Sunday, December 19, 2004

Feeling a bit "off"

Not to get gross or anything, but as someone with 2 bowel diseases, I don't often have "diarrhea"....(yes, gross, but still)'s one of those questions the dr asks me (how often do I have it, or do I ever) and he's usually surprised when I say I don't have it too often. And its true, I don't. (thanks to the Imodium I'm sure. still wonder if that's hurting me and we just don't know it yet). But this stuff they give you to prep (for the colonoscopy) causes diarrhea so in a way, its reaffirmed that "I've been lucky" notion. Or, thank goodness for Imodium, for now.

And for ginger ale. Couldn't seem to get enough of that once I could finally drink (without feeling ill) again. This also helps get the phosphosoda down. I figured I would associate one with the other but the interesting thing about ginger ale is that when I need it, it always tastes really good to me. And when I don't, it just tastes kind of, blah.

It's been 2 days since the procedure, and I still feel "off." I have some back pain that I didn't expect. Less "gas" than expected. Oh I was so happy when I could take Imodium again.

It's like an assembly line, these out patient procedures. And there is all older people who see you in the beginning. The ones who walk you to the waiting area, the ones who check you in, the ones who take your info, make you sign stuff, tell you go back and wait some more.

I was "needing to go" (badly!!) every 5 minutes within 2 hours of starting the grueling prep until the time I had to leave for the hospital. Then suddenly, I was able to hold it for a bit. (I was too scared to move once in the waiting area). But I don't quite understand how the dr expects his bowel disease patients to take this crap that keeps us awake all night (and I do mean, all night) long, endure the agony that constantly having to "go" causes, endure the sickly, nasty, disgusting evacuations, and any other prep needed (and caused by the prep material) and somehow manage to make it to the hospital for their procedure at all when they can't stop going or needing to go long enough to even get dressed?

Yet somehow, I made it. And knowing the dr was running late (of course, as usual, his regular appointments run late too; schedule? what's that?) and after waiting and waiting and trying to breathe deeply and slowly (to try and calm myself) and not cough (no control anymore, had it, but then you start the prep, and any control there was is very soon a thing of the past) and finally finally I worked up the nerve to go in to that bathroom in the waiting area. The one where several old men were in and out of, where you can hear the nasty sounds they made, and just know the last place you want to be is in there (knowing everyone will hear me too).

But I had to go again. And I had managed to hold it for an amazingly long time (given the fact that for the entire previous night and all morning to this point, I couldn't) and if the procedure was soon, I better make sure 'm "ready." (they didn't ask me if I had to go again, the last time, they did, this time, there wasnt "time" to, or so it seemed)

Another problem I was having (God, why now?), I was seeing lightening flashes in my vision. Clear sign of an impending migraine. No sleep, no food, massive posterior pain, and now, a migraine coming, and I couldn't take any Excedrin.


No sooner did I get in the bathroom, I hear my name called. Of course! Over and over too. And it's not like I'm going to yell from inside the bathroom (here I am!). No. Ugh. It was too loud out there anyway. (I think this guy yelling for me was mad at me too, but too bad, it's not like I could help needing to use the bathroom!) Another older person (volunteer) brings me and the 2 other people to some area. Lucky them, they had other people with them. Friends or family. Support. Not me. Scary feeling.

Other people behind curtains talking to nurses or prep staff (who are they? I don't know) and I'm just there waiting. Standing. The bed is too high and I feel like I have to go again and hope they give me a chance to. (they don't.)

Then someone is telling me to put the gown on (the dreaded gown) and put my clothes underneath. Ok. Did that, still standing, waiting, listening, needing to go. She comes back, all business, "Get on the bed."(....yea don't help me or anything) Guess that's not part of the job to provide a stool or anything. But she's nice enough. I'm so dazed from not sleeping, not eating, feeling so much pain (down below) I'm not really paying much attention. And I'm not really myself. Answering questions in a daze. Smirking at some. Lots of questions.

"Is anyone abusing you?"

Does anyone really answer that honestly? And if they say yes, do they not perform the procedure the patient went through the painful prep for? I didn't ask, but I do wonder. All kinds of questions. Meanwhile, some pregnant woman is trying to insert something in to my hand (her and the nurse are talking, I feel like I'm in the way of their conversation). That doesn't work. It hurts, but doesn't work. She tries my arm. That works, and hurts some more. An anesthesiologist (I guess) asks me about my asthma, about allergies, (again, the nurse already asked me this stuff) about some other things I can't remember.

These are all younger people. Starts with all older people, then becomes all younger (younger, except for the dr). Just found that interesting.

Some of this is a blur. Some mean looking woman comes to take me in to the room where they're going to be performing the procedure. Bed and all. Mean looking. I'm told she will be there for the procedure. Oh great. The pregnant woman is there too. And other people I don't see, but can hear (talking).

It's loud in this room. Lots of beeping machines. Huge monitor. Long black ominous snake looking thing. I'm guess it was part of, or the actual colonoscope. I don't know. I didn't have a chance to talk much and didn't really want to.

Some tube thing is put in my nose for oxygen, don't like this at all. Felt like it was inhibiting my breathing. But it doesn't hurt and I don't complain. The pregnant woman said it would be a little uncomfortable, and that "most of what we do here is uncomfortable." Not really comforting to hear that either. Finally see my dr who says hi and asks how I am (barely waiting for an answer, I just say "ok" anyway). I have to sign something else, he quickly explains it's in case they have to give me a blood transfusion and that the blood is from the Red Cross and tested. Kind of hard to read it with him standing over me impatiently.

