The Scope of Things

Spring Cyclist (by StarbuckGuy)

Yesterday I underwent my first scoping procedures: an endoscopy and colonoscopy to see if there might be anything causing internal bleeding. My iron and hemoglobin counts went way down awhile back and my family doc was concerned that there might be some internal bleeding.

As I’ve been told my many people, the preparation for the procedure is worse than the procedure itself. It means fasting the day prior, having only clear liquids, no liquids at all overnight or in the morning on procedure day, and powerful laxatives on the day before that have to be experienced to be believed.  They need you to be clean so they can see the stomach walls and the walls of the intestines.

I discovered a couple of things during the fasting. Campbell’s beef broth is surprisingly nourishing, and I like the upscale drink called Ginseng-Up. A slightly fizzy drink with a delicious ginsing flavour.

As for the procedure itself, it was the usual hospital routine. Check in, get an ID bracelet, then a little hospital gown (short version for this test), then wait. Eventually they loaded me on a gurney and wheeled me into the op room.

“Mr. Wilburn, this is Jessica, a nursing student. Do you mind if she watches the procedure?” Of course not. Then an unexpected question: “Why are you here?” When the question was repeated, I answered “I thought that question was for Jessica.”

“Nice try,” said the nurse, “but you’re the one on the stretcher.” I assumed her question wasn’t an existential one, so I muttered something about my doc being concerned there could be internal bleeding, that my iron and hemoglobin count had gone low. But that they were fine now that I was taking iron supplements. That answer seemed to satisfy her.

The usual jokes as they inserted the IV needle and put some ECG electrodes on my chest. “Ah, you’ve been here before,” kidded the nurse as she saw my bypass scar. “We’re going to spray your throat a couple of times to freeze it. It tastes pretty awful.” That’s encouraging I thought.

She sprayed and I knew right away she wasn’t joking. It tasted very bad. “Just swallow it,” she said. “One more time,” she said, “this is to prevent a gag reflex.” On the second squirt I couldn’t swallow and began to choke a little. “Is this normal?” I asked. “Oh yes,” she said, “perfectly normal. You’ll be fine.”

“Mr. Wilburn, we’re now going to administer a little sedative in your IV. It might make you drowsy.” Bring it on, I thought, still choking and unable to swallow. That’s all I remember until some point when I awoke and could see the scoping monitors and thought it would be interesting to watch. Then nothing.

I woke up in the recovery room and a different nurse gave me some juice and said, “Time to get dressed and go home now.” I felt like I’d had a very pleasant nap. I dressed and soon a hospital volunteer came to me with a wheelchair and took me to the patient pickup entrance where Marion was waiting in the car.

Aside from a slightly sore stomach where I suspect they removed the polyp they’d found, I felt good and enjoyed some soft food: scrambled eggs and a fruit yogurt.  My instructions were to rest. In late afternoon I felt very good and took a gentle walk to Starbucks and back. While at Starbucks I wrote in my journal about the marvels of modern medicine and health treatment.

The polyp will be sent out for a biopsy. Polyps, I’m told, are common and most are benign, so unless I hear otherwise, I’m not worrying about it.

Today I feel even better, and am enjoying sitting in Starbucks writing a blog entry on a nice early-spring day.

5 thoughts on “The Scope of Things

  1. Hi Gene, I had these procedures a few years ago, as you say the anticipation is far in excess of the experience which, for me, was nothing. As for you, I was put into a sort of twilight state, experienced nothing.

    I had this same form of doping when I had cataracts removed.

    My complaint is that in neither case did the specialist tell me I was going to be knocked out, so I spent some time in fear. “Nothing to fear except fear itself.”

    Glad you are feeling good after the experience. I had some polyps and never heard anything. I think I am expected/advised to have another done soon.

  2. Adam, thanks so much for your comments. If nothing else, perhaps we can dispel the myth that it’s a scary procedure. The nurses were very good — two different ones told me I’d receive a sedative and that some patients fell asleep during the procedure. But I hadn’t expected it to be so sudden, in my case. I hardly had any opportunity to quip and joke with the folks in the op room before I was out 🙂

  3. one of the “medicines” for iron deficiency is a good steak. Why is it that the good-tasting medicines are bad for you and the bad-tasting medicine is supposed to be good for you? .

    Glad to hear that things went smoothly for you during the procedure. I hope the analysis of the polyp shows that it is benign.

    (By the way, I’m having loads of fun with my new “toy”!)

  4. I’m glad that the procedure went well and that you’re feeling good today. I went with my Dad to a similar procedure and he had a simlar experience. In most cases, health care today is a marvel!

  5. @John, indeed, that’s why I had the ‘baseball steak’ at the Harp. For medicinal purposes only, of course. Enjoy DNS!

    @Matt, thanks. Glad to hear it was fine for your dad too. Health care is amazing compared to even 50 years ago.

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