So I have to have a super embarrassing surgery. I’m getting Botox. In my butt. In my anal sphincter, to be precise. I can get into details if you’d like, but we all know you wouldn’t like. The short version is that I’m literally a tight-ass and together with my IBS it’s causing problems, so I’m getting Botox injected to help it relax just a little. I’m praying it’s not enough to cause problems of another sort. Oh, and a colonoscopy while he’s down there, just for fun. I thought I’d do a sort of live-blog of my prep and surgery in case anyone else has to go through this and is terrified of what awaits. I’ve been polling my friends, and I’ve heard both “it’s not a big deal” and “I wanted to kill myself,” so here we are. I’ll be completely out for the surgery since apparently Botox needles hurt like crazy, so my very sweet colorectal surgeon said I needed to be asleep. Bonus points for not being able to say ridiculous drugged-up things during my colonoscopy. By the way, I have a problem with talking about bowel movements and can only call it poop or farting if I’m talking about it with my child, so this is mostly an exercise in openness and not being embarrassed. And using words like poop. And fart.
My toddler is out of state for the week, visiting his dads, so I am going to be able to poop in peace the evening beforehand, when my entire system needs flushed. I had to move the surgery once because I hadn’t consulted my wife and it turned out that she had scheduled workers to come into our basement that day/evening before, but she would be gone. So I would be the contact person for that, as well as having to deal with a toddler, as well as “the cleanse.” Nope. I moved it to the week my son would be gone, and then later they tried to move the surgery to the following week because of a surgical room conflict, but I went into bear-mode and explained that they would, in fact, FIGURE. IT. OUT. And call me back. So they did. And now instead of an early morning surgery, I will be having it sometime around noonish. Here we go!
T-Minus 2… I don’t know how that works. The day before the day before the surgery.
|No Fun, Ever|
The day before the surgery.
I wake up hungry. This is not a good sign. My wife gets to sleep in, as it is Columbus Day and her school still celebrates it. I lie in bed contemplating how badly I really need this surgery, then sigh and take a shower. I consider shaving, and then decide I’ll save that for tomorrow morning so I’m extra fresh for them. I take my regular pills with some unsweetened almond milk and feel like a badass for breaking the rules. I head to work, and once there with my rumbly stomach I reach for my Cabinet-O-Goodies so many times that I eventually make myself a sign and stick it on my keyboard.
I have Poop #1 of the day at work thanks to the one private bathroom in the building. It’s painful and there’s bleeding, so I’ve already started the day off nicely. This pain, nonexistent when I haven’t pooped in a day or so, will stick around for hours and hours after a bowel movement, especially if I’m sitting down. With the extreme amount of pooping coming my way, I know I’m in for a GREAT EVENING. I leave for the store at noon.
At the store, I stop by the pharmacy to pick up my Miralax/Dulcolax duo that the office said they called in for me, and hold up a line of people while my hot young male pharmacist guy runs around looking for it. After a big to-do about it being on the shelf and getting it for me in which they had to open up another line, he gets out a bag from behind the counter that he’d previously pulled out when I told him my name.
“Well what’s that, then?” I ask him, pointing to the bag.
“Uh….” he says, checking the label. “Polyethylene Glycol.”
“What the hell is that?” I question, sighing.
“Um, I’m… actually not sure,” he admits, and checks the system. Super inspiring. “Oh, it’s the pharmacy version of the Miralax I just got you. It’s cheaper.”
“I’ll take the cheaper one, thanks,” I say. Duh.
“Do you want me to go get the Dulcolax?” he asks, helpfully.
I sigh again. “No, help these people behind me. I’ll just figure it out myself.”
Unfortunately, all it said on my instruction sheet was “4 tablets Dulcolax.” It did not say whether this needed to be the “gentle overnight” version, or the box with four suppository tablets for “fast relief” that worked within 15 minutes to 1 hour. Given that I was supposed to take these tablets after everything “ran clear,” I eventually went with the gentle overnight version. No need to force more diarrhea than was necessary. One of the nurses from the office called to let me know that my Botox was approved by the insurance (nothing like last minute approvals), and she also confirmed that I’d chosen the right laxative. Whew!
