Colonoscopy: We All Must Open Wide!
"Colonoscopy"! A word that strikes fear in some, trepidation in others. Face it: nobody looks forward to it! If you are over fifty, you know that you "should" have it done. To alleviate fear, and at the same time try to scare you into doing it, I will become the Katie Couric of PoopReport. Only I'm old, and not cute, and not famous.
First off, I have no symptoms. My bowels are as regular as clockwork. My diet is fair, with the exception of red meat. Love the stuff. Few things are better than a thick New York steak, stuffed with oysters, covered with garlic and blue cheese. I digress -- sorry about that, I'm hungry. My "procedure" was just done a few hours ago, my tummy is still a bit sore, and the "easily digestible" rice and lentils are just not cutting it!
Had to drive fifty miles to the gastroenterology place. (Country boy.) So I checked into a nearby hotel to begin the laxative cleanout ritual. This is really the worst part. Ducolax, wait four hours, then eight glasses of Miralax. The Miralax shit, followed by Miralax chunky, then Miralax diarrhea, Miralax spray, finally Miralax butt pee, until all glasses of the stuff were drunk. Try to get some sleep. Congratulations! The hard part is done.
Appointment at 7:30 AM. Some newly-graduated nurse attempts to start an IV and misses the vein. I have veins the size of soda straws; this does not look good. I inform her that I was not going under, or taking anything, so the needle was unnecessary. She asks why, then looks blankly as the description of "I'm a PoopReport" is given. She fetches the doc, who laughs and says, "I'd be happy to take you on the tour."
This guy was great. Showed all the tools, how they worked, and adjusted the monitor so I could see, lubed the hell out of my ass, did a prostate exam, and then inserted the scope.
The initial three-foot trip was disconcerting and uncomfortable. Odd pressure, and the feeling of a fish swimming upstream. Much like NASCAR, the corners were the worst. All that scraping against the wall.
Once at the destination, he inflated an area, and started the "tour." All very interesting: the camera, the little firehose to wash anything down for a better look, the hole where the appendix is. All was pink and healthy for a while; and then started the polyps. At first they were, as he said, "pre-polyps" -- small swirls that looked like the grain in wood around a knot. Then some bumps. His assistant slapped a grounding strap on my butt, then sent a snare through the scope. This was wrapped around the offending polyp, after which they would coordinate a pull and cauterization, then search for freshly-sliced chunk, and then send it up the vacuum to be bagged and tagged.
This went on for a while, until he found a huge one. It looked like a mushroom. It was sliced like the others, but was too large to go up the vacuum, so he had to clamp onto it and completely withdraw. Starting over... pits!
Surprise number two was an ugly black patch near the liver. Quite a contrast to all the pink. "This might be cancerous, but probably pre-cancer," he calmly said as he switched from the snare to an alligator clip for grabbing about twenty samples.
Bad news was not quite done yet. Spots of diverticulosis here and there. Lab results in two weeks.
Like I said, I'm a healthy guy with no intestinal issues and no symptoms. I was looking for a baseline colonoscopy for future comparison. Instead, it may have been a lifesaver.
A couple of boring statistics from the CDC:
- 72,007 men and 69,398 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2005.
- 26,781 men and 27,259 women died from colorectal cancer in 2005.
Colonoscopy: do nor contemplate doing it. DO IT!