I Love Colonoscopies
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
added info to the colonoscopies section on wikipedia
the wikipedia was woefullypedia short on information about colonoscopy preparation methods.
so i added some.
for those of you wondering about the effectiveness of virtual colonoscopies, i've heard they're
not as effective as real colonoscopies. if your doctor finds a polyp (pre-cancerous growth) in
a virtual colonoscopy, he or she will have to perform a real colonoscopy to remove it.
that's the whole point of colonoscopies -- finding and removing pre-cancerous growths.
(and making sure that they don't have a hospitable long-term home in your colon.)
i say go for the real thing. have a real colonoscopy. it's not that difficult a procedure
to undergo. trust me.
btw, i should say that undergoing the procedure without adequate sedation is probably not
a lot of fun. i've heard this sometimes happens. just ask for more sedation if you need it.
i've never encountered that situation. i would not be shy about asking if i did. i'd say something
like, "bubba, how about some more sedation so i don't get off this table and punch you in
Monday, March 14, 2005
why i like colonoscopies
i'm blogging on the Digital Divide Network site on why i like colonoscopies.
my mom's colonoscopy
so my mom, who is 81, was scheduled for a colonoscopy last year. i asked her what preparation method her doctor gave her. "go-lightly," she replied. "i suggest you ask for the fleet phospho method. if they don't agree, just disregard them and use the fleet phospho prep method. it gives the same results -- a cleaned out colon."
"oh, no, but i can't disobey my doctor," she says.
(long pause on my side of the phone.)
"mom, do you remember how you taught me the importance of thinking independently, of questioning people who are in positions of authority, of thinking clearly for myself about things?"
"i'm doing that now."
after talking with her doctor, mom used the fleet phospho method.
some info about colonoscopy preparations
all colonoscopy prep methods start by fasting the day before the procedure. this is no big deal. you're allowed to drink clear liquids including gatorade, clear apple juice, sodas and water. fasting is mostly a frame of mind. it's not that difficult at all to do, especially if you've fed yourself well the day before.
the Fleet phospho method of preparing for a colonoscopy involves having you drink two small bottles of laxatives before your colonoscopy procedure the next day. the first laxative bottle is taken about 6 pm to 7 pm the day before the procedure. the laxative will act within about 30 minutes or so. throughout the nite you may feel a need to move your bowels a few times, so your sleep may get interrupted a bit by a few trips to the bathroom. you're required and expected to drink clear liquids during this time so your body doesn't become dehydrated.
3 hours before your leave for your colonoscopy procedure, you drink the second Fleet phospho bottle. that will induce some more bowel movements. by the time you arrive at your colonoscopy, your bowels will be pretty much cleared of solid materials.
the other method, the Go-Lightly method, is much less fun. Go-Lightly is a laxative contained within a gallon of what tastes like sea-water. you're supposed to drink the entire gallon, having a glass of that material every 15 minutes.
yeah, right. i'm going to drink a GALLON of anything? most people don't make it past a quart of that stuff. my sense is that the Go-Lightly method was invented by lawyers who wanted to ensure that dehydration doesn't occur as the laxative takes effect. lawyers come up with some of the worst ideas in the world. (although many lawyers have done some good in this world, too.)
if you're not in a high risk category for getting colon cancer, colonoscopies are usually scheduled every 10 years. high risk categories include people whose relatives have died of colon cancer and people who have any inflammatory digestive condition, such as colitis, chrohn's disease or inflammatory bowel disease (ibd). more than 10 million americans have these conditions. the cause of these conditions is not known.
the actual colonoscopy procedure is usually very easy on the patient. it is administered with sedation. you will barely feel a thing. in the rare instance that your doctor has not given you enough sedation, you have every right as a patient to simply ask him/her: "i need more sedation."
in the 15 times i've had a colonoscopy, i've never needed more sedation. i have heard others sometimes do, but it's pretty rare.
the procedure lasts about 30 to 45 minutes. your gastroenterologist will snake a fiber optic cable into your anus and through your colon, looking for pre-cancerous growths. there's a light on the cable, making everything more visible. if a pre-cancerous growth is found, your doctor can cut it out right there using the same colonoscope. in the 15 times i've had a colonoscopy, i've had growths ("polyps") removed about 3 or 4 times. there is no pain involved in removing polyps. the only evidence that is a polyp was removed might be a bit of blood in your stools after the procedure.
before colonoscopies were invented in the 1960's, there were far less comfortable ways of screening people for colon cancer. those screening methods were so uncomfortable, people didn't get screened and died. colonoscopies are the best thing to happen to patients in a long time. sure the preparation method is not all that fun. living free of colon cancer is a lot fun, though.