This all started about a month ago. I went for a regularly schedule blood donation. Part of the donation process is they check your hematocrit level. Basically, they see if you have enough red blood cells per volume of blood. I failed my screening. The tech doing the test didn't seem concerned so I figured nothing to worry about. She said come back in a couple days and it should have come back up. Two days later, I started my day with a big breakfast and went to donate. I failed my blood test again. This time it was lower. This time she seemed concerned. On the way home I called my doctor and he had me come in for some tests and an exam. He did a physical, took some blood and took an oral history. Well, part of my history is I have been dealing with IBS-D for over a year now. Its been going on so long and I otherwise felt healthy so I just started living with it. My Doctor however thought that is a big red flag and should have come in much, much sooner. I'm sure he is right, but by this point, it was easy to deal with. Even before he had the results of the blood work back, he suggested I see a Gastroenterologist and start taking iron supplements to get my levels back up. There was a concern I had a bleed in my stomach or colon. I took the list of recommended doctors and picked a close one with good reviews.
At the GI Doc, he reviewed the blood work and took another oral history. Thankfully, my hematocrit had come back up and everything else looked normal on the blood screening so that was a great sign. During my conversation with the Doctor, I mentioned I am a frequent blood donor. I go every 8 weeks like clockwork. Donating blood is easy, painless and is something you can do to help the community as a whole. Well, turns out, even donating at a safe interval, it can cause you to become anemic. Basically, you deplete your iron faster than you can build it back up and at some point, there isn't enough to make new blood so your red count goes down. Looks like I am a victim of doing too much of a good thing.
But...I still have IBS-D. Its still something that needs to be dealt with. The Doctor suggested we do an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy and Colonoscopy. Big words sound scary, but in reality, its just putting a camera in both ends to take a look at the plumbing.
I know more than a few people that have had such a procedure and knew the part to fear is the prep, not the actual exam. Think about it, if they are going in to look at the plumbing, you need the pipes to be as clear as possible. That means flushing your entire GI tract. I am here to walk you though that process, let you know what to expect and give a few tips to make the process easier.
A key part of that flush is you need to be on a liquid diet for 24 hours prior to the procedure. This is the part I was fearing the most. I absolutely hate feeling hungry. I am always thinking 2 meals ahead. I was sure this would be the worst part... I was wrong...
This is a 3 step process.
Step 1: The directions given say the day before the procedure, have a liquid breakfast, followed by a full bottle of magnesium citrate. So, I made a cup of beef broth and sipped it while staring down that clear bottle of Drano for humans. What magnesium citrate is is magnesium salts flavored with artificial lemon flavor. Think salty Lemon Pledge. My poor stomach did not like this stuff one bit. I tried to lay on the couch and watch some TV, but the churning going on within was like a tempest looking for an escape. The bottle says expect a movement in 30 minutes to 6 hours. Like clockwork, at the 30 minute mark, the event had officially begun. Im going to save you the horror of the play-by-play, but I will give you some tips. Get the best toilet paper money can buy. Spare no expense. Wet wipes. Get them. The medicated kind. Go ahead and get yourself a tube of diaper cream. I didn't do this, but knew I should. I was tempted to venture out and get some, but the thought of being away from my sacred bathroom sent chills down my spine. Now, this is the biggest, #1 tip I can give you. If you take one thing away from this it needs to be this. Do not, and I mean do NOT, eat spicy food for upwards of a week before the flush. That's all I will say about that. You are all smart enough to know why this is good advice.
Step 2: At lunch I am to mix a full 238 gram bottle of Miralax with a half gallon of the clear beverage of my choice. I chose lemon-aid Crystal Light. I have had Miralax before, its not bad plain, but a half gallon of it is no joke. You will need to flavor it, chill it and drink it over ice. Oh, and you have to drink it all in the span of 2 hours. At this stage in the game, you might as well bring that laptop to the bathroom and pull up Netflix. You aren't going anywhere for quite awhile. You may think this is enough fluid, but its not. You need to be drinking water or something clear constantly. Both products so far work by pulling tons of fluid into your colon. You will start to feel dehydrated.
Step 3: 2 Ducolax tablets at 8:00pm. By this point I am hangry, cold and feel absolutely hollow inside. This phase feels like insult to injury. Seems sadistic to do this to someone with nothing left inside. But, oh no! You are not empty. Those 2 little pills somehow shake loose any remaining anything left on your gut. Its ruthless. The directions say no fluids at all after midnight so I attempt to go to bed at 11:30 or so.
Sleep is an elusive vixen. I think I had about an hour of actual sleep before my 5am wakeup call.
The procedure: I arrived at the GI center and signed in, filled out the appropriate paperwork and waited my turn. The pre-procedure stuff if standard. They take my vitals and ask the standard questions then lead me to a gurney where I put on the ever so stylish gown and start the waiting game. Soon, my nurse anesthetist came in and introduced herself and gave me some Versed to calm my nerves. It put me in a happy place. Once in the procedure room, I was given the sedation which was a cocktail of Propofol and fentanyl. Then, I woke up! I remember absolutely nothing. No pain, no discomfort whatsoever. Next thing I know I am in recovery and my nurse is taking my drink order. That was the best damn diet coke and stale saltines I have ever had. After about 30 minutes, my Doctor comes in, talks to me about what he saw and found and I was sent on my way. Thankfully, other that some gastritis, everything looked good. While that is a relief, I would still like to know what caused my IBS-D. I say caused because for whatever reason, I haven't had any issues at all since the procedure. Its like they reset the computer, or in this case, pooter!! Sorry, potty humor is never not funny.
All in all, parts of this process weren't near as bad as I thought they would be and parts were way worse. I don't want to scare you off from getting this done if your Doctor recommends it. Colon cancer is a silent killer. You can have a terminal case before you have any symptoms at all. I just want all to know what really to expect. In real terms. Its rough, but necessary. Listen to your body, if you think somethings wrong, go see a Doctor. If they want to do some tests, even a colonoscopy, do it.