Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family Medicine Activist: My Colonoscopy- When is Yours?

"Are you awake now?" I heard out of the corner of one ear which motivated me to open my eyes.  "Yes.  I'm cured," I responded in relief and hope and light-hearted expectation.  My rational brain had also turned on reminding me that I was waking up in the recovery area after my colonoscopy.  (Yes, I "got it behind me", but no, I didn't put it on TV like Katie Couric).

I looked up at a red-headed nurse type person, Paula, who had a reassuring presence while calmly asking me, "Have you expelled all your gas?"  (In other circles, this wouldn't have been much of a conversation starter, but it was welcomed and timely in the gastrointestinal recovery area).  "No, I'm too polite to do that," I quipped.  She quickly replied, "This is not the place to be polite."  So I allowed my innards to express their relief at her boundless tolerance.

Paula further clarified that I was OK and brought me the bag with my clothing and gave further instructions about leaving.  Another person arrived with my Discharge Instructions and the report of the procedure, including photos of my colon which will not be included with this post.  The warnings about the IV sedation were many, including "DO NOT drive, work around a stove, use power equipment or machinery, consume alcoholic beverages or make any major or legal decisions for the rest of today."  Does blogging constitute a major decision?

I was impressed at the entire practice of Dayton Gastro Endoscopy-Beavercreek, from their parking lot through the double electric doors to the sign that instructed me to wait here for the next receptionist to Kerrie who signed me in, scanned my Insurance card and photo ID, and directed my wife and I to the endoscopy waiting room.

Next was Michelle, an RN who entered clinical information and asked for clarifying information to satisfy the electronic record on her computer.  After getting my vital signs, she directed my wife back to the waiting area and led me into the pre and post procedure prep and recovery area, opened the door to a unisex restroom, handed me a plastic bag (with draw string) and instructed me to remove all clothing except shoes and socks and put on the gown (I assumed that the open area was to be in the back.  Conveniently, there was a commode for any last minute colon clearing needs.

I slowly opened the door to leave the restroom clad in my hospital gown ineptly trying to keep the back side closed from view of any non-HIPAA compliant gazes of other patients.  A friendly nurse directed me to the gurney type bed where I received instructions from Kathie as well as an IV in the back of my right hand.  Jerry, the CRNA (nurse anesthetist) introduced himself and asked the questions that let him know that I'm at low risk for disaster under anesthesia.  I emphasized the C5-6 (neck) arthritis with radiculopathy that may be flared up if I'm in the wrong position too long.  We seemed to connect in a reassuring way, consistent with my other interactions on this great day for colons.  Kathie and I conversed about her family and my practice.

Then Dr. Jonathan Saxe showed up.  I've known him for 12-15 years and we've worked together on some challenging patient situations in the Kettering Medical Center when I used to admit and care for my own patients there (now I'm using the hospitalist service- South Dayton Internists).  I obviously have confidence in Dr. Saxe skills and judgement.  (I would have been comfortable having the procedure done in several Greene County and Dayton area locations, by the way, but I'm only having one procedure and had to decide.)  We greeted each other and I could tell I was both patient and medical colleague throughout our engagement.

Yet another nurse greeted me as I entered the procedure hallway and the room where my colonoscopy happened within five minutes.  They positioned me and Jerry said words to the effect that "I'll see you ...(somewhere that I've forgotten) and I closed my eyes and said "Good night".  I felt a warm tingle all over my trunk, arms and face.  Then I heard Paula in recovery.

I'm blessed to have a healthy colon.  Many aren't.  Colonoscopy is an extremely useful way to clarify the status of your colon when the need for invasive prevention of colon cancer or diagnosis of colon problems arises.  Join me and Katie Couric, if colonoscopy could help you, and schedule yours through your Family Physician after clarification of your need and your health.  By the way, many general surgeons also do colonoscopies, too, especially in Greene County, OH where I live.

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