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 am so glad that you posted about this. I am a 38 year old female and my first colonoscopy is scheduled for next week. Reading your post and all the comments, makes me feel more at ease as to what to expect. Thanks for being open and honest. I’m a firm believer it is never to early to have these kind of tests done.
As long as we are all sharing, here’s a tip – while you are at the store buying your clear liquids and lemon jello, buy the thickest diaper rash ointment you can find. I actually bought calmoseptine on amazon – its used in hospitals and nursing homes to protect tender skin from bedsores and such. Just before your first BM, apply the ointment to your bottom (ladies, front to back too). It really helped me the second time I had to prep. And buy white cloud or angel soft TP. Its really not TMI if it helps.
Marie W. says
What has happened to your blog?? It is all scrunched into a 1 1/2 inch column along the left side of my screen. Very hard to reaf
HI, Marie, I’ve been talking about this for the last 2 mos. or so. There seems to be incompatibility with an ad plugin I have running on my sidebar with those running ad blockers on Chrome and Firefox. If you are running an ad blocker and disable it, things should go back to normal. Hope that helps!
What a coincidence, I just had one today! You are right, the prep is the worst part. The actual colonoscopy is a piece of cake, with all the drugs they give you LOL! I would like to share a tip that I found extremely helpful, as long as we’re on the subject, it is Vaseline is your friend!!!
HOlly Rigby says
Rhoda, what a wonderful post! I am now 68 and am a double digit colonoscop frequent flyer. I had my first one at 49, and a high grade pre cancerous polyp was discovered. I have now had more than 10 colonoscopies, but am now on a 5 year plan! I was just lucky…as I had no family history.I have some tips…suck on a lime after each dose of the drink…and use petroleum jelly, or the creamy version to prevent ” fire ….you know where! And heavens sakes, don’t drive….they now use propaphol , that works fast and ends fast, but it is very powerful! You are a hero to bring this to your readers attention! GLad yours is now over!
[email protected] Designs says
Great that you have talked about this very important screening for those who are 50 and over.
I have had 2 and good to go for another 10 years too.
I like your blog, but until this post, have never felt inspired to comment. Man, did your post fire me up!
I am in my 30’s, & my battle with cancer started when I was 17. Due to a family history, I was first checked a week after graduating high school. A handful of months later I had to have my entire colon removed, excepting the last approx. 9 inches, which was spared so that I wouldn’t have to have a colostomy bag. I have had colonoscopies, endoscopic procedures, flex sigmoidoscopies, etc., I have to be vigilant about getting my ENTIRE digestive tract checked, from both ends.
EVERY. SIX. MONTHS.
I have had multiple cancers & complications, & just found out less than a week ago (because of these EASY life-saving procedures) that I am headed for another form, & surgery. So you bet I am an advocate & grateful for Drs., medical advances, & all the people who pray others thru a devastating diagnosis!
Rhoda, I am proud of you for using your platform to speak about something so important. Thank you! It is crucial that we dispel the myth of how supposedly terrible the procedure is. While not enjoyable, I guarantee you 24-48 hours of prep is a cakewalk compared to not finding something early enough & for many it is simply a matter of having the polyp(s) removed during the procedure. I still remember my first colonoscopy- having to drink colyte (& yes, vomiting!!!) & do enemas. Honestly, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what happens if you don’t catch it in time.
I am so blessed to have all the years I have, because I listened to my family history & didn’t drag my feet. When I was 17, I felt young, invincible & Totally healthy. I didn’t really expect to need radical surgery. I just thought I was being proactive & staying ahead of things. It saved my life!
I hear a bunch of you talking about relatives that have died because of colon cancer, & some of you have had cancerous & pre-cancerous polyps, & surgery. So here is my input. If you have relatives with the history, GET CHECKED & push your loved ones- YOUNG & OLD- to get checked. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Even if you don’t want to get checked, do it for the people who treasure you.
If you are the one in your family with a history, you might save another family member’s life- like my Dad saved mine & my Sister’s- because my parents had us be vigilant. Colon cancer is a very treatable cancer IF you stay ahead of it. Encourage your children, grand babies, nephews, nieces, cousins, aunts & uncles, & friends too (while you are at it) to stay on top of things.
If you have family members with histories of polyps and/or colon cancer, & other family members with other cancers- examples- an uncle with colon cancer, an aunt with uterine cancer, a sister with thyroid cancer, etc., I encourage you to go a step further. Look into Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/familial-adenomatous-polyposis/basics/definition/con-20035680) & Lynch Syndrome (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lynch-syndrome/basics/symptoms/con-20025651). These 2 forms are cancer syndromes & often by knowing about it you & your loved ones can stay ahead of OTHER cancers that are often found in conjunction. When hereditary, colon cancer is the canary in the coal mine, chirping to let you know there is a danger.
