In case you didn’t know, when tight body spaces (like your colon) need to be looked into, technicians will commonly blow a bit of air into the body to “puff up the work space” like a balloon. Which makes getting a colonoscopy that much more fun when you think that you get a balloon out of it. A balloon made of your intestines, which is cool.
I did a little search to find out just how much air we are talking about with a colonoscopy and found out some cool stuff for you to impress your friends with at the next cocktail party where you are all standing around talking about colonoscopies:
The “average” amount of carbon dioxide or air inserted during a colonoscopy is about 8.2 L, but GET THIS -- is based on a range of range of of values varying from 1.2–19.8 L.
For those of you who don’t read Colonoscopy Today Magazine (which doesn’t really exist, although it should) you might be unaware that the quality of the colonoscopy procedure ranges greatly and has “issues.” From NY Times’ 10 Questions You Need to Ask About Colonoscopy:
Recommendations for monitoring the quality of colonoscopy were made by gastroenterology specialty groups in 2002 and 2006, but there is no mandate for practitioners to follow the guidelines and no penalty for not following them. Insurance companies could step in with a monitoring system that rewards good-quality colonoscopy and penalizes poor-quality colonoscopy, but they have not done so. That means that finding a competent and careful colonoscopist is the responsibility of the patient.
So folks, make sure you find a colonoscopist that has the words "competent and careful" listed on their business card, ok? Turns out that's your responsibility.
Back to the air data, I would hypothesize that the wide variance in the volume of gas used has a bit to do with the technician not following specific amount guidelines as well as the escapage (this is a French word I just made up...) factor (based on the tension you do or don’t have in the pelvic floor) and the resting tone of the smooth muscle itself, which dictates the amount of space to be filled.
So let's talk about my friend Sharon* who went to get a routine colonoscopy. When finished, Sharon was sent to recovery and she took her balloon-gift with her...if you know what I mean. And by the time the anesthesia wore off, Sharon had yet to, well, fart out the air.
As in pass gas.
Make some spiders bark.
Whatever you prefer to call it, Sharon's only homework was to allow the gas out of her colon.
And waited some more on her left side.
And then she tried getting up and walking.
And then a spinal twist (ouch).
And some other "release" positions the nurses were helping her with.
Like a hurkey.
Wait, a hurkey is a cheerleading move isn’t it?
She might not have done a hurkey, but only because, by this time, that air bubble was causing *a lot* of pain. And after doing all of these things for about four hours, she found herself in an ambulance heading back to the hospital.
Sharon woke up in her hospital room a few hours after being drugged (to help relax her), finally passed the air, and instantly felt better. So if you include the paramedics, the nurses, the gastrointerologist who tried to help out with a little manual release (helloooo!), and all of the hospital check-in peeps, administration and medical billing department, it took about 14 people to help Sharon relax enough to pass a little gas.
Fourteen people and about $5000.
The most expensive fart she ever blasted, and all because of a too-tight pelvic floor.
Going beyond the excellent imagery, the moral of today's story is this: Sharon did not realize she had a tight pelvic floor. Sure she had a little incontinence, but that meant her PF was weak, right? The years of chronic constipation, the daily straining to bathroom, and even the resulting hernia were not flags enough. It took this process for her to realize that she was, in fact, anal retentive. In the literal sense.
P.S. Her doctor called her a *tight a$$* and she was not amused.
Since then she’s had some internal work (what's that? Read here) changed her diet, been using visualization and relaxation techniques to soften her PF and she puts her feet up on a stool (make-shift squat toilet) when she bathrooms which is helping a lot.
*Sharon is not her actual name, because I promised that she’d be anonymous for this post. She didn’t mention anything about a picture of her colon though, so if you happen to see “this woman”