I take prevention seriously. I’m on the five-year plan in this case. I have the pleasure…no, that’s not quite accurate. I have the privilege…nope, not exactly the right word either, although having health insurance that covers the procedure is a privilege, and I am grateful. I have the practice (that works!) of having a colonoscopy every five years. This was my year. Again.
Prevention is helpful. My mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in her early young 80’s. That gave me the fast pass to more regular (pun intended) colonoscopies. I was fifty-years-old at the time, the expected time to start the exam. I just completed my fourth one. By the way, my mom survived colon cancer, thankfully. People without a family history of colon cancer typically get one every ten years.
Please take prevention seriously. Perhaps you’ve heard about how a colonoscopy can prevent or even treat colon cancer early enough to correct it. Perhaps you agree that it sounds like a good idea. Perhaps you are a procrastinator. It is understandable. Perhaps you should schedule one soon, depending on your age and situation.
Prevention is only good if you take the steps. I want to encourage everyone to do so when it’s your turn. I also hope you have insurance to help cover it. Here is a great four-minute video explaining the procedure and the peace of mind it can bring. If you are unfamiliar with the colonoscopy, this may help you feel more relaxed about getting one.
Let’s switch to the prep part of the experience. The day prior to the procedure, the goal is to clean up your colon for picture day. I’m looking forward to when they make this easier. The first part with a diet of clear liquids, a day that could include jello, apple juice, and broth, goes fine. I had to just get over how much I enjoy three meals a day. I drank extra water and clear beverages all day, which is really helpful for staying full and avoiding dehydration, which helps the nurse find your vein for the IV the next day.
In the evening, it’s showtime. I used the prescription laxative, as always, but this one was new to me. I’m glad they make advances in this category. Someday, if the laxative is a chewable tablet that comes in an easy to tolerate flavor, I’m buying stock in the company.
This time I was happy to find out there was less to drink. That’s a good thing and an advancement since my first one. Let’s just say it really worked well. Don’t picture colon fireworks. Don’t picture the thrust of flames at a rocket launch with the rocket not leaving the toilet seat. Just don’t. It is an exciting time and everything usually comes out alright. In the end. And we get to do it all over again the morning of the procedure. Those prescriptions are effective and a clean colon makes the colonoscopy go better.
Back to the prep. I got my supplies ready and poised near the toilet. I planned to camp out for an hour. Or two. I got some reading done. I played a game on my phone. Time to myself is often a luxury, just not in this situation. It is a good idea to keep friends and relatives away from the bathroom door in case of smells or sounds that could embarrass one. Light a candle in a favorite – or any scent. I’m considering getting a padded toilet seat for my next round.
I was able to sleep fine that night. I had to get up early for round two of the laxative. I was feeling clean and confident by the time I was ready to head over for the procedure. All I could think of was lunch. My colonoscopy was mid-morning, so lunch was my goal. Having something to look forward to, to focus on, is helpful. Mind over matter. I felt proud of my effort once the prep was done and I’m ready for my little inspection and the nap that comes with it.
Every patient gets to wear a face mask this year. No surprise. I wondered if it would feel weird, confining. It did not.
I got wheeled into the procedure room. A team of three men in masks and medical clothes all introduced themselves to me. Not awkward. I was so ready to have it all over with for five more years. After the introductions and pleasantries, I woke up in recovery and felt just fine. It seems to go just that quickly.
The procedure went so fast. My results were all clear. That is tremendous peace of mind. I am thankful to the people who do this for a living. Of course, they send you home with pictures. I’m choosing one now for our family Christmas card photo.
I got a wheelchair ride downstairs where my husband waited outside to take me home. I discipline myself to take it easy for the rest of the day, and that always pays off. And my lunch was delicious. I always choose macaroni and cheese.
Since it is 2020 and things are uncomfortable anyway, why not just add a colonoscopy to the mix and make your intention prevention?
Stay healthy, my friends.
P.S. I have to include this comedian sharing his colonoscopy experience, both the abbreviated version in the video and the full column from the Miami Herald. Here is Dave Barry. If you need a few laughs at this time in your life, this could help.
Here is the link to the article: Dave Barry Article, Miami Herald