As you start to get older your body starts to have fundamental changes and with those changes come medical tests and changes in how you do things. Arms slowly become shorter, making it so you have to get glasses to be able to read anything below the big “E” on the eye chart. You end up wired up so the doctors can see what you heart is doing. They draw, what seems to be, gallons of blood so they can tell you two weeks later that not only is your belly getting fatter, but so is your blood. You take pills that you can’t even pronounce to control cholesterol and heart rhythms. Start wearing socks with control tops to keep your legs from swelling and aching. Arch supports end up in your shoes. You begin to learn about “moisturizer” for skin that once was supple and now is dry and ashy. But the most, shall we say, “difficult” thing you face once you hit that wonderful 50 mark is the ever popular colonoscopy.
I hit fifty a couple of years ago, and had not had to endure the dreaded colonoscopy until this year. At one of my check ups late last year my primary physician decided that it was time to take a peak at what was going on inside. Since I am at the scheduling mercy of my local public hospital the order for the test was placed, and the test scheduled months later. This was the month.
I did all the fun stuff that they have you do the day before the test: no solid foods; no red, purple, or blue foods; take the laxatives and drink the gallon of Golytely (boy that stuff is misnamed); and drink lots of water. Test day came and I got to the clinic where all the “fun” stuff was going to happen. After filling out paperwork, and waiting for what seemed an eternity, actually it was about 30 minutes, I got called back to have my adventure.
The staff was great, and Norbert, the prep nurse, was very patient, polite and professional. This was not a test that I was looking forward to having, and I expressed my displeasure rather bluntly. However, Norbert took it all in stride, putting up with my rather caustic humor. IVs were stuck in, and heart monitor leads put on, and off I was rolled to the room.
They loaded me up with the sedatives and we waited. The nurse said that it should be only a few minutes and I would be out and they could begin to exam. Five, ten and then fifteen minutes went by, and we were all still talking and joking. I told them that I had brought the CD of the Star Trek movie music if they wanted to listen to it. I figured that it was appropriate theme music, considering I was starting to feel like the star ship Enterprise, and the doctor was going to be Captain Kirk – “To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
The sedatives didn’t work, and they had to try an additional drug. That one worked, and after the nurse loaded me up with whatever it was, I was OUT! The next thing I can remember is waking up in the recovery area, and hearing the staff talking. They called back the friend that took me, and explained to her all that was found and what to expect. I don’t remember much of what was said during the time I was in recovery, other than the staff asking me repeatedly if I was ready to leave. I think they were getting tired of my off beat comments. After I changed, I was shuffled out the door with pictures and results in hand. The rest of the day was pretty much lost, as was a good portion of the next day. Seems that whatever the last drug they gave me to knock me out not only knocked me out for the test, but wiped out any higher functioning that my brain could do for nearly 36 hours.
The end results (no pun intended) of the exam was that I have, along with all the other medical problems, diverticulosis. They also removed four polyps that were sent off for testing. The results of those tests should be back in a week or two. While I understand the need for colorectal exams, they are a great way to screen for cancer, they are not the kind of tests you want to have done all the time. The exam itself is no big deal. They loaded me up with “happy juice” and I don’t remember anything. It is the pre-exam prep that is the real issue. On a lark I decided to weigh myself before starting the purging process, and again afterwards. I lost nearly eight pounds in less than 12 hours. I guess people have been right all these years, I am full of it. At least I was.
So, if you are hitting that 50 mark, and have never had a colonoscopy be prepared. It is something that should be done, but it is not a fun thing. The prep part is the worst of it, but once you are through that part of the procedure the rest is easy. And I guess being screened for what could be a life ending disease is better than being ignorant of what is going on inside and having your life end.