What To Know Before Your Next Colonoscopy
Dr. Smucny orders a colonoscopy for me and my Pilates instructor who at age 28 has already had one colonoscopy and one endoscopy sniggers and states, "Hah, I don't envy you that experience." Hmmm . . . I'm curious and mystified as to what's gonna happen, but I think I can safely check off the box that states, "Not going to be a fun experience!"
6 p.m., the night prior: I start drinking the prep liquid as instructed, followed by two 16 oz glasses of water to be finished in the same hour. Whew! Why did nobody warn me this should be labeled 'Draino'? In other words, once you drink your prep, anticipate the 'urge' every 30 minutes. Add to this that I'll probably still be having loose or liquid stools for a couple of days after . . . yup, colonoscopy prep is the intestinal gift that just keeps giving!
12 p.m, the day before: I stop consuming all solids. Now, I may be a small person, but I'm hungry all the time. Having strawberry jello or grapefruit juice for eight hours does not fall into my definition of 'happy times.' I want to walk to the fridge and stick a chicken in my mouth.
8 a.m, the day of surgery: Status update: I have the shakes because not only am I hungry and running to the bathroom incessantly, I'm also irritable because I'm asked to get up at 6 a.m. and consume the prep liquid. . .AGAIN.
10 a.m., the day of surgery: I'm asked to strip down to my bare butt and strapped to a hospital bed with an I.V. on one hand. I'm told I'll be out pretty soon and chasing butterflies in my dreams, but it's going to take ten minutes before I get there. Those are the longest ten minutes of my life; ample time to wonder if I'll ever see my kids again or what if there are cancerous cells in my body. . . the list keeps going on and on.
12:30 p.m., when I wake up: Now, going in, there are only two scenarios you're hoping for: if you're in your 20s and having GI symptoms that can't be explained, you're going to be crossing your fingers (and toes) that they find something to understand what's causing the leaky gut. If you're in for a routine check because you're crossing the age border into your 50s, you're praying for a normal picture.
Ten years ago, Katie Couric's televised colonoscopy led to a 20% increase in screening colonoscopies across America - a stunning rise called "The Katie Couric Effect." However, only 63% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 get screened for colorectal cancer. Turns out 40% of colons viewed have polyps that are immediately removed by the gastroenterologist before he exits your body. . . but, moi, I'm told I have an absolutely clear colon, no need to return for another 10 years.
I p.m.: I'm driving to the nearest Round Table Pizza to get me a whole pizza and some beer!