Alright, time to talk about some unpleasantness.
If you read my last post, there was no shortage of foreshadowing the fact that I had a forthcoming medical procedure this past Thursday. This post is (mostly) all about that. However, in order to fully understand the story, we need to go back to the beginning, which is roughly 2009.
To make a long story short, around 2009 I started getting heartburn really badly. The first time it came on it was so bad that I couldn’t eat or drink. It felt like I was eating glass. Sure, I’d had heartburn on and off before then, but that one specific time, October 2009, it came on strong and fast. After suffering for a week, including eating at least 3 million pounds of Tums, I tried Prilosec. It took about a week for it to start working, but by the end of 14 days I was back to normal. Fast forward 6.5 years. I still have heartburn, though not nearly as bad as that original 2009 bout. I’ve taken Prilosec regimens a few times over the years, sometimes helping, sometimes not. Most recently I’ve been taking Zantac semi-regularly, since it doesn’t have the side effects (or at least as extensive of side-effects) as Prilosec does. For reference, Prilosec is a Proton Pump Inhibitor, whereas Zantac is not. Point being, I have chronic heartburn, that doesn’t seem easily linked to any one thing. For example, most people think it’s the beer. Well, sure, beer gives me heartburn occasionally, but not always. Sometimes water gives me heartburn (seriously). Sometimes I get heartburn out of the blue. Does the beer help? No, of course not. But I don’t think the beer is the primary culprit. In fact, some of the worst heartburn I’ve had has been during periods where I wasn’t drinking beer (believe it or not such periods actually do exist in my life). So I have chronic heartburn. I finally went to the doctor about it, and she was concerned enough, given my history, that she recommended I go see a Gastroenterologist.
But it doesn’t stop there. I also have chronic bowel issues. I’ll spare you all the lovely details, but I’ve always had bowel issues (like, as far back as I can remember, and according to Meem even further back beyond that). However, these have gotten worse in the past six years or so. Notice the commonality? So, based on the whole of the circumstances which involved problems from my upper to lower GI tract, I was off to the gastroenterologist, henceforth GI since I hate typing the word (and I can’t even pronounce it half the time).
Upon meeting with the GI, he decided that yep, sounds like I’ve got some systemic issues. So he scheduled me for both an Upper Endoscopy and Colonoscopy, both on the same day. In layman’s terms, I was going to have cameras shoved down my throat and up my ass. Score. He also ordered some blood work that same day (of the first appointment), which all came back fine.
Now the Endoscopy doesn’t involve much preparation. You just can’t eat or drink anything three hours in advance. Simple enough. The Colonoscopy is the red headed stepchild of the two. Five days before your test you have to switch over to a low-fiber diet, which coincidentally knocked out about 3/4 of what I normally eat. Instead I got to enjoy such delicacies as canned beets, cream of rice, and saltine crackers. Then, the day before the procedure you switch over to an all liquid diet, not just any liquids mind you, but clear liquids – e.g. nothing you can’t see through and NO RED anything. So basically you can drink broth and Ensure clear, of which two flavors exist. That evening, you have to start “cleansing” your bowels, which is a really nice way of saying that you descend to the 7th layer of Hell for about 18 hours. Then the day of you continue the clear liquid diet until you have to stop eating and drinking.
The low-fiber diet was fairly boring, and required me to miss some good lunches, but overall it wasn’t too bad.
However, Wednesday, the day before my procedure – and also the longest day of my week, was pretty objectively terrible. See, Wednesday not only meant I had to switch over to drinking clear liquids, I also had a client meeting in downtown Boston. Despite my strongest of protests, I had to go down to City Hall early in the morning. Oh, and because slowly starving to death and dealing with clients isn’t fun enough, it was also pouring rain.
