Having a colonoscopy during the COVID-19 pandemic
This is my fourth colonoscopy. Previously:
- Colonoscopy with Klean-Prep, February 2010 (11 years ago)
- Colonoscopy with Pico-Salax, April 2012 (9 years ago)
- Colonoscopy with Purg-Odan (Pico-Salax), July 2017 (4 years ago)
I’m a 31 year old woman, and I live in southern Ontario, Canada. In December 2009, I went to the hospital with a perforated bowel. The doctors performed a bowel resection, and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I haven’t been on any medication since 2016, and my Crohn’s seems to be in remission, so this colonoscopy is just a routine checkup.
I expect this colonoscopy will be a little different than my previous ones, since we’re currently in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m not worried about the actual procedure or the prep, since I’ve done that all before, but I am worried about possibly catching COVID at the hospital.
This actually turned out to be my easiest colonoscopy so far. I’ve done the prep often enough that I’ve got a good system going now; the worst part of the prep day was my sore butt. The actual procedure was also really easy, and I don’t remember feeling any discomfort at all.
I did not catch COVID at the hospital, and I know this for a fact, because I ended up taking a COVID test about ten days after my colonoscopy. Even without the COVID test, after I went home, I wasn’t at all worried about having caught COVID, because I felt very safe the entire time I was at the hospital. Everyone wore masks, and many of the people I interacted with were behind plexiglass. No one was coughing or spitting or speaking moistly at me. The hospital wasn’t very busy, and in hallways and waiting rooms, people kept their distance. I didn’t have to touch many things. I never touched my face, other than to adjust my glasses or mask, but it wasn’t like I was trying to get an eyelash out of my eye or something, so it didn’t feel very risky.
I had been dreading getting a COVID test, but it really wasn’t a big deal. I actually had the test done twice in the past week; the first time, I barely felt it. The second time was more thorough and a bit unpleasant, but it was over in a few seconds, and I didn’t feel pain or anything afterwards. I had a tube up my nose when I had my bowel resection, and I don’t really remember how that felt, but I imagine that’s much worse than the COVID test.
The rest of this entry was written during the prep day or shortly after the colonoscopy to give you an idea what I was going through at the time.
Booking the procedure
I last saw my gastroenterologist in June 2020 (about eight months ago) via a video call. She said the hospitals were starting to open up for normal procedures again, so she wanted to book me for a colonoscopy in December. December came and went, and I didn’t hear from anyone about an appointment. The number of COVID cases was getting pretty bad around this time, so I assumed my colonoscopy had been delayed.
About a month ago, in late January 2021, I got a call from the hospital to book my colonoscopy. The woman on the phone suggested a date, and I said okay. She asked what pharmacy she should send the prescription to, and I told her the pharmacy’s name. She told me where I was supposed to go to get to the clinic, and she said that information would be included in the pamphlet that they would send to the pharmacy as well. I asked if the prescription was for Klean-Prep or Pico-Salax, and she said Pico-Salax. I said that’s good, because I had a hard time with the Klean-Prep before. She laughed and seemed to know exactly what I was talking about.
My dad had an operation in summer 2020, and he needed to do a COVID test a few days before the procedure. The woman hadn’t mentioned anything on the phone about a COVID test, and there wasn’t anything about it in the pamphlet either. I worried that maybe I had interrupted the woman on the phone before she could tell me about the COVID procedures. I called the hospital to check if I needed to do a COVID test. They said they were only having people with symptoms take the tests, so I wouldn’t need to. I was glad, because I’ve heard the tests can be unpleasant.
My appointment is on a Tuesday, and the Thursday or Friday before my appointment, the hospital called and asked if I had done a COVID test. Oh boy. I said no. They asked if I had any symptoms or had come into contact with anyone who had tested positive. I said no. They asked if I was still good to come in for my appointment. I said yes. They asked if I had any other questions. I asked about where to go and COVID precautions. They told me I would need to wear a medical grade mask, not a fabric mask. They also said they were trying to limit the number of people in the hospital, so the person who would be driving me home would need to drop me off, I would give the hospital the person’s phone number, and then the hospital would call them when they needed to come pick me up.
A few weeks after booking my appointment, I realized the appointment was going to be in the middle of my period. My first colonoscopy was at the beginning of my period, so it wasn’t really a problem, because there wasn’t much blood, but this time, it could be iffy.