I picked up the other items on my list, and a few others that occurred to me while at the store. I pushed my cart up to a checkout aisle with a nice older lady behind the counter. She smiled kindly as she beeped across:
- My new soft-cushiony toilet seat
- Four soups and cereal for my recovery meals
- Two packs of lime Jell-O (Why the hell does nearly every Jell-O out there include red dye? There was red, orange, purple, and blue in one big pack. Thanks, but I don’t want them to think I’m dying, so I’ll stick with the more expensive individual packs)
- Two large candles
- A six pack of 7up
- Four 32oz Gatorades
- Two jars of bouillon
- Hemorrhoid pads
- Extra strength, fast relief Tylenol
I had already paid for my pharmaceutical Miralax, so she didn't have to handle that one. The checkout woman had clearly had this procedure done before, judging by the rueful smile she gave me as she said, “Have a nice day….”
1:25pm – I put away the cereal and take one bite, because I’m a badass, as previously stated, and Don’t Feed The Bears rules don’t apply to me.
1:30pm – I install my very first toilet seat. Our old one had a crack in the seat, and I need some fresh cushion for the evening’s activities.
2:00pm – I eat my first Jell-O cup. If this were college and that had been a shot, I’d be drunk by now.
2:15pm – My wife comes home from her hair appointment and gently asks me how I’m doing. I admit I haven’t started yet because I’m scared. I contemplate making some broth.
2:30pm – This Chicken and Herbs broth is freaking amazing. I think I might be able to handle a liquid diet, minus the laxatives. Well. Maybe for like a couple days.
2:35pm – You know what would be delicious with this broth? Chicken. Noodles. Crackers. Something to bite. *sigh* Okay I really have to start this laxative stuff soon. Ish. Soonish. By 3:30 at the latest. I know they said 2pm, but that was before my surgery was rescheduled for four hours later. I want to feel full as long as possible.
2:38pm – I start watching the CW TV show Beauty and the Beast, from the beginning.
2:40pm – This show has an amazing soundtrack.
2:42pm – This show is fascinating.
2:43pm – Not a big fan of the line, “Does she have a husband? Boyfriend? Lesbian lover?” Why not just say “Does she have a husband? Boyfriend? Wife? Girlfriend?” Ugh.
2:45pm – I light one of my new candles. I might be stalling.
2:57pm – The elixir has been mixed. My wife comes home and asks me if I needed any Depends undies for the following day, and I smack my forehead. She is amazing and offers to pick some up for me tonight.
3:00pm – I drink my first 8 ounces. That wasn’t so bad! Pretty tasty, with my cherry frost Gatorade! (The clear/white kind, remember.) My wife reminds me to put on some comfy, easily removed clothing. I set a timer for the next drink. I go pee to make some room for all this yummy laxative juice.
3:15pm – Okay, here goes round 2. Nothing is happening yet.
3:30pm – Round 3. Still delicious. Still no poo.
3:39pm – Feeling kind of farty. But not really. Like that feeling you get when you know you’re going to be farty soon.
3:45pm – Here goes 4! Still nothing happening, I think to myself, and then suddenly I race to the bathroom. SURPRISE! POOP TIME! Except for the surprise part, it wasn’t too bad. The drink stuff is half gone now.
4:00pm – Fifth drink down, three to go. Feeling okay. Now I’m worried about surprise poop though. You know, we’re potty training my toddler and a few times we just put the potty out in the living room in front of the television. For just a few split second I consider moving the television into the bathroom…
4:11pm – I can’t tell if I have to pee REALLY BADLY or I’m about to poop.
4:13pm – Both. I feel like this would be a lot more enjoyable if I didn’t already have a really severe anal fissure. There is no cramping or pain as far as the colon goes. Just some discomfort for me at the booty.
4:15pm – Here we are on drink six. Okay this is getting tedious. I am starting to be concerned that I won’t like Gatorade after this…
4:30pm – Nothing much to say. Watching Poldark now, which I’m really enjoying. Aidan Turner is fun to watch. Just had my seventh drink. One to go!
