Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sensitive Subject

A Public Service Announcement


A colonoscopy is an internal examination of the colon (large intestine) and rectum, using an instrument called a colonoscope.

There, I've said it. And that's what I had today.

Medical tests are a little scary and always a nuisance.  But often to assure your health, they are necessary.  The right tests done at the right time discovered my uterine cancer at an early stage and hopefully, led me to a successful surgery and and end to my cancer. 

Fortunately, today's test offered a good report with no serious issues. 

I just thought I should fill you all in on the basic details to give you some sense of what's involved to encourage you to get yourself examined.  

I ate a light diet on Sunday, but on Monday, the day before my test, I was on a clear liquid diet all day.  The only problem with that was realizing just how many advertisements there are on television for food.  Burgers, pizza, diets, tacos, and mothers serving tasty dishes to their families fill the TV screen time after time. And local pizza parlors baking their wares waft enticing smells across  shopping center parking lots.  You just have to grit your teeth and drink..but that includes clear beef broth which isn't bad. 

At about 3 PM on Monday, I took a tablet included in my bowel prep kit. Nothing much happened at that point. But I did have to mix up a bottle of 2 lliters of a solution to drink later.  At 6 PM, I started drinking 8 ounces of the solution every fifteen minutes.  Within a half hour, the solution began--to put it politely--flushing out my bowels.  I learned to be light of foot in a race to the bathroom for about the next two hours.  I am pretty sure I was well cleaned out by then.

Monday morning, I had my wonderful friend, Donna, drive me to the hospital.  There I checked in for my test.  I have to commend the doctor as I was scheduled for the procedure at 9:45 AM and I was in the test room before 10 AM, so there was virtually no wait.  

Just as a side note here, they told me to keep my shoes and socks on during the procedure.  I found that a bit strange, but it was nice to be able to keep my feet warm with my own socks instead of those hospital fuzzy things I've worn before. 

I met my lovely doctor.  I'd made arrangements for the scoping through phone calls and mail, using a physician my general doctor had highly recommended.  So as strange as it seems the first time I met my gastroenterologist  was a few minutes before my procedure began.  She was really nice, by the way, and I felt very comfortable with her. 

Then an equally nice anesthesiologist explained that I was going to to into "twilight sleep."  Supposedly this is a light anesthesia where the patient is not fully asleep. He said some people stay a little aware of what's going on, some just get kind of "loopy,"  and the rest might be like me, because in less than a second, I was out like a light. 

I have no idea at all what went on from there.  Not only was the test completely painless, but I felt nothing at all.  And when I woke up in the recovery room at around 10:40 or so, I felt absolutely fine.  My doctor came in to tell me that all was well, except for a little diverticulitis--very common in people my age (61) and that I needed to be careful eating seeds and nuts.  She also showed me a photo of my insides. I would have liked to have studied the pics  a bit more, my I wasn't quite 100% fully awake yet, so I didn't.  

By 11:05, I was in a wheelchair being "driven" down to the front of the hospital to wait for my ride home. 

Fact is, aside from the test prep stuff--drinking two liters of the solution and the consequences was not very pleasant--the whole thing was a cinch.  

I was not allowed to drive or sign any contracts for at least 12 hours afterwards--a precaution after having anesthesia--and I could eat and drink anything I wanted. 

So, there you go. Not exactly the most pleasant topic for my blog, but if it encourages one more person to have this important examination, then it was worth it.  


  1. You're very brave! Most people tend to get very squeamish about such things.

    Excellent PSA. I've had a couple colonoscopies. The prep is awful, but the procedure itself is a breeze. It's certainly easier than being treated for advanced colon cancer!

  2. Excellent review on the procedure! I have family history of polyps and other fun colon issues and it's time for me to start thinking of getting my baseline done.

    Thannks for the rminder as well as taking away soem of the mystery, that helps!

    I am glad the test went well and you are in good colon health :)

  3. Glad to hear that your test went well. The prep is the most awful part of the whole thing in my opinion. I had my first one last Sept. and like you they discovered some diverticulitis, I guess it's common.

    At the same time I had an endoscopy, where they check your esophagus too. Not so sure the doctor appreciated me requesting that he use new hoses for each procedure. On the whole the procedures were nothing compared to the prep. Thanks for getting this out there, so many people need to do this and like me put it off for too long, I was lucky they found nothing special going on.

  4. Anonymous9:12 AM

    Good review of the procedure - it can be a life-saver. I've known a number of people who've developed colon cancer, and this test would have caught it early when it could probably have been successfully treated.

    The prep is no fun but it's important to get the test done.

  5. I need to do this but keep putting it off. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Thanks for sharing, is my tummy troubles carry on, I will need to ahve one sooner than later.

    I am glad to know it is a very easy treatment ^-^

  7. I had one last year and wasn't pleased at the prospect. My doctor told me it was more important than a pap. It was not negotiable. I had to do it. It's a HUGE lifesaver. The prep wasn't fun, but it wasn't awful either. And I also slept thru the procedure. No pain whatsoever. A mammo is worse in my books.

  8. had something similar myself - but no anaesthetic and spent the time talking about horses to the person doing the looking.

    definitely avoid seeds - i LOVE poppy seed rolls, but they don't like me any more

  9. Good for you to post this. I am due for mine but have been putting it off - not sure I want to deal with the prep during the remodel, with the house populated with workers.