I wasn’t going to blog about this because I thought that some people might find the subject distasteful, but I just can’t help myself! So here it comes, my blog post on Monday’s colonoscopy! [Warning – Ben Keith – read no further, this one’s all about my bottom!]
After mum’s diagnosis, all my immediate family members have gone through this procedure. I was the last one. I’d been putting it off you see, as I wasn’t really excited about having someone poke around my bum. Terri and mum had both told me about what happens and so I knew that I wouldn’t know what was going on as I’d be asleep or at the very least, completely out of it, but I still took a long time to organise it, using work as an excuse. First week of holidays, and that excuse vanished so I went to a doctor and organised the procedure which actually took place last Monday.
My experience here in Japan, was nothing like that described to me by Terri and mum in Australia.
Firstly, the day before, I was still allowed to eat. Just no fruits, vegetables, seaweed or nuts. So I ate bread and cheese.
I had to begin fasting after my dinner. At 7pm, I took the laxatives. For some reason, I thought they would work fairly quickly. Three and a half hours later, I went to the loo. At this point, I knew it was going to be a long night. At 1am, I finally had the confidence to leave the toilet and go to bed. I hadn’t experienced the volume, frequency and consistency of this kind of bowel movement, since having amoebic dysentery in Ghana in 2010.
At 5 am the next morning I awoke due to an alarm set by my bowels. My instructions for the day were to report to the hospital in Tokyo by 9 am and bring 1L of water to drink as I would need to take more laxatives once I got there. The hospital was happy to supply the laxatives but I was instructed to bring my own water!
At just after 7 am, I entered the train with my 1L of water and my buttocks tightly clenched. I arrived at the hospital just before 9 am, where I missed the entrance but found the toilet and sweet relief.
After registering, the nurse gave me the instructions to read in English and a form to sign. A quick look around at the other patients, revealed that I was the youngest there by about twenty years. I was then led into the colonoscopy rooms and sat at a table. A woman was brought in to translate for me and she gave me the instructions once again verbally. I had to drink the 1.2 L of laxative medicine they put in front of me in the next twenty minutes. I should then wash that down with another 1L of water, which I had to supply myself, over a period of one hour. Then, I had to use the special toilets in the room when I needed to go. But don’t flush! Instead, I had to put a little magnet board with my name on it on the door and fetch the nurse. She would then come and inspect the contents of the bowl to determine if I was ready for the procedure!
Doing a poo and then having to call someone to have a look at it, is not what I had been prepared for! Terri, my sister, found this particularly amusing. It took three attempts before the nurse cleared me. Terri then asked how I felt when I woke up.
Woke up? I was awake through the whole procedure! She asked how I got to the room where they did the colonoscopy. Apparently in Australia, you are put on a bed, heavily sedated so that you fall asleep and then wheeled off to the colonoscopy room and back to recovery where you awake, blissfully ignorant of the entire procedure.
How did I get to the colonoscopy room? I walked. I had put on a robe and was wearing a disposable pair of underpants with a hole in the rear and I mounted the stairs up to the table, fully conscious. The doctor, who was very friendly and nice and thankfully could speak English, explained that he was going to give me three drugs. One to stop my bowel from spasming, a painkiller and a sedative so I would probably fall asleep.
Now here’s where I think they went wrong. They never weighed me. I think they gave me the dose of sedative for the average forty year old Japanese woman. In other words, I would have been put asleep by this drug if I weighed what I did when I was six. Two seconds after the injection, a wave of sleepiness swept over me and away. I came up the other side and felt bright as a button. I watched the whole thing on the monitors and chatted with the doctor throughout. My second favourite part was when he showed me the entrance to my small intestine. My absolute favourite part was when he showed me my anus, from the inside!
Terri then asked me, “But how did you get to recovery?”
My answer was the same, I walked! The nurse did have to spot me at the elbow. She put me in a lazy-boy chair and covered me with a blanket. I lay there for a bit, not knowing how long I was supposed to stay there or what I was supposed to do next. When the old man beside me got up, I did too. I got dressed, collected and paid my bill, and caught the train home.
The good news is my colon could not be healthier. No cancer, no polyps, no need for another colonoscopy for at least five years. Who knows which country’s medical system I will be using then. After this experience though, I may fly home for the privilege!