: November 1, 2017 :
Hi you! How’s your February been going? I know most places in the States are getting hit hard with snow, rain, and bitter cold, so I hope you’ve been able to stay warm!
Now that I’m living in Tennessee, there are no “burn days,” so I’ve thankfully been able to have my fireplace roaring every day this week.
Today’s post is quite special because it’s Part 1 of a three-part series in honor of Rare Disease Day, which is next week on February 28th.
So, we’re going to chug along the crazy journey I embarked upon with my instigating colon; so go ahead and sit by the cozy fire (or at least wrapped up in a warm blanket), kick back, and relax.
Welcome to Part 1.
Review of the journey
Here at The Comical Colon, we left off in the midst of my crazy medical roller coaster journey in October 2017 after colonoscopy number three and after my doctor warned me that I have an abnormally high level of antibodies and fat in my liver. Yikes. (If you’d like a refresher about this episode, you can read it here!)
This news of course, left me even more worried and stressed than I already was. I already had a broken colon, I don’t want a mutinous liver too!
Since sketchy livers can be linked to other flaws in the digestive tract, my doctor set me up for a capsule endoscopy.
If you’re familiar with a traditional endoscopy, you know it’s when you’re under anesthesia and the doctor sends a probe with a camera down your mouth, into your esophagus, and into your stomach.
A capsule endoscopy is SO MUCH COOLER.
Although I surely wouldn’t classify my medical journey as fun, I will go on record to say that this capsule endoscopy was awesome! As someone who wants to know exactly what’s going on inside her body to put her pesky colon (and now liver) in place, this process was fascinating!
So, what is a capsule endoscopy?
I swallowed a pill with a camera inside it! Ahhh how cool is that!
This camera takes two pictures every second as it travels down your entire digestive tract: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, toilet.
Why did I need the capsule endoscopy?
My doctor wanted to try another method to make sure I don’t have Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is similar to ulcerative colitis, but it can cause inflammation anywhere in your digestive tract, while as ulcerative colitis is restricted to your large intestine.
Also, as a bonus, these powerful cameras simultaneously scout for intestinal bleeding, catch cancer, monitor celiac disease, and screen for polyps.
The downside of swallowing this cool little capsule is that your system has to be completely devoid of food. That means I couldn’t eat for approximately a total 36 hours.
But that meant I got to miss two days of work—the day before swallowing the capsule (because no way am I dealing with the effects of a laxative in the workplace) and the day of the swallowing (due to being tired from not eating.) Score!
If you or someone you know needs to do a capsule endoscopy soon, don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt and it’s one of the simplest procedures out there.
Here’s how it went down
I arrived at my doctor’s office on the morning of November 1st to swallow the pill.
Heads up: It’s not a small pill. It was about the size of the tip of my thumbnail to the first thumb joint. If you have a hard time swallowing pills, I’d suggest talking with your doctor about ways to get it down easier.
I swallow countless pills each day, so I downed it without a problem 🙃
As you can see in the photo, the center is the camera lens and the rectangles around it are the mini-flashlights so it’ll light the way as it swims down my intestines.
The sweet SWAG
Before swallowing the camera, the technician placed this sick fanny pack type thing around my waist. There was a hole in the middle that had to center around my belly button at all times. This pack held the antenna that communicated with the camera inside me and transmitted the photos to the recorder, which I also wore on my body.
Yes, I got to wear this camera recorder all day! (To me, this was the coolest part!) This is the white and black monitor you see hanging on my left side.
This monitor is where the photos are transmitted to! Unfortunately, it’s not like I could look down at it throughout the day and say “Oh hey, camera capsule, you’re inside my rectum now!” We had to put it on sleep mode so the battery wouldn’t run out.
This outfit is another reason why I took the day off work. I worked at a professional environment where wearing a fanny pack and a strappy camera like a tourist wouldn’t have met the dress code.
Plus, at the point of swallowing the pill, I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours and had my guts cleared out by a carbonated lemon demon drink so I was naturally a bit hangry.
Oh, and I couldn’t eat until after eight hours had passed.
Oh yeah, another downside to this nifty procedure is that electronics can mess with the capsule. So that means no phone or no laptop all day. At first, I thought, “OMG what am I going to do? I’m gonna be so bored.”
But then it occurred to me that I’d probably be too weak and hungry to want to do anything productive, so I should probably conserve my energy by watching TV or napping.
So it ended up being a relaxing day at home, watching TV, dosing off, trying to curb my hunger. Plus, I got to tell my boss I wasn’t coming in that day because I have a camera inside my body.
After the 8 hours are up
I let it traverse down my GI tract for eight hours, and then I had to drive all the way back to my doctor’s office to return the cool gear.
By now, it was about 4pm and not only was I hangry, but I was weak and lightheaded. It was nearing about 36 hours with no food.
I returned the belt and recorder and by then, I was fueled by two things and two things only: SODIUM AND PROTEIN.
I CRAVED me some of that. Naturally, my next thought was, Ah, Panda Express is what I need. So I weaved through rush hour traffic to fill my stomach with something other than a super powerful camera.
Waiting (some more)
Now all I had to do was wait a week or two for results. My doctor would have to go through each photo individually to scour for abnormalities. At a rate of two photos per second for eight hours, she’d have about 55,000 pictures to go through!
Out of my entire ulcerative colitis journey, this procedure was by far the most fun and interesting thing I’ve had done, and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever had come out my butt.
But of course, it involved the waiting game, and all I could do was eat my Panda Express and go back to work the following day, distracting myself from what the photos would tell my doctor and what it meant for my liver.
Be sure to follow The Comical Colon on WordPress so you get an alert when my posts go live! That way, you won’t miss next week’s Part 2 of Rare Disease Day series!
In The Comical Colon’s Facebook group, let’s start a conversation:
Have you or anyone you know had to do the capsule endoscopy? How was that experience? What food did you indulge in once you could eat? We’d love to hear your story and thoughts in the private Facebook group!
I truly believe that the way to bridge this disease type’s chasm of alienation, fear, being misunderstood, etc. is to engage in community and share our experiences to help others along their journeys. Let’s learn to share our fears, our trials, and our triumphs to find the comical in the deepest, darkest crevices of our guts.