A colonoscopy?? It’s just not natural.
I have to do what?
Yikes, you have been told you need to have a colonoscopy. Well, been there! When I heard that my thoughts were: it is creepy and scary, and you have to drink that horrible stuff and then, chance having diarrhea on the drive in to have the procedure. Then I‘ll have some tube going in where things should only come out. No sir! Not for me! I waited 9 years from the first time I was told to get one.
Just what is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is a procedure for the physician to look at the inside of your colon. Your colon, also, called the large intestine, is the final section of the gastrointestinal tract and the digestive system. The physician uses a colonoscope, which is a long, thin, flexible tube with a fiber-optic camera. This sends an image of your colon lining to a screen that the doctor (and you, if you only have a mild sedative) can see.
Why would you need one?
Colonoscopies are probably most well known for screening for colon cancer, but it is also used for any of the following issues.
- Abnormal or unexplained changes in bowel habits, constipation, or diarrhea
- To find the location and cause of bleeding
- To check for sores or irritation
- In cases of pain and weight loss, to check for inflammation of the bowel which may be caused by ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Either could increase the risk of colon cancer if left undetected.
- To check for possible pre-cancerous polyps, which they will remove for biopsy
There are other colon issues and diseases a physician may do a colonoscopy to look for and it is recommended to have a screening exam at the age of 50. There is more of a risk to develop polyps after that age. Then a screening every 10 years. Of course, if you are high risk, they would probably want to see you for the first time at a younger age and more often.
How could I be a high-risk?
- Family or personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Genetic conditions like Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer) or FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis)
- There are some other rare genetic conditions that would be high risk
The scoop on having the procedure
Boy, did I want to write “the poop scoop” on having the procedure. Oh, I just did!
A few days before
Well, I was prepared. I ate the way they told me I should which meant a few days before I couldn’t have fruits, veggie, nuts and things like that.
One day and counting
Then, the day before, I could only have clear liquids, tea or coffee with no creamer, and jello or popsicles but not red colored of either. I didn’t end up with jello or popsicles, but I did have white grape juice which was really sweet, and I actually had to water it down. I also had bone broth and water. I figured many people fast for a day or more, so I should be ok with just those few things to eat, or should I say drink, since no chewing was involved!
The night before
The night before the colonoscopy, I drank “the stuff.” There are several different preps (also called “the stuff”), and your physician will tell you what he recommends. I had Movi-Prep, and it really was not soooooo horrible. My first smell of it reminded me of lemon-lime soda. That was the one and only time it smelled like lemon-lime soda. I drank the prep and water as directed because I am pretty darned good at following doctor’s orders, especially when it comes to something that I definitely do not want to have to repeat (like one of my friends did -you know who you are!!).
After an hour or so, I had to run to the bathroom but to be perfectly honest, I never actually had to run. I thought, oops, better go and then I walked there. Hey, so far so good, not nearly as bad as I expected. I made it through the hour or two of drinking and maybe 3 or so hours of, yep, pooping but I survived the first dose.
I got up early the next morning and repeated what I had done the night before. The prep was just as icky tasting, but really, it was still not as horrible as I had expected. Of course, at that point, maybe my taste buds had found their way out of me (if you get my drift).
I followed the same routine (I was now a pro) drink, poop, drink, poop. There is something to be said for following a routine. About 2 hours later I was no longer nervous that I would have an accident on the way to have the procedure. After all the pooping, I figured I had to be cleaned out!
The hospital, now what?
The nurses were great. They were all super nice and told me how great my physician was. They were right!! I got a little sedative of some sort, so I did not feel anything. I could see the screen, ask questions and I even saw when the doctor would grab a polyp. Thankfully, at no point did he stand up, yell “score” and fist bump with the techs in the room. I must say it was pretty cool to see my insides – weird but still cool!
Then it was over. Yippee!! My darling husband took me out to lunch and I ordered extra food – hey, I had fasted a whole day and pretty much half-fasted the 2 days before that, so I was entitled.
My final thoughts on my colonoscopy
I am glad all went well and my 3 polyps came back with no problems. I would definitely say, if my doctor told me I needed to do this again, I would not wait 9 years. It really was not at all what I had imagined, and luckily, a friend told me that it was not like I was imagining and she was right.
If a colonoscopy is on your “to do” list – DO IT!
I realize I could have really had a problem with waiting so long. It is just by the grace of God that I did not have a major issue. Think how I would have been kicking myself if they had found, say, cancerous polyps or something. All because I was afraid. I can assure you, having had breast cancer, it is much worse to be afraid for your life. Do not let fear, the unknown or just the uncomfortableness (is that even a real word?) stop you from having the procedure done when your doctor tells you to.
Don’t risk it!
- Polyps or tumors can take from 5 to 10 years to develop and grow
- You could have absolutely no symptoms
- Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.
Our families love us and want us around for a long time. Be sure to go for your colonoscopy when your doctor says to, and be sure he knows of any family history or issues you have. As I said above, don’t risk it.
What are your thoughts?
Are you waiting to have your colonoscopy?
Have you already had a colonoscopy?
What was your experience like?