While the public continues to learn more about the risks of colon cancer and the impact it has on both younger and older people, I decided that there was simply there no point in adopting a complacent attitude toward getting a colonoscopy.
With scads of colon cancer and colorectal polyp incidences in my maternal lineage, a primary doctor who said colonoscopy guidelines suggested my getting scoped sooner rather than later, and several loved ones urging me to start getting my colon cancer screenings, I called the local cancer center and booked an appointment for a colonoscopy. Believe me, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about making that phone call.
But, there I had it – an appointment was set and the prescription for my lovely preparation fluid was called into my local pharmacy. The appointment for the big day fast approached, and I ceremoniously enjoyed my last “real meal” (Jimbo’s BBQ, a local institution and personal favorite spot for some delicious southern favorites straight out of the pit) with my love the night before my prep was to begin.
The next afternoon, I began chugging away the gallon of polyethylene glycol electrolyte solution and soon found myself hibernating in the restroom. I also discovered that the acrid fluid I was required to drink for getting a colonoscopy was far more palatable if I chased it with hot chicken broth and other tasty fluids that my girlfriend and sister helped prepare for me – and pinched my nose with my thumb and forefinger while gulping it!
I miraculously managed to consume all 128 ounces of the caustic fluid without regurgitating it (all while receiving heartfelt cheers and accolades from my girlfriend and sister), and a few hours later checked into the endoscopy department of the cancer center for my screening. Having never been put completely under before, I must confess I was growing more nervous about the procedure after being called back and ordered to lay on the gurney.
All I could think of was the 2008 movie Ghost Town, in which Ricky Gervais plays a man who dies while getting a colonoscopy. I allayed my fears, though, by telling myself that the prep was the worst part of the entire ordeal, and remembering that the nauseating fluid would no longer be found in any cup that I’d be holding.
Just as I had finally suppressed my apprehension about the prospect of the upcoming exam while lying supine on the bed, the nurses came in to cart me off to the operating room. Into the room I was whisked, and the doctor, anesthesiologist, and assisting technicians quickly managed to prepare me for the examination. Off to my right lay the coil of endoscopic tubing that was about to be inserted into my body. Above me, the monitor the doctor would use to take in the view of my colonic innards. And, to my left stood the nurse as she helped me roll over onto my left side, making sure I didn’t disrupt the intravenous line piercing into the back of my right hand.
A stereo in the exam room was softly playing “Lyin’ Eyes,” the hit song by the Eagles that topped the charts not too many years before I was born, and I remember wondering if this would be the last song I’d ever hear. Yes, you could say the premise of Ghost Town left me feeling somewhat haunted as I lay there in the room about to get pumped full of anesthesia. Within seconds, the anesthesiologist told me I may feel warmth at the site of the IV as a surge of Propofol entered my body. “Let’s get this party started,” I jokingly managed to exclaim moments before falling under the sleepy spell of the powerful sedative.
The next thing I knew, I opened my eyes while laying in bed and saw my girlfriend and sister smiling at me as they sat in chairs just beyond my reach. They spoke to me as I awoke from my groggy, drug-induced slumber and helped me to reorient myself as to where I was… jarring it is to go to sleep in one place and wake up in a different room, after all. The doctor soon stopped by, and eagerly told me I was clean and that I wouldn’t have to come back for 10 years. Great news, indeed!
As I have learned through firsthand experience, getting a colonoscopy isn’t really all that bad – after all, it’s a relatively safe and painless procedure, it provides incredible peace of mind, and is a quick way to lose weight (not the most enjoyable way to do so, though). What’s really the best benefit about colonoscopies, though? Getting one is a great way to improve the likelihood that you’ll spend many more years with the people you love most.