On Sunday, two days before the procedure, I had diarrhea, which is common when I have my period. On the plus side, this means less poop to come out over the next two days. On the negative side, I was wiping a lot, so things started to hurt down there sooner than normal.
From what I’ve read online, it’s not a problem to have a colonoscopy during your period. Everyone says doctors have seen it all, so they won’t be grossed out — but that’s not what I’m concerned about. I just don’t want them to accidentally poke something during the procedure, and then I start bleeding internally, and I don’t realize it because I’ll think “oh, it’s just period blood”, and then I die. I worry a lot about dying from things I’m probably not gonna die from, in case you didn’t notice.
Anyway, as of Tuesday morning, there’s not much blood left, so I can get away with wearing a panty liner instead of a pad. I switched to a panty liner on Monday because I was sore, and the pad was making it worse. I don’t think my period will be too much of an issue, but for future colonoscopies, I think I’ll reschedule if it happens during my period. Periods are gross, colonoscopies are gross — having both at the same time is double gross and unnecessary. There are just all these little added things to worry about, and I don’t need that.
Preparing for the prep
I’ve been re-reading my past colonoscopy blog posts to see what worked and what didn’t and what I wished I’d done differently.
My schedule is almost exactly the same as my last colonoscopy; the procedure is even on a Tuesday again. Usually, I would take both Monday and Tuesday off, but I’m not taking Monday off this time, because I’m working from home, and the prep starts at the end of the day, at 4:30 pm.
A couple years ago, I bought a big insulated water bottle that holds almost 1 litre, and I usually drink about 2 litres of water a day. During my first colonoscopy, I wasn’t able to drink all the liquid that was required, but now that I’m used to drinking more, maybe this time it will be easier. Rather than drinking 2 litres over 12 hours though, I need to drink 2 litres over 4 hours, so it’ll be a little different. Also, with this bottle, it’s hard to gauge how much I have left to drink; I have to unscrew the lid if I want to check.
The instructions told me to start a low fibre diet three days before the procedure. Lately, on weekends, I’ve been eating cereal with almonds and dried cranberries, but that’s out, because I’m not supposed to eat fruit or nuts. Instead, I had eggs and yogurt for breakfast, turkey wraps for lunch, and chicken for dinner. I had strawberry yogurt on Saturday, and I didn’t realize until afterwards that probably wasn’t a good idea, because it had seeds… but for my last colonoscopy, I had an apple for breakfast the day before the procedure, so it will probably be fine.
Here’s the timeline I’m going to be following; it’s based on the timeline laid out in my pamphlet, but I’ve made a few changes. I’m crushing the Dulcolax tablets, because I can’t swallow pills. I’m mixing the Purg-Odan earlier to give it more time to cool down, because last time, it tasted worse when it was warm. I’ve moved the second dose from 10:30am to 8:30am give me more time to drink the additional fluids.
- Morning: Eat a normal breakfast. Don’t eat any more solid foods until after the procedure.
- 4:15pm: Mix 1 Purg-Odan satchet with 150 ml cold water and an ice cube. Stir for 2 minutes until all of the powder is dissolved. Put it in the fridge to cool for 10ish minutes. Crush 2 Dulcolax pills. Keep a vomit bowl nearby (just in case).
- 4:30pm: Add crushed Dulcolax pills to water and drink it. Get the Purg-Odan from the fridge. Drink it in big gulps, alternating with smaller sips of ginger ale. When you’re done, eat a popsicle.
- 4:30pm – 8:30pm: Drink 1.5 to 2 litres of clear fluids.
- 8:15am: Repeat Monday at 4:15pm.
- 8:30am: Repeat Monday at 4:30pm.
- 8:30am – 11:30am: Drink 1.5 to 2 litres of clear fluids.
- 11:30am: Do not eat or drink anything.
- 2:30pm: Arrive at the hospital.
- 3:30pm: Colonoscopy.
I’ve got apple juice, ginger ale, white Gatorade, banana flavoured popsicles, and green Jello ready.
Monday morning, 8am
For breakfast, I ate two hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper and two slices of white toast with butter and cherry jam. I know technically I’m not supposed to eat raw fruit, but it’s a small amount, so I think it will be okay.
