Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Colonoscopy

I had my "screening" colonoscopy on Friday, April 29; the immediate result of the procedure was that the doctor found two polyps on the "splenic flexure" (see attached photo), which he removed and sent to the lab for biopsy.  As I write this, I have yet to receive the pathology report, but, assuming neither polyp was pre-cancerous, I won't have to undergo another colonoscopy for ten years, assuming I live that long.

The worst part of the procedure, by far, was the "prep," which entailed certain dietary restrictions and mega-doses of laxatives.  During the last 24 hours before the colonoscopy (which, because my procedure was in the late morning, actually worked out to ~34 hours), I was restricted to a "clear liquid" diet, which in my case meant beef bouillon, chicken bouillon, popsicles (no red or purple), and (blue) Gatorade.  I had to take four Dulcolax tablets at noon on Thursday, which started the "flood," and then, after dinner, I had to drink 64 oz. of Gatorade mixed with 8.3 oz. of Miralax -- fourteen standard doses.  (The instructions called for me to drink 8 oz. of the Gatorade/Miralax mixture every fifteen minutes, but I actually drank it 12 oz. at a time and thus had it all down in 75 minutes.)  Needless to say, I spent a lot of time that evening on the john, although at least I didn't feel much abdominal discomfort.  I couldn't force myself not to take my sleep meds that night, which made me concerned about how they might "cloud" things the next day; however, the report said the quality of my bowel preparation was "good."

I'm told that a colonoscopy only qualifies as a "preventative" medical procedure, in insurance terms, if it doesn't turn up any polyps; therefore, I'm now expecting to have to pay for a sizeable share of it.  And now we've eliminated one more thing -- colorectal cancer -- as a contributing cause of my post-cruise dizziness; I only hope the pathology report comes back "clean" so that I don't have to go through this again in five years (again, assuming I live that long). 

[Update 5/13/11: The pathology report came back -- the two polyps were "adenomatous," meaning they had the potential to turn cancerous, but that there was no actual cancer.  I guess that puts me on the "five year" track for having another colonoscopy.  Crud!]