Colonoscopy during A Pandemic

Nothing sounds more fun than a camera tour of your colon.

I deal with a lot of gastrointestinal issues, and I have for the majority of my life. Among other things, I had a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) in 2015, and ever since then, my issues have been quite worse. Through copious amounts of testing, we found an issue with my pancreas that I take daily meds to regulate; however, despite medications, I still have issues. So, I actually, recently, sought a second opinion.

My new gastro is wonderful! She is one of those docs who takes the time to actually listen to me, which, I am sure many of you know, is a rare find. She suggested that I repeat a few tests, and do a couple of new ones, so she scheduled me for a colonoscopy, endoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound, and some other tests, but then the pandemic hit. So, I’ve been waiting a bit.

Where I live, the numbers have been steadily reducing, so hospitals in my area are able to resume certain procedures. I feel so grateful that I’ve only been waiting for these types of tests, and my heart goes out, obviously, to everyone who is sick with COVID, but also to anyone who has been waiting for more serious procedures, etc.

Long story short, I was able to get scheduled for my procedure on Thursday, 5/28.

Getting a colonoscopy during this time has been an entirely different experience than when I had one done about 5 years ago.

First, I agonized for days over whether I should even do it at all. I felt guilty for utilizing precious PPE, and I worried about possibly contracting the virus while at the hospital and passing it on to my son and husband. I discussed all of my concerns with my doctor, and she assured me that the hospital would not schedule me unless they had the ability and necessary equipment to effectively care for me and my procedure and maintain enough equipment to care for COVID patients. She also told me that, unfortunately, the risk and COVID precautions will not be going away anytime soon, and that it is probably best to utilize medical services while our area is at a lower rate of infection.

So, here I am on prep day…

Due to the current climate, I had to go to the hospital on Monday to have a COVID test, so that I was cleared to have the procedure on Thursday. It was a surreal experience. Only me and two other people were in that part of the hospital. I was registered and then escorted to a huge room where only me and two other nurses were. The nurse did my test, which if you’ve had a flu test before, is the exact same level of discomfort. Then I was told to walk down the hall by myself to the exit. It was very controlled and sterile.

Drinking this stuff is just like Dumbledore having to
drink the potion of despair in the sea cave
in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

I was also instructed to completely isolate myself until Thursday. I am not allowed to even be around my family, so I am holed up in my room, and my husband is forced to bunk up with our son. My husband drops food and water by my door, knocks like room service, and then walks 7 feet away, so that I can go pick it up. (Not sure if I ever want that to stop.) We’ve ramped up our hand-washing and hand sanitizing even more, just to be sure. My son talks to me from seven feet away, and I wear a mask. I’m already bored, and tired of not being able to give my son a hug. It gives me even more empathy for every healthcare worker who is unable to hug or be with their family right now, and everyone who is isolating alone, or having to quarantine from their own live-in family/roommates because they have COVID.

It’s pretty meta to be isolated within isolation.

Liquids for me all day, and then I start taking the laxatives at 4pm, so wish me and my colon good luck!

Quick Colonoscopy Prep Tips:

  1. The prep is not as bad as you think it’s going to be, and it is the hardest part.
  2. Start eating a low fiber diet a couple of days before they suggest you start.
  3. Use a hemorrhoid cream, diaper rash ointment, or vaseline. (You’ll thank me later.)
  4. Consider wearing a pad. (Fun fact: During my first colonoscopy prep, I fell asleep after going for what I thought was the last time, it wasn’t, and I did quite make it (TMI, I know, but don’t care), so it’s better to be safe than sorry.)
  5. What you are doing is important, and can be life saving.
  6. You can do hard things.

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