I also took one acetaminophen tablet (crushed and mixed with cranberry juice), because I felt like I might have a headache coming on due to my period. The colonoscopy instructions say it’s okay to take your regular medication as long as it’s more than two hours before your first dose.
Usually, I take a multivitamin, vitamin D, and calcium in mid-morning, but I’m going to skip it today.
Monday lunch, 12pm
In my previous colonoscopy posts, I didn’t mention eating anything for lunch. Obviously, I can’t have a solid lunch, but I figure a popsicle should be fine and give me a feeling of normalcy.
Just before 3pm, my stomach started making noises. Other than that, I’m not really hungry.
Monday 4:30pm – first dose
I poured 150ml of cold water into a glass, added one ice cube, added the Purg-Odan, stirred for a few minutes, and then put it in the fridge to cool for about 10 minutes.
I crushed up the Dulcolax, added it to a bit of water, and drank it. There was a lot of the pill still left behind in the glass, so I added more water four more times and drank it again, but there was still some of the pill left over. I’m hoping this will be good enough.
I drank the Purg-Odan. It definitely doesn’t taste good, but it doesn’t really taste bad either; it’s only because I know what it’s for that my brain thinks it tastes bad. It’s like when you eat something that you know is slightly past the best before date, and your brain tricks you into thinking it tastes different. At least, my brain does.
I didn’t notice the temperature of the drink, so it must have cooled down enough.
It took about three minutes to take the Dulcolax and Purg-Odan, which I think is a record for me. The pamphlet doesn’t say anything about how long it should take to drink it, but I figure the faster I drink it, the sooner it’ll start working. I took sips of ginger ale in between gulps of the Purg-Odan, and then I ate a popsicle when I was done.
I didn’t really feel nauseous afterwards like I have in the past. Well, maybe just a slight touch of nausea, but I think that was moreso because I drank it fast, and I don’t usually drink anything that fast. I didn’t have any problem getting up and walking around immediately after I finished drinking; I feel like in my previous posts, it sounded like I needed to lie down for a while, but that definitely wasn’t the case today.
I really don’t feel like drinking anything else right now though, but I do feel like I could eat that whole box of popsicles. I’ll give myself a break for half an hour, and I won’t force myself to start drinking the water until after that.
I did not adjust my water intake during the day, and I think that was a mistake, because now, I feel bloated, and I don’t feel like I can fit any more liquid inside me. I tried to eat some Jello, but I didn’t have very much, because I feel so full already.
I’m also a bit gassy (from both ends), which I don’t remember happening before. It could be the ginger ale though, because I don’t usually drink pop.
Monday, 6:10pm – 1 litre down
I’ve finished my first litre slightly ahead of schedule. Now I’ve got two hours to drink half a liter.
I set an alarm on my phone to go off every five minutes so that I remember to take a drink. Maybe I should have watched a show and played a drinking game.
I’ve gone to the bathroom three times just to pee, and there’s a lot of it.
Monday, 6:25pm – we have liftoff!
I started to feel some gurgling and then pain around my stomach, and I knew I needed to get to the toilet right away.
The first time I pooped, it was the “peeing-out-of-your-butt” kind; I thought that didn’t happen until later, but I guess not. There wasn’t very much though, and it was normal coloured (brownish-yellowish).
6:35pm, a little bit of solid poo, and then my stomach made some noises that sounded like a bucket of water sloshing back and forth, and a little bit of liquid poo.
I’m liveblogging both my prep and an episode of Fantasy Island at the same time, and I swear it feels like the two-dates-at-the-same time trope. My Fantasy Island blog post is probably gonna accidentally take a really weird turn.
It’s been good keeping myself occupied by actively writing, rather than just passively watching TV like I’ve done in the past, because I feel like I’m not getting up to go to the bathroom unless it’s necessary — and I really don’t want to go unless it’s absolutely necessary, because I don’t want my butt to feel any more sore than it has to.
7pm, still some solid bits, still not clear at all.
Monday, 7:10pm – 1.5 litres down
I’ve got another half liter down. I was aiming for the whole two liters, but I really don’t want any more now; I’ll just drink when I’m thirsty.
