Oh, how I dreaded the thought of having one and now that the “follow-up” one is approaching I realized it was something I could’ve and maybe should’ve included in the book. Then again, I wanted the book to reach out to anyone who had cancer, not just a specific cancer, so there you go.
I told Dr. Shim I’d be asking him the three things he wishes everyone knew about Colonoscopies, so at that point, I’ll come back to this one and amend, but in the meantime, here’s what I know and experienced.
Typically, they say that once you reach 50 years old you should get a colonoscopy done. At the time this was written I’m informed that the US president had made some changes to ensure Colonoscopies were covered under insurance as “Preventive Care” (meaning at no cost to the patient). I looked it up on my insurance and sure enough it is true, except…I’m not 50 or more years of age, so I’m probably going to pay a whopping fee for this one. That’s okay. Just add it to my bill bub. So, here’s the actual wording from my insurance:
Colorectal cancer screening – For age 50 and older, benefits are provided for fecal occult blood test (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy once every 5 years, double contrast barium enema every 5 to 10 years or colonoscopy every 10 years as determined by the member’s physician.
Check yours and see what it says. Here’s the bottom line on all this though…get one. It doesn’t matter if nowhere in your family history is there anyone with colon cancer, get one. My family has a long history of cancer, but not colon, so everyone was shocked to hear it. My neighbor (and a couple other people) even eye balled me over it saying they thought it was supposed to be men who got colon cancer (hey, just what exactly are they implying). Nope. That’s Prostrate and they’d be right on that one since women don’t haaave Prostrates. I’m just sayin…
Don’t wait until you’re 50. If I did, I’d be dead. If you just don’t have any symptoms then at least be sure to get a yearly physical and when you do make sure they get a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) to test for early signs.
Now, what to expect when you do get a Colonoscopy?
3 DAYS BEFORE:
- Stop eating popcorn, nuts, seeds (includes cucumbers and tomatoes) and corn
- Stop all fiber supplements (Metamucil, Citrucel, Fibercon, etc AND iron pills
- Stop Coumadin, Warfarin, Plavix (if you’re on them of course) or other meds if your doctor says so
1 DAY BEFORE: Make no plans for the day before. You do not want to leave the house and you’ll need access to the bathroom within seconds notice for a solid 24 hours. Don’t cheat and try to use another product than what they tell you to use. I asked Dr. Shim about it and he said the less gaggy ones don’t clean the bowel out well enough, so it’s like driving in the fog. The camera they put in there might miss something vital. Sooooo not worth the risk~
From the moment you wake up, clear liquids only: water, tea, coffee, juices (grape, cranberry, cranberry juice products, apple tang, gatorade, kool-aid), jell-o, beef or chicken broth, sugar, honey and syrups. The best rule of thumb “if you can’t see through it, you can’t consume it”. There are some exceptions like you can have coffee, thick as mud, just not with milk or creamer of any kind. I stupidly said “what about almond milk?” She sighed and regained her composure before reiterating “of ANY kind”. She did however inform me of her little trick which was to buy the good chicken soup and just strain the contents. Much tastier than just plain old chicken broth. Jello was my favorite treat of em all. Another important note is nothing with RED DYE, for example NO Red Jello, NO Red Gatorade and NO Red Kool-aid. The red dye stains the fluid in your guts and makes it look like blood, which is never a good thing and frankly if I were the doc and mistook that for blood after warning a patient, I’d be pretty pissed.
Am I boring you yet? Yup, this is all boring alright. That’s why no one is lining up to have these done. And honestly, do you think I like talking about poop and bloody colons? I’d much rather being talking how awesome it is to to photograph (hot) MLS players or sit around playing music than this. I’m not telling you because this is fun and entertaining (for either of us). I’m telling you because I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. Three rounds of chemo, Cyberknife surgery and some pretty seriously challenging side effects all because I thought a colonoscopy was “geeeross”.
Ok, last, but not least. You have to have someone drive you there and pick you up and it can’t be a taxi. It has to be a friend or relative who will swear to the docs that they will not only take you home, but will sit with you for 4 hours following to ensure you to don’t get sick or run around your neighborhood naked shouting “wheeeeeeeeeee, look at all the pretty colors~” One woman told me that she actually went out at bought a car and had no recollection of it the next day when she woke up.
Just like the day before, don’t make any plans the day of other than to go home and turn off your phone. I’m surprised they’ve yet to come up with an app for it. The Drunk Dial lock I’d call it. I’ve got my friend all lined up for it. I’m asking a different friend this time since the first one had to sit through the “bad news I’m afraid” speech. I’m a little bit superstitious that way (and frankly, she’s still a bit freaked)…
It’s also a good idea to have a hot water bottle or heating pad at home for after. After all, someone’s been poking around with a camera on a stick up there. Of course your guts are going to be a bit irritated by it all. You should be able to eat right after, but go easy. Sedation means your whole body is sleepy including your digestive tract.
WHEN TO WORRY (If after the procedure you experience any of the following, don’t hesitate to call the emergency number they give you):
- Severe abdominal pain or bloating
- Chills or fever over 101 degrees.
- Large amounts of rectal bleeding that doesn’t stop. Small amount isn’t serious though.
- If you’re unable to keep any food or drink down.
- If the IV site stays red and swollen for more than 2 days.
And that’s pretty much it. If there’s something serious, they’ll tell you right then and there and specialists will start calling you to come in. If not, you can pat yourself on the back for being nice and preventive and go on about your life with one less thing to worry about.
That concludes my fascinating speech on what you should know about a Colonoscopy. Now, fer fkssake, buck up and go get one.