrhea, and it's got to be good enough to leave behind a colon nobody would be embarrassed to have on camera. There's Dulcolax, a stool softener, which supply we threw out after Daddy died since he was the only one in the household who needed it - we thought! Then there's MiraLax, 8.3 ounces of it to be precise. Luckily, the stores carry that as a standard size, unlike the Dulcolax which only comes in boxes of 30 or more. The 10 ounce bottle of magnesiun citrate is also standard. Again, 64 ounces of Gatorade isn't - or in my case, G2 for low carbs. I settled for an 8-pack of 20 ounce bottles, in the blue since you're not allowed anything with red dyes in it for a couple days before the exam. I had the blue when I was recovering from surgery this summer and found it tolerable. I hope after enough time passes after this I will again.

Three days out you need to start monitoring your diet. No high fiber items, and no Olestra. We had Brundy Thanksgiving over here that day, and once you eliminate high carb items and high fiber items, like raw fruits and veggies, there's ... uh, well, uh... turkey?

Two days ahead you stop aspirin and ibuprofin. Since we'd also thrown out the bottle of Tylenol that only my dad used, that was another thing for the shopping list. I fully expect both that and the Dulcolax will sit in the medicine cabinet unused until well after their expiration dates now. It doesn't work as well on my knees as the ibuprofin, but luckily I haven't need to do a lot of walking like I did getting ready for company by cleaning up the house and clearing off the table which had morphed into the all-family dumping station. You are also supposed to start drink lots of sports drink, like 8-10 glasses throughout the day.

Yeah, with what's coming up with that stuff the next day, don't press your luck.

The day before, you switch to clear liquids. Coffee, bouillon, water are on my list. At noon, take two Dulcolax tablets. Nice lunch. I found myself thinking I could just pop into the kitchen and fix myself a... No! Stop thinking that! You can't have any. Whatever yummy thing is left over from Thanksgiving, you can't have it. No turkey, no stuffing, no pumpkin pie (minus crust of course)! Not even a banana sitting on the counter or a piece of string cheese! Stop! Thinking! Food!

So I did the only thing logical in that situation: I started beading. When you are concentrating on a pattern - well, trying, since I had to restring twice for mistakes - you are not obsessing about the food you can't be eating. I'd stopped in at Jeff's (Non Necessities) in Taylors Falls on Black Friday for their 40% off one item sale, and had a bagful of new beads burning a hole in my brain. I even dreamed about stringing one set of them the night after I bought them. So I started with those, reworking the pattern a couple of times ( that was not counted as one of the mistakes!) and wound up with a necklace for me with small round gold tiger eye, larger faceted tiger eye in gold, red and blue, a gold tiger eye leaf pendant, and silver beads necklace. Then I did a jade one, using a large carved barrel bead and a bunch of very small carved round beads, all in tones of brown and black, again with silver bead accents. I was on a roll! I worked out another three I won't describe here, as all of the recipients (X-mas) read this and I won't spoil the surprise. Luckily, I finished the last one just before I could no longer stay at the table.

At 4:00, dump 64 ounces of the G2 into a large pitcher and stir in all the Miralax. Stir some more. And start drinking 8 ounces of it every 15 minutes. All of it. Every drop.

It seems unnecessary for the instructions to warn you to plan to stay near a toilet after that. After about an hour, the stuff started working, coinciding with ending beading. You're still taking the stuff, setting the kitchen timer for the next 15 minutes, and finally just park in the bathroom with book, lap blanket, cup, pitcher, and timer. Oh: and fan on.

I'd expected to find it difficult to drink that much liquid that fast, but it wasn't. However, by the last cup, I was starting to feel less than splendid. It's a good thing my toilet is right next to the tub, because I threw up at least the last cupful almost as soon as it went down, along with whatever else was left from earlier. Luckily, tubs are easy to clean: just knock the hand-held shower down, turn on the water, and hose it all down. All without lifting an inch off the toilet.

So no, I won't be finishing off the unused G2 for quite a while.

Just because you think after about three hours on the throne that there can't possibly be more in your system to clear out doesn't mean there isn't. Eventually I was able to leave the toilet unattended for brief periods of time, enough to watch TV with pauses. By then the book was finished, and I was just not in the mood to start another one.

I managed somehow to get through the night without an accident, but there's still liquid passing, just enough color in there to let me think something is still left to be cleaned out. I've not slept well, and finally decided to get up early and kill time here. But surgery is at 11, and it's just about 7 now. Four hours ahead of surgery you drink that bottle of magnesium citrate. I doubt I'll have time for blogging until tonight. I'll post an "After". Hey, maybe I can then report another smidgeon of weight loss!

Just one question though: after taking this next laxative, how do I then find the time to shower, dress, and get through the drive to the hospital without an embarrassing incident?


Staying awake, that's the issue, long enough to come back and finish this.

The magnesium citrate claimed to have a lemon flavor. I'll give it "acid", but not lemon. And it quickly did its job, producing ample product of brilliant yellow color, but that's not a flavor, or not one I'd want to try. So mark it "Fail" on lemon. We had plans to make a couple stops on the way to the hospital, but after the first change of clothing before even leaving the house, decided it might be prudent to postpone at least one of them. I did hit the post office for stamps, and found out after getting home and sorting through them that our postmaster can't tell the difference between pine and Madonna themes in stamps. Oh well, X-mas is coming and I have friends who'll like to see those on their cards.

It's both amazing and reassuring how many times people asked me to confirm my name, birthdate, and procedure. Occasionally the same person repeated. At least I knew I could expect to get the correct procedure. After all, the view from the start of the procedure is not exactly one that someone can base an identification on. Imagine: "Hmmm, this looks like Heather's rectum."
They haven't started putting vidoecams in public toilets yet, the way they have at ATMs and in convenience stores.

I was offered a chance to use the restroom before changing into hospitals' perennial fashion statement. They kept the scale in there, so I weighed in sans shoes and found myself 5 lbs. under my last weighing. Just how much is real weight loss and how much recovers after the purging ends and eating resumes remains the question. But, hey, I'll take it where I can get it.

It only took two stabs and one nice hematoma for them to get the IV line in the back of my hand, much better than previous tries, say in the last 25 years. And this nurse was thoughtful enough to inject a tiny numbing agent first so I wouldn't feel the needle go stab, withdraw, wiggle wiggle, stab... got it!

I was concerned about my shoulder, since they roll you onto the left side for the procedure, but once I was laying on their bed with an extra pillow, the shoulder never hurt. Not even before the painkillers. Or at least they said they used painkillers. I can testify that they used some kind of tranking agent, although not enough to put me under completely. Dang! I wouldn't have minded missing feeling the procedure. They certainly go through like you can't feel a thing, and I felt the whole herd of wild stallions stampeeding and cartwheeling corners through my gut the whole time. Apparently my grunts and groans of pain were not sufficient to warrant more painkiller, and frankly I just didn't have the energy for screaming. For some reason I was still trying for dignity.

Keeping my eyes closed for most of it seemed to be the way to go, although I did open them long enough to get a clear view of the polyp they found and removed. It looked much prettier on the TV screen than in the little picture they showed me later. It'll take until next week to find out what exactly it was, and even not knowing that, they want me back in for another one of these in five years.

Good luck with that one!

When they finally wheeled me back into my "room", a nook with a curtain, there was finally time for that nap I couldn't quite get before. Or so I thought. They kept waking me up telling me to breathe, "a couple times, Heather, in through the nose, out through the mouth." Well screw that! If the nose is good enough for the "in" part, it's good enough for the "out" too. I cocked an eye at the monitor and noted that my blood oxygen levels were hovering around 85 when they were saying that, with the monitor beeping, so they probably did have a point. But I felt fine, no indication of being low on oxygen. It seems the meds used can slow down your diaphram, "make it lazy" as they put it, and I was warned they'd be telling me to breathe quite often.

Finally a nurse arrived with cranberry juice and two slices of buttered banana bread. (They know I'm diabetic and bring this?) I couldn't have the banana bread until after I started passing gas, so I started right in on it. I qualified. For that matter, I still qualify. Where can all that gas come from? How much can one gut hold when there's nothing in there making more? Well, at least it doesn't stink like "real" gas does.

I also grabbed the book I was reading before the procedure, and was challenged on whether I could even remember what I was reading. Sure, no prob.

Hey, maybe because I didn't get quite enough of the meds in the first place, eh?

I was out of there under my own power just at noon, after being warned it could be much later than that. I felt fine. I might even have been tempted to drive, but Steve was there with his truck and I yielded to everybody else's better judgment. I still felt fine all the way home, including the auto parts store for Steve's truck's tune up, performed by Richard after we got home. Since then, however, I've had two very nice long naps, and trust I can get another one tonight when there's nothing on the agenda tomorrow to worry about other than work.

Oh, and calling up that other insurance company and bitching to them ABOUT NOT HEARING FROM THEIR ADJUSTER YET TO ARRANGE TO GET MY CAR FIXED! Maybe I'll just sic Farmer's on them, eh?

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