There have been a couple times where I was drinking water, and I kind of half-gagged. The water tastes fine, but just remembering the prep solution makes me feel like gagging.
9pm, I’m feeling totally normal. The only bad thing is that my butt hurts a lot, and I’ve got some yucky tasting burps. I haven’t pooped in an hour or so, which is nice, because my butt needs the break.
I know it’s been like this every time I’ve had a colonoscopy, but I’m still worried, because my poop is still not clear, and there hasn’t been that much. But I guess that’s why there’s two doses.
I had some more Jello, and I actually wanted to eat it this time, because I didn’t feel too full. I’m not really hungry either though.
I made a sandwich to bring in the car tomorrow so I can eat it on the way home. I was worried that I wasn’t going to feel up to making a lunch, or putting some baby wipes into a ziploc bag, or any of the other things I wanted to do to prepare for tomorrow, but like I said, I feel total normal. For my job, I’m a computer programmer, and I could definitely program right now if I wanted.
I usually use blue mouthwash, but I didn’t use it today. It probably would be fine, because you don’t swallow mouthwash, but going without mouthwash for one day isn’t a big deal, so I’ll stay on the safe side and skip it.
Monday night / Tuesday morning
I went to bed around 10pm. About ten minutes later, I went to the bathroom for the first time since before 8pm.
I got up to go to the bathroom twice more, at 1:30am and 2am. It was very green, thanks to the green Jello. Not sure if that’s a bad thing; I don’t want my insides to be all green during the colonoscopy, so I’m not going to have any more Jello.
I woke up at 7:30am. I didn’t have a great sleep; I woke up quite a few times. I had planned on sleeping until 8am, but other people in the house are awake and making noise, so I couldn’t. I wish I had gone to bed a bit earlier.
After I woke up, I had a fairly solid but very small poop.
Tuesday morning – second dose
I started preparing the second dose around 8:15am.
I crushed the Dulcolax pills, and then put the crushed pills through a strainer a few times, to try to make the bits smaller, so hopefully I could drink more of it this time. I think it worked, but again, there was still a lot of bits left in the glass.
I started feeling scared and nervous before taking the prep again, even though I’ve done this so many times before. I drank it in about two minutes again. It took six big gulps with a sip of ginger ale in between each gulp (although I probably could have done it in five gulps if I didn’t chicken out). Then I had another popsicle and laid down and watched some TV. I gave myself another half hour break where I wouldn’t force myself to drink anything, but I still did get maybe 1/4 litre down in that time.
Then I turned the five minute alarm on again so I would remember to keep drinking.
I definitely don’t feel full and bloated like I did yesterday; I think that’s because I didn’t drink anything all night, but yesterday, I had been drinking water all morning.
Tuesday, 9:15am – it begins, again
I went to the bathroom a few times after the second dose, hoping that it would start, but they were all false alarms.
Then at 9:15am, I had my first poop — an explosive one like yesterday. It’s still not anywhere near clear, but I can’t really tell if there are any solid bits.
I put a heating pad on my stomach to see if that would speed things up. I’m not sure whether the heating pad is a good idea or a bad idea, because sometimes, it makes me poop more, but sometimes, it calms my stomach so I stop pooping.
More poop at 9:25am.
A little bit more at 9:35am.
A little more at 9:45am. This is pretty consistent now, every ten minutes. It’s definitely not clear, but it’s also definitely not solid.
10:10am, I’ve finished my first litre of water.
10:30am, I’m eating another popsicle, since I’ll have to stop eating/drinking soon.
I was cold last night and this morning, but I don’t know if that’s because of all the popsicles and ice water, or because it’s early March in Canada, or if my electrolytes or whatever are out of whack. I feel fine otherwise, so I think it’s probably just the first two.
10:45am, some smallish flaky bits.
11am, I’m almost done the last half-litre. I did also have a cup of ginger ale and two popsicles this morning, so I think I’m probably okay. My pamphlet says the appointment is at 2pm, but on the phone, they said 2:30pm, and I’m supposed to stop eating/drinking three hours before my appointment, so I’ll stop at 11:15am.
11:05am, another trip to the bathroom, this time, there was quite a bit, but it was all liquid with some very small flaky bits.
11:10am, another bathroom trip, basically the same as last time.
