Colonoscopy 2018: It’s all be­hind me now

The Catoosa County News - - EDITORIALS & OPINION -

Colonoscopy 2018 is be­hind me now (sorry) and I wanted to share the ad­ven­ture with you. Due to my fam­ily his­tory, I’m in the “ev­ery five years” cat­e­gory. As you may know, col­orec­tal cancer — cancer of the colon or rec­tum — is the sec­ondlead­ing killer in the United States, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Re­mov­ing pre­can­cer­ous growths spot­ted dur­ing a colonoscopy can cut the risk of dy­ing from colon cancer in half.

More than 95 per­cent of tu­mors are de­tected dur­ing a colonoscopy. Quite hon­estly, I am thank­ful my doc­tor made the first ap­point­ment for me fif­teen years ago, be­cause I would have never gone to the trou­ble. Sure, I’d seen all the sto­ries on TV, and I’d read the omi­nous head­lines, but you know what I was think­ing: “That hap­pens to other peo­ple, not me.”

As I’ve shared a few Face­book com­ments, Tweets and face-to-face chats with folks about my colonoscopy, I’ve been sur­prised by the num­ber of my friends who are squea­mish about it. Although it is strongly rec­om­mended for adults 50 and over (and younger folks with a fam­ily his­tory of colon cancer), peo­ple hear the hor­ror sto­ries about an all-night “clean­ing-out process” on the john, the nasty liq­uid you have to guz­zle, and then be­ing probed from be­hind by to­tal strangers. So they just say no. Or they say, “I’ll get around to it, some­day.”

Al­low me to list some ob­ser­va­tions that may be help­ful should you de­cide to take the plunge (there I go again).

1) If your pro­ce­dure is sched­uled for say, early Thurs­day morn­ing, start ta­per­ing off on your meals around Mon­day. Lighten up on your por­tions a little bit. Let’s just say by Wed­nes­day night, more is not mer­rier. You’ll thank me later. For about 24 hours prior to the pro­ce­dure, your menu is clear liq­uids only. If your home was a restau­rant, it would be called, “In and Out.”

2) The “nasty liq­uid mix­ture” is noth­ing to write home about, but if you swig it quickly, and then pop a breath mint or Life­saver in your mouth, you will sur­vive it. Many docs also pre­scribe a clean-out po­tion that isn’t all that bad. You can ei­ther mix it with clear Ga­torade, or take tablets (with LOTS of clear liq­uid), with no taste at all. The end re­sult is the same (I never stop, do I?) but get­ting there isn’t as bad as you’ve heard. Just don’t stray too far from the bath­room for a few hours. Even if you go out to get the mail, you might soon be run­ning in with an ex­press de­liv­ery.

(Side note: for my first colonoscopy, the prep mix­ture was called “Go Lytely.” I re­mem­ber be­ing in the bath­room, star­ing at a bot­tle of tub and tile cleaner called “Ka­boom.” Hon­estly, they should have switched names.)

3) Sched­ule your ap­point­ment for early in the day. The dirty work ac­tu­ally be­gins the pre­vi­ous evening at 5:00 p.m. About an hour af­ter your first dose of magic juice, the move­ment be­gins. For the next six hours or so, you’ll spend a lot of qual­ity time with Mr. John. In my case, I’m able to get about three hours of sleep be­fore the Potty Party starts again. There are rides at Six Flags that don’t have this much ac­tion.

Fi­nally, be­fore the break of dawn, it’s off the doc­tor’s of­fice for the ac­tual pro­ce­dure. The anes­the­si­ol­o­gist sends you to dream­land, you take the Best Nap Ever, and the in­te­rior ex­plo­ration be­gins. In­cred­i­bly, you never feel a thing. Next thing you know you’re gulp­ing down a Coke, and they send you on your way.

Full dis­clo­sure: in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math, there’s a little gas in­volved, if you get my drift, and I’m afraid sev­eral peo­ple did.

You’re home by 9:00 that morn­ing. You sleep it off, and it is chow time. What can you eat? Any­thing you wish. How­ever, the ex­perts say you should ease back into nor­mal eat­ing habits, since your di­ges­tive tract is a little out of prac­tice. Dare to ig­nore the ex­perts, and you’re back at Six Flags.

By the way, I’m happy to re­port a suc­cess­ful out­come (that’s enough). When the doc in­serted that thin, flex­i­ble colono­scope into its in­tended tar­get area, the tiny cam­era sent images back to Earth that showed no tu­mors, no polyps, not even that piece of gum I swal­lowed in 2nd grade. I got to hear those magic words: “We’ll see you back here in five years.”

So if you’re among those who’ve been putting it off, I hope I have talked you into it. I like hav­ing you around to read my columns and watch my news­casts. The peo­ple who per­form these colono­scopies are sav­ing lives ev­ery day, and yours could be one of them!

David Car­roll, a Chat­tanooga news an­chor, can be reached by mail at 900 White­hall Road, Chat­tanooga, TN 37405 or by email at [email protected]

David Car­roll

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