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Colonoscopy – More than you want to know…or see

I had my first colonoscopy today. They didn’t find anything, except a piece of fruitcake I ate in 1978. But I figured if Katie Couric can show her colon on national TV to encourage people to get checked, then I can talk about mine.

In colonoscopy, they stick a garden hose up your ass and take a peek. Your are narcotized into an odd and enjoyable state of semi-awareness. The after-effects of the procedure are gassiness — one of the benefits is that for a couple of hours you can claim your farts are therapeutic — and wooziness from the anesthesia. Your butt is surprisingly unsore.

If they find polyps, they’ll biopsy them on the spot and make you wait at home for 7-10 days to find out if you have colon cancer. You probably don’t. The biopsies can cause a little bleeding, apparently. (I was polyp free.)

The difficult part of the procedure is the prep. They gave me an early morning appointment because I’m diabetic. So, I stopped eating on Monday night. Through Tuesday, I could only have clear liquids, jello, etc. (Because of the diabetes, I didn’t eat anything with sugar. Non-diabetics can have sugary liquids.) Tuesday afternoon, I started drinking a gallon of electrolytes flavored with CountryTime Lemonade. It tastes like lemony sweat. You drink a glass every ten minutes for about four hours. Not a lot of fun. But it does flush you clean. By the end, you’re pooping lemonade.

By midnight of the night before, you stop drinking even water. So, by the time you show up for the procedure, you haven’t eaten in 36 hours.

The prep in the hospital is much like what happens before you go in for surgery: You sign a form allowing doctors to do whatever they want to you, including use you for BB gun practice. You get an IV inserted, chat with the exceptionally pleasant staff at Harvard Pilgrim in Kenmore, Boston, and make the same really bad poop ‘n’ tush jokes that everyone before you has made. (They ought to just print them up and save us the trouble.) The whole process really isn’t that bad. In fact, the anesthetic is sort of fun.

So, if your doctor recommends a colonoscopy, and if your health plan pays for one, do it. Except for the fasting, it’s not a big deal. And it sure beats colon cancer.

mock colonoscopy 3
Violating the principle of Gut Neutrality,
a Disney bit elbows aside amateur bits.

(By the way, the background of that shot is just a random colon snapshot I found on the Web.) [Tags: ] (On march 11, I did a little cleanup of this post which I’d written while groggy from anesthetics.)

16 Responses to “Colonoscopy – More than you want to know…or see”

  1. Glad you went.

    Several years ago, I had one after I’d relocated and found a new doctor. My first physicial showed evidence of fecal blood. A week or so later, the colonoscopy found 3 polyps. One was large and proved to be malignant. The consequent surgery hurt, of course. Happily, the cancer had not spread beyond the polyp itself.

    Polyps seem to grow slowly, so having regular colonoscopies is the best way of finding and removing them while they’re small and nonmalignant. They are inconvenient, and the prep is pretty unpleasant. I’ve heard dieing from colon cancer is worse.

  2. painless, odorless
    also tasteless

  3. Hmmm…that picture looks a little like the pig snout on my What Is It Wednesday blog entry. Glad everything was ok!


  5. I guess it’s something quite different in the purpose and in the procedure, but surely I can tell the difference: the real “enemy” :) is Gastroscopy, a procedure which reveals to you things you really did not know about the reactions of your body to unnatural stimulus :)
    Glad there was nothing there!!!
    Take care

  6. Procedures vary, of course. In the Seattle clinic I use, they require that you bring a driver (and prove it), to make sure that you don’t get behind the wheel in the woozy state that David describes (though my doctor being a spoilsport, I’ve never detected the high — the last time, staff mentioned that he’s more sparing than most with narcotics).
    On the other hand, he only starves me for half the time that David’s doctor does, making up for it with purgatives. You also get to watch the exploration on a big-screen monitor, and see what the polyps look like (unimpressive bumps or fingers, for the most part). If you’ve ever been in a cave, it looks familiar.

  7. I had one of those. Did you get the illustrated summary of the test? Great to leave on your coffee table for guests to peruse!

    I had bleeding which I was sure was from a severe attack of diverticulosis. The doctor agreed but, because I was over some threshold age, she wanted me to have a colonoscopy. I did. I was totally out while it went on and argued about whether it had happened when I awoke. Those people weren’t going to scam me! Especially after all the prep!

    All the report (I never saw the doctor afterward; he had a hot lunch date or something and couldn’t bother waiting for me to regain sensibilities.) told me new was that I had hemorrohoids which I never knew.

  8. First my doctor bugging me to do this, then my daughter-in-law, and now you. But you are the first to give actual detailed information, with bonus comments from other victims. Maybe I’ll actually decide to have it done.

    As my daughter-in-law says when her 6-year-old announces his silent fart at the dinner table, thanks for sharing that. :)

  9. Yes, dying from colon cancer is much less pleasant.

    Glad you got checked, and better yet, also took the opportunity to tell others.

  10. Your report of your colonoscopy was funny! I see you have a lot of humor writing ability. I had a colonoscopy several years ago. I did not like the invasion of my colon. I yelled “ow” exactly three times. That’s how quick it happened! Three quick jams….boom….boom….boom….ow….ow….ow! I will never drink Crystal Light again! I forced so much of that stuff down me, it was a real challenge! I’m checking out these new, less invasive procedures! (I didn’t have any polyps or cancer, yay!!)

  11. Planned my colonoscopy after NBA payoffs so I wouldn’t be tempted to try to hold going to the toilet till a time out. I’m talking about the prep before the procedure. Haven’t yet figured out what I’ll do while on the prep juice. Should I watch TV, read a book, mow the lawn, wash the car….Sort of looking forward to getting the colonoscopy over with. Actually, two of guys I know said there was nothing to it. But, really, being guys, would they tell me otherwise? Of course they said the prep drink tasted bad and left it at that. Could it tast like salt water from the sea? Drank that when a big wave hit me out in the ocean and didn’t like it.

  12. here is a little site about colonoscopy:
    But do not rely on colonoscopy alone to detect colon cancer, eating a diet rich in fiber, including lots of veggies will help you dramatically reduce your risk of colon cancer.

  13. I’m glad your colonoscopy went well! I’ve started a blog to inform the public about colonoscopies. Please check it out: colonoscopy blog.

  14. No thankyou I think that they should be able to do this without being invassive.Furthermore why subjugate an induvidual to such barbaric treatment.

  15. Great job and a good theme. And thanks for the mention.

  16. thanks for posting. i was worried when my mom called me to tell me about dads diverticulosis and the colanoscopy he had to go through to find out. i cant wait to call him and tell him the funny stories i’ve read. im sure he’ll need a pick me up.

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