11:30am, another trip. It looked like it was all liquid, but still yellow. Now that I know I can’t drink, I feel thirsty.
12:30pm, went to the bathroom, but there was only a tiny bit.
I kind of thought I’d be able to get a bunch of things done today, since I’m off work, but there’s really not that much time in the day. I feel fine, so I am accomplishing things, but I always have this notion that I’m going to get everything done on my day off. I’m not tired now, but I expect when I come home, I’ll just sleep.
I also don’t feel cold any more now that I’m not eating/drinking. I do keep wanting to grab my water bottle like I usually do though.
12:40pm, bathroom trip, quite a bit of liquid, didn’t notice any solid bits. It’s not clear, but it’s getting closer.
1:20pm, a bit more. Still yellow, but mostly clear, and definitely no solid bits. I don’t think it’s ever been this clear before a colonoscopy before, so I think it should go well.
My butt felt better when I woke up, and it hasn’t felt that bad today either.
Preparing for the hospital
I made a sandwich to leave in the car for the trip home.
I wore a hoodie with pockets, and in my pockets, I had my health card, my dad’s phone number, and a ziploc bag with baby wipes. I wore running shoes instead of boots, because I knew I’d be walking around the hospital in a gown and my shoes. And, of course, because of COVID, I wore a face mask.
I didn’t bring my coat or hat or any winter things with me, because I knew I’d have to carry them around in the hospital. I didn’t bring a phone or anything to entertain me in the waiting room, because they usually tell you not to bring valuables. One thing I forgot to bring was the pamphlet with the instructions on where to go, but I figured it out anyway.
Arriving at the hospital
My dad dropped me off at the hospital around 2:15pm. I went in the main entrance. There was a guy sitting behind some plexiglass. He asked if I had an appointment. I said yes, I was there for a colonoscopy (which was probably too much information). He asked me the typical COVID screening questions: do you have any of these symptoms, have you travelled outside of Canada, have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID, etc. He picked up a surgical face mask using tongs, put the mask in a plastic tray, and then slid the tray under the plexiglass. I removed my mask and put on the mask he provided. After I put the mask on, I looked up, and he was gone; I was hoping he’d tell me where I was supposed to go, which was why I told him I had a colonoscopy, but I was on my own.
I went to the elevators and took them up to the colonoscopy clinic. I was lucky enough to be able to walk onto the elevator right as someone was getting off, so I didn’t need to press the “up” button. I did need to press the button for my floor though.
I arrived at the colonoscopy clinic. There was a woman sitting at a desk behind some plexiglass. I told her I had an appointment. She said I needed to check in at patient registration downstairs. So I went back to the elevator. Someone else was waiting there first, so I decided to wait for the next one so I wouldn’t be in a small space with someone. After the first person left, I pressed the “down” button, but it took a long time for the next elevator to show up. Then I remembered there were stairs, so I took the stairs down two flights. It occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t a great idea to be running up and down the stairs, because I haven’t eaten much, and what if I needed to go to the bathroom? But it all worked out fine.
I went to patient registration. There was another woman sitting at a desk behind some plexiglass. I slid my health card under the glass. She asked me some questions, like what’s my last name, what’s my birthdate (everyone wanted to know my birthdate today). She confirmed basic things like my address, phone number, emergency contact details, family doctor’s name, etc. She gave me some paperwork and told me to bring the paperwork to the colonoscopy clinic.
I went back upstairs. I had been lucky when I went downstairs that I didn’t run into anyone, because going upstairs, I ran into a few people who were descending as I was ascending. I was walking through a door just as a woman was approaching from the other side, and she said “oh, perfect timing”. Normally, I would have held the door open for her, but since I was trying to stay away, I didn’t, so she probably thought I was rude. But when I was nearing the top of the stairs, and someone was about to just start descending, they would wait for me and vice-versa.
Back to the colonoscopy clinic. I slid the paperwork under the plexiglass. The woman pointed towards a nearby cart with hospital gowns in plastic bags. She told me to take my paperwork, take a bag, go down the hallway to some room, put the paperwork on the nurses’ desk, go into a changeroom, take off all my clothes except socks and shoes, put the gowns on so one opens in the front and one opens in the back, and sit in the waiting room with the other patients. I wasn’t paying attention to most of what she said, because I’m pretty familiar with the procedure. I started to repeat back what she said about where I was supposed to go, because I don’t have that part memorized. There was another woman there who said she would take me, since she was going there anyway. I’m guessing a lot of people get confused about where to go, because she mentioned that the door I’m supposed go through doesn’t look very inviting; it looks like the kind of door you are definitely not supposed to go through. I’m glad she came with me, because I probably would have gotten lost if she hadn’t.
