My Doctor here on the Island, Dr. Peter Baute finally convinced me that I should venture to the mainland and have a colonoscopy performed. He had mentioned because of my advanced age 66, and never having had it done before, it would serve me well to know just what was going on up there in the "hinterlands". An appointment was made with a local gastroentroligist(sp). That in and of itself was quite a feat, because I made the appointment in December for the 14th of April. So you can see right off the bat, I had a nice long lead time to get myself all worked into a dither about the upcoming event. Over the intervening four months, the forthcoming event had come up on numerous occassions with a varied list of people who were only to glad to give a ten to fifteen minute discourse on the whole subject. Without fail, everyone who had had the deed done, had all come to the same conclusion, "It was no big deal"! So over time my fears were somewhat allayed and on the morning of the 13th, my wife and I went to the boat for the trip over. There were three or four previous receipients of the procedure there and one of the last comments from one of them was,"Don't forget to ask for the warm blanket when they are all through"! What was that all about I says to myself as I drive onto the boat.
Skip ahead to 7pm of the same day when it is time to imbibe one of the two bottles of a concoction called, Fleet's Phospho-soda Bowel prep. It comes in an innoccuous 1 1/2 bottle and is a clear liquid. In the instructions it tell you to mix the bottle with a half can of ginger ale or sprite and to drink it down in continuous gulp. 'Nuff said, down it goes and then I decided to read the rest of the instructions. They mentioned something about it taking from 30 minutes to six hours for it to take effect. Well their timing was about twenty nine minutes off, for while I'm reading this thing strange and ominious rumblings are emanating from inside of me! I barely had time to drop the paper and make a mad dash for the bathroom while fumbling desperately with a suddenly re-calcitrant belt buckle! Ah, safe arrival, deposition of "product" as predicted, and on to the couch! Well that little sojourn lasted about ten minutes and it was on to repeat the previouly documented trip to the bathroom for the rest of the night. About half way thru the night I got a little smarter and switched to a pair of sweatpants. Now as I sat there awaiting my next lurch to the head, I read some more of the instructions. It said to drink 'copious' amounts of water to replace all that I would be losing. See, this nasty stuff pulls ALL the water from all the sourrounding area, tissues, organs, muscles, hell it even sucked the water right out of a glass I was holding in my hand without waiting for me to drink it! It then goes right into the bowel to assist in the reaming out of that organ by using the 'deluge and hot flush' method! By the time things began to calm down, at four AM, it was time for the second dose! Now I'm telling you, it was a struggle to get this dose down. There was a hell of a fight between the up and down and the in and out factions of my gut, but with a lot of will power and lots of deep breaths it stayed down and immediately started on it's journey to the end of the road so to speak. Well about thirty minutes into this process, I begin to have feelings in my 'right, lower, posterior, quadrant' that no one had mentioned to me as being a consequence of drinking this stuff! Over the next three hours, the pain back there became so intense that I could barely make my way down to the car. My wife then drove us to the South County Hospital where I was admitted to the ER in a state of total and excruciating pain. Well after a few questions etc., it was determined that I was in the process of trying to eject a kidney stone from the right kidney. It seems that all this unusual amount of water rushing thru the old kidney had dislodged a local resident who had been lurking there for some time waiting for the right time to wreak havoc on me! After a few shots of some mysterious, but absolutely welcome "juice" was injected into me along with what was to be 9 big bags of IV solution, a Urologist came along and told me after talking to the colon guy, that if they could control the pain over night with some stuff called "oxycontin", they would proceed to do the colonoscopy the following afternoon. The urology guy then mentioned that they would take care of the "stones" three days hence. So eighteen hours go by during which time I am taking these oxycontin tablets every twelve hours on the dot and it does a wonderful job of keeping the pain at bay. I can see why it has become the drug of choice for so many regular abusers of the stuff. I was in LA LA Land for three days and didn't much care about anything! On to the Colonoscopy lab where as advertised and predicted by all other receipents before me, it went well with no problems, and I received my warm blanket at the end of the procedure,which was a blessing as it was freezing assed cold in there! Especially when only covered with one of those,"my ass is hanging out in the back" Johnnies? they called them?
