How you feeling these days?
If you are anything like me, maybe you’re feeling some relief. I am joyful to say that I feel as if a massive heavy weight has been lifted. Here in the USA, we have a new president and a new vice president, the first woman to hold that office EVER!!! I watched the inauguration and I felt my heart open up and I felt hope for the first time in four years. Plus Amanda Gorman knocked it out of the park with her breathtakingly beautiful, timely poem and recitation. I encourage you to watch it one more time:
I then spent the evening of January 20th pooping out the past four years!!
Five years ago I turned 50 and right on schedule my medical team leaned into me about getting my first ever colonoscopy. In January of 2016 I had that colonoscopy. I made it through the 3-day Low-Fiber Diet and the 1-day before Clear Liquid Diet. Thankfully, I had an early morning appointment and I made it through that too.
Back then, I did have a polyp or two, small ones. Not worrisome, but the doctor wanted me back in 5 years. I did not get the 10 year pass. So here I am in January 2021 and the time for my second ever colonoscopy. I survived that first one, and I survived this second one too.
The low-fiber diet is a MAJOR challenge for me and following it for 3 days is essential for a full colon cleansing in advance of the colonoscopy. Turns out I eat a high fiber diet. I am pleased to report that I have zero issues with regular pooping. Most likely that’s because of all the fiber and whole foods (not processed foods) I eat.
Foods to Avoid
On the Foods to Avoid list is nearly everything I usually eat! Such as chia seeds, flax seeds, black rice, nuts, raw and steamed vegetables, sauerkraut, winter squash, cabbage, strawberries, fresh fruit, lentils, and beans. I eat a lot of beans!!
Preparing for this major shift in my diet took a bit of work. I purchased white rice and some frozen organic vegetables that I cooked super well. I also purchased salmon and eggs. It’s true, I’m mostly vegan but since I do eat some fish and eggs every now and then and occasionally I eat honey, I’m not a hardcore vegan. In fact, technically I’m not vegan at all. You could say I follow a plant-based diet, but that’s about as specific I can get about my diet.
Back to the colon
One of my dear friends, Alex Acker-Halbur, who also lives with type 1 diabetes, has survived two bouts of colon cancer and her situation reminds me how important it is to get this colonoscopy done when the medical people encourage it. We know that catching any cancer in the early stage is critical for survival.
CGM and a smart insulin pump
Five years ago I wore a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor, called a cgm for short, and I wear one now. I did wear an insulin pump then too, but now-a-days I wear a much smarter pump. The Tandem t:slim X2 pump I wear has Control-IQ technology which predicts my blood sugar and adjusts my basal (background) insulin, which given what I had to undertake this past Thursday at my colonoscopy is a very helpful bit of technology to have.
My goal for the three days before and the day of was to keep my blood sugar between 100 mg/DL and 200 mg/DL. With the white rice and gluten free white pasta I was eating, I am pleased to report I did well.
Colon cleansing in gets serious
As I was guided to do on the handout they mailed to me, at noon on the day before the colonoscopy, I took 4 bisacodyl (brand name Dulcolax) tablets. Since I knew I was about to become dehydrated, I made a concerted effort to drink lots of water on Wednesday and the days before. I’m not sure it helped all that much, but for sure it didn’t hurt.
Then at 4pm I mixed the MiraLAX with Skratch Labs Sport Hydration mix in a 64 ounce (2 quarts) pitcher and drank 8 ounces every 15 minutes until it was gone. It’s not tasty but it’s not awful. They recommended Gatorade, but I strongly dislike Gatorade and I love Skratch Labs. Easy substitution to make.
Delightful (NOT!) diarrhea started at about 6pm and kept on going every two hours or so. Since I had followed a liquid diet all day, it wasn’t like I had much in me to come out. Since the idea was to clean out my colon, that was indeed happening. Thankfully, I got to watch the Celebrating America production hosted by Tom Hanks. Very uplifting! Here it is in case you missed it.
Magnesium Citrate reaction
I set an alarm for 4:30am and drank the 10 ounce bottle of magnesium citrate and went back to sleep. I woke up at 6:20am and headed straight to the toilet. Sitting on the toilet I started to feel deathly ill. In fact it scared me. More was coming out my rear end, that didn’t scare me as that made sense.
