Staying in Focus: Pat and the Mystery of the Colonoscopy

Well, while all of my faithful followers were tucked snugly in bed last night, I spent the night drinking.  No, I wasn’t on a binge or celebrating the Super Bowl.  I was drinking a cocktail of PEG 3350, Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Chloride,  Potassium Chloride, Sodium Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid mixed with water.  In other words, a  product called MoviPrep, ( sadly, no relationship to cinema), the foulest tasting concoction on the planet, designed to cause your intestines to turn themselves inside out and hang themselves out to dry. At both 6:00PM last night, and worst of all, again at 3:00AM this morning, I downed a liter of this foul stuff followed by a 16 oz. chaser of water. By now, I’m sure many of you recognize the colonoscopy cocktail party. First, you starve (all day) then you binge (on the MoviePrep), then you purge (believe me, your intestines will take care of this part, your job is to get them where they have to go — fast!)

While I was waiting for things to, ah, start happening, I was playing Mystery Manor on Facebook.  And I started to think that while the prep is all too real, the colonoscopy itself is a bit of a mystery. I’ll explain my thinking further in a minute. (Keep in mind it is now 4AM and I’ve had about 3 hours sleep, so thinking is a challenge at this point)

By the time the second round was finished, it was time to head to the colonoscopy center, where very nice, gentle people, put me to bed, with nice warm blankets and enough wires and electrodes to turn me into a cyborg.  They wheeled me into an icy cold room, asked  a few questions to confirm my identity, just in case someone off the street decided to steal my colonoscopy (Is there a lot of that going around?) and then I woke up back in my  curtained cubicle, and my husband (designated driver) was waiting there to take me home..

And that’s where the mystery comes in.  Unlike other medical procedures, there is little evidence that one was done. Through the magic wizardry of the doctors, all I remember is – nothing.  One second I was awake and the next I was waking up somewhere else. I don’t even remember falling asleep!

If you have surgery, you remember because you have stitches and stuff.  If you have a tooth pulled at the dentist, you have stuff stuffed in your mouth and a missing tooth. If you give birth, you have a baby. But a colonoscopy — no scars, no stuff, no baby.  You may have the need to push some excess air out of your system, but that’s about it.

However, the wizard of colonoscopies, Doctor Stephen Furs, and the man who knows the inside of my colon far better than I, solves the mystery at last — he brings proof of the procedure – full color pictures of my newly-cleaned colon in  8 X 10 glossies. No, I’m kidding about the 8 X 10 part, the pictures are creepy enough in thumbnail size.

Now, I will spare you from having to view my colon picture gallery (they’ll be on the mantle at home if you want to drop by) and if you’re thinking, well, photos can be faked – trust me, no one is that imaginative!

But despite my humorous take on all this, colonoscopies are a serious business. Were it not for my primary care physician, Dr. Maureen Dollinger, urging (and nagging) me to get my first colonoscopy, I may have learned too late that my polyp was cancerous. As it turned out, I had a procedure called a colectomy, where the part of the colon with the polyp was removed and that took care of the problem. I was spared a colostomy bag, chemo etc.by this timely test.  That was over five years ago and seven colonoscopies later. l want to urge everyone out there who is 50 to call and make an appointment today.  I waited until I was 54, and it was almost too late.

And despite the rather unpleasant taste of the cocktail, it is worth it in the long run. The prep is the hard part; the colonoscopy is so easy you sleep right through it.   If I can soldier through the prep 7 times, anybody can.

For any of my followers in the Raleigh, NC area, there is a 5K Run/Walk for colon cancer awareness on Saturday, March 2, at Fred Fletcher Park in Raleigh.  For more information go to GetYourRearInGear.com/Raleigh. Get out in the sunshine and take a walk for a great cause. 75% of the funds stay in the local area to fund colon cancer awareness, prevention programs and bringing screening opportunities for those under or not insured.

Oh, and by the way, my colonoscopy was clear!  No polyps in the colon.  Next one: 3 years from now.  I think I can wait that long for another colonoscopy cocktail.

Bottoms Up 😉

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