I hope that this subject won’t cause my dear readers to completely lose it on me and not stop by to read today, but I thought the subject was important enough to talk about. The older I get, the more that aging and health issues become even more of a priority to me and my friends, so I figured it might be something you’d all be interested in as well. My real life friends and I talk about these things, so you all get to hear it too!
This topic is not something I would normally talk about on here, because yuck, who wants to even think about those things. But, I recently scheduled my first colonoscopy (at age 59, yes, I put it off a long time, because again, YUCK) and decided it was time to do it. I don’t necessarily have a family history of colon cancer, but our dear sweet Aunt Mary (Aunt by marriage) passed away from this horrible cancer in April of this year and it still hurts to think she is gone. I’m not sure if she ever had a screening done or not. I’ll have to ask that question.
You will notice I’m adding pretty pictures in here, since it’s all words about a not so pleasant subject and I wanted you all to at least have some pretty pics to see today.
So, I figured I would write about my experience and if it helps one person to get their screening done and prevent a curable cancer, then I’ve done my job. As dirty as it is! None of us like to talk about things like this, but it’s something that is prevalent and it happens to all ages. I think the recommendation is to start colonoscopy screening at age 50, so you can see I put mine off as long as possible. I just didn’t want to think about it, so I blocked it out and refused to do anything about it. But, as I’m getting older, I realize there are things we can do for prevention and to be proactive in health situations and I think colonoscopies are one of those things. Everyone has opinions on what we should all do for our health, but this one seems to be a no brainer for early detection and prevention.
I got a recommendation for a doctor here in my area who is in my health plan and went to visit him to set up my screening. He explained the procedure and what I would need to do for prep the day before. For those of you who have done this, you know the prep is WAY worse than the actual screening. You can’t eat for a whole day before the screening. I scheduled mine early at 7:30 in the morning and had to be there at 6:30 to get started. I’m glad I went ahead and did it early, gave me less time to think about it and the rest of the day to get back to normal.
No eating at all the day before. So, no breakfast, I didn’t even have coffee, because that had to be black and what fun is black coffee? I won’t even bother with that. No food, but we could do popsicles, chicken broth, and clear liquids like white grape juice. I didn’t do any of that except a popsicle. After no food all morning, the real fun began in the afternoon. At 2 pm, I had to take 4 laxative tablets, Dulcolax. I had already mixed up 68 oz. of Gatorade and big Miralax bottle and let it chill. You wouldn’t think it would be hard to drink that much, but I thought I’d never get it down. I began the Gatorade concoction at 4 pm, drinking 8 oz. every 15 minutes until it was gone.
That’s when the real discomfort began. About an hour later, it started kicking in and I could feel my stomach start to rumble. I will not go into those details, because I want you to come back and read this blog, but drinking all that made me nauseous to the point of throwing up, so you can imagine how much fun that was for an hour or so.
After that, things were better and I settled in for the night, preparing to get up at 5 am to meet my sister at mom and dad’s (that’s always our meeting place) and she took me to the hospital for the colonoscopy. You can’t drive and someone has to drive you, wait for you, and bring you home.
I will mention here that I have never had a hospital stay or any surgeries whatsoever, so being in a hospital bed is completely foreign to me.
Once I arrived, they took me to a prep room with a glass door and curtain and I took it all off and put on one of their wonderful hospital gowns. You know the ones. They started an IV and got me all monitored, preparing for the procedure and the anesthesia. Thank goodness, they knock you out! That’s the best part. You go in a room with all these smiling faces looking at you and then you’re out in about 1 minute, so you don’t have to deal with the indignity of being prodded and poked in places you’d rather not think about. Best thing ever!
The nurses who got me prepped were so kind and funny. They had me laughing and I enjoyed the interaction with them. Even though I didn’t need my sister with me, they went and got her so she was in the room before and after I finished. They were so hilarious and really put me at ease! One of them asked me what I do and when I told her I am a blogger, her eyes got big and she said, are you going to blog about this?
At the time, I didn’t think so, but after talking to my Facebook group of ladies who are mostly 50 and older about it, they thought it would be a good thing to share and I agree with that. I know that screenings save lives and that’s the only reason I would share something so personal.
They wheeled me into the room and within a minute or so, I was out like a light. It lasted about 20 minutes or so and then they wheeled me back into the first room. I heard voices talking to me and I woke up pretty fast and didn’t really feel that groggy. Even though I could have walked to the car, they had my sis go out and get the car and meet me out front, where they wheeled me out in a wheelchair. I really felt fine and not all that groggy at all. When I got back to my parents house where my car was waiting, we visited with them for a few minutes and then I headed home. (yes, even though they said not to drive, I felt fine and normal, but drive at your own risk!).
The procedure itself wasn’t bad at all and they made it so easy and comfortable for me. Again, the prep day is the worst and if you can get through that, you’ll be fine. I am happy to say I got a clean bill of health on my colon and I don’t have to do this again for 10 more years. Now, that is something to cheer about!
