By Roger, Pure Matters
I was 40 years old when my doctor mentioned it to me for the first time … colonoscopy.
Not familiar with the lovely procedure? Here’s the skinny from the Department of Health & Human Services:
Colonoscopy is a procedure used to see inside the colon and rectum. Colonoscopy can detect inflamed tissue, ulcers, and abnormal growths. The procedure is used to look for early signs of colorectal cancer and can help doctors diagnose unexplained changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, bleeding from the anus, and weight loss.
Now that we have identified what the test is -- and what doctors are looking for during it, notably colorectal cancer -- it’s obvious that we need to be extremely proactive in fighting this type of cancer. Early detection and screening saves lives.
So here’s my colonoscopy story -- you know everybody’s got one!
When I was 38, I noticed a little blood in my stool. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t much and it wasn’t something that happened often. About two months passed, and one day the bottom of the toilet was bright red. That’s when I said to myself, “This isn’t normal.”
I quickly called a friend of mine who is a PT and she told me to call my doctor immediately. I thought to myself, “OMG, am I going to die? What’s wrong with me?” And then I panicked for about 45 seconds. Did I call the doctor right there and then? Nope. I did the next best thing -- I went back to work. Did I mention that early detection saves lives?
About a year later and no more weird sightings in the toilet, it happened again! This time with every trip to the loo. That’s when I thought, “OK, OK, I’ll call the doctor.”
And that was my first encounter with the C word; sitting in that cold, sterile room as the doctor gave me my fate. He said, “Did you know that African-American men get colon cancer faster than any other group and that we start screening them earlier?”
I think I said, “Excuse me; colon what?”
“You will need to get a colonoscopy, what does your schedule look like next Monday?”
I asked him if he thought we were going too fast and do we need a second opinion? His reply was, “I’ll see you at 10 a.m. on Monday and here’s what you need to do to prepare.”
I need to prepare?
This doesn’t sound good.
Here’s the deal on pre-colonoscopy prep. There are certain topics that you can talk to people about and you’ll get a variety of responses about how they feel about it, some great, some good, some bad, some awful.
When it comes to the preparation for a colonoscopy you will get the same reaction 100 percent of the time: It’s hell.
Twelve-fours of “in one side out the other” -- but it’s not that it’s bad, it’s that it’s the worst. But remember, it could save your life. You do that all day and night before the procedure, but the strangest part happens when you get there.
The count down starts: 10, 9, 8, … and then:
“Excuse me, Mr. Brown, how are you feeling?”
“I’m good, thanks. Is that it?”
“Yes, it is and your ride is here. See you in 10 years.”
And that’s it -- post-procedure, you’re out of it (I think the nurse gave me 10 years to pay my bill?), and wondering if you’re really free to go. What happened to the colonoscopy? That was easy!