Yes it's Awkward, But Let's Talk about your Colon



Published:

Dr. Wanamaker of the Center for Digestive and Liver Health makes colonoscopies  as easy as they get. 

There are countless reasons why you should schedule a colonoscopy. If you’ve been putting it off, read Publisher Michael Brooks' experience.

Staying healthy is all about prevention, and as you age, there are steps you can take to make life run a bit smoother. One of those steps would definitely not be inhaling the biggest cheeseburger you can get your hands on. All the same, that’s what I found myself doing shortly after experiencing my first colonoscopy. I figured I’d made one healthy choice that day, I’d earned that double cheeseburger all the way.

Still a little woozy, but surprisingly relaxed and rested after being knocked out cold just a few hours earlier, I reflected on the procedure and what it meant for me. I’d understood that it was just one of those things you have to do as a 50-something but had been putting it off for years before I finally bit the bullet.

I was a little nervous walking into the Center for Digestive and Liver Health knowing what was going to happen, but I’d heard too many horror stories about lives lost, early demises that could have been prevented by this simple procedure, not to. Whatever apprehension I’d had melted away when I was met by a friendly team who walked me through each step of the process in preparation.

Many of us remember when Katie Couric, the Today Show hostess, went through this procedure on live TV. Specifically, we remember how little she seemed to be enjoying it – especially the shots of her powering through the giant jug of “cherry” flavored Nulytely in preparation. Fortunately, the science behind this procedure has come a long way.

For example, they have a relatively new product called Clinpiq® that is a little easier to get down. I’m not suggesting that it could become the new trendy cocktail mixer, but it’s palatable. The point is you have to be clean to allow the docs to do their job and take a look around and that is the part that most people are not comfortable with.

I started drinking it the day before, pairing it with a gourmet feast of Jell-O and broth. I missed food, but not nearly as much as I missed daily regimen of multiple quad espresso macchiatos. Underfed and decaffeinated, I went into that evening hungry but steeled by two facts: One, I would only have to do this every ten years and two, there was a juicy cheeseburger waiting on the other side of the procedure.

The next morning I was at it bright and early, having scheduled my procedure first thing. There are two pieces of wisdom I can pass on about a colonoscopy. The first is to schedule your appointment early in the day so you can have it over with before mid-day hunger pangs set in. The crowd of like-minded patients when I arrived were all vying for seats next to the restroom, some still in their PJ's having rolled right out of bed and into the waiting room.

And now we come to my second piece of wisdom. Whatever instructions you are given by your healthcare professional about preparing for your colonoscopy, follow them to the letter. Don’t cut corners, don’t start prepping late – do exactly as you’re told. I was heartbroken when the nurse called me back and decided after checking me out that I wasn’t “ready.” I was sent home to prep for a few more hours, paying a heavy price for my lackadaisical approach to the procedure.

I was lucky that Doctor Wanamaker agreed to stay through his lunch and not make me go through the whole ordeal again the next day. Filled with gratitude and creeping hunger pangs, I left with prep in hand and returned home. At mid-day (I refused to think of it as “lunchtime,” hungry as I was) I returned to their in-house surgical center for my second chance.

This time, thankfully, I was ready to roll.

My first visitor was the anesthesiologist, who filled in a few more details about what I could expect during the procedure and into the surgical room we went. I was meeting with the rest of the team when suddenly the blistering power chords of ’80s hair metal gods Poison heralded the arrival of Dr. Wanamaker.

“How appropriate is this song,” he chuckled while Vince Neil shrieked out the double negative refrain, “Don’t need nothing but a good time.”

There are situations in which it’s hard to find humor. Standing amid a group of strangers, wearing a surgical robe with your rear end hanging out is generally one them. Just the same, we all shared a laugh at the doctor’s MTV theatrics. I half expected pyrotechnics.

In hindsight Motley Crue may have been a better choice than Poison, since my next appointment was with Dr. Feelgood, a milky substance that the anesthesiologist pumped into my veins. As he smiled and started counting, the world got very fuzzy around the edges for a moment. After the moment passed in what seemed like a blink of an eye, it was all over. The whole team, who had just a second ago been hovering around the surgical table was now scurrying about in preparation for the next patient.

Dr. Wanamaker helped me acclimate to my sudden time jump, told me a few more jokes, and then saw me off as I was wheeled away back to the prep area. Despite what he’d told me, it was still hard to believe I’d basically blinked and missed the whole procedure. I’d spent years dreading it, wasting precious time in fear of something that I couldn’t even remember now that it was over.

I’d faced up to my fears, unfounded as they were. And I’m come out the other side a little woozy, but relieved that it was behind me (so to speak) and I’d been given a clean bill of health. Oh, and hungry. Extremely hungry.

Ultimately, my story isn’t unique. Some 20 million colonoscopies are performed every year, a vital preventative technique for catching polyps and colorectal cancer before they can become fatal. And they can – quickly. According to cancer.net, its estimated that colorectal cancer will cause 51,020 deaths this year, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

If you’re over 50, it’s crucial that you schedule a colonoscopy. It can be scary. It can be uncomfortable. It may require a day spent eating nothing but broth and Jell-O. But it may also save your life, and that seems like a pretty fair trade. If not, throw in a post-op cheeseburger to sweeten the deal.  

 

Eating For A Healthy Colon : Diet dos and don'ts
Diets high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in red and processed meats have been associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer, according to the ACS. To help promote good colon health, follow these five diet recommendations:

1. Limit red meat consumption and steer clear of processed meats.
2. Hold the sugar.
3. Up your fiber intake.
4. Drink your milk.
5. Choose grains wisely.

Make Screening A Priority