The client meeting was normal enough. It was long, mostly boring, and the demands are so vast that they will never be met. So, as mentioned, normal enough. The fact that I had nothing but Ensure in my stomach probably didn’t help matters. It continued to rain all the way back home. I had decided to return home rather than go to the law school as my first class was still a couple of hours away. By this point I felt so tired and cranky that I actually ended up skipping Administrative Law, which was most definitely worth it. I did decide to return to campus for my second class though, and by then it was clear blue skies, albeit much colder.
Other than being kind of nauseous and tired, the rest of the school day wasn’t too bad. Things were about to change though, as by the time I got home around 7:20pm it was time for me to start “cleansing” my bowels. It was the start of the worst 18 hours of my life in recent memory.
This is why.
If there is death in a bottle, that doesn’t bring about medical death, but kills you in every other way imaginable – magnesium citrate is it. It looks innocent enough. Just a clear 10oz bottle of medicine. But hidden within is a suffering legendary even in Hell. See, as part of the preparation process you have to drink 1.5 of these bottles in the evening, then another 1.5 bottles in the morning. So 15oz each time. The funny thing is, according to the bottle the maximum dose in a 24 hour period is 10oz – whereas I had to consume 30oz.
It all started simply enough. I sat down on the couch, and started drinking one of the lemon ones. I had read that drinking it very chilled and through a straw was the way to go. It tasted pretty terrible. I didn’t puke, which according to my instructions packet is not super uncommon, but I wouldn’t say I was enjoying life while drinking it either. It kind of tasted like flat 7-Up mixed with saltwater and hydrogen peroxide. Mmm. The cherry flavor was pretty much the same, just without the 7-Up and instead with cherry syrup from the 1500s. All in all, drinking it wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating. I got through 1.5 bottles fairly quickly (as you are supposed to drink it quickly) and then had some more Ensure (WOO BOY) and water. Later I had some broth, life of luxury.
According to my packet, “results” were supposed to happen within 30 minutes and six hours. Within about 15 minutes I could tell something deep and dark had been awoken within my core. However, despite some rumbling and a nearly immediate feeling of bloating, nothing happened.
I was a bit concerned, because my “low fiber” and then liquid diet had pretty much put a cease to my number 2s. So I knew there was a treasure trove of poo up in there, and all the tremors and quakes from the magnesium citrate had me concerned.
But minutes turned into hours, and still nothing. I felt pretty terrible, like my guts were about to explode, but no poo. Eventually it was bedtime. So it was off to sleep.
Around 2am I woke up.
The next three hours were like the Normandy scene from Saving Private Ryan. A portal to Hell opened inside of my ass and demons unseen since the fall of Lucifer poured forth into this world. It was so bad that I couldn’t even move without a quantum explosion. Try as I might, I was unable to leave the toilet. I think I crapped 15-20 times. By the end it was like a power-washer blasting out brown acid. My ass felt like someone had mashed a Dremel up in there. And so it went. It was God-freaking-awful. For THREE SOLID HOURS, I did nothing but shit. I’ve had the flu, I’ve had food poisoning, I’ve had an array of stomach-bugs. NOTHING was like this. At one point I think my body accepted the fact that this was indeed in its final hours, and so I had flashbacks to my childhood as my brain embraced sweet death.
But obviously it wasn’t the end. Around 4:30am I crawled back into bed, my ass hovering around the core temperature of the sun. And then I managed to fall into a light, haunted sleep.
The next morning I woke up and painted the toilet some more. And then I had to drink the other 1.5 bottles.
Unlike the first time, when I still had intestines, the second time around this world-destroying tonic poured through me so quickly that I felt like I was transcending the mortal plane. To make a long story short, eventually I was just shitting stomach acid and bile. You could have used my colon as a clean room to build space shuttles. There was not a trace of anything left inside of me. I think by the time it was done, I’d expelled so much that even matter was no longer present inside of me and a black hole was slowly beginning to envelope my ass.
Around that time it was time to go get the procedures done. I was extremely tired, weak, and I was also thirsty. But fortunately I had “cleansed” myself to the point that there was no problem taking public transit down into Boston. I was originally worried I’d shit myself, but nah, I had no anus anymore, just a gaping vortex into infinite blackness.