Well that was much ado about not too much I thought, as I came home on the boat for a couple of days before the next impending disaster. Now over the ensuing three days I was not at all hungry, 'by-product of the oxycontin maybe?', and ate very little. Before I know it, it is the day before the impending, "Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy" treatment. That name alone should scare the shit out of you! Only in my case it didn't!! It seems that one of the detriments to taking oxycontin for an extended period is to lock up all that previously ingested forage into a solid block of nitrogenous waste matter! But, according to this piece of paper I received with instructions for the Lithotripsy, I must have an empty bowel upon presentation of my self for the treatment! Guess what? Eighteen hours before the event you must subject yourself again to the injestion of ANOTHER of those little "soda bottles" of diarrheal death! After another fight between in and out, it stayed there and went to work. This time with completely different results!Man, what is going on? Last time I couldn't get to the head fast enough! This time as I lingered close to the door, ready to "run", nothing happens! Upwards of seven hours later as a severe pain has developed in the lower nether regions and I think I am going to have to go the ER again, this time for exploration of the same orfice for a different reason, the gates of relief clanged open with one hell of an explosion! The rattling of the door to the head alerted all in the other rooms as to the status of the situation, as well as my cries and sighs of contentment! All was well again in the nether realms. Off we go to the OR this time for the treatment. In the mean time I had had to stop taking the oxycontin for some time before the upcoming event, so as the day progressed the pain threshold got lower and lower till it became non-existant and began building at a rapid rate in the other direction. One of the questions the nurses would ask every time before giving you a shot was, "on a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, what is the level you feel you are at right now?"
Now a small discourse in anatomy. The kidney has a little tube about eight inches long that runs from the kidney down to the bladder where it emptis into. The INSIDE diameter of this little tube is about the same as the lead in a mechanical lead pencil. You know, so small that it is hard to pick up, and you almost can't see? Anyway this is the area that kidney stones try to traverse as they attempt to exit the body. Now this little tube for some reason is just innundated and infused, and saturated, and completely engulfed in millions of nerve endings! Getting the picture? Well I have had quite a few ladies who have been affected with stones relate to me that it was worse trying to pass a stone than to have a baby!And so a little more of a graphic illustration may help in picturing and feeling the pain of this all. Think of that little tube as a garden hose of about three quarters of an inch in diameter. Now think of that stone as being the size of a softball and you can feel it start to hurt already no? Now back to the nurse and her questions about pain level. When she asked me what the level now was I replied that it was at the top of her scale and it felt like I was about to have a baby and that the little bastard was covered with razor blades to boot! For some reason this cracked her up and she said this was the best level inidicator she had ever heard. I'm ever the wise ass, even when I think I'm dying. Off I go to the CT scan room to get a picture of the offending stone. After getting on the table and run through the machine a few times the guy says to relax and he'd take me back to the OR poste haste. As I'm lying there I hear this guy say to someone in the little alcove with him," Holy shit Ed look at the size of this sucker, there are two of them, one about 13 mm and one about 8mm!" If you want to know how big that is think of about a 9/16" to a 5/8" nut! Now think of that in relation to the lead pencil. Carry it to the garden hose analogy and it is like trying to drive a Mack Truck through that damn hose. NOW, you might begin to suspect what it feels like to push one of these babies out. Of course something that big won't physically go thru, so it has to be broken up into sand sized grains. This is what the Lithotripsy was for and it worked very well. The only problem will be sweeping all those little grains down the super highway one at a time over a six to seven week period. Not a project I look forward to with much anticipation.
So intrepid future colonoscopy people, when you go to see that doctor for the first time,be sure and mention to him if you are in possession of any of those little calcium or uric acid stones. It just might save you from the torture I underwent for a few days that felt like months!! TIFN Everett
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