I went in for a colonoscopy a couple of weeks ago. My doctor had been after me to have this done for the past two years because colon cancer runs in my family. But, I had been putting it off because of the myriad things I had heard about the discomfort of this test, and I was afraid of the drugs. I’m actually terrified of drugs. So, I’m writing about this highly personal procedure to alleviate the fears any one of you may be experiencing pre-test. And also, I am writing about about my experience with the ‘twilight sleep’ drug that’s administered to some patients (in my case, Versed).
Ready? Here goes!
Honestly, the gallon of stuff I was given to drink the day before the test did not taste bad. It was kind of sweet, just a tad salty, almost like kettle korn. I did go to work for a 3/4 day the day before the test, even though I had to fast. It wasn’t that bad as long as I was drinking plenty of water. I was allowed to drink clear liquids only, nothing red or purple, and I was told that I could have jello. Since I couldn’t find any other jello color except red or purple, that was ruled out. Water, lemon Crystal Light and coffee (yes! I was allowed coffee!) were my beverages of choice. I got through my partial work day, went home and the fun began. I took the prescribed laxative (Dulcolax), waited a couple of hours and ingested 3/4 of the gallon of sweet/salty stuff over the next two hours. The instructions are to drink eight ounces every 10 minutes. This was not as difficult as some folks had led me to believe. I won’t describe what comes next, but will instead skip ahead to the following morning. Three hours before the procedure, I drank the remaining 1/4 gallon of sweet/salty stuff. This was a bit harder to do first thing in the morning. My tummy rebelled, but I got through it.
Time to go to the hospital!
I wore a very fashionable pair of black sweats, brown sandals and a green t-shirt. “L” was my chauffer for the day, so I put him in charge of my wallet and cell phone… or, in other words, he was in charge of my life. Here, the nurses prepped me, traded with me for an even more stylish hospital gown, tucked me into bed, rolled me into the procedure room and inserted an IV. Ouch. Actually, I have to admit that was the only thing that hurt. I felt very cared for with all of the attention. The rest of the day is a blur. Apparently, the ‘twilight sleep’ drug doesn’t actually put everyone to sleep but it does erase any and all memory of what happens after it has been administered. The rest of this story is all I can remember about the rest of my day.
Me (as the IV is opened and the Versed is being pumped into my arm): Is it supposed to burn my wrist and arm coming in?
Me: Is it supposed to burn my throat, too?
“L”: Breathe, the nurse told me to tell you to breathe.
Awwww. “L” is here sitting beside me. I feel very comforted and safe with him here. I could go on and on about how good that makes me feel.
Me: I’m just resting my eyes.
Someone, I can’t remember if it’s the doctor or nurse: You’re all clear, we didn’t find anything.
Me: Was I awake during the procedure?
Whoever it was: I don’t know.
L tells me later I asked everyone I saw this same question. And no one knew? I’m not the only one with amnesia here.
I’m dressed and am being wheeled outside where L is waiting by my car. I manage to get into the car, or L helps me, or the person who wheeled me out helps me. I see a Farmer’s Market and want to stop. L finds a parking spot and we walk around the market and buy some pluots and peaches, and two types of vegetables. I remember their cost, but I can not remember what those vegies were.
Home! Daughter is waiting and asks if I want anything. I ask for a baked potato and lay down on the couch. Next thing I know, a baked potato with all the fixings is placed in front of me.
Me: Holy Shit! That was fast!
Daughter: Actually, Mom, you asked for that over 30 minutes ago.
I wake up, or come to or something, and the potato is gone, but there’s daughter laying on the floor looking at me. This still makes me laugh. I’m not quite sure where L is, maybe he’s working on his laptop.
Me: Where’s the potato?
Daughter: I put it in the fridge. Do you want it?
Oh, I thought I had eaten it.
I’m up and cooking that danged vegetable that I can’t recall. I remember sauteing it, grating cheese over it and tasting it. L is helping me. I’m actually surprised I am allowed near an open flame. Maybe I’m pretty good at faking normal, or maybe I act more normal when I’m high on amnesia drugs. In any case, the rest of the day is faded from memory. I am fit as a fiddle and have a loving family to match. And still, no one knows if I was awake during the procedure.