I was sweating profusely and I started shaking.Then I got dizzy. I knew I had nothing in my body but the urge to throw up was gaining strength. I was reminded of the first round of chemotherapy I had in December 2004 when I threw up for 12 hours straight. What I felt coming was abdominal clenching that made me nervous and triggered very bad chemotherapy memories. I looked at my cgm reading and my blood sugar was perfect, 120 ml/DL. None of what was happening was related to my diabetes.
Intentional fall off the toilet
No way would I make it back to my bedroom. The sweating and shaking were getting worse and I made the decision to intentionally fall off the toilet onto the floor. I had the idea that being flat on the floor might help me breath and calm my nervous system. So I rolled off the toilet onto the floor. I thought I did it gently, but given that I have several bruised ribs on the left side of my body and a big bruise on my right hand, it appears I hit the floor harder than I remembered.
Meditation to the rescue
When I went through cancer treatments, a Buddhist teacher friend taught me how to breath into what was happening, not to change it or judge it but simply to observe it and allow it. That’s what I did as I was sweating and shaking laying there on the floor. I observed what was happening, stepping back from the experience and simply noticing that it was happening. I also talked to my Inner Child, reassuring her that she was safe and that this too would pass.
And it did. At about 7am, my housemate who drove me to my appointment, woke up and I got up off the bathroom floor. I cleaned up the toilet and washed my face. I had not thrown up (thank goodness, I HATE throwing up!) I made it into my room and I put on some clothes and grabbed the bag I had packed the night before.
To the clinic
We made it to the colonoscopy clinic right on time, 7:45am. They admitted me and I answered the many repetitive questions they asked me. I finally asked them why three or four of them kept asking me the same questions slightly modified. The anesthesiologist nurse told me it’s part of the system they have, to make sure they get all the information from me. Apparently many people are uncomfortable talking about their bowels and diarrhea and their colon, so they have a variety of people ask the questions since who the patient feels most comfortable with isn’t immediately obvious. Clever communication strategy! In fact, it gave me even more confidence in my physician, Ann C. Lowry, MD and the Minnesota Endoscopy Center.
After assessing my rib pain, since it was from my intentional fall, they decided that I was clear to proceed with the colonoscopy. None of them, the MD included, seemed to think my shaking, dizziness and almost throwing up was unusual, so I just let it go.
They did notice that I had low blood pressure. In fact, they mentioned that I have orthostatic hypotension. That was another thing that clicked for me. I can’t do burpees because of it and it’s true, I easily get dehydrated. Another reminder to make sure I have enough electrolytes when I exercise. Nuun tablets here I come, again!
The anesthesiologist team gave me a fraction of the normal amount of anesthesia and I was out the entire procedure. I am officially considered a lightweight. I get told that often by medical people. Likely it’s because of the clean way I live. Maybe also because of being a physical empath. In any case, for me a small dose works wonders, whatever the medication.
They found two small polyps again and got them removed and sent to the lab to check for cancer. I will find out soon the results. I was handed the discharge papers and was told to not go for a run that afternoon, to please wait another day. My athlete self was disappointed as I had a 3 mile run on the agenda.
I slept most of the rest of the day, after having a fabulous lunch! I was hungry!! Sam and I did go out into the sunshine for a healing walk. My ribs were really hurting, so I consulted Google on “reactions to magnesium citrate” and “bruised ribs.” WOW, turns out it’s very common to have a negative reaction to magnesium citrate. I am going to remember this and ask for that prescription for Zofran for my next colonoscopy, which will likely be in five years.
Turns out it might take me a few days to heal up my ribs. I have iced them and I’ve been rubbing arnica on them. I did make it out for a 4.5 mile run earlier today, Saturday, January 23rd, but I was slower than usual. I’m also not doing my regular strength training workouts. Soon I will be back at it.
In conclusion, my message to you in this blog is GET YOUR COLONOSCOPY!!! Staying healthy means the world to me! I figure talking about how it went for me can serve as a reminder that you too can do it!
Here’s a good post from Diatribe containing advice about colonoscopies and diabetes, in case you’d like additional guidance.
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