Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Trying Not To Be Dead: I Had a Colonoscopy

If you remember the League of Melbotis blog that was the original blog before The Signal Watch, you've watched me age from a bright-eyed young man in his twenties (we are looking down the barrel of our 20th anniversary blogging in 2023, people), to the part where I'm now going in for the routine maintenance of a man in middle-age.

I don't talk about health too much, I think, but I believe in preventative maintenance as much as possible in the form of basic heart health and annual check-ups.  I also am extremely quick to call a doctor to get some pills as soon as I think I have whatever is going around.  I am not one to tough it out - I want to get back on the road to health as soon as possible.  

So - put all of that together, and I am 47, and it was time for me to make sure I was good when it came to colon cancer, a highly treatable form of cancer if you're able to catch it early enough.  

Anyway - I just had my colonoscopy, and I want to encourage other folks my age to do same.  Here's what you should know:

  1. Getting a colonoscopy is super easy and covered by most insurance because...
  2. Colon cancer is highly detectable early on
  3. If you find issues, it's incredibly treatable in those early stages.  Something like 99% success rate.
  4. You no longer have to drink a gallon of toxins.  It's now OTC meds and Gatorade.  Or was for me.
  5. Because of family history, I'll do it again in 5 years.  That's not bad!  Had we no family history, I'd be back in 10, which is even better.

Here's essentially what the days leading up to it were like.
  • Saturday and Sunday - No foods with any fiber.  This was harder than I figured as I eat a lot of fruit, but also wheat bread, etc... So it was mostly protein like chicken.  And then a lot of Saltines.  Had I planned better, I would have done better, but it was fine.
  • Monday was the day I was on a liquid diet.  Here's the weird part - I never got hungry.  I ate broth, I drank Diet Sprite.  I drank water and coffee.  
  • Now, it does get slightly off-balance once you start taking OTC laxatives and pounding Gatorade, but it's not...  bad?  I mean, you get the desired effect, but I wasn't uncomfortable or anything, and I knew what to expect.  
  • I was tired, though.  My usual bedtime is 12:30 AM and I was in bed and asleep by 10:30.
  • Maybe the worst part was getting up at 1:30 AM to do another round of Gatorade and Miralax and then letting that play out.
  • I had incredibly vivid and strange dreams.  At one point I was Crouching Tigering over the treetops of Central Texas to a record store in a shack where I met Patti Smith who owned the shop but was selling it.  Man, I do not even know.  I am not the script writer of my dreams.

Procedure Day
  1. I got up at 6:30, showered
  2. 7:10 Jamie drove me over and took me in
  3. 7:30 check-in and called in to prep
  4. I asked the anaesthesiologist how many of these they do each day, and she said "at this unit, 40".  So, if you want to know how much like clockwork everything goes, the answer is:  very much so.  
  5. I am famous for wanting to know every step that will occur when doing something, and this was that.  Everyone said who they were, what they were going to do, what it was going to be like, and every one of them was spot on.
  6. I had an IV put in (barely felt it, a sign of lots of practice) and got fluids and it was where they would administer the sedative.  
  7. I was rolled back at 8:25, met a medley of people and my doctor.
  8. At 8:30 they rolled me over so they could get access to my open robe area (the butt, friends), injected me with the first douse of  whatever it was, said "when it feels warm, you'll pass out immediately."  Again, everything went as they said, and the next thing I knew I was wheeling into recovery and Jamie was saying "howdy"
  9. The doctor told me I was clean, had no polyps and said he'd see me in a few years.
  10. I yukked it up with the nurse, told her a crazy story from my dad's wayward childhood
  11. A nice nurse who could handle my 6'5" self if I fell over walked me to the car so Jamie wouldn't have to catch me if I stumbled
  12. I came home and ate pancakes
  13. Now I'm blogging and telling you to take care of yourself and each other

My point is:  THIS IS EASY. and - YOU NEED TO DO IT.  and - THEY HAVE THIS DOWN TO A 2-HOUR WINDOW.  Prevent preventable health problems!

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