I remember arriving to the surgery center in Escondido and feeling anxious, not nervous, but anxious. I was ready to get some answers-something concrete. At this point I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t ready to think the worst. I thought he would find something simple-something that could easily be handled with a medication. I arrived with my husband, and sat down to fill out the necessary paperwork. They had The View on the television in the waiting room, so I watched and waited for my name to be called back to be prepped. Finally, it was my turn. The nurse called me back, and as she was putting the IV into my fresh, practically virgin veins, I remember her asking me why I was in today. When she asked me this, there was almost a judgmental tone to her question. As if, I was way too young to be having a colonoscopy. Which, in retrospect, I can understand because as I recall the waiting room was full of much older individuals-at least in their 50’s. But here I am-no makeup, pale and looking about 15 years old to this woman…and I’m getting prepped for what many people won’t experience until they are in their 50’s. Speaking of experiences, let me back up to the night before.
The day before anyone does a colonoscopy they have to do this terrible, awful, disgusting prep for the bowels. That’s right, a bowel prep, or as I’ve also heard it called-colon blow. Not only does this stuff taste bad, and as I’m writing this I can feel my throat start to recall the horrible taste, but it also makes you have explosive diarrhea. So here I am, home alone…it’s the day before my colonoscopy, and it was about 2PM and all I’ve been able to have that day is clear liquids. So I start the prep, trying to go into this situation with an open mind-despite all the negative things I’ve heard over the years, when I literally start to gage. (I guess this is where having a stoma later on would be considered a blessing.) No colon=no colon blow! So anyways, I’m sitting there gagging trying my best to be strong, when I start vomiting. So I call Dr. Lee, and he allows me to have some saltine’s if I can get this colon blow down. I must admit this did help a lot, although still extremely unpleasant. I also remember facetiming with my mom in order to choke this down, as I mentioned I am home alone and my husband is still at work. I was crying, in pain from the cramping and gagging- the whole bit. Finally, after several hours of choking that crap down and having to run to the bathroom every four minutes, I am done for the night. That is, until the next morning when I had to attempt to choke down another 8 ounces of the colon blow. Which, by this time I was basically peeing clear out of my bum. So I only drank half of the dose recommended. I figured, that was good enough! I remember telling myself, you will only have to do this once. A little naïve, I admit, but I never expected that I would have to take colon blow twice more before September.
So, I’m sitting in this mini prep room, when the nurse had asked me what brought me in today. I told her I was there to have a colonoscopy and she asked what my symptoms were. I explained about the bloody stools and I remember her response being, “Your too young to be sick, what do you do-is your job stressful?” I thought for a moment and replied, “Yes, I have high sales goals and it is a stressful environment.” I remember feeling stupid, because anyone who knows where I worked would think it was a dream job. I, at the time, was employed by a luxury jewelry retailer. So retail alone is hard, standing all day, constantly crouching down to get into small spaces-it’s hard on you mentally and physically. Keep in mind when I first started having symptoms it was just after the hardest, and busiest sales Holiday of my career. I was extremely stressed out, working six days a week and my husband had just returned from a 9 month deployment that had been exended twice. So needless to say, yes, I had gone through a very hard and stressful December and sales Holiday. However, did I ever think to blame either my job or my husband for the strss-absolutely not. I chose both my job and my husband. To this day, I sill wish I was working-and I wish that I was able to be at work instead of home and sick-however…we’ll save this topic for another blog day. After I responded to the nurse she explained the procedure going forward. I kissed my husband goodbye as he went into the waiting room. I remember walking back into the surgery room and laying down on the bed that they had so nicely laid out for me. It wasn’t long now until I was under local sedation and I remember, in a dazed state, seeing the screen to the side of me and seeing my insides on the TV. Shortly after that I woke up. As I was groggy and attempting to wake up, without having my glasses on everything was a blur, I could not see faces but I knew their voices. My husband was next to me and so wasn’t Dr. Lee. Dr. Lee explained that he had done biopsies, but he suspected it was Ulcerative Colitis. I will never forget the tone of his voice, it was very kind, very soft and very empathetic. It was as if he was giving me a life sentence he didn’t think I deserved, and later I would realize he was. He said, I’m so sorry Jerica.” Again, without my glasses I couldn’t see their faces but I heard my husband start to cry. For the first time, I knew it was serious and I also knew that no test result would have to confirm Dr. Lee’s suspicion. I had bleeding ulcers on my colon and the result was Ulcerative Colitis.