I just thought this would something you might enjoy reading about and if you haven’t scheduled one for yourself, think about doing it soon! Now that mine is over, I can relax and know that I’m good to go and that’s a big relief. Our health is not something we can take for granted and I do try to keep on top of things for myself in all the health preventions there are available, like mammograms and pap smears.
I wish you all good health!
I had my first colonoscopy 3 yrs. ago and also received a good report. My doctor prescribed the split prep (Suprep). It tasted terrible but there wasn’t that much to drink. I mixed it with the required amount of water in a plastic cup with a straw and lid; I may have added ice too (can’t remember). I found watching TV and drinking it without stopping the best way to just get thru it. Once it started working, there was no cramping. I watched a movie on my iPad and stayed near the bathroom during that phase. My biggest concern was getting a headache from being hungry; funny what we each are most concerned about. For me, College Inn brand chicken broth had the best flavor out of the two I tried. I think I mostly ate lemon Italian ice that day. I never got a headache, like I expected. I had the best nap of my life post-procedure, back home in my comfy bed!
Rhoda, I’ve had two so far with good results both times. You were brave, generous and smart to write about this. We need more awareness and your pretty pictures softened the unpleasantness of the topic. So glad you are ok and good to go for 10 years.
Great post and even greater to see women comment they will now have this procedure done. My father passed away with colon cancer in 1987 and I have been having colonoscopies since I was 40. I am now 65 and so far so good. I remember sharing about my Dad with my gynecologist and he wouldn’t let me leave his office without making my appointment for me. How great to have doctors like that. Rhoda, so sorry about your aunt. I truly understand. And, Lori, I am saying praises for your husband and that there are treatments and doctors that attack this dreadful disease head on. Hold him close and cherish the time God has provided you as husband and wife. His testimony for early detection will help many. Thank you for sharing.
Shelley Stewart says
I’m glad your driving yourself home from your parents’ house turned out OK, but I would strongly urge people not to drive for 6 or 8 hours. They may feel fine at the moment, but they may still have effects from the anesthesia (going in and out of full consciousness). Once I transported a friend to and from his colonoscopy. Afterwards we went to his house, had lunch, talking about numerous topics for more than an hour, and later, when he said he felt tired and fell asleep in a chair, I left. In a few hours I received a call from him asking if I had even come over to his house. He had no memory whatsoever of how he got home or anything we had done! I have heard of several cases where post-op patients ordered hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise online while under the influence of anesthesia. One man went out and traded his old car for a new one—then he wondered who owned the car in the driveway! In other words, don’t trust that you are completely normal after anesthesia—give it some time.
Hi, Shelley, that gave me a little chuckle, those stories, but yes, you all are right. Follow those orders and don’t drive! I can be a bit of a rebel on things like that.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing.
Terrie Cox says
What timing! I have my first colonoscopy scheduled at 6am tomorrow. Prep today! I am 56 and this is my first one. Thank you for sharing your experience. I started having anxiety about it yesterday. It helps to read yours. Thankful yours turned out well! I’m sure mine will as well.
HI, Terrie, good luck and you will be fine! The anxiety and waiting is way worse than the actual procedure. That was a snap!
I have quite a family history…both parents had colon cancer, and so did my paternal grandmother. I have had a colonoscopy every three years since age 44 (I am now 69). I have never had a polyp, so my best guess is that I didn’t inherit the “gene”.. However, I wll continue to have the screening. I can tell you that having had eight screenings, I have had seven different preps (the eighth one was the same as the seventh…because I requested it). Preps can range from inexpensive over-the-counter products to expensive prescriptions. The last two were the same prescription (about $40); however, it’s a small price to pay for comfort (meaning no nausea or cramping).
Sharon, can you provide more info on the last two preps you used? We could always ask our doctor to prescribe it. I agree, small price for comfort.
The name is Suprep.
I had my first colonoscopy just before my 51st. birthday. I am usually bad about doing testing in the time frame they tell you to but for some reason at that time I did it pretty quickly. As you said every Dr. has their way of doing the procedure and the prep. My Dr. gave you enough drugs to make you comfortable but not knock you completely out. She had you watch the monitor and told you exactly what she was doing when she did it. It was a very strange situation but at the same time I felt comfortable with her talking to me and me responding. Took the fear right out of all of it.
Unfortunately right after she started my first procedure she had the nurse knock me out totally. She had found cancer and she could not dictate notes and tell the nurses what to do while I was awake. In a year I went through chemo, radiation and then surgery & 10 inches of colon removed and then more chemo. Thanks goodness that 9 years later I am cancer free. It is a procedure that no one wants to talk about or do but it can certainly save many lives if done when recommended.
Kathleen, thanks for sharing your story, so glad you are cancer free now and they caught it in time. It’s something no one wants to ever face. That’s why I thought writing this post was important and early screening is the best.