4:38pm – Uh oh. TO THE BATHROOM!
4:45pm – THE LAST OF IT!!! Oh crud. Not the last of it. There is still one more to go.
5:00pm – And that’s it! Well, until the Dulcolax at 6pm. TMI here. Well, really this whole post is TMI… So I had to poop again, with that incredibly urgent feeling. TMI ahead: It’s really a strange feeling to poop so much liquid and with so much force that it feels like you’re peeing… but not. Not at all painful. Just a lot of liquid.
5:25pm – THEY FOUND COPPER IN THE MINE!!! Uh... that is not a euphemism, and might be a spoiler if anyone reading this is actually watching Poldark.
5:28pm – To the toilet again. This is my fifth bathroom trip since starting this. The liquid is nearly clear now. It’s so weird, to feel this super urgent need to poop, go with force, and then immediately be done. Normally when I have diarrhea I’m on the toilet for far too long. Now it’s almost faster than just going pee. Here’s a question – how did they determine exactly how much laxative was needed to get a person to the finish line? Who tested that?
5:52pm – Bathroom trip #6. I’m starting to get hungry again. Maybe some more broth? Or Jell-O? The possibilities are endless. I must say, I could definitely have done this with my three year old here. I’ve been in the bathroom a lot, but no more than any other night when I have diarrhea and he’s here and I’m dealing with it on my own. And really, this time I’m not cramping and feeling nauseated, so this is actually better. I am feeling a bit tired, though.
6:16pm – On the toilet again, just for a bit. I was supposed to take that Dulcolax fifteen minutes ago, but I got distracted by facebook and writing bad poetry on a lark. And damn am I tired. I could fall asleep right now. It’s only 6:30… should I? I feel like maybe I should “eat” something before I do that. Maybe I could lick a marshmallow or something?
6:35pm – I finally took the Dulcolax. I rewarded myself with another hot cup of broth, and a Jell-O for dinner. Both of them! Living large, people! Side note: my bowels are kind of cramping now, but not like normal… like they’re suddenly dehydrated? I don’t know how to explain it, but it hurts. I might go for some Tylenol in a short while.
6:47pm – Bathroom again. I just want to go to bed. Waaaaahhh.
7:03pm – Uh oh, toddler wants to Skype. Fast bathroom break just in case.
7:04pm – That was a very good idea.
7:23pm – Four books read over Skype later, my spirits are up and I think it’s time for some more broth!! I’ll try beef this time, since it JUST occurred to me that I picked out “chicken and herbs” and there are… um… herbs in it, and they specifically said “no pulp” so I probably wasn’t supposed to drink broth with floating spices… Whoops. It was delicious, though.
|Broth Is Amazing|
7:34pm – Distracted by facebook again. Why isn’t anyone here to microwave me some broth??
7:35pm – Bathroom.
7:40pm – Making more broth. Fairly certain that the bag of Salted Caramel Peanuts sitting on top of the pie safe just solicited me, and then taunted me when I staunchly refused. I consider sneaking some of them into the hospital for an aftercare snack.
8:00pm – Toilet, toilet, sitting on the toiiiiiiiiiiilet
8:40pm – Mmmm this candle smells good. As I run past it to go to the bathroom.
8:46pm – I’m really cold. I think I’ll cuddle up with a book in a blanket. I wonder if being cold has anything to do with losing all the food keeping me warm from my insides out?
8:57pm – Broke out the hemorrhoid pads during this bathroom trip. Can I just remind all the women out there to keep that away from your cootchie? Because witch hazel on the cootchie feels about what I imagine wiping yourself with hot wing sauce would feel like.
9:30pm – Things are slowing down pretty well now. Everything is clear coming out, and there isn’t much sense of urgency now. This is what, toilet trip #14? Whew. I should probably reward myself for this bravery with some Jell-O.
9:35pm – Does rainbow sherbet count as a “clear liquid?” Asking for a friend. A very hungry friend.
