Colon Cancer: One Man’s Colonoscopy

This is a recounting from one of male patients:

A colonoscopy should be a rite of passage for everyone turning fifty.While any description of it makes it seem invasive, disgusting, and uncomfortable, in my experience, having had one after just turning fifty, it really isn’t. Besides, getting colon cancer is a lot more disgusting, uncomfortable, and in many cases fatal.

During my last check up with, before my fiftieth birthday, my primary physician strongly suggested that it was time to get a colonoscopy and suggested the name of a specialist who could do the procedure. I contacted Dr. Tarugu’s office, since he was recommended to me by my doctor as the gastroenterologist that I should use. We arranged for the procedure a month after my fiftieth birthday.

There would be an office visit to acquaint me with what was to be done and what I needed to do to prepare. The day before the colonoscopy was to take place, I went on a clear liquid diet, which for me consisted of low sodium chicken broth and water. Other examples of clear liquids include apple juice, lemon-lime soda, and sports drink. I also went off of my low dose aspirin regime to avoid bleeding should polyps be found and have to be removed. I also took a number of laxatives, including phospho soda, in order to cleanse my colon.

Other examples of laxatives one might be asked to take include bisacodyl, sodium picosulfate, and magnesium citrate. For obvious reasons, I found this to be the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. One the day of the colonoscopy, I drove to the hospital, parked in the garage, and reported to a clerk where I filled out some paperwork. Shortly thereafter a nurse came and conducted me to the part of the hospital where the colonoscopy was to be done. I was told to disrobe and put on a hospital gown, with the slit in the backside.

In The Procedures Room

Then I was told to lay down on my side on a gurney. A nurse attached and IV into my arm. I remember asking whether the sedative had been administered. The nurse said that it had. The next thing I remember is a voice saying, “All done.” I had been out just over thirty minutes while the colonoscopy had been done. While I was dead to the world, a device called an endoscope was inserted through my anus, up my rectum, and into my colon.

Equipment Used- Colonoscope

The endoscope was moved through my colon until it reached the juncture of my colon and my bowl. A small, digital camera visually inspected the inside of my colon. A hand full of benign polyps were found and excised using a small cutting tool attached to the endoscope. As I was wheeled to recovery, I experienced no pain or other discomfort that some people have reported in the wake of a colonoscopy.

I got off the gurney and sat in a comfortable chair, waiting for the sedative to wear off. After about half an hour, a friend arrived to drive me home, as was required since I had been sedated. He had come to the hospital on the train and we drove home in my car. At home, I had my first solid food in over a day.

Follow- Post Procedure

A week or so later, I had a follow up office visit with the specialist. He showed me some pictures of the inside of my colon, included the polyps that had been removed. He advised me to add more fiber to my diet and gave me a fact sheet listing various foods with their fiber content. Nothing alarming had been found during the colonoscopy, so the specialist told me that we would be doing it again in five years. Sometimes the period between colonoscopy procedures can be as long as ten years and as short as three. It was all over but for the taking care of the copayment, another uncomfortable but necessary procedure.