Ever since I started getting my period at twelve years old, they have been extremely painful and heavy, causing me to miss a week of school each month. Every month I would get cramps that made me double over in pain, vomiting and nausea, rectal pain and blood clots twice the size of ice cubes. This type of extreme pain is known as endometriosis. It’s when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside. The only way to diagnose the problem is through a laparoscopy, surgery to examine the pelvic organs and remove the endometrial cells. When over the counter medications, heating pads and hot tea proved to be futile, I was placed on my first birth control pill at thirteen.
I spent the few years experimenting with birth control from the Depo Provera shot that stopped my period for three years but made me gain 30 pounds, to Seasonique, which promised only 4 periods a year, but made my usual 6 day period last three times as long. Finally when I was 17, I settled on Lo Loestrin Fe that helped to regulate my period, ease my cramps and lighten my flow but I still had the rectum pain, especially in college. I credited the pain due to stress but my doctor recommended going to a gastroenterologist to see if the pain could be caused by colon problems.
After an uncomfortable rectum examination the doctor suggested I’d get a colonoscopy in order to get a closer look. She briefly explained the process. “It’s when the doctor sticks a long tube with a tiny camera at the end up your butt to look inside your rectum and colon,” she said. “You’ll be asleep the whole time,” she reassured me. “But there is some prep and instructions you have to follow.” “The worst part is you’ll be going to the bathroom all day,” my mom said. Both her and my father had the procedure done.
I decided to get it done over winter break.
The day before the procedure, I had to fast and drink magnesium citrate, a laxative that tasted like sparkling grape juice at 5PM. At 7PM I had to start drinking the liquid prep that tasted like seawater and came in a huge jug. I had to drink a glass every 10 minutes until I drunk two liters. I would have to finish the rest in the morning.
When I arrived at the office, the nurse called me back where there were small rooms. "When was the last time you digested anything orally?” he asked after he weighed me. “Yesterday, no wait it was this morning,” I was so anxious that I couldn’t give him a straight answer, especially since three days prior, I Googled colonoscopy deaths. “She finished the solution this morning,” my mom answered.
I went into a room and slipped on the gown and climbed into bed. The nurse hooked me up to an IV and took my blood pressure and pulse. “You really are nervous, huh? Your heart is racing,” he said while listening to my heart.
The anesthesiologist came in next and asked me a few questions. After he was done, I met the doctor, an old man with a red face and grey hair and was wheeled off into a dark room. A radio was playing while I was once again asked questions before the anesthesiologist stuck a clip on my finger, placed tiny round strips on my chest to monitor my breathing and an oxygen tube under my nostrils. He started the anesthesia and said that my arm would start to feel warm. I laid on my side and looked up at him. The last thing I said was that I felt a burning sensation in my throat.
Twenty minutes later, I woke up dizzy and was given a snack. Hours later, the office called my house and said everything came back negative. With spending the night in the bathroom, tired and hungry, it was a relief to know that everything was fine. Now I plan on using my only option left, getting a laparoscopy that will hopefully heal my endometriosis.