Colorectal cancer is the third leading type of cancer found in men and number four in women. It also killed my father at age 70.
Because of my family history, I got my first colonoscopy at age 39, and they found a polyp (non-cancerous, thank God). I’ve been getting one every five years since. The ol’ “Kodak in the keister” as my gastroenterologist likes to call it. The only thing worse than a gastroenterologist with a sick sense of humor is one with none at all. My guy even capitalizes the first three letters of his title on his name badge… yuck, yuck.
If you aren’t at risk, the American Cancer Society recommends you get tested beginning at age 50, and every five to 10 years after that.
The pre-procedure preparation is the worst part. First, there’s the diet, restricted to clear liquids and nothing red, blue or purple (you need to ask?). Then you’re required to drink the “gallon of humiliation,” something they call polyethylene glycol. Ironically, or maybe not, this compound is also found in the fuel for Trident ballistic missiles.
Drinking this concoction renders the patient house-bound for reasons that should have been obvious after my missile-fuel comment.
They used to have you mix a powder with a sports drink. To this day, the sight of “original” Gatorade makes me squeamish. Now you just pick up a jug, pre-mixed, at the pharmacy. I’m guessing the folks at Gatorade requested that change in the process.
The procedure itself is quite uneventful. I’ve been on light anesthesia for each of mine, and actually, remember watching part of one. It was kind of an out-of-body experience, except someone was actually in my body at the time.
When it’s all done, my wife takes me out for a big greasy burger and a chocolate shake on the way home. I wash that all down with a strong cup of coffee, take a three-hour nap, and I’m good for another five years.
If you’re at risk or of age, I very strongly suggest you schedule one right away. It’s not going to kill you, although the alternative just might.