I feel a responsibility to post this. I can only hope that someone that is as scared to have a colonoscopy as I was will read it and that it will give them the encouragement they need to get the test. It really, really, really was as much of a non-event as people told me it would be.
First, the facts as the doctor shared them. Colon cancer is one of the only cancers that can be medically prevented today (not considering lifestyle choices to avoid risk). There is no -oscopy for any of the other internal organs that can predict and remove potentially cancerous growth, other than the colonoscopy. Every colon polyp will result in a cancerous growth, malignant or benign, unless it is removed.
You guys also shared important testimonials. Lillian shared that her husband's life was saved by his colonoscopy. I owe it to Sydney to do everything I can to save my life. Lucy really hit me hard when she said that without any chemo or radiation treatment, she avoided cancer by having a polyp removed during a colonoscopy. Saving a life and avoiding the horrible life saving treatments available today are really powerful things to motivate me to take the test. I hope that repeating them here is as powerful for that person that is afraid.
The other powerful words came from my Sister. We don't communicate very often. Not that there is a problem between us, we just don't reach out much; my Mom keeps us up to date on one another's news and we visit when I am in town. So, when she called me and told me she had her colonoscopy and they found a polyp and because of hereditary possibilities, I needed to have one, too, that was powerful. She could have sent an email. She could have sent the news through my Mom. But, she didn't. She cared enough about me to reach out to me and tell me about what was going on. Powerful communication!
I was freaking scared poopless at the possibility. That's not just to be funny. I was scared of that very invasive test because I'd heard too many stories about it and because there was too much conflicting information. So, the rest of this post is about my experience, or my "non-experience" with the test.
The cleanse - Everybody says that the cleanse is the hardest part. There is supposed to be considerable discomfort in emptying the digestive tract. The cramping is supposed to be very bad. I didn't experience any of that. A doctor (not the surgeon that did the test) suggested that I eat lightly for a couple days before the cleanse. Even though no one else suggested that, when I told the nurses and doctor that I didn't have any trouble and suggested this was the reason, they all agreed that it made perfect sense. I ate small, mostly meatless meals and starches that digested quickly (baked potatoes) on Sunday and Monday. By Tuesday, when I did the cleanse, I was already pretty cleaned out and while there was a bit of very mild cramping, it wasn't any worse than any other unpleasant movement. I had a small piece of hand work and I just took it with me to the bathroom. I had stuff to keep me busy while my body was doing it's unpleasant work and that kept my mind off the actual unpleasantness of the work. One nurse shared that lots of people try to bulk up on food because they won't be able to eat the day of the cleanse. Those people have full colons when they start the cleanse and that makes it even more unpleasant. So, try my doctor's advice because it sure worked for me.
The test - okay, so some people say they sleep through the test and some people don't. Nobody could give me a conclusive answer on whether you're really asleep or not. The doctor called it twilight and said I likely wouldn't remember. I remember the nurse giving me two injections and telling me to enjoy my nap. I told her I'd like to wake up in a better mood and everybody thought that was funny because I was already laughing and joking with the doctor. The day of the cleanse, you're not supposed to eat real food and you are supposed to avoid anything red, so I told him I ate beets and raspberry jello the day before. It took a while to register and then he realized I'd played him. But for just a few seconds, I could tell he was about to let me have it for wasting his time. I do not remember most of the test. But, I do remember the end and let me tell you this for sure...even if you aren't quite asleep, you're high as a kite and don't really care what's going on! I remember asking a question about what I was seeing and my speech must have been slurred. I remember the nurse asking me to repeat it and I did. All three people in the room, doctor, nurse, and technician all answered simultaneously and then laughed (the answer was "poop" and I guess that's really funny during a colonoscopy). I could see the live video on the monitor in the room and I can remember being fascinated that I was seeing inside my body. I was very stoned and I thought how much it looked like one of those documentary videos and I kept waiting for the narrater to break in and tell me what I was seeing. When he didn't, I asked. And, then it was over and they were cleaning me up and the doctor rolled me to the recovery room. Being awake during the test was the thing I was most scared of. But I wasn't scared during the test because I was very, very high at the time and really didn't care. It was all an adventure (and proof that the really good drugs are out there and that medical personnel don't share enough.)
Post-test - I was home by 10am. I didn't feel sleepy when I got home. I had a little to eat, no need to rush. I ate a piece of toast and drank an Ensure nutrition supplement. I decided I was going to crochet. I made about a dozen stitches and then told Rob I needed to lie down. It was very like Camille (I vant to lie down). And, I did and I slept about an hour and then I was up and going about my normal day, beginning with a huge lunch. I told Rob the same stories for about the fourth time and he indulged me by listening like it was all new info. Then, he must have gotten bored because he started to finish the stories when I'd start them. That went on until supper time last night. Ah, the great drug induced confusion. Fortunately, that wore off.
Today, I'm back at the office.
The results? No polyps. No need for another test for 5 years. And, you can bet I'll have that next one because this one was a big nothing. A real non-event. So much so that I almost didn't write this post because I'm kind of ashamed of being so afraid in the first place.
If you aren't saving your own life because you're afraid of the test, then please, please listen to my powerful words. This test is nothing.
The man after me came to recovery before I left. He had three polyps and diverticulitis, all found in the test. All corrected during the test. Truly, ten minutes to a better life.
Have a great Thursday. And, call your Doctor. The most important life you save today might be your own.
Now, let's all say the words together so we can take away their power. POOP! and BUTTHOLE! It ain't nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody has one and uses it the same way I do and we need to stop being ashamed to talk about it. I apologized to the technician about anything she might see during the test and she laughed and called me "another face in the crowd." She dared me to show her something she hadn't seen before. I did not take her up on that. And, if I did, I don't remember it, so it's like it never happened.