Friday, December 28, 2007

Colonoscopy Update

It is a sunny, beautiful day here in Colorado, with blue skies, sunshine, and lots of snow on the ground from the storms of Christmas Day and yesterday. I am back home after the colonoscopy and am very pleased to have it over and done with. Before going into the particulars, let me say that after dreading this for years, it is really no big deal. Everyone told me the preparation was the worst part, and indeed that is true. Plus, the good news is that I have absolutely no problems, no polyps, no cancer, and there was nothing to be removed or biopsied. All the doctor did was go in and take a look around. Because of that, the procedure took only about ten minutes from the time they got started until finished; however I wouldn't know because of the sedation.

The day started by getting up at 6am to get ready to go to the hospital. After trekking through the snow via backroads to avoid the traffic jam on I-225, we arrived for check in. This is where one unpleasant surprise awaited. As it turns out that since this procedure was taking place at a hospital rather than a regular endoscopic clinic, I had to pay a $300 co-pay, rather than it being free. That "gotcha fee" almost made me walk right back out. But, after the prep and my wife's urging to stay despite our both being upset about the fee, I calmed down and went ahead with it.

The nurse took me to a room with a reclining chair in it and had me change into one of those most fashionable hospital gowns. I was allowed to keep my socks on. They then brought me some warmed blankets, hooked an IV up to my hand, and took my blood pressure, which was elevated. Shortly, a young man came in a wheel chair to get me and take me to the room for the procedure. He was very nice and explained everything to me, and showed me the colonoscope. My only concern about that machine was that the "hose" part was a bit thicker than I had hoped, being a little larger in diameter than my index finger. It has a light, a camera, surgical tools, and an air injector on the end. The air is used to open the colon so the camera can see inside. Soon, the doctor showed up and we got started.

The nurse gave me some medication (Versed and Phentanol) through the IV, to relax me and get the sedation going. I don't remember a thing until it was over, and I heard the doc saying everything looked great. Seemed like only a couple of minutes since I went under.

Soon, I was riding back home with the lovely spouse driving the car, as they don't let you drive after the medication. I was totally lucid, and since I hadn't eaten in almost two days, we went to get some lunch. I started getting very sleepy, and couldn't finish my lunch, so I brought some of it home for later. Upon arrival at the house, I couldn't help taking a nap.

So, the bottom line is this...
If you are asked to get this it! It really is not a big deal at all. The fear of the unknown is the worst part, but I can tell you that it is nothing. Most important of all, it can save your life. Consider these facts:
  • Colorectal cancer takes 50,000 lives in the United States every year (think about this...that's about like a 9/11 every 3 weeks!)
  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, coming in second only to lung cancer
  • Someone in the country dies of the disease every 9.3 minutes
  • More people die each year from colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, and yet preventable, cancers.

I am glad I went ahead with this. Since everything looks good, I now don't have to do it again for ten years, unless something new develops. But I can tell you this... I will not hesitate to do it again when necessary.

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