Finally got the colonoscopy after delaying it five years. It is not worth fretting over.

I got a colonoscopy on Thursday, Dec. 18th. I was 55 when I finally got it done, after putting it off for five years.

My reasoning was that I had an elderly colleague that was one of the extremely rare cases where something goes wrong. She reportedly died from the infection caused by a perforated colon. On the other hand, she had a compromised immune system as a kidney transplant recipient. So, it was an unusual case all around. I admit it represented the triumph of anecdote over evidence, but welcome to the real-world of how human beings operate. Something isn’t rare if it happens to you or someone you know.

Two factors finally got me to get it over with. First, a couple of years ago I got to see my mother-in-law’s final days of death by colon cancer. So far as I know, she never got a colonoscopy after turning 50. The cancer was the size of a baseball when finally detected by one. What got the colonoscopy scheduled was a mass so large a doctor felt it when pressing down on her abdomen during an exam.

She had passed fecal occult blood tests — which indicates how unreliable they are as a screening tool. Major surgery followed, followed by chemotherapy, but the cancer came back and she later died from it.

Then I got a stage IIB melanoma diagnosis this year (it was an itchy mole) and had to go through a neck surgery and two lymph nodes removed for testing (no spread detected) and all the cancer follow-ups.

It seemed rather silly to risk what could be far worse interventions over another type of cancer that was mostly preventable. The gold standard screening tool for colon cancer is the colonoscopy. It was also something I could do for very minimal cost under my insurance.

Now that it is over, I have concluded the actual event doesn’t live up the anxiety or squeamishness hype. The prep was not bad. Just use a double dose of Orange Crystal Light and ice to cover the taste of the Miralax. The four Dulcolax pills had no taste.

I experienced no discomfort from the prep. Starting about 2 ½ hours after the first glass of liquid prep I had to go to the bathroom. This was repeated through-out the night until pretty late. Other than meaning no evening plans, it was pretty easy.

The procedure itself consists of being asked to take four deep breaths while a nurse anesthetist injects propofol into an IV. Once it hits your brain (less than 10 seconds), you get a second or two of blurring vision and wake up in recovery not long afterward. Within ten minutes you can be dressed and going home. There are no memories at all of the actual procedure.

No nausea, little or no hangover, your can eat immediately afterward (nice after all that fasting), and it wears off ultra-fast so you can be clear-headed within minutes. I did some work from home later that same day.

I had no discomfort at all from the procedure itself. The only thing that was sore was where a nurse kind of blew out a vein starting an IV.

Downside is they snagged a polyp (benign) and found some diverticulosis. So, have to load up lots of fiber in the diet. Learning about the diverticulosis was a benefit, since it responds to diet as a treatment. Hopefully I can keep it from ever becoming an issue.

The lack of anything serious means I don’t have to repeat the colonoscopy for ten years. So, it is something to put on the to do list at age 65.

Anyhow, it is something to look forward to if you actually make 50. But, having done it once, I would have no problem doing it again (so long as propofol sedation is employed).

If it is something that you or family member is procrastinating on getting done, hopefully relating my non-event experience helps get it scheduled.


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2 Responses to “Finally got the colonoscopy after delaying it five years. It is not worth fretting over.”

  1. Reader in Wonderland Says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Started the prep this morning for my colonoscopy tomorrow and im freaking out.

  2. jamesacooley Says:

    Good luck with it. Again, with modern sedation, it is a non-event. Just have a book to read while getting through the prep…

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