My first colonoscopy

April 26, 2007 on 8:48 pm | By | In Random Musings | 3 Comments

Okay, so I suppose this is a questionable topic for a food blog. However, having a family history of colon cancer shapes so much of what I do: it’s why I got back into running and fitness, why I lost weight (40 pounds and counting!), why I have changed my eating habits to include more fresh vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Getting screened was the next logical step. Besides, it’s my blog and I can write what I want to. If you don’t like it, don’t read it (but I hope you will!). And don’t worry, I’m not going to get all Katie Couric on you.

Another reason I wanted to share was to hopefully take away some of the embarrassment people feel about such a procedure. Colon cancer is 90 percent curable if detected early, so that’s why screening is so important. It always amazes me to hear about people who don’t go to the doctor because they are too bashful.

One of my former boyfriends, a welder, one time had a hot piece of slag fly down his Carhartts, severely burning his chest, belly and his, um, “fadoowatdiddy.” These weren’t burns that could be treated with an over-the-counter burn medication; they required a prescription. However, he refused to go to the doctor since he’d have to show his “diddy.” Instead he suffered through several weeks of pain and discomfort.

I also remember when Tammy Faye Bakker announced she had colon cancer. She had blood in her stool for TWO YEARS before she even bothered going to a doctor. She did manage to beat the disease, but perhaps her treatment could have been less extensive had she caught it early. (I actually had a cancer scare right after hearing Tammy’s news; turns out I just ate too many beets).

So, what was it like?

Morning of colonoscopyTo say I woke up feeling like sh*t isn’t quite accurate since my blocked sinuses kept me from sleeping at all. After tossing and turning for several hours I got up and turned on my computer to search for tips on relieving sinus pressure. I tried snorting warm salt water (several sources said that would work) and then placing my head over a steaming bowl of water with a bit of apple cider vinegar. Both provided temporary relief, but I still had a pounding headache.

I had to drink my second bottle of Fleet at 8 a.m.; this time I added some Sprite to the margarita mix for added sweetness, but it did not go down easily. After polishing off the rest of the Sprite bottle I had to stop drinking until the procedure. One good thing came out of all this — my weight went below 160 for the first time in years. Hooray! (It’ll probably all come back now that I can eat again).

My darling had a photo shoot in the morning, so my sister came over from Vashon to drop me off (thank God; I couldn’t imagine having to take a cab or bus in my state). Once at the endoscopy center they put me in a gown (open in the back, natch) and checked my vital signs. They then inserted an IV for my sedation. My doctor stopped by to check on me, and then they wheeled me into the procedure room. They laid me on my side and placed the sedation drip into my IV.

Okay, now we get to the icky part. If you’re squeamish, you may not want to read the rest of this. Are you ready?

The next thing that happened is… they told me I was done! That’s right, I don’t remember a thing (although I was vaguely aware of them being “back there” just as I was waking up). No discomfort either, save for my stuffy head. And even that felt better given my nice little nap. They wheeled me back to the recovery area and gave me a 7-UP (I was REALLY thirsty by then). As for the results, they removed a couple of small polyps, but there’s nothing to be concerned about. I’m clear for another five years.

The nurse walked me to the reception area where my darling was waiting for me. I had hoped to go have a bunch of greasy fries, but they recommended a light diet for the rest of the day. I did get a latte, however, since the lack of caffeine may have contributed to my headache. A couple of Creamsicles, a small pizza with Kalamata olives and fresh basil and a bottle of Sprite later, and I feel almost human.

For more information on colon cancer, check out the following resources:

Colon Cancer Coalition

STOP Colon and Rectal Cancer Foundation
Colon Cancer Alliance
American Cancer Society

3 Comments

  1. Bravo Betsy…it takes a strong person to do it. Here is to a big pile of french fries…sometime this weekend!

    Comment by Culinary Cowgirl — April 27, 2007 #

  2. you’re a brave and conscientious woman! i’ve sigmoidoscopy before so i could relate to you 😀

    Comment by eliza — April 27, 2007 #

  3. YOU go girl! I worked at The Cleveland Clinic Foundation – the first hospital to create the specialty of Colorectal Surgery. I’ve had the honor of meeting the wife of the late ‘creator’ who was a pioneer in treating this horrible disease. I worked with doctors who were becoming experts in the field, and just outside my office was one of the rooms where the enemas were given, and next door was a colonoscopy ‘suite’! The surgeons were amazing, as were the nursing staff – so invested and caring! They’d love to put themselves out of business by coming up with a cure, but as you so poignantly express – prevention is the best! I’m so proud of you – I’m honored to call you friend and colleague! I’ve had a flexible sigmoidoscopy…and I remember every moment of it! Some of the docs in the department at CCF are so skilled they can actually do the full colonoscopy procedure WITHOUT sedation!

    Comment by Laura — April 28, 2007 #

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