Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Big Girl Procedures (Old People Procedures?)

Today I had my first screening colonoscopy. I fretted a bit about having to do it but everybody I talked to said it would be a relatively easy procedure. I suppose it was. But today I learned something about myself that I did not know.

In the course of my lamenting and kvetching to a therapist friend about having the procedure done, I mentioned my fear of undignified situations, and how, for me, an undignified situation equals being out of control, and how being out of control means I feeling vulnerable and I don't like feeling vulnerable. He suggested I think of myself going into the procedure as a child and knowing the adults were there to take care of me. 

We were sitting in the room where they take your blood pressure and double check your meds and all and I hear the man next door telling the nurse he woke up too early last time he had the procedure. I thought that was no big deal, it meant he got to go home earlier. But no, he meant he woke up during the procedure! I silently cursed the man for putting that thought in my head. 

I really was not as nervous as I thought I'd be but when they wheeled me out to go to the operating room and left me lying on the gurney for a minute or two, I thought about the child (little girl) trick. So there I am, a fifty-something grown woman without her glasses on lying flat on her back pretending to be a little girl. And all these faceless adults I was hearing as they whooshed by me were there to take care of me. I couldn't see too much but I could hear plenty. I heard water running and a sucking sound and thought, to my horror, that they were working on someone just off to my left, with only a curtain separating us! But it was just a woman washing out a big tub.

I shrunk, lying there pretending to be a little girl. I could not tell what was going on, could not see who was coming up behind me and let me tell you.The longer I laid there, the more nervous I got. I learned pretty quickly that my little girl self is far less trusting of people than my adult self. She wanted to high-tail it out of there! I had to go back to being my adult self and I had to reassure my little girl self that everything really was going to be all right. In spite of her not trusting that situation and wanting to leave, my little girl self is tough and scrappy, but she does not like to be cornered into situations where she has no control. Sometimes more so than my adult self, I believe.

So they wheeled my adult self into the operating room and started the procedure. I woke up during the procedure! My little girl self must have been the one quietly watching the screen while my adult self was trying to hear what they were saying. I could not make out the words. The screen was quite interesting, I saw this loop thing but then it started getting uncomfortable and I mentioned to them that I was awake. They said they would give me more medicine and they did. And the next thing I knew they were talking to me again. Now I wonder if that was not some drug-induced dream but I think it was real. And I think part of the reason I was so calm was because my friend Cyn said next time she had hers done, she was not going to take any meds and was going to watch the whole thing. I figured I was awake, so I may as well watch at least a little bit of the show. Weird, huh?

I think the loop thing I saw was the tool they use to cut polyps. I had several of them cut off and one partially cut off because they could not get to all of it due to where it was located. So, yeah, I am waiting for a call about the biopsy and praying all will be clear. 

And now, what I really want to know. Do any of you have other versions of yourself that you are aware of that help through certain things? Or am I the only one? 


  1. I never really thought about it before...

    Hmm... Your whole experience reminds me of two things. First - when the results of the colonoscopy aren't good, the nurses bring the spouse in the waiting room these really comfy toasty blankets from the warmer and offer to share their lunch. :)

    Secondly, I think my alter ego for dealing with difficult situations is to be all super-practical-doer-of-stuff. The other memory you tweaked was of Jackson and I sitting on the edge of the hospital bed, deep in discussion, when a nurse came into the room. She saw us, looked stricken, apologized profusely and backed out of the room.

    We were talking about what I should pack in his bag and whether or not to have someone come feed the cats. I think she thought we were pledging eternal love or something. But, nope.

    If you do stuff you don't have to talk about stuff. Or something. :)

  2. I was just comfy, not out for my procedure. Watched the whole thing. It makes me more uncomfortable to be woozy than in discomfort. I didn't even get knocked out for my surgical breast biopsy. I used to write letters to my little self during therapy to tell her I would be taking care of us from now on. I promised that I would be a better adult than those she had dealt with. Little Cindy wouldn't have wanted to be there for the colonoscopy. I handle that stuff. Let us know how the tests come out.

  3. Lord have mercy. I have to wait until later to make a full and complete comment. As a nurse, there is no excuse for waking up during a procedure. Nor was that an ideal situation to be able to "hear" what was happening in the CURTAIN next to you.... I don't think so.... I gotta tell you, it would be a cold day in hell before I would return to wherever you had that done.
    there are some things that you don't need or want to be awake for..... end of rant. Maybe not

    Second, yeah, I have a happy place I go to. And I'll talk about that later. Right now I need to shower and rest some,..... it's been a long week.

  4. I talk to my inner little girl sometimes. I have a "dr" self who tells me to take care of myself. I have that line I still say to myself: People a lot dumber than you do this every day... But that wouldn't work for a colonoscopy. I'd have to be talking to my little girl for that one. Usually when I have a procedure/surgery, I feel totally fine, and I mean TOTALLY fine until about an hour before. Then I feel askeered. Then when I get whatever shot they give you to relax, all my inhibitions go out the window and I get completely TERRIFIED!!! It's really unsettling, and last summer when I had surgery, I actually asked them could they please just hurry up and put me out already because I was too scared to be awake anymore. They actually did... So I think I need to learn to talk with my inner chicken some more, because it seems to be getting worse as I get older.


Don't just sit there staring, say something!