Life is so incredibly beautiful, & a gift not to be taken for granted.
Thank you dear Rhoda, & congrats on your good results!
HI, Agnes, thank you so much for chiming in with your history and results. I can’t imagine going through that at such a young age, but it certainly has made you wise! Thank you for sharing your knowledge here too and letting others know what they can do to stay ahead of this disease. I shared because I thought it was that important and I definitely know it is now!
I had my last colonoscopy 3 years ago, and a recent sigmoidoscopy, but here in the UK we don’t get put to sleep unfortunately. As you and others have mentioned, the prep is the worst part by a country mile, and I didn’t actually find the procedure too bad though, just a bit uncomfortable, nothing compared to the upper endoscopy…..now that is a whole different story and I just couldn’t do it (I practically begged the doctors to put me to sleep. Luckily, all my results were clear.
Well done on going through with it, and thank you for sharing and spreading the word!
Thanks for sharing your story – so great of you to do that!
Here are mine –
I had my first one 4 years ago and they found a golf ball sized mass which then had to be removed. Fortunately it was just some old endometriosis – totally benign – (which by the way I thought it might be because I had had it so bad before. The DR who did the colonoscopy said “There is no way it is that” but it was. )Whatever. Bottom line – I am very, very grateful and say a prayer everyday thanking God that is all it was.
My roommate at the hospital was not so lucky. She had Stage 2 cancer because she put off getting a problem “In that area” checked out before it really got out of control.
A friend of mine had a routine colonoscopy – they found per-cancerous cells on her appendix that could have really spread had they not caught it in time.
And sadly, one of my staff died last year at age 45 of colon cancer. ): His decline was one of the hardest things I have ever witnessed. In his honor, I am super vigilant about reminding people how important it is to get tested. Is it gross? Yeah. But so, so, so, important!
Mitzi Bates says
Great information here today! I have one more tip to add. If your doctor prescribes Suprep, it has a terrible aftertaste. I mixed mine with lemonade and put in the refrigerator so that it would get really cold. When it was time to drink it (thank goodness it’s not a lot) I put 4 or 5 straws in the glass, put the straws as far back in my mouth and started sucking the concoction in as few sips as possible.
I liked the tip from earlier to suck on a lime after drinking the prep. I will add that to my routine next time.
Thanks to you Rhoda and everyone who chimed in!
Wow! Look at how many have commented on this post! I applaud you for launching out of your blog comfort zone and speaking to something we all need to do! So, you’re just one week older than I am and I have not done the dastardly deed! It’s on my list and your post moves it up to a higher level of priority. Your readers love to hear all about your family, decorating, fashion, travel and life! You’ve done a great service by being bold enough to post about such a delicate subject. Thanks for continuing to inspire us in many areas.
I, too have a family history. My mother bled for years and years and refused to get checked. Finally it got so bad my dad loaded her in the car, but by then it was cancer and had spread. I have been having colonoscopies for almost 20 years. Once I had a polyp removed. But what put the fear in me was seeing my mother with her colostomy. I vowed to myself that day that I would do whatever I had to if it meant not having one of those. My darling mother passed a little over 2 months after her diagnosis. For me, I have used different preps, but last year I was able to use the Miralax and I just drank with water and lemon juice. Also I fast for 2 days prior, so that means if your Dr. does prescribe the GOLightly, you won’t have to drink as much, because there is not so much to pass! I have a wonderful doctor, he is such a hoot! I asked him once if he liked his job, and his reply was “I LOVE MY JOB”!! And at last years test, I was lightly sedated, but after he was finished, he said “well that was boring” !
HI, Kaye, I’m so sorry you lost your mother to cancer, but glad it made you diligent about getting this done. Thanks so much for sharing, I love that so many of you shared your stories too. Definitely worth a conversation!
I had my first one 2 years ago at age 60. My Dr. was insistent that I go. I didn’t want to. It was good I did….it probably saved my life. But, the prep made me SO sick….I call it the procedure from he**. I dread my next one, Nov ’17. But I will get it done!
That’s my story. Go, it may be awful, but go! It may save you great pain in the future.
HI RHODA! I am so glad you found all my comments! YAHOO! Thank you also for stopping by my blog! It’s a wee little blog but it’s my life journey with my sweet, sweet man!
I have had two colonoscopy’s. And both have been GREAT! And like you said… the prep day is the worst.
My dad died of colon cancer so… I had one way before turning 50. Then I had one about 3 years ago. I am good to go for 7 more years.
Beautiful pictures to accompany this very important post!
I ready your story. I am 55 and is getting ready to get my first colonoscopy. I am feeling a little scared due to I have ha some pain
praying things will turn out as good as your report.