My latest colonoscopy is behind me now (sorry) and I wanted to share the best part of the adventure with you. I’ll chat briefly about the prep and procedure, but I want to begin with a celebratory photo of the much-anticipated “First Meal After.”
Due to some family history, I’m in the “every five years” category, which is better than some folks have it, but not as good as others. As you may know, colorectal cancer — cancer of the colon or rectum — is the second-leading killer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Removing precancerous growths spotted during a colonoscopy can cut the risk of dying from colon cancer in half. More than 95% of tumors are detected during a colonoscopy. Quite honestly, had my family doctor not made the first appointment for me about ten years ago, I would have never gone to the trouble. Sure, I’d seen the Katie Couric procedure on live TV, and I’d read the ominous headlines, but you know what I was thinking: “Oh, that happens to other people, not me.”
As I’ve shared a few Facebook comments, Tweets and face-to-face chats with folks about my colonoscopy, I’ve been surprised by the number of my friends who are squeamish about it. Although it is strongly recommended for adults 50 and over (and younger folks with a family history of colon cancer), people hear the horror stories about an all-nighter on the john, the nasty liquid mixture you have to guzzle, and being probed from behind by total strangers. So they just say no. Or they say, “I’ll get around to it, someday.”
The definitive humor column on colonoscopies was written by Dave Barry in 2008, and nothing I could write will top that. So I’ll just list a few random observations that may be helpful should you decide to take the plunge (there I go again).
1) If your procedure is scheduled for say, Thursday morning, start tapering off on your meals around Monday. Lighten up on your portions a little bit. Let’s just say by Wednesday night, the more is not the merrier. You’ll thank me later.
2) The “nasty liquid mixture” you’ve been hearing about is so, 2000-ish. Most docs now prescribe a clean-out potion that isn’t all that bad. You can either mix it with clear Gatorade, or take tablets as I did (with LOTS of clear liquid), with no taste at all. The end result is the same (I never stop, do I?) but getting there isn’t as bad as you’ve heard. Just don’t stray too far from the bathroom for a few hours. If you go out to get the mail, you might soon be running in with an express delivery.
3) Schedule your appointment first thing in the morning. You do the dirty work starting at 5:00 p.m. the evening before, sleep from about 12:30 to 5:30 a.m. and they do the deed around 7:00. The anesthesiologist works his magic, you drift off into dreamland, and the next thing you know you’re sipping a cold drink and they send you on your way. You never feel a thing. You’re home by 8:30. You sleep it off for a few hours, and it’s chow time. What can you eat? Anything you wish.
My lovely wife warmed up the goodies you see above for my post-colonoscopy homecoming. It had served as dinner for her and my son while I was otherwise occupied the night before. It was the forbidden feast while I was on the all-liquid, in-and-out diet. I was most envious at the time, but I looked at it as my eventual reward for not whining about it.
By the way, I’m happy to report a successful outcome (that’s enough). When the doc inserted that thin, flexible colonoscope up into its intended target area, the tiny camera sent images back to Earth that showed no polyps, no problems, not even that piece of gum I swallowed when I was in 2nd grade. I got to hear those magic words: “We’ll see you back here in five years. Now go get something to eat!”
So if you’re among those who’ve been putting it off, give me a call and I’ll talk you into it. I enjoy having you around to read my blogs and watch my newscasts. The folks who perform these colonoscopies are saving lives every day, and yours could be one of them!