Friday, September 28, 2007
Bonding with Katie Couric the Hard Way
Do you love the picture, or what?! For any of you who've been reading here awhile, I mentioned a few months ago about all the fun things we had lined up for Fall. One of them was dual colonoscopies.

NOTE: If you're squeamish, or in your 20's, feel free to move on. However, if you're 50 + or have parents 50+ who need to do this, my whole goal is to alleviate some of the apprehension I had. I'm not going to get real graphic here anyway, since it wasn't enough fun to give a blow by blow detail. Of course, childbirthing stories defy this theory, don't they.

Our family doctor started bugging me two years ago - I was hitting that magic 50 and needed to have this done. Colon cancer is the #2 cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and is very preventable, with this screening. I put if off for a year, then the next year was just nuts. Finally I decided there was no good time for it, I just needed to suck it up and schedule it. It took over two months to get the appointment when I finally called.

For anyone looking ahead at having this procedure, or is so apprehensive they've put off scheduling it, I hope sharing my experience will make it less scary.

As my appointment got closer, here's what I had to do. On Wednesday I had to stop eating at dinnertime. At 10 pm I had a snickers, and thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it. On Thursday I had to go on liquid diet for the day. Coffee, sans creamer, juices with no pulp, gatorade, popsicles, broth and jello. I chose blue and yellow to brighten my day. I thought I'd be starving. Somehow when you know you don't really get to eat, you just get over it. I made sure and filled my day with enough to keep me busy. I spent the entire afternoon on fun errands that I'd been looking forward to - buying a new planner for 2008, a trip to Barnes and Noble, that sort of thing.

When I got home Thursday evening I had to mix up a solution, add some flavoring, the coldest water I could get, and begin drinking it in 8 oz gulps every 10 minutes. A girlfriend had told me previously to add a container of Crystal Lite Lemonaid to it. You drink 4 liters of this stuff. The first half wasn't bad to get down. The second half took some grit on my part. The faster you can drink it, the better, because taste aversion grows with each glass.

Within an hour of starting this stuff, I settled into our 'powder room' with a book. I got most of it read last night. It was not a gut-wrenching experience, just time-consuming. By late evening I was out of the shower, in comfy pjs, watching Survivor that we'd Tivod and enjoying a last cup of broth and a bowl of jello.

Friday morning, a sip of water to swallow a pill, swish my mouth so I don't knock over anyone in the hospital. At 9:30 they took me in, took away my clothes, gave me a little gown, and an IV. At 10:30 they introduced me to the doctor, I laid on the cart, snuggled the pillow and went to sleep within seconds. They turned the lights out in the room. By the way, for any of you who have difficulties with anesthesia, it's not that. It's just light sedation, less dangerous, and you recover much quickly. So I slept for 25 minutes. I think it helped me relax to not get enough sleep last night. I was sleepy to begin with.

When I woke up a short time later, in a different room, some sweet nurse was offering me a cold diet Pepsi, which tasted like heaven. The doctor came back in and told me they'd found one pin-sized 'tag' up in the upper intestine. There is an alternative procedure, called a Sigmoidoscopy, and it would not have caught this. They also told me I have diverticulosis, common as you age, and not to be alarmed about. Just add a few more bran muffins to my diet. This surprised me since I eat pretty healthy and include a lot of fiber in our diets. Diverticulitis, on the other hand, is when infection is present, and is of concern.

The nice nurse told me when they heard 'toots' from my room they would give me back my clothes, and another Diet Pepsi for the road. I imagine the men enjoy this part a bit more than we ladies do. But I wanted to go home and the diet Pepsi sounded good, so I obliged. I'm hoping I don't run into the doctor or any of these people in the grocery in the near future. It was not my more shining moment.

There was never any discomfort, no pain. Honestly having the IV inserted was the worst part of my time at the hospital.

When they took my blood pressure right before I was wheeled in, it was up dramatically. I'd dreaded this, was nervous about it. I left knowing I won't dread it next time, was thankful my doctor pushed me to have it done since they did find something, and feel good about doing all I can to stay around as long as possible with those I love.

After I'd scheduled this, as I had too much time to think about it, I was comforted by three things - I've delivered three children into the world, I've lived through a root canal, (both of these qualify you to endure any pain thrown at you) and Katie did it. Her husband died of colon cancer when he was still relatively young and she made it her platform to push. So thanks Katie for encouraging all of us to honor this temple he's given each of us.

Tonight - 1 margarita, chips and salsa and anything I want off the menu at Old Mexico! I feel like I earned it, and plan to enjoy every single bite. Again - Colon cancer is the #2 cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and is very preventable, with this screening.


  posted at 1:12 PM

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