The waiting room
I got changed, put the paperwork on the desk, and sat down in the waiting room. There were three other patients there. Only one of the patients had someone with them. Normally, I think I could have had my dad with me in this room, but since they were trying to limit the number of people in the hospital, I was alone. There was a TV playing a home renovation show, but there were more commercials than actual show. I think it was around 2:30pm when I settled into the waiting room.
I tried to sit as far away as I could from the other patients, but unfortunately, that meant I was sitting near where people were walking by, and surprisingly, a lot of people seemed to be walking by. After a while, another patient was called in and left the room. I don’t recall what time it was when this happened, but it seemed like I had already been waiting a while, so I figured I was in for a long wait, since there were two other people ahead of me.
Around 2:50pm though, a nurse called my name. She brought me into a small room that was a lot like a doctor’s office. She asked me my birthdate and all that stuff again, any allergies, any symptoms of COVID, any heart problems, lung problems, do you wear glasses, do you have any permanent dental appliances, any chance you could be pregnant, any abdominal surgery (yes, my bowel resection) and when (2009), who will be picking me up and what’s their phone number, when’s the last time you had solid food (popsicles don’t count)… I don’t remember everything she asked, but it was pretty standard stuff.
She put a bracelet with my name and health information on my wrist. Then she asked me to lower my mask so she could take my temperature. She said my temperature was a little high, and she asked if that was normal. I said I wasn’t sure. She said she’d do it again just in case. It was still high, but she said it wasn’t a fever, so it would be alright to go ahead with the procedure. Can you imagine, going through all that, and then they don’t do the procedure because you have a fever?! I told her I was just running up and down the stairs, so maybe that was why my temperature was high. I also told her I was having my period, so I left my underwear on, and she said that was fine.
Then she said she was going to put an IV in. I told her I needed to lay down or I would pass out. No problem, she said, and she walked me over to the recovery room. She told me to put my shoes and the bag with my clothes underneath the stretcher, and then lay down on the stretcher. The stretcher was actually pretty comfortable. She also got me a warm blanket, which is always nice. She asked which arm to put the IV in, and I told her the left, since I’m right-handed. As she was preparing to put in the IV, she started asking me about my Crohn’s, like how and when was I diagnosed. I knew she was just trying to make me comfortable by getting me to talk, so I got really chatty, even though I know she probably didn’t care much about what I was saying, but she did seem very genuine anyway. I thanked her and told her she did a great job; being distracted while getting an IV definitely makes it easier.
Another nurse asked why I was in the recovery room, and the IV nurse explained that I wasn’t good with IVs, so I needed to lie down. She also said that otherwise, I was had been admitted, and everything was done. I thought I’d end up waiting in recovery for a while, but then the IV nurse asked if I needed to go to the bathroom one more time. I said no, and then they started wheeling me out. I think this was around 2:50pm.
The operating room
They wheeled me into an operating room. I thought maybe they were going to give me the anaesthesia and then wheel me back to recovery, but then I saw my gastroenterologist was in the room. She asked how I was doing, and we chatted about how we haven’t seen each other in person in so long, since we started doing video appointments even before the pandemic started. She said she’s been doing mostly phone call visits now, since a lot of her patients are older, and they don’t have iPads or cameras to use for video calls.
There was a male doctor who explained that he’s been working with my doctor for several years. He told me about the surgery, like what a colonoscopy is and why they’re doing it. He said they might take some biopsies. He talked about the risks of the surgery (I don’t remember what he said, but like bleeding or death I guess), but he said complications were rare; I think he said 1 in 1,000, which made me think, well, this is colonoscopy #4 for me, so now my chances are actually 1 in 997. His spiel reminded me of those drug commercials with the really fast voiceovers listing the side effects (although he didn’t talk that fast, but you could tell he’s probably got this speech memorized). Then I had to sign a paper acknowledging that I was aware of these risks and I agree to the surgery — at least, I think that’s what the paper said; I didn’t actually read it.
