About Colonoscopies (We Must Say Certain Unsayable Things)

Because I have Cowden’s syndrome, and tumors therefore manifest in places like the colon, I have to have regular colonoscopies. Say that word in a crowded room; most people will squirm in their seats as though autonomically trying to guard their assholes. I don’t blame them. It isn’t as much fun, say, as a walk along Lake Shore Drive, but it’s important. Certainly that’s true for people like myself.

Often I’ve talked with people about this subject and the response usually ends up as “Oh, dude, I don’t wanna think about it.” Well, that’s just it.  We all need to think about it.

If I hadn’t had my first in the early nineties, who knows how much longer I would’ve been walking around with 150 (no typo) tumors there. Given the diagnosis, and a five percent chance that one of them would turn malignant, and you see how quickly the math starts adding up against you. Today there were three; the doctor is having them biopsied as I write.

First things first: When doctors say early detection is the key, take them at their word. Waiting is fatal. Period. Make the appointment, and meet it.

Prep: Without doubt, this is the nastiest part of the whole business. It involves an enema, and usually something to drink that tastes intensely pharmacutical in nature. I’ll just say that giving oneself an enema is one of those moments where you hope to God no one walks in with a video camera to catch you in downward-facing dog in the bathtub trying to insert the damned enema. As for the result….well, that varies according to the particular prep you use, but I’m fond of a combination of apple juice, Jello with apple juice, and lemon-flavored Pico-Salax. Let’s say it’s moving.

Discomfort during prep: Yeah, sure. However, the apple-juice method restores electrolytes, the lack of which causes much of the nausea and other discomforts one usually feels. Also, there’s no real way to describe the way your anus will feel, maybe for days; it’ll heal, but for a while you’ll feel as though someone had taken to your taint with mid-grade sandpaper.

Earlier I posted a video about Dennis Wolfberg and his take on the “rigid sigmoidoscopy”; we’re a long technological way from that right now, folks. Now, the scope flexes and there’s not nearly as much pain as you’d have with the old sigmoidscope. Knowing that makes the process that much easier. This morning, I caught myself watching the monitor image along with the doctor. If I remember correctly, at one point he showed me my appendix. Normally of course you don’t get to see it unless the killer pulls it out of you to show you before you code. I thought it was pretty cool, because….

The drugs are always good. I can’t complain. Sometimes, if I’m nervous going in, I’ll become even more chatty than usual; they hit me with more drugs, I think, to shut me up so they can work. I wasn’t nervous today, so this time they gave me the minimum required dosage, which was just fine. Some synthetic pharmacuticals in this case I don’t mind, myself. You’re a lot more comfortable than you think you’ll be. You won’t feel well going in, mainly because you’ve been fasting and shitting like a bird who ate bad berries, but the doctor will be able to see what’s going on and make the whole process more efficient.

Take the nurses seriously when they tell you don’t drive a car the day of your procedure, don’t make any large decisions, etc. Colonoscopy day’s a bad one for calling your boss and telling him/her to fuck off, is what I imagine they mean.

Then the hard part is waiting for results. Bear in mind, no matter what they find the fact that it’s detected early makes every bit of difference.

There’s no reason to put this off. If you’re of age, it’s time. Make the appointment, show prepped and ready to, well, go, and then await the results. This is called taking control over your physical health, and it’s more important than you might know.

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This entry was posted in Notes on Living and Dealing with Illness. Bookmark the permalink.

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