10:45pm – With no further toilet trips and barely able to keep my eyes open, I’m using the bathroom and going to bed. I think the worst is over.
The day of the surgery.
12:10am – I just woke up to use the bathroom in a most urgent way. Also, I noticed that it wasn’t clear anymore. I hope that’s normal and it’s not a problem for them during the surgery tomorrow!
3:50am – Ugh. Still having diarrhea and now it’s the kind where I don’t feel good. Intestinal nausea? I keep feeling like I’m going to have to go more, and generally “don’t feel good.”
7:50am – I wake up for good and use the toilet and there is only pee. I feel totally fine, and not even really very hungry. I’ve lost 2lbs since beginning this “cleanse.”
8:35am – I am getting really nervous. The last time I went under general anesthesia was twenty years ago when I got 5 teeth pulled for my braces. Back then I didn’t know the risks, really. Now I’m all, “Say your goodbyes!” I text my friend to make sure of the time she’s picking me up to take me in, and she reassures me, and I get a couple of messages from other friends wishing me well.
8:42am – The wife turns on SportsCenter. I secretly consider canceling everything and just staying home and watching Netflix or reading in the bedroom.
9:05am – I gather my clothes to take a shower. I’m going about all of this like it’s a funeral, moping and choosing dark solids. I’ll be showing up in various shades of gray. I suddenly remember that I have to take my rings off (or they'll take them or tape them down) and I get sadder.
|My Ring Holder|
9:38am – Body clean. Check. Shaved. Check. Wearing comfy neutral-colored clothing because that’s my safe space. Check. Ooh, I should paint my nails…
10:25am – Okay, I’ve emailed my professor to let her know that I may or may not be able to attend my online class tonight at 5:30pm. I’ve done my forum post for the day. I haven’t painted my nails. My friend will be here in fifteen minutes. I’m freaking out a little.
10:34am – I’m not panic sweating, YOU’RE panic sweating!!!! I reapply deodorant. I have to pee, but am waiting to do it because I know they’re going to make me take a urine pregnancy test when I get there, even though I haven’t been with a man in eleven years, and the last contact I had with semen was in November of 2011 when I got pregnant. On purpose.
10:40am – My friend arrives to pick me up, since my wife has to be at the house to meet the construction workers who arrive just as we need to leave. I have just panic-applied fingernail polish to my hands, and she catches me waving them around like a crazy person. She drives me to the hospital.
10:56am – Check in. I feel like the sexiest colonoscopy patient ever, with the rest of the people in the waiting room being 65+.
11:16am – My professor emails me back. “I do remember you emailing about this, and I appreciate you keeping me apprised of developments. Please know that I do not expect you to be in class on the same day you are having any kind of surgery, let alone one that requires general anesthesia.” Challenge accepted. See you at 5:30pm.
11:50ish am – Head back to the Pre-Op with a nurse person. She tells me, speaking roughly 426 words a minute, to strip down completely naked except for my socks. (Like a bad porn flick?) She gives me booties to wear over the socks, a gown to wear, and a gown-robe for privacy. And a urine specimen cup. I have to go pee, thankfully, and so I can fill the cup with my non-pregnant pee.
12:10ish pm – The anesthesiologist comes in to talk to me, and explains how the anesthesia will go. I would fall asleep quickly and wake up quickly with no real side effects, since I wouldn’t be intubated. “It’s an easy way to go,” he says. I start laughing and ask him to please rephrase that, as I’m already a bit nervous. He apologizes and laughs along with me.
12:30ish pm – I am hooked up to an IV and a blood pressure cuff and given the thing with controls to the TV in my waiting area, as well as buttons for “Sad” and “Potty” and what appears to be “Winged Nun” according to the pictures. They bring my friend back and she talks me down from my “I’m leaving” ledge. She also snickers through my super embarrassing answers to the questions they ask me, promises they’ll never hit facebook, and offers to let me attend her next gynecological appointment for revenge chuckles.
