"Where would you like to go?" I was asked, as I curled into the foetal position.
"Samoa," I said, without hesitation.
"Wow, you've got a destination ready," my anaesthetist said.
"Okay, well I'm going to give you a nice little cocktail that is going to take you to Samoa. You're relaxing by the pool, watching the sunset, and ..."
With that, I drifted off.
Sadly, it wasn't really off to a tropical beach in Samoa, but a twilight sedation on a theatre bed in a day hospital in Brisbane, where I was having a colonoscopy.
Anyone who has not had a colonoscopy are fascinated by the things. And I've been bombarded with questions from friends, family and colleagues, in 'real life' and online.
What's it really like? Does it hurt? Do you poo yourself on the way to the hospital?
Oh yes, dear reader, I've been asked them all.
So in the interests of public health, I'm going to share my experience. Please click away if you're not keen on overshares.
I'm not going to go into the boring, but necessary, medical ins and outs (ahem), of a colonoscopy. That's easy enough to learn from your GP and/or specialist, or via the magic of google.
What you want to know is what it is really like.
Well, I'll be honest: It is gross.
But the alternative - bowel cancer or some other nasty disease - is far worse. Which makes the discomfort and occasional pain of a colonoscopy nothing compared to NOT having one, and perhaps being diagnosed too late.
And trust me: I have experienced loved ones dying, painfully and quickly, from bowel cancer.
Happily, I have seen loved ones are still alive and healthy because colonoscopies have discovered their conditions early.
Sadly, I have friends who were diagnosed via colonosopy but are still fighting this insidious, nasty, shitty disease. (Pun totally intended).
So every single moment attached to the toilet, fighting the urge to throw up, or the indignity of presenting your barely-draped arse to a specialist so that he can insert a tiny camera into it, is totally worth it!
But still. I can think of a million things I would rather do.
This was my second colonoscopy. The first was a 40th birthday present of sorts, mainly because bowel disease runs in my family. I'd developed a few #OVERSHARE ALERT# haemmorroids while pushing out two human beings a few years earlier.
Mostly they settled down, but occasionally flared up. That, and the incidence of bowel disease in my family - and the experience of a very dear friend whose life was saved when a colonoscopy found a tumour - led me to have the procedure, kind of like an insurance policy.
It was yucky, but fine. No nasties were found and I was sent home to sleep it off. I was up and preparing dinner for the kids that same evening.
And I forgot all about it until a few weeks ago, when I started exhibiting a few of the obvious symptoms of bowel cancer.
Bleeding, not just a little, but a lot. (#OVERSHARE# Yes, when pooing). Plus, there was constant stomach pain, numerous tummy upsets, urgency, diarrhoea, change of bowel habits, the lot.
But the bleeding. Hell, the bleeding. That scared the crap out of me. (Literally. Sorry).
There were other symptoms too, that didn't necessarily mix with the bowel stuff. Really high blood pressure. Really high pulse rate. Vertigo and dizziness. Headaches. And my blood tests were not great.
So a colonoscopy, as well as a raft of other tests (brain scan anyone?), were ordered.
The test I feared the most was the colonoscopy.
There are all sorts of ways and places to have one, but I go to a no-frills place that just does gastro things. So they are experts at it.
They also charge a minimum - mine was $140 out of pocket after private health cover - and you're in and out in a few hours. Unless there are complications obviously.
A few days before C-Day, you go in and have a chat to a nurse who takes your history and makes sure you know what's going on.
You agree to go on a horrid low fibre diet, which is the opposite of the way we're taught to eat. White bread only. Stewed fruit. No grains. None of the good stuff.
You take home a couple of bottles of the
(Unfortunately, the day before the colonoscopy I was helping out at the school fete. Oh, how hard it was to ignore the delights of the Samoan food stall, and the Asian noodles and spring rolls.)
And then, to go home exhausted, knowing I had to drink the yucky Fleet solution.
It's supposed to taste like ginger apple, but it tasted like sweaty armpits. (Do not ask how I know this, I just do).
You mix it with your choice of 'clear fluid'. Clear fluid means un-pithy juice, soft drink, tea, water.
I chose diet ginger ale.
On this occasion, I had to drink the devil's brew in half an hour, than follow through with a few other glasses of more clear fluid.
I started the night before at the time I'd been instructed to drink it. (Actually I started 15 minutes earlier, because I knew I'd have problems).
I gagged immediately. I tried to take my mind off it by watching Dancing With The Stars and tweeting. But it was really difficult. I swallowed again. And then the chills started.
Within about 20 minutes I was perched on the loo, doubled up with tummy pains and well #OVERSHARE ALERT# the worst, most violent, diarrheoa you could imagine.