They put some things on my chest, and there's more beeping; something on my finger, and there are a lot of people in the room. It seems so anyway. It's a really small room. I remember looking at the printer in the corner and wondering what it was for. I tried not to look at anything else. Scary instruments everywhere. I can't seem to stop watching the monitors though. The one showing my heart rate (and whatever else) and the one showing where the colonoscope was aiming (which at the time, seemed to be the floor).

Now the last time, this went a little easier. Both the prep (which I can't even remember, did I block it? Or was it just easier? I don't know), and the face time with the dr. It was just, different. Better. This time, was much less personal. More automated.

I wish they'd told me sooner that I didn't have to be going "clear" to be "ready." It also didn't inspire much confidence that the pamphlet I did receive (from the dr's office weeks before) was riddled with misspellings and even missing words. Nothing mentioned about being "clear" and a few contradictions regarding what was allowed on the 'clear liquid diet.' I should've called the office or at least prepared a list of questions to ask when the dr's office called me the week before the procedure, but I didn't. I was trying not to think about it until I had to. I did check online and a lot of that information was slightly different from the info in the pamphlet. Confusing. I probably added more worries than needed by comparing my prep info with others.

The last thing I remember before the procedure was watching something being entered in to my "IV" via needle, and saying that it looked like milk. It did. Then, some dreaming, I don't remember what about, and then the bright lights and loudness of the recovery area. Mass production there as well. Several other people in there, making noises or moaning and talking in post-procedure slurryness.

There was one nicer nurse (and I'm just assuming they were nurses, maybe they were something else, more technical, I don't know) who told me to let that air out (snicker!) but that's not something I was in a hurry to do. I woke up weeping and feeling this crampiness in my back. I really just wanted to sleep. But you can't sleep there, they want you out of there as soon as you can be out there.

There was a meaner nurse yanking electrodes (or whatever) and tape off of me (causing more pain, thanks a lot) and saying things. I don't remember what. I just wanted to make sure she wasn't going to yank the "IV" thing (she made sure to correct me, it wasn't an IV, it was something else. What? I forget. Who cares.) out the same way she was yanking tape off me. Bitch. I do understand that quicker is better, but she could've said as much. Dopey patients could easily lash out at those causing pain. Maybe they know this and are prepared to jump out of reach. I just think she could've been a bit humane.

I was lucky that the person picking me up was there early, so I could leave a little sooner than I could've otherwise. I think that was both good and bad though. Good, because I could get out of there sooner. Bad, because physically, I wasn't quite up to drinking anything or walking yet. Never mind getting dressed. They say you have to drink something or you can't leave. Blech! I didn't want anything. And, the meaner nurse seemed to think the bed was nice and low and I should've been able to get off easily, like getting out of a regular bed. She looked at me like I was weird or something. But it's high, and I was loopy. And what the hell. (God forbid she help me or anything! Noooo, can't do that!)

Leaving early meant no after-chat with the dr. But it didn't seem like there would've been one anyway. I asked, but the nicer nurse didn't think he would be coming by, but I could wait and she would find out. No thanks. I thought it was expected that he might let me know that everything was all right, that I wouldn't have to take the nurse's word for it. The one performing the procedure should've made a point to come by for a moment. I don't think that's asking too much. I guess I should've waited. Really though, I just wanted to go home.

Another older person escorts you (and other patients at the same time) out. The person picking me up once volunteered at the hospital so they knew the way anyway. I wonder why they walk so fast. All of them. I mean, hello! I just woke up from an invasive procedure, and you expect me to walk straight? It wasn't easy. No wheelchairs. (Last time, against my wishes, I was wheeled to the parking garage where my ride was waiting. Not this time. Those are only for the older patients, or those unable to walk) I didn't want one, but I would've appreciated a slower walk.

My first meal was simply chicken broth and "no yolks!" noodles. That, some ginger ale, some saltines, Imodium, and Excedrin, I was ready for a nap. The migraine had bloomed (and lasted a day and a half; currently, just a "regular headache"). I didn't tell anyone at the hospital about it. I was afraid that if anything was wrong (impending migraine, asthma problems, anything), they would postpone the procedure, and there was no way I wanted to go through this again anytime soon.

So now it's two days later, and I'm able to eat regular meals again. I was able to later that day too, which was very weird and very scary because the very LAST thing I wanted that day (and even now) was a bowel movement. Even today, they're still painful, and not quite back to the way they were.

There was more conflicting information. Before the procedure (weeks before), the dr's office pamphlet and person explaining it, said they would call me in five days with the results. At the hospital, the (nicer) nurse (different ones from the pre-procedure people, if that matters) explained to me (and mainly to the person picking me up) that I was to call the dr's office in ten days. Ten?! What happened to five (and the fact that they were supposed to call me?)? No, I didn't ask, but I'll wonder about that too.

All in all, this experience wasn't so good. I wonder if the back pain is going to continue. It's not excruciating or anything. But it's not something I can pretend isn't there. Did the dr do something to cause it? Did I wrench it trying to change positions in the hospital bed? (they tell you change from your pre-procedure left side, to the right) Is there still "air" in me unable to get out? (air they put in there to see) Or some other reason?

If I was in agony, I would have to call sooner. Something to that effect is in the pamphlet, and on the post-procedure paperwork (which is one single page, saying very little really).

I'm glad this is over. All that's left, is the "official results." And I bet they won't even be coming from the dr himself, but instead, one of his staff. I also hope I don't have to go in. If it were bad news, I'd have to go in, right? Please, I don't want to go in.

I want to forget this. But I wrote it out so I won't forget it. It's not completely detailed, but it's enough so that I won't block it the next time. Say, years from now. (many many years from now)

I hope.


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