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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.)

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