Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Because the best way to focus the mind is a colonoscopy

My exam is in just over two weeks. My first colonoscopy is tomorrow.

And so today will be one long party of reading very old texts and colon cleansing. Everyone's favorite combination.

Because this is the way my mind works, I'll be updating every few hours. Some of you may want to quit right now--there will be intestinal distress.

I can justify this post, in part, since this could be useful information for someone. I know I poked around a bit in the past couple days to find some suggestions that might not have been included in the two pages of what I must and must not do in the 24 hours before my appointment.

The real inspiration for this post, however, comes from the perversity of my scientific mind. I don't know about you, but I've occasionally come across those products that claim a proper cleanse can help you lose 10-20 pounds, by getting rid of old fecal matter. As far as I can tell, most of those products involve huge doses of fiber (or a 'natural' laxative) with some proprietary mix of herbs. Since I'm wary of taking 25 different herbs (and of their claims in general), I've never tried them.

But now I've been ordered to take a mega-laxative and clear everything out. Perfect opportunity to determine if there's a noticeable weight loss. So in addition to recording information about the preparation, I'll be weighing myself every few hours. The number I record here will not be my full weight, just the ones and tenths. I'm starting at 8.4 and will be adjusting numbers for clothing.

Updates will be appended to the end.

Approx. 7 am--8.4 pounds.

8:15 am--Breakfast: 1 poached egg and black coffee. The egg is the last solid food I'm allowed until after the appointment tomorrow. Although I'm not looking forward to the cleansing portion of the program, the liquid diet worries me too. I do not do well on diets when they involve deprivation; it just makes me obsess over the foods I can't have all the more. I've stocked up on chicken broth and jell-o (but nothing red or purple) and Gatorade, but suspect that will get old fast.

10 am--Found myself hungry again when I made my son's grilled cheese sandwich (breakfast of champions!) First foray into the jell-o. I had the forethought to make up a double batch yesterday: lemon over which I put some lime once both were decently set. Somehow that makes it more special. Currently 8.5 pounds--active cleanse doesn't start until 4.

12:30 pm--I currently have in use one mug for decaf coffee (black), one mug for chicken broth, and one bowl and spoon for jell-o. I recently stuck another batch of jell-o in the fridge to set, as I've gone through quite a bit of it in an attempt to feel like I was filling my stomach with something. Now I've moved on to broth and am on my third mug of chicken broth. The saltiness helps quench another aspect of my hunger. Usually, I'd worry about the salt content, but since the Fleet I'll be taking is purposely going to throw my salt balance off, I'm going to stick with it throughout the day. I have gotten precious little reading done because I keep going to the bathroom (to pee) and am distracted by thoughts of food.

2:15 pm--At this point, I am dealing with crashing blood sugar. Nearly everything I'm allowed to have is carbs, mostly sugar at that, and there's a negligible amount of protein in everything I'm allowed, including the chicken broth. So I'm cranky and shaky and muddled in my thinking. Makes for slow progress in reading anything, much less treatises on complicated topics. I'm almost looking forward to the beginning of the main phase in a little under two hours, just so I'll have something else to think about. Of course, I may wish to retract that statement in the near future.

4:15 pm--9.8 pounds. I feel like I'm retaining a good amount of the fluid I'm drinking, even with all my trips to the bathroom.

First glass of Fleet Phospho Soda in hand. I've seen a number of different directions for how to take it. In my case, it's 1/2 a fluid ounce mixed in with 8 ounces of the clear liquid of my choice. Drink over the course of 10 minutes and then repeat twice more. Mixing it in with a flavored beverage is supposed to "dramatically improve its taste." Fleet is basically a very concentrated solution of salt; it's an osmotic laxative. This means that it creates a sodium imbalance in the digestive tract. Water from the rest of the body rushes in to balance the sodium level with that of the rest of the body. Then it rushes out of the body in general.

By the way, salty apple juice is not particularly appetizing.

6 pm--I was a little busy in the bathroom, so here's a bunch of action updated at once:
Right before I had to sit for awhile, I weighed myself again--11.2 pounds. Definitely retaining all of the liquid ingested.

4:55--And so it begins. Sudden fullness in intestines, but different than the bloating I felt earlier. I have some cramps, but they move around.

5:05--Got bored of sitting, so I get up and walk into the living room. Immediately return to bathroom.

5:20--Environmental note: at least I'm sitting on the low-flow toilet.

5:57--Things seem to have calmed down, so I'll brave the living room again. 11 pounds. No particularly violent evacuations, but they were pretty frequent. I have to say, though, one-fifth of a pound? We're not headed to any miraculous weight loss here!

7:55 pm--10.2 pounds. Down a pound. Fewer trips to the bathroom, a little more warning before each trip. Have had a few hard candies, which are OK according to the directions I have; it's the closest thing to food I'm allowed right now. I really want to eat something solid!