Rhoda, this could be the most life changing and important blog post you have ever written. Keep pushing the message and to NOT drive. No one will feel ‘fine’ if they have an accident and injure or kill someone. We are so fortunate to have this screening available. Thank you for the post.
Dee, I will never drive again after one of these procedures! Promise! 🙂
When I had mine, a friend suggested I read Dave Barry’s hilarious account if his colonoscopy. It is called “A journey into my colon, and yours.” You will laugh your way through the prep! Google it. It will put you at ease!
I agree! EVERYone should read his column before and after the procedure!
Also, the prep varies from doctor to doctor – I live in Boston and have had a colonoscopy every five years starting at age 45 – 3 times so far. My gastro has his patients drink citrate of magnesia which is best drunk ice cold. It can make you gag. Some people mix it with beer. Never tried that. Rhoda I don’t know how you were able to sleep – the prep I have to use keeps you purging until morning. Another recommendation is not to drink fluids during the prep that you normally enjoy. I now have aversions to white grape juice, sprite, plain chicken broth, etc.
The procedure is painless and after you are driven home you will have the best five hours of sleep you have ever had.
Hi, MEM, my sleep the night before sure wasn’t restful, but I did sleep….and yes purging happened during the night too. But by morning it was almost over.
I appreciate your post, and am very glad that all was good with your health.
You need to know that it is difficult to read your posts because an advertisement that is a vertical rectangle covers up part of the text throughout most of the post. I had to read one line at a time underneath the edge of the ad box.
Thanks for sharing this information. People need to be aware that this type cancer is very curable if caught early on. I had one and pollups were found and remove. Could have turned into cancer Doc said. Five years later no pollups were found at all. Thankful for a clean colonoscopy!!! Will go back in 5 years.
P.S. I know pollups is misspelled. LOL
Great post! Your readers are a great group of people, and I was glad to read about everyone’s comments and experiences. Don’t be afraid to write about stuff like this. We all want to stay healthy so we can continue to enjoy all the wonderful things life has to offer! Glad you had good news!
My five siblings and Mama were victims of cancer…a sister with colon cancer. I’ve had four colonoscopies and soon to have the fifth….I’m 74. Everyone please take advantage of screening. As the youngest child it’s very hard to bury two sisters, three brothers and a Mama because of cancer….
Betty, so very sorry for your losses, that has to be so hard.
I’m so happy with the response to this post! Honestly, I was a little nervous to share it, but I’m so glad I did. Our health is so important and when we are young, we don’t think about these things. Age brings about a whole new set of things to deal with, so all we can do to help revent health issues, all the better to do. I’m glad you all shared your experiences too and I hope it will encourage others to get their screening as well!
That’s what I like about you Rhoda….you are down to earth and are not afraid to tackle various subjects with tact and grace. Had my first one last year at age 56. Split prep….make it ice cold and drink with a straw to minimize the taste. The Desitin or Baby Vaseline was a good suggestion for a sore bum!…lol
Thank you for sharing this. Ten years ago I begrudgingly had a colonoscopy at my doctors request. I am so thankful that she was persistent in wanting me to have it done. I was one of the one percent in which the polyps they found were cancerous. Since this was found early I had the majority of my colon removed but did not require chemo or radiation. I have remained cancer free. You may well have saved a life by encouraging everyone to be checked. Yes the prep is unpleasant, but compared to cancer, it’s a breeze.
shar y says
Rhoda, this post is just the icing on the cake–the cake being what a down to earth and Real blogger that you are. I totally feel like I know you after reading your blog for many years. I quote you all of the time!! Glad you had a clean bill of health and thanks to all of the ladies who have shared their stories. I have had 2 and am in my mid sixties. So far, so good! One of the best things said by a reader is that a few hours of discomfort during the prep are worth having the rest of your life!
Thank you, Shar, I do try so hard to just be a real blogger and I can’t change things now. So y’all get the real parts of my life along with everything pretty too.
Denise Jarrell says
Thank you for this post. I too am your age and have my first one scheduled for next month. I feel better about it now knowing what to expect.
Did you say that you did get sick? I did both times and then I was worried that I didn’t keep enough down to work. I hate Gatorade and I do not drink much all day, it was just too much to drink! My husband refuses to have one. I had a polyp removed that would have eventually turned to cancer, so I will go when I am supposed to. Thanks for posting this!
Debi, yes I got nauseous and threw up after drinking the Gatorade about an hour. That was not pleasant as both were working at the same time. Yeah, bad visual, but after I threw up the liquid, things got better and it didn’t happen again.
[email protected] says
I am thankful you were willing to share your experience on a not so “trendy” topic. You will never know who might be reading and get tested. Like they always say…if I save just one…
My oldest child had to have one a few years back, as the doctors were trying to rule out a rare form of cancer. Thank the good Lord she got a clean bill afterward.
I will be there in 2 years. Having a gluten sensitivity and other issues, I know how important it is to get screened. While not pleasant, it is 24-48 hours that could make the difference of a lifetime.
God Bless for being so open!!