During my previous colonoscopies, they’ve always taken off my glasses before the procedure, but they didn’t this time. I’m not sure if that’s a COVID precaution or if they just forgot. Anyway, I liked having my glasses on, because then I could actually see the video of my colon clearly for the first time. I was also glad not to have people touching something that would go back on my face later.
There was another female doctor who asked me my birthdate (again) and some other stuff that I don’t remember. She put a blood pressure monitor around my left arm and some kind of clamp monitor on my right index finger. She had me lie down on my left side and put both my arms up near my head. I think she also put the anaesthetic in my IV, but I don’t remember seeing that happen.
At some point before I had the anaesthetic, I mentioned that I still had my underwear on because of my period. The male doctor said something like “please slip off your underwear whenever you feel comfortable” and the way he phrased it kind of made me laugh — like yeah, I bet you say that to all the girls. Anyway, trying to remove your underwear under two hospital gowns with tubes and wires hooked up to you while trying not to expose yourself is like trying to open a bag of chips quietly. It took waaay too long, and when I finally pulled my underwear out, I realized I’d lost the panty liner. So then I took even longer trying to find it, and I’m pretty sure I ended up flashing the anesthesiologist. Eventually, I gave up and said we’ll find it later. (I ended up finding it in the recovery room after the procedure was over, but I don’t remember where it was.)
I laid back down again, and someone lifted up the back of my gown, so now my bare butt was visible to the entire room, and I felt kind of exposed; I don’t remember feeling like that during my previous colonoscopies.
I don’t actually remember what the procedure felt like this time. I was awake for the entire thing, but I don’t have any particular memory of what it felt like. In my previous colonoscopies, I know that sometimes it hurt a little, but I don’t remember feeling hurt at all, even when they were taking biopsies or when they were putting the scope in or taking it out.
I watched the video for the entire procedure; maybe that’s why I didn’t feel anything, because I was more distracted this time? I always watched the video before, but because I never had my glasses on, maybe it looked scarier because I didn’t know what I was seeing — kind of like when I’m getting a haircut; it always looks worse when I’ve got my glasses off and I can’t tell how much they’ve cut off.
In my unprofessional opinion, I’d say my colon looked pretty clean. It was pink and smooth. When I look up pictures of colonoscopies online (fun), I’d say my colon looked like the ones labelled “healthy colon”. I was worried it was going to be all green because of the green Jello, but it was not; maybe if I had eaten more of it on Tuesday, it would have been green.
There were two or three spots where there were round, light pink bulbs. I thought they looked like bad things, but the doctors didn’t say anything about them. Looking at other colonoscopy images, I’m guessing they were polyps — which sounds scary, because some websites say they can turn into colon cancer, but these sites also say they’re usually harmless. And really, that’s why I’m having these colonoscopies; to catch polyps that could be cancerous.
Ever since my doctor told me she wanted me to have another colonoscopy this year, I’ve kind of been thinking, look, my last colonoscopy was four years ago — not even a nice round number like five years — so why are you making me have one again? But now that I’ve actually seen these polyps… well, I actually feel better about having the colonoscopy. Better safe than sorry, and a couple of crappy days every few years is much better than colon cancer, right?
There were a few places in my colon where there seemed to be a bunch of gunk, presumably stool. You know how the dentist has an instrument that sprays water, and another instrument that sucks the water out? I think they had a thing that sucked the excess stool out, because sometimes, the stuff seemed to disappear. I think one of the doctors commented that it was weird there was a fully formed stool in there, although I didn’t see what they were talking about. Someone also commented about an area that seemed to have old inflammation.
I didn’t see who was actually doing the colonoscopy, but I thought it was the male doctor. He would tell the female doctor when he wanted to take a biopsy, and she would press a button, and some tool would grab something, and then there would be blood. I didn’t notice any pain or any particular feeling when they did the biopsies.
Afterwards, they told me everything was normal. They said my doctor’s office would contact me about an appointment in six to nine months. I’m not sure if this was before or after the procedure, but I also mentioned that I hadn’t had bloodwork done for a long time, so my doctor had a requisition form made up for me.