Upon arrival I got to wait about 25 minutes past my appointment time, I think my ass consumed the chair I was sitting in. After that I got called back to the prep area.
Here you get to don the stylish hospital robe, get your IV, get hooked up to the monitoring devices (heart, oxygen, etc.) and talk to the nurse about all the magical joy that your body has shared with the world since yesterday. Then the doctor comes in and tells you about how he is going to shove things up your ass and down your throat, and then you sign a form saying that you will try not to consume too many people in your anal vortex and also that you acknowledge the risks of the procedures.
After that you get carted back to the “operating” room, where you then get oxygen tubes put up your nose and you receive the anesthesia via IV. For these procedures they don’t put you fully out, you are supposed to go into a sort of “twilight” state while you become a hentai star with camera tentacles. The thing is, my body really doesn’t like anesthesia. Sort of like when I had my wisdom teeth removed and the anesthesia simply stopped working (that sure was fun), the anesthesia didn’t really have the full effect on me. So I never really fully went into “twilight” lands during the two procedures. That said, it was NOT as bad as the aforementioned wisdom teeth incident. I was out of it enough that I felt the cameras spelunking inside of me, but I wasn’t too concerned about it. I remember the Upper Endoscopy made it hard to breathe, but I don’t remember panicking. Then I remember the Colonoscopy (ass submarine) kind of hurt, but again, it was all good. I do remember the Doctor commenting about how lucid I was, and them asking me if I was ok, and I remember responding, but other than that it wasn’t nearly as bad as the Hell on Earth that was magnesium citrate.
After it was done I was wheeled into the recovery area, where I took about 1/5th as long as normal to recover – probably because I never really got shitfaced from the drugs. I got to have some Diet Coke, and then got dressed. I had the same nurse throughout the whole process and she was super nice. She even seemed moderately impressed that I once built catheters.
SB had arrived to get me, and we took a Lyft home because I was not feeling up to the MBTA.
The rest of the day was ok, I was groggy, tried, and sore, and I also had some short-term memory issues, but all of that is normal. I couldn’t drink any alcohol that first day, which kind of sucked, but honestly I didn’t even want beer – SHOCKER. Actually, the biggest post-procedure issue the day of was THESE DAMN THINGS.
I hate those things. Why? Hairy chest (notice the hairs). Try it sometime. It’s awesome.
But still, I’d rather pull off 100 of those things off than deal with magnesium citrate again.
The next day I was able to get out and about and go to Target to get some new jeans, since the patch I had put on my jeans had since worn a hole on the other side of my jeans.
As for my results, I will have to wait a bit for the biopsy results (they took biopsies of both my upper and lower tracts). However, from the visual side of things my colon was normal, other than a few internal hemorrhoids, which are apparently quite common. So that is good, no polyps or anything like that. My esophagus was mostly normal, save for some mild furrowing in the middle portion. We’ll have to wait for the biopsies to determine what exactly, if anything, that means – but it wasn’t anything majorly concerning for the Doctor. So, the good news is that there was nothing visibly wrong, the bad news is that I have to wait to see if the lab results say anything about potentially being celiac, or having IBS, or what.
In the days since the procedure I’ve had a sore throat and sore guts. My bowels are also pretty jacked up – however all of this has been improving each day and none of it is abnormal for the circumstances. I’m just really glad it’s over. In the grand tale of medical Taco procedures, this one is right up there with Chronic Compartment Syndrome testing and its screw-driver sized needles. To make matters worse, I’m now getting a cold. I don’t know if this is related to procedure (or removing all the good bacteria from my guts), or if it’s just bad luck. But yeah, it’s not been the best of weeks, but it’s not been the worst of weeks either.
Anyways, that was my spelunking adventure. I’ll update on the biopsies as some point after I get the results.
Until next time,