Today I met with the herbalist for the first time after my colonoscopy. He had requested I get a pre and post colonoscopy to document my progress. I figured, since I was trying to go the herbal route and be “all natural” that I should also try a sedative free colonoscopy. The sedative can often leave me drowsy and a little in the dumps for a day or two so I hoped to skip the Negative Nancys and go sedative free. All the nurses at the endoscopy center kept doing a double take when looking at my paperwork. “No sedative!?” they would say, bewildered, shocked, disbelieving. I told them it wasn’t my first rodeo and that I had had a colonoscopy in Japan without sedative “no problem”. Aside from a little pressure, discomfort and embarrassment (due to feeling the need to expel the camera and a picnic of doctors and nurses taking turns at snipping biopsies of my colon), it was a walk in the park. Well, about 5 minutes into that colonoscopy with “no sedative” (as was written in big letters on my intake form) I realized that what I had in Japan was certainly not a full colonoscopy (because, if it was, I would never, in my right mind, ever, voluntarily choose to have a colonoscopy with no sedative). So imagine the worst gas pains you have ever had (the shooting, stabbing kind), fill the entire left side of your belly area with that lovely sensation along with an alien baby trying to pry its way out of your midsection, put it on stereo video (there was a large TV monitor on either side of the room so which ever way I turned, and they made me turn, I could view every painful step) and continue for about 45 minutes. I’ll leave out the bloody details of the claw of death and the 12 biopsies that were taken.
So, anyhow, I brought my results of this colonoscopy to the herbalist, hoping he’d be proud that I’d followed through, hoping he would have some advice, hoping he’d at least say he could help me in my journey to get off my medications. I reported the good news that the results showed no indications of inflammation, cancer or any of that bad stuff (I can’t remember exactly what was reported on except that it was all good). This was my best colonoscopy to date. It would be fridge worthy if I didn’t think that might make me lose even more weight (i.e. deter me from entering the fridge) which I don’t need to do (colitis can do wonders for the figure). The herbalist’s response? “If you’re well, why don’t you just stop taking your medication?” Well shit! Why didn’t I think of that? Why did I come here? Why did I just have a sedative free colonoscopy because you requested a pre-colonoscopy, if I could have just stopped my meds. Why did I drive down to L.A. every other week for 3 months for herbal treatment, when I could have just stopped taking my meds? I tried to explain to him that I had tried that method in the past (when I was younger and less compliant) and usually ended up in the hospital, in need of a blood transfusion, shitting my pants, etc. within a year or two. He made the comment that I should quit my meds and then left the room to help another patient and then he came back in to ask me what I was doing for exercise. I told him that I was training for a triathlon (the first time I saw him he said I was out of shape and needed to work out more on a daily basis so I took it to heart and was working out like crazy). His response was, “No, what exercise are you doing for yourself?” I was confused and let him know. He rephrased, “What kind of exercise are you doing for your colitis?” Still, I didn’t understand. He had this way, maybe it was his expression on his face or the way he talked to me, that made me feel like “I should know this.” “Come on, think harder, you know this.” and then I would just feel stupid for not having the slightest idea what he was talking about. He then told me that I should be doing Iyengar yoga about 4 times a week. “Oh that’s what you meant, why didn’t I know that? That should have been the first thing that came to my mind.” He then proceeded to ask me to show him “warrior 1”. Well, I have done my share of yoga but don’t always know the proper names. I struck my best guess at “warrior 1”. He corrected me, my back foot should be planted not on the ball of my foot. He looked at my form critically and asked me if that was “really” how I did “warrior 1” and encouraged (I use that word lightly) me to do my “best warrior 1 pose”. I tried, thinking “square your shoulders”, “pretend you are between two panes of glass” and the various other comments I hear instructors use in yoga classes. He eyed me up and down, very obviously disappointed (for crying out loud, I was in his waiting room, his secretary was looking at me, I was wearing jeans that would have ripped if I’d have squatted any deeper). He shook his head, still disappointed and strongly urged me to take more yoga classes. I agreed and at some point in the next few minutes, began to cry. They were tears of frustration (I had tried to follow his instructions and seemingly failed miserably), tears of anger (a colonoscopy with “no sedative” and he wasn’t even interested in the labwork and he continuously kept leaving the room during our conversation, successfully making me wonderfully unimportant) and a little bit of some tears of fear (of going off my medication and getting sick again). I only divulged the latter reason for my tears resulting in him telling me multiple times, over and over again that I was too weak and that if I was so scared to go of my meds that I would not be able to go off my meds because I was too scared and that I would just make myself sick with fear. He kept asking me, “I need to know what you want.” And I kept telling him, between sobs, “I want to go off my meds. I want to have kids. I want to be healthy.” And then he would respond about my apparent weakness and inability to go off meds due to being so weak (aka crying because he was being a big bully, or a little bully as I am taller than him). We played this game for a while, him saying “I need to know what you want.” and me repeating my determination to stop meds. I let him believe that I was just fearful of stopping the medications but really I wanted to stand up from my chair and yell, “Listen to me! I have been dealing with this since I was 19 years old! I get sick, I get well, I get sick, I get well. That’s the story of my life. I’m sick of it. I want it to stop. I’m a shit-ton stronger than a lot of girls my age. Give me some credit and stop questioning me. Listen to me!” He eventually concluded that I had worked myself into such a frenzy that I would have to come back another time because he needed to take my pulse and I was too upset for him to have an accurate pulse. So I left and agreed to come back tomorrow morning.
I suppose this story sounds like it was a traumatic experience and that I should go on my merry way. Yeah it sucked but, you know what, I’m going back tomorrow and I stopped my medications today. What do I have to lose? I might get sick again. Then I pump up with some steroids (prednisone), go back on meds and we are back to square one, at least I can say I tried. Like my mom said after I came out of my colonoscopy, “Well, you can check that one off your bucket list.”