Eventually, I felt too ill for even telly and tweeting, so I turned off the computer and TV and concentrated at the task at hand, before falling into a fitful sleep.
My alarm rang at 3.15 am - I'd been told to set it for 3.30 am, but again, I knew I'd need a bit more time. This time it was even harder to drink the solution. I was shaky and I began to throw up a little in my mouth. Yes, whilst attached to the loo.
It took all my Mindfulness training and breathing not to throw up. (If you throw up the solution, you generally have to go in and be assessed, and quite possibly, get sent home and made to do it again. I really didn't want to go through all this again. Thankfully, I did not throw it all up.).
I crawled back to bed again, dying for a drink of water or tea - but I was now Nil By Mouth - before getting up a bit later for a shower.
I dressed in loose clothes as instructed - leggings and a comfy top - and tried desperately to ignore my need for tea or water. Anything. My mouth was so dry I moistened it with ice a few times, hoping it wasn't against the rules.
You're not allowed to drive yourself into the day surgery hospital, so my lovely sister-in-law arrived to take me in.
I was worried about pooing on the way to the hospital - we'd joked about me getting adult nappies - but the solution and the timing seems to have been refined so that by the time you're in the car, you don't need to poo anymore.
I didn't even need to go when we got to the hospital. (Which was great, because if you go, you're not allowed to flush and have to fetch a nurse to look at your poo to make sure it's watery enough. Cringe).
My doctor was a nice man, and my anaesthetist a friendly woman. I knew I'd be under twilight sedation, but because of my anxiety, I asked her to promise I wouldn't wake up or be aware of what was happening at any time. She reassured me: I would know nothing.
Then I was wheeled into theatre, draped with a sheet and asked to pull my knickers down to my knees. Then I told to put my knees up to my chest, presenting my bare butt to the doctor. (It was loosely covered with the sheet.)
And then the anesthetist sent me to Samoa.
Except that the next thing I knew I was in agony, experiencing the worst bloating and pain since giving birth. I screamed and moaned, and the anaesthetist quickly gave me more drugs.
And then a smily nurse was waking me up. My butt and tummy really hurt. One of the recovery nurses said she'd get me a hot water bottle, but was too busy and forgot. I think she gave me some pain relief.
Recovery was over-run, so we were encouraged to get up as soon as we could. I didn't really feel up to it, but I was dying for a drink, so eventually I pulled up my knickers and shakily got to my feet.
A nice nurse held my hand and walked me into a sitting room. There, I was given the best cup of tea I'd ever had in my life. Seriously, I could have drunk endless pots of it. Plus some crackers and cheese. My first proper food in ages.
The specialist told me everything had gone well, and he'd had to tie up a few internal haemmorroids (who knew?) and remove a couple of polyps that had probably caused the bleeding.
He was surprised I remembered waking up: 'You needed a lot of medicine,' he said, putting it down to my body's resistence due to the crapload of stuff I take for depression, anxiety, ankylosing spondylitis and fibromyalgia. (Which thankfully, I've managed to recently cut back quite a lot, under medical supervision of course.).
You'll be pleased to know the doctor said my preparation was 'excellant'. (I always was a swot).
I was sent home with a prescription for pain relief and steroid suppositories. I know! And we had to go to three pharmacies before we found one which stocked them.
I was feeling sleepy by then, so sis-in-law drove me back to her place, gave me another cup of tea, and put me to bed in her lovely spare room. Complete with clean flanelette sheets.
My sis-in-law and brother both wanted me to stay for dinner or even overnight, but I was ready for pain relief, which I knew would make me sleepy, and I was thinking about the pets.
I slept surprisingly that night, though days later, I'm still not fully recovered. (Unlike last time, where I was back to normal the very next day).
Possibly that's because my insides have been poked and prodded, and I was a little freaked out by waking up during the procedure.
I'm tired, possibly because of the extra drugs I required. (They take a while to move through your system.) And when I move, my tummy feels like there are shards of glass in there.
Housework and other chores have been ignored, and I've spent the past two days propped up - or planking - in bed.
Where are the kids, you ask? Now that I'm a single Mum, I scheduled the colonoscopy for a week when they were with their Dad.
Which means I've been able to take it easy, and will hopefully be fully recovered by the time they get back.
The main thing is I'm cancer- free! And the bleeding should be well and truly over in a couple of days.
So would I want to have a colonoscopy again? No! But I'll have to - probably in two to three years, depending on my health.
And will I go through it all again? Totally.
Colonoscopies? Because we're worth it!
The kids came with me to pick up my prep, and thought the sign was hilarious.
I so didn't go here ... And the doctor could have totally have bought me a drink first!