Recovery and bloodwork
Then they wheeled me back to recovery. Another nurse asked who was picking me up, and I told her, even though they already have that info. She phoned my dad to tell him he should come get me.
The nurses were discussing my bloodwork requisition form, and they asked if I wanted to do the bloodwork now at their clinic, or if not, I can do it at any LifeLabs facility at another time. I had thought someone had said it would be easier to do it now because I already had the IV in, but then someone took the IV out, so I’m not sure what they meant. Anyway, the reason I didn’t have my bloodwork done for so long was because I didn’t want to go out in the world and potentially expose myself to COVID, so I decided to get it done now, since I was already out in the world exposing myself to COVID.
They said someone would walk me to the bloodwork clinic, and if my dad showed up while I was there, they would bring him to the clinic, but if I finished before he showed up, I could come back to the recovery room and wait for him there.
I got changed back into my own clothes. They had put my stretcher in front of a window, and I didn’t see any curtains I could pull in front of the window, and this window faced other windows, so that was kind of weird. I kept the gown on in the back so I could put on my underwear and pants with my back to the window, and then I took off the back gown so I could put my shirt on. So some people might have seen my bare back, whoopie.
I went over to the bloodwork clinic. I took a number and sat down. There were three numbers ahead of me I think. One was called in rather quickly, then I waited a long time for the next number. My dad showed up and sat with me. Then the next number was called, but they weren’t there, so my number was called.
I went in, and I told her I needed to lay down or I’d pass out. The reclining chair was already being used by another patient, so the nurse had me wait while that patient finished, and then she wiped the reclining chair down before I sat in it. This nurse was not as chatty as the IV nurse, but everything was fine. She instructed me to slowly bring the chair up and sit for a while until I was ready to stand. I sat up slowly, but I told her I would be fine, and it was just a psychological thing, and I’m always fine after it bloodwork is done. Then I met my dad and we left.
I had brought a sandwich in the car with me, but I didn’t really want to remove my mask or touch anything with my hands before washing them. I still wasn’t that hungry, so it was fine.
We got home, and I had a shower. I had previously laid out some clothes to change into, so I didn’t need to go rummaging through my bedroom. I washed my glasses. I washed my health card. I washed everything I’d brought with me. I washed so much my one hand started bleeding a bit.
Then I watched a bit of TV, did some stuff on the computer, and I was feeling pretty good. But then I suddenly felt tired, so I laid down for an hour or so, then watched TV for the rest of the evening. I went easy on the food on Tuesday; I still wasn’t especially hungry, but I wasn’t not hungry either.
I had a pretty good sleep, and I felt fine all Wednesday. I’ve had a few times where I’ve had to go to the bathroom urgently. My poop is still pretty diarrhea-like, but there hasn’t been any more peeing-out-the-butt. I haven’t had any blood in my stool or any pain — other than when I had to urgently go to the bathroom Wednesday morning. I didn’t think to weigh myself Tuesday after getting home, but between Monday night and Wednesday night, I lost two pounds.
Wednesday breakfast tasted a little funny to me, and I feel a little like I have a sore throat. But honestly, I think these are probably fake COVID symptoms — like when there’s a normal cold going around, and you always think you’ve got it even if you don’t.
Overall, this had to have been my easiest colonoscopy yet. I’ve gotten pretty good at the prep. I didn’t really even feel the procedure itself, and I got to watch the video this time. I worried a lot about my period and COVID, but they didn’t really cause any problems.
The next few days
I’m writing this a few weeks after my colonoscopy, so I don’t really remember too much about the days immediately after the colonoscopy. I felt pretty normal. I usually do yoga at lunch, but I skipped it the day after the colonoscopy. Two days after the colonoscopy, I started doing yoga again. For the standing poses, I was fine, but when I started doing poses on the ground, like the plank and downward dog and jackknife, my stomach started to hurt a bit, so I didn’t do any more yoga for a few days.
Nine days after my colonoscopy, I started feeling a constant, dull pain in my abdomen. After about a day of this, I went to the hospital. They did a CT scan, and they put me on antibiotics. I haven’t talked to my gastroenterologist yet, so I don’t know for certain exactly what happened, or whether it was related to the colonoscopy at all, but the doctors at the hospital didn’t think it was related. I’ll be writing about that experience in a separate blog post.