These are my experiences and although you may have similar ones, do not expect this all to happen to you or your loved one. Each case is different and requires the attention of a specialist, but I'll be happy to answer questions about myself or just talk.

Friday, May 05, 2006

January 29, 1996: Diagnosis

The only reason I remember this date is because it was the day after the Super Bowl. I’m not a real big sports fan and the big reason I like the Super Bowl is because it’s probably the second biggest food day of the year behind Thanksgiving. For those of you unfamiliar with the process in preparing for a colonoscopy (Recall from the previous post that I left off at being told I’d need to have a colonoscopy to figure out what was wrong with me.) it requires that the day before you do not eat solid foods. Complete liquid diet for a day, sometimes longer depending on the doctor’s orders, and then at the end of the day a complete flush of the system with laxatives to make sure everything is out of there. And it’s not just a laxative; it’s a whole helluva lot of ‘em. I felt like my brain was going to come out of my butt I was going so much. Like my body was going to collapse in on itself. I wish I could say that the first time is the roughest, but there was another time where I nearly passed out from dehydration. I can’t remember exactly when because I’ve had quite a few colonoscopies so I’m mentioning it here. These two times were by far the worst though, and I’ve, unfortunately, gotten used to the routine.

That night before I was very nervous, but was able to sleep because I was so exhausted from having nothing in my system thanks to the big evacuation of my guts I had to endure. That morning I was still nervous, but much too drained to fidget or appear so in any other way. I sat around for what seemed like an eternity before I was wheeled into the room where the procedure would take place. This was also my first experience with anesthetic and I thought it was kind of fun. When they told me to count backwards from ten and I could feel it kicking in and my tongue started to feel like a foreign object. I wanted to laugh but couldn’t because I was already asleep. I would have had no idea what had happened in that room if it weren’t for what I’m about to explain next.

Now, before I had been wheeled into the room I might have gotten an explanation of what exactly was going to happen, but I was too tired to pay attention. I wish I had remembered a little bit of it because that might have prepared me for what to expect when I woke up during the middle of it. I’ll level with you, there is a damn good reason as to why they put you under when they perform a colonoscopy and it’s not because it helps to put you at ease for when they’re staring at your butt and shoving a fiber-optic camera up there. It’s because it hurts. A lot. The camera is small enough in diameter to fit in there, but in order for anything to show up on screen they need to open everything up a little bit. In order to do that air gets pumped into you. Normally you wouldn’t know this happened and you’d wake up a little sore, and you’d probably be farting a lot just to get rid of it all. For some reason though, I woke up. I’m not sure if my body just doesn’t react to it as long as others my size or if I wasn’t given enough to begin with, but this wasn’t the only time I woke up during the middle of a ‘scope’ and I’ve told them I’ve woken up before and then never seem to believe me until I actually become alert as they’re all staring intently at the monitor.

Back to the procedure. So, they inflate your guts like they’re getting ready to make balloon animals out of you. I’m going to try to explain a bit better just how much it hurt when I woke up, I don’t want to scare anyone out of having a colonoscopy but it’d give you a good idea of what to expect in case you become aware of what’s going on like myself. Imagine the worst gas you’ve ever had. Not gas that was particularly odorous, but hurt and you wanted to get it out as fast as you could. Now multiply that by a thousand and that’s about right. The only problem is that you can’t burp or fart it out because the camera is blocking up the only exit. While looking around in there, they will also most likely take biopsies of polyps or anything out of the ordinary and run some tests on it. I’ve been awake for some of those too, and it doesn’t hurt (I’m not sure but I don’t think there are any nerve endings in your guts so you can’t feel it anyway) it just feels weird. I could actually feel them tugging on my insides and that just isn’t normal no matter how you look at it. I’m not sure which part of me was feeling it, but I swear I felt it. I guess I should mention that after they realized that I was awake and wasn’t going to stop repeating, “I’M AWAKE!” they knocked me out again and the next thing I knew I was out in the recovery area.

Having just come out of the anesthetic I didn’t get much out of the conversations that I had with my doctor, the nurses or my parents. I was shown some images of my innards. I had no idea what a healthy colon was supposed to look like, so I took the doctor’s word for it when they said what I was looking at was unhealthy. There were some spots that looked like they were bleeding and a lot of polyps and I’d never known that it wasn’t normal if I wasn’t told that day. I know I was told that it looked like I had Crohn’s disease because the inflammation wasn’t consistent like it is for colitis, but the doctor wasn’t entirely positive which one it was. I can’t remember if I was glad or not that I didn’t hear anything resembling the words “tumor” or “cancer” from that conversation. I had no idea what Crohn’s disease was and the just hearing that I would have this for the rest of my life knocked me on my ass. At least with cancer it was possible to be rid of it. Since I was having trouble following the conversation to begin with, once I had focused on the words “disease” and “rest of my life” I didn’t take much more in. It wasn’t until I had gotten home and read some of the stuff I was given that I found out that it’s possible to live a pretty normal life if you have Crohn’s or colitis.

Anyway, that day I was given my first medication, Asacol. It took a while, but after a few months of being on the pills the blood and diarrhea went away. But, if that was the end of my story, this would be a pretty crappy blog now wouldn’t it?