Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Patient Is Resting Comfortably...

There is nothing like a "medical procedure" to dampen your spirits. In fact, if it were not for stand up comics and the "late night" comedians treatments of colonoscopies and root canals, we would likely have fewer cancer deaths and healthier mouths. I've had both procedures and found their reputations a LOT worse than the actual event. But there was little that I could say to Melinda to reassure her when her most recent doctor visit resulted in an order for a colonoscopy. Particularly since her Mom died of colon cancer and as she was on the uphill side of 42 (I'm a good husband), it was time, and I did my best to tell her it was no big thing.

So it was scheduled for this morning... Likely the second hardest thing for her (and for the next time I get one), is that we are on the blood thinner Coumadin, which we cannot have in our systems during the exam in case they need to remove a polyp. So she had to switch to a different, injectable drug to counteract the formation of blood clots, and the abdominal injections are a lot worse than the oral pills we are both used to. And in my opinion, the worse part of the entire procedure is drinking the gallon of "cleanser" to empty you out. Following doctor's suggestions, she added lemonade flavoring and chilled it to make it easier to drink, but with that volume of icy cold beverage (2 half-gallon volumes a few hours apart), she got the shakes from hypothermia!

She didn't have much to say on the drive in this morning, and once hooked up to the IV with the requisite open-in-the-back hospital gown, I asked her if she was going to watch it on the TV, which was my favorite part of my colonoscopy 3 years ago. No, she wanted to be out, out, out and wanted no part of it... The doctor came by about then and assured her she would get the amount of drugs she needed, no more. Finally, it was time - I was told to be back in a half hour, which was barely enough time to walk to the cafeteria, have a bagel and give up on the Thursday crossword puzzle. Sure enough, 40 minutes after they wheeled her out of her cubical, I was back talking to her. Yes, she had seen some of it on TV, and while there was some discomfort, the prep was by far the worst part of the ordeal. The exam went great - only a small polyp where they took a biopsy, I don't believe they even removed it. There was also a spot of diverticulosis that was imaged for future monitoring. After a half hour in recovery, they wheeled her out to the parking lot and we enjoyed a late breakfast at Village Inn (she hadn't eaten solid food in 48 hours). She is now sleeping off the remnant anesthesia, and catching up on the sleep she missed last night.

The funniest part - as we were waiting for transport to push her wheelchair out the door, we examined a closet full of lengths of black tubes, about a centimeter in diameter and .5 to 1.5 meters (20 inches to 60 inches) long. I could see her look at them and she finally asked - "what do you suppose they are?" "How do you think they took those pretty pictures of your insides", was my reply. Her eyes got wide as she realized they were the endoscopes used - "Man, they could take out your tonsils with those!"

So that's today's story - be sure to get your colonoscopy if you are due! It is the easiest cancer to prevent with early detection, so do not put it off!

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