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New Year, Check Your REAR – Part 4

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My Colonoscopy
By Zac Woodruff, RN BS

No matter how prepared you think you are for something, there is always a bit of nervousness and apprehension accompanying something new; the first time you ride a roller coaster, the first time you fly in an airplane, the first time you snowboard down the mountain. This is how I felt when I arrived at the hospital the morning of my colonoscopy. Prepared, but nervous.

I’ve helped countless patients get ready for their scope procedures, but this was the first time I was the patient, and I was the one who was going to be worked on. However, once I got to my room and I saw my friend Corey, my nerves starting to melt away. I knew I was in good hands.

I had to go over a few questions with him, and then get my IV started. After only a few short minutes, Shellie (the endoscopy tech), arrived and began to prep her instruments. I was still a little bit nervous, but having two great people that I knew getting me ready to go was very comforting.

After a few more minutes, Dr. Giss came in and was ready to go. He told me it would only be a short time before I would be waking up and everything would be finished. He told me that he had to get to the OR immediately following the procedure, but he would talk to me later about how everything went. And just like that, we got started.

Corey started to give me some Propofol, and I started to get sleepy. I remember hearing them say, give him so more…. And then I kind of remember waking up. I had no concept of time; how long I was out, what time it was, and when I would be talking to Dr. Giss.

Apparently, my wife told me that I woke up talking about the rapper Busta Rhymes, and that I talked to Dr. Giss for a few minutes following my procedure. Funny thing is, I don’t remember any of that.

Luckily, my wife recorded our conversation with Dr. Giss on her iPhone, so when I was more awake, I could go back to that and listen to what Dr. Giss told me. This is something I absolutely recommend to all of you.

Had she not done that, I wouldn’t have any idea how the procedure went, because Dr. Giss had to skip to the OR to start a surgery, and by the time I was really awake and able to remember, he had already left to start his surgery. (Now I do work alongside Dr. Giss at the hospital, so I knew I could track him down almost anytime I wanted to talk about my procedure, but if you don’t have the convenience of working with your physician, I suggest you have someone record your conversation with them following the procedure).

Turns out, everything looked good. I had been having some occasional bleeding with bowel movements, and Dr. Giss informed me that a few small internal hemorrhoids looked to be the cause. He suggested I made some diet and exercise improvements, and that he believed my symptoms would dwindle as I ate better and lost weight.

Here’s the thing, getting the procedure done has given me great peace of mind, because I now have certainty about what’s going on inside my body. For the last year, I’ve wondered about if I had colon cancer because of my symptoms and my father has had it, as well as other members of my family.

As a nurse, I tend to see “worse case scenario” all the time. I get to take care of the people who often end up with the cancer diagnosis, and in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but recognize the possibility of having it.

I was very happy to find out that my colonoscopy was a success. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Honestly, the bowel prep was the worst part of the whole thing. But again, I have to stress to you how good it feels to have had it done.

If you are over the age of 50 or showing any signs of colon cancer (blood in stool, change in bowel habits, constipation, narrow stools, passing excessive amounts of gas, pain in the abdomen), please talk to your doctor as soon as possible to get scheduled for a colonoscopy. Here at WVMC, we are always here to help you and answer your questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.