12:50pm – Time to head back! They kick my friend out, pull back the curtain, and wheel me down the hall into an OR, where my anesthesiologist is NOT THE SAME GUY. Larry informs me that the doctor I spoke to was the HEAD anesthesiologist and that is totally different. Well okay then, Larry. Take me to Funkytown.
1:00pm – I’m so drunk. The room is spinning, but it’s spinning UP. Everything is going from the floor to the ceiling. That is totally weird. So is going from sober to drunk in like 1 minute. They can’t find my surgeon but they know he’s around. They discuss texting him or calling, and decide on texting. I have no problem staying mildly drunk, so I kind of hope he takes a while.
1:05pm – My surgeon arrives and seems annoyed with me, and asks me questions about if I’m having diarrhea. He’s Brazilian so I can’t figure out if it’s his accent or my drunkenness, but I’m like, “I’m not pooping right now, but I certainly did last night…” They all laughed at that, so tension is relieved. I get the impression he wants me to understand why I am there and getting a colonoscopy, so I parrot back the information he quoted to me during our first appointment, about how I self-diagnosed myself with IBS and that was not okay and he needed to check me out. “Right,” he says. I zonk out.
2:00pm – I am back in the pre-op area, which is now post-op. My butt hurts, but no worse than it has been after a bowel movement in the last six months. I’m still a bit drunk so I’m asking questions and re-asking them a few moments later. I am not farting at all, which is excellent news. Everything I read about colonoscopies said I would be farting a ton.
2:05pm – My surgeon says something about it going fine and he’ll see me in two weeks for my follow-up appointment and then he’s gone, if he was ever there at all. Maybe a nurse said this. I am helped into a chair and given some water to drink. Sweet, sweet, sweet water. I cry because I wanted my surgeon to stay and chat with me about what was happening, and I feel like everything is happening too fast and I don’t understand what’s going on.
2:10pm – My friend comes back to be with me, and moments later my wife does too. They chat while I get naked and dress again, locker-room style, pulling on my undies underneath my robe, etc. My friend informs me that her eleven-year-old daughter has the same sports bra as me. Although I suspect mine, being three years old, is a bit nastier than her kid’s.
2:15pm – My friend and my wife argue about who’s going to take me home (who has the easier car to get in and out of), and finally my friend with the mini-van wins.
2:30pm – I get into the house, still sucking on my water. Wife arrives just after we do, and my friend unlocks the house with her key. I get the mail and show her my newly arrived credit card with a picture on it that she took. We say goodbye to my friend and she goes home, and I head to the kitchen, where I promptly shove a chocolate chip cookie and a handful of salted caramel peanuts into my mouth before my wife can stop me.
2:35pm – There are workers putting wall anchors into our basement, and there is intermittent jackhammering going on, as well as ridiculously loud country music playing. Thank goodness I didn’t expect to be napping.
2:45pm – I’m on my second bowl of cheddar broccoli soup and halfway through a package of peanut butter and jelly crackers, and my wife has promised me that I get to have Jimmy Johns for dinner if I am good and don’t throw up anything I’ve just shoved into my mouth. I assure her that I am a champ and can keep it down. She also fills my now-empty water cup with 7up, which I have determined I like a lot better than either Sprite or Sierra Mist.
3:00pm – I am now constantly peeing. Thanks, IV and new liquids.
4:26pm – The anesthesia has pretty much entirely worn off. I don’t know that I would go driving right now, but I suspect if I did I’d be okay.
4:50pm – Okay, I probably shouldn't have eaten so fast. The diarrhea is back. Luckily, now I can take some immodium... Back to life as normal, I guess. Class starts in 25 minutes!
Overall, this was a pretty decent experience. I think that if I had to do it again, I would. My only hesitation would be making sure someone could be with me at the hospital, and probably making sure there weren’t too many people at the house with me the evening before. If you have to get one done and are worried about the experience, I would say don’t be. I don’t believe for regular colonoscopies you get put all the way out like that, but even so I don’t think it’s probably too terrible. Everyone was really nice and it was not too traumatic at all.
7.5/10, would Colonoscopy again.