I turned 50 this past December. It was one of the best days of my life. My husband and son showered me with love and affection. I received phone calls from family and friends, and got lots of Facebook love. Topping the evening off was dinner out with Tom and one of my BFFs, Peggy and her husband Jimmy. It was definitely a day to remember. Leading up to it I was excited, and also pensive.
If I’m lucky, I’ll have lived half or a little over half my life and at some point I’ll probably write about how I’d prefer to spend the next half. On turning 50, one thing I knew for certain was that I’d hear from the AARP and I’d need to get a colonoscopy.
My husband had one a couple years ago and I knew what to expect. Drinking lots of liquids and spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Everyone says the preparation is the worst. Well, I’m here to say it wasn’t so bad.
I know some people let the fear of something get in the way of the doing. One of my favorite quotations is from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” I’ve applied this quotation to almost every aspect of my life for the better.
What if I didn’t do a colonoscopy and I get colon cancer?
A few years ago, I had a breast cancer scare, but it happened only because I did my yearly mammogram and the mammogram revealed something. I took action, sought out a breast specialist and took care of “the girls.” I also do a yearly pap smear. That appointment is unpleasant at best, but I do it. So is the mammogram. I mean who likes getting their boobs squished in the most non-sexual way possible?
All of these things I do, I do because as I get older, health may become an issue and I want to practice good self-care and know the most about what’s going on inside my body. The other important factor for me is that I’m now a mom and I’m part of a team that’s responsible for the life and care of our son. I need to practice good self-care not just for me, for my family, too.
How can I be a good steward and show by example if I’m not taking care of myself? Last fall, I got skin cancer and went through Mohs surgery to remove it. Definitely an uncomfortable process, but I did. And my son saw me walk through this.
I wasn’t truly looking forward to the colonoscopy. I had to read a lot of information prior to the procedure because you need to do specific things at specific times. Fortunately, my doctor had a great preparation pamphlet and I was confident going in that I was in good hands.
Two days before the procedure I had to drink 6 large glasses of water throughout the day and I couldn’t eat anything with seeds. On the morning before the procedure I started a liquid diet at 9:00 a.m. I was allowed to drink clear liquids (tea, white grape juice, apple juice, soda water). Crystal Light lemonade quickly became my beverage of choice. In addition, I had to drink another six large glasses of water.
Because the colonoscopy was at 4:00 p.m., I didn’t have to drink the “stuff” until the day of. I was hungry because of the liquid diet and knew I’d be even hungrier by day’s end. The light at the end of that tunnel was going out to dinner at The Counter, a great way to end the day with a burger and sweet potato fries!
Bright and early at 6:00 a.m., I poured the laxative liquid into a special cup, added another 10 ounces of water and a bit of Crystal Light and got ready for the big drink. This next part was key for me. I used a straw to drink the mixture and didn’t taste any of it while it was going down. There was a bit of an aftertaste though. Immediately after that, I drank another 32 ounces of water. Literally that was 48 ounces of liquids in about 5 minutes. I hadn’t done that since my college drinking days! I did the same process 5 hours later.
There’s no need to go into detail about my trips to the bathroom. Suffice it to say, during my prep period, I used a whole roll of toilet paper, but after the prep, I was ready (and hungry).
Many people go through the procedure using conscious sedation or twilight. You’re awake for it and feel it, but you don’t remember anything about it because of amnesia. Since I have a little heart condition, my doctor recommended full anesthesia. I remember being in the surgery room, remember talking with the anesthesiologist and my surgeon, then the next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room – an easy, breezy process.
The doctor told me he found three polyps that were being tested. I have diverticulosis and need to eat enough fiber daily so it doesn’t turn into diverticulitis. He also showed me photos of my colon which was probably more than I needed to see and also good to see. I thanked everyone and my husband and son took me out for a delicious, well earned meal!
Several days later, my doctor called and told me my polyps were normal and he’d see me in 4 years. I’m very thankful I got good news and am grateful I don’t have to do this for another 4 years.
© 2015 Melanie Elliott