Friday, March 22, 2013

Colonoscopy: It Won't Kill Ya & It Might Save Your Life

My wrist bands. Allergies are for penicillin and sulfa drugs
This is a PSA (Public Service Announcement).

By specific request of some of my Facebook friends, I will not discuss the preparation process. Suffice to say that it's better than it used to be, cuz I remember some really nasty stuff I had to drink once. I also remember the first time when my doctor tried to do it without sedation (for me). Make sure you get the anesthesia.

But let me just say it gets better and easier all the time. The worst of my experience was with the lack of food and increasing dehydration, I got a really bad migraine late last night to the point of near delirium mumbling that my wife should just take me to the emergency room (they do have those magic injections). She didn't.

Feeling a bit better this morning, I drove to the G/I Office just west of Lakeview Hospital. It was all very friendly, neat and clean. There's the typical check-in and the lovely hospital gown open in the back which does make a lot of sense for this particular procedure. One nice nurse brought me a warm blanket. I lay on the gurney for a long time before they came to get me. Another nice nurse turned off the overhead UV light when I told her about the migraine. She asked me the "pain number." I said I was about at a 2 or 3 but it was a 9 or 10 last night.

I also was direct enough to ask her the question that had long been on my mind. I understood why people would want to go into medicine to save lives and help the sick and all, but why this particular area of specialization? She answered that as a nurse, it was actually the cleanest job she ever had. The patients do all the prep at home and the machines suck up any excess. But still, (and I didn't say this part) you have to look at people's bums all day long.

Anyway, the nurses and doctors were very kind and efficient throughout the procedure. They did all the checks and cross checks. They were really impressed that I had typed out my list of medications with dosages and dates of "last taken," etc. I said I could make a really bad joke right then, but refrained. (Something about personality types playing off where they were about to work on me.) They applied the anesthetic and I asked if I was supposed to start counting or something. The nurse said I could repeat the Pledge of Allegiance if I wanted but I thought it would be better to do the Preamble to the Constitution and show off a little. Before I got started I said, "So when am I supposed to go to sleep?" The nurse said, "We're all done."

I was a little foggy in the head but not bad and the headache had seemed to dissipate. They wheeled me into recovery and my wife was soon there and I got dressed. The doctor came in and said everything looked really good. He had a bunch of pictures but I think my wife hid them so I wouldn't blog my guts out (so to speak). We had a tight schedule because she had to pick up our boy from school and get him to pick up my car and she had to get back to school, but she managed to find time to pick up a Cowboy Pizza at Papa Murphy's! Sweet! (She still loves me.)

So, it just wasn't that bad of a deal. Please go get the procedure done [if your doc recommends it or you are in a risk group, like over 50]. Colon cancer is one of those that is easily treated if discovered early but very difficult, messy, and probably deadly if you don't.

And, there is no reason why everybody shouldn't have the ability to have this done. It would save a lot of lives and money treating and losing to ugly cancers if we screened earlier. Go, health care reform!


  1. My brother-in-law started calling me scopy a number of years ago, thanks to my nurse sister I suspect.It was soon after that I discovered where the nickname came from; a play on my first name Colin. I had to look up (no pun intended) what it meant!

    A few years ago my doctor referred me for (what I understood to be) a gastroscopy, due to inexplicable low iron levels. So I was surprised (to say the least!) when the hospital called to confirm a date for my colonoscopy. They clarified that given my blood results, they'd rather do a colonoscopy first. I was thrilled. Not!

    I was terrified, but in the end (ooh, bad pun!) I was surprised at how non-unpleasant it was, apart from the bit where I was wheeled in to the procedure room by a ex fellow-scout leader, to find the assisting nurse was a girl I went through high school with! That, and the prep the day before!

    Thankfully, the result was clear, as was the result of the gastroscopy a few months later. I am just grateful to live in a country where these procedures are performed in a public (government-funded) hospital. Australia's health system is by no means perfect, but it has saved our family on a number of occasions. So may you get the health care reform you so desperately need!

    BTW, I have been following your posts for some time; to think this post finally brought me out of the shadows! Although your Doctor Who post almost did it.

    1. Glad to have you along for the ride, Scopy! Whether on a hospital gurney or in the TARDIS!

  2. However, you may also be referred to the gastroenterology department in your hospital if you have shown signs of disorders in your colon, liver, pancreas, gallbladder and esophagus. Decatur, GA


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