9:30 pm--Still at 10.2 pounds. Headed to bed soon. I get to do the fun part again in the morning before the colonoscopy itself, so I may still end up under my starting weight. Maybe I'll be less cranky after some sleep.

6 am--7.6 pounds this morning. Choking down the next round of salty apple juice. In 45 minutes, I can't have anything, not even water. So the trick is to finish the sodium solution in about 30 so that I have some time to down enough Gatorade to avoid being completely dehydrated.

8:15 am--Took a shower after the worst of it seemed to be over. I imagine I'll be taking another once I'm enough out of sedation to stand. 7.4 pounds. Not impressive numbers.

I also realized, upon rereading what I had from the gastroenterologist, that they leave out some of the stuff that was mentioned multiple times elsewhere. My directions suggest being close "to toilet facilities as multiple bowel movements may occur." The "may" is kind of amusing. Also, there's no mention of the fact that it will be diarrhea. No way around that. Since the Fleet works by flooding the bowel with water, it'll still be pretty much water when it exits.

Getting ready to leave. We'll see how this goes.


cinnamon gurl said...

This is funny. The prep is the worst part of the procedure... my advice is take lots of water and a book to the bathroom with you and don't bother getting up for a good long while.

Mouse said...

Trillian suggested that we put one of our TV trays in the bathroom so that I can bring my school reading in with me. I figure I'll bring that and a bottle of Gatorade. I worry about my ass falling asleep.

Laural Dawn said...

I used to be an executive assistant and my boss had to do this. And, lucky me, I was in charge of getting all of the "stuff" from the drug store.
She was totally convinced she could come to work on "cleansing day" and take meetings. I argued with her, but I still ended up booking back to back meetings for that day.
When the day came, she obviously didn't make it in, and I literally sat on the phone all day, listening in to her calls. We had a code word and when she used it, I had to interrupt the call and mute it until I got an e-mail letting me know the meeting could resume.
I had an extremely hard time keeping a straight face that day.
Apparently the cleanse is far worse than the actual test.
(and in case you're wondering, I switched jobs)

Mouse said...

OK, that's pretty funny; I'd probably be on the verge of laughing all day.

If I worked in an office setting, I would have scheduled my appointment for Monday so that I could be sure I'd be home for the prep day. The way this prep is set up, it would be possible to hold off on the worst part until after work (so no running out of meetings). But I also knew that the food stuff would be preoccupying for me.

Holly said...

my sister cannot drink apple juice anymore ever since using it with the phospho soda... nope, she can't even smell it! eek.

good luck!

I've had the UpperGI scope (with NO drugs or sedation - I was pregnant)... hope your test goes smoothly.

Mouse said...

My father-in-law did a colonoscopy without sedation because he wanted to get back to work that day. I have chosen to go with sedation.

I've already decided that if they suggest I come back yearly, I will skip when I'm pregnant and breastfeeding, mostly because I can't imagine skipping solid food for this long during either of those.

Aliki2006 said...

Laurel Dawn's comment cracked me up...so did Trillian's suggestion!

Best of luck...

Mouse said...

I should note that we did actually set up the TV tray and I did some of my reading there yesterday. This morning, however, I stuck to Kakuro puzzles.

And, as you can probably tell, I'm back now. The exam went very well and the sedation has left me only a little fuzzy. (Although I do wonder if I'll look at this tomorrow and find some odd mistakes or phrasing.)

b*babbler said...

This is going to sound weird, but thanks so much for posting this.

It's looking like I'm going to be going for one of these very soon, and I'm scared well, unfortunately *not* shitless. That would make the whole process easier perhaps?

If you don't mind me asking - with the sedation, how much of the procedure itself were you aware of? Do they give it to you well before they begin so you aren't aware? I'm sure that is going to be the worst part for me - the awareness. it horrifies me, and is making me put off going.

Mouse said...

The clinic where I had my colonoscopy did the following:

First, I went into a prep area and changed into the gown. I was allowed to leave on everything from the waist up and socks. Then the nurse put the tubing in where they could give me the sedation.

I was then moved to the procedure room. They set me up so that I'd be on my left side, facing the same monitor the doctor would be watching. I asked for only minimal sedation, and I could feel it take effect almost immediately. I stayed aware enough that I watched the monitor (I have a certain fascination with this sort of stuff). I was aware of the doctor moving the scope and there was one spot where a nurse had to press on my stomach a little to help it move. There was a little discomfort just before that, and they offered me more sedative, but I declined.

I think that if you tell them beforehand that you don't want to be too aware, they can adjust the sedation. I know that the doctor told me he frequently has patients fall asleep--he was a bit surprised that I remembered watching the whole procedure.