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Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Colonoscopy with Contamination OCD...A "Crappy" Exposure, Quite Literally!

     Well, I am here to tell you today that it is possible to have a colonoscopy when you have contamination OCD.  And it is important if you need to have one.  Colon cancer is one of the most lethal types of cancer, and unfortunately there are not many symptoms in the early stages.  It is a type of cancer that by the time one starts exhibiting symptoms, it is often in late stages.  I have had a long history of GI problems.  It has been recommended that I have a colonoscopy a couple of other times in my life (before OCD ever entered the picture), and I just put it off and didn't do it, because the whole process made me nervous.  But, I visited the GI doc again a few weeks ago and it was recommended again.  Since I met my insurance deductible with my surgery last month, I decided I was just going to do this.  I have been trying to sort out my physical health problems for the last few months, and this was a big thing I really needed to cross off my list  I had no idea what to expect with the colonscopy.  I knew the prep was going to be dreadful, but I got through it!  And on the other side of the fence today, I can truly tell you that I'm glad I made the decision to go through with it.  Everything turned out completely normal with my colonscopy.
     The most difficult part about this process was the prepping of the colon.  And I am going to be honest, I am going to get real graphic here.  So, if talk of stools and diarrhea bothers you, please just skip forward to the end of this post.  This is important for me to talk about, because it is the details about the prep that collided with the OCD, and I want to help someone else that may need to figure out how to deal with this as well.
     As I mentioned, I had no idea how bad the diarrhea was going to get.  Obviously the intent is to clear your colon out.  But some things I read said that you could still make it to the toilet, just stay close by at home.  Others said that they couldn't even leave the bathroom until the prep made its way through.  I had 3 "rounds" of prep.  My procedure was on a Friday.  Starting on Wednesday night, I drank a bottle of Magnesium Citrate, which is a powerful liquid laxative.  It said that it would normally produce a stool within about 30 minutes-3 hours.  Meaning, I took that literally.  A stool.  Not so much.  First of all, it didn't do anything for me until the following morning.  Then all of a sudden I jolted out of bed, ran to the bathroom, and yep--it was working.  30-45 minutes straight of liquid stool.  This, I would consider to be "loose stool", it did spray all over the back of the toilet and even shot somewhat onto the outside of our bathtub, which is right next to the toilet.  A fact I should mention now is that I don't sit on my own toilet seat at home.  I'm a squatter.  Fortunately, this didn't prove to be a problem for round 1 of the prep, but it was difficult to stand there for 30-45 minutes straight.  It also became very painful, and I was feeling dehydrated, and nearly passed out during this round.  But when it was done, it was done.  I drank my clear liquids for the remainder of the day, and just tried to relax and keep in mind that round 1 was done.  Round 2 had to be similar, right?
     Wrong.  Round 2 and 3 was the actual split dose colon prep.  I took the first dose on Thursday night, and within about 20 minutes it started to work.  I was already in the bathroom waiting for it to start, squatting over as usual, and as it continued to work it's magic the stool became so watery and uncontrollable.  There would have been absolutely no way I would have made it to the bathroom.  I squatted there, and things started to become a real mess.  Liquid stool was literally spraying out onto the toilet seat and back, dripping down my leg, onto the floor in small amounts.  I would alternate between having diarrhea, using wet wipes to clean off my legs, and when I felt I might have a 3 minute break from the stools, I would quickly disinfect the toilet seat and flush, and start all over.  Finally I just removed the clothes I was wearing because I could tell stool was getting onto my pajama pants and socks as it dripped down.  There wasn't really anything I could do at that point, other than to let it happen.  It took about 2 1/2 hours for the stools to stop.  At that point it was so late at night, I just wanted to go to bed.  I was truly exhausted.  I disinfected the toilet, Cloroxed all around the toilet and wiped down the outside of the tub.  I stepped in the shower so I could at least get clean from the waist down.  I was worried about being in there too long and having an accident in the shower (and then I would really run into some cleaning problems if that happened.  Fortunately it was okay, no accidents).  I put on a clean outfit, laid an old comforter on the floor and slept there, about 5 feet from the bathroom.  There was no way I would trust myself to sleep in bed that night.  If I stooled in the bed, I wouldn't ever be able to sleep there again.  I also had purchased some Depends briefs and wore one of those to bed, paranoid that I might have a stool in my sleep.  I didn't though.
     I didn't sleep well that night, partly because I drank so much fluid that entire day, I was honestly up urinating about every 20 minutes for the first 3 hours of sleep.  Then somehow I was able to get 3 hours in a row of uninterrupted sleep, then I woke up at 5 am and just laid there anticipating round 3 and how I was going to deal with that.
    I knew I could not do the whole squatting thing again.  I felt like sitting on the toilet seat at that point would be less contaminating than getting actual stool all over me again.  Plus I only had a few hours this time before I needed to arrive for the procedure, and I wasn't sure if I would have enough time to hop in the shower again if needed.  I covered the toilet seat with paper towels, starting drinking Round 3 and just sat there for 2 1/2 hours straight again as it worked.  I have to say this ended up being much easier, and I honestly wished I had just done this from the get-go.  Again, I just hadn't known what to expect.  There were no messes this time with the floor my clothes, although the stool did seem to still be getting all over my bottom.  If you've never had a colonoscopy preop before, let me just tell that you that it feels like you have a garden hose attached to your bottom.  Someone elses's words, not mine.  But the best description I have found, and very true.  The prep wore off about 11:30, and my dad was set to arrive about 11:45 to pick me up.  I thought all was done, so I changed again, put on a new Depends brief, and my "contaminated outfit" that I wear to dirty places.  Before my dad arrived, I made one trip to the bathroom, "just in case", but I ended up going again, watery and uncontrollable.  I had no idea how I would make it to the endoscopy center without an accident, but I did make it.  Went to the bathroom shortly after I got there, liquidy and uncontrollable again.  I was mortified I would have an accident and expressed that concern to both my nurse and the doctor.  As far as I know, I never did have an accident. 
    I was nervous about the procedure too, because I don't like to be sedated, and the whole idea of someone manueving a colonscope through your entire large intestine is a little scary.  But the procedure itself was a breeze.  I don't remember anything after they gave me the sedative.  I have a brief recollection of being at the center afterward and sipping from a can of Sprite.
    When I got home, I disinfected my bathroom.  No major binge cleaning here, just disinfected the toilet, cleaned the toilet bowl and mopped the floor.  Got rid of all my garbage from the last 2 days.  Then I took a shower, cleaning bottom and legs REAL good, and that was it.
     As I mentioned earlier, my colon was completely healthy.  And I am so thankful for that.  It would be easy to say, "Oh, I wish I hadn't done that.  Everything was normal and I didn't even need to have that done".  But that is not the case.  There is no way to know it is normal, unless you have it done.  It was difficult, but I got through it, and I am glad that I did it.  It also helped put things into perspective for me about what is contaminated.  I am always worried about "what if this" has stuff on it, or "what if that" has stuff on it.  Always worried about the what-ifs and the might-be's.  There was no question here.  I got stool all over my legs and I'm still okay. 
    Even if you're reading this post and you don't suffer from OCD, I urge all of you to have your colonscopy.  It is a very important thing to do for your health.     As with the surgery last month, I am so glad I did this.  It would be easy for me, with severe contamination OCD, to say I am going to avoid these things because they create too many problems and are "too hard" with OCD.  But I want to be proactive in my health and help myself be the healthiest person I can be.  I think the better I feel physically, then I am also better able to cope with the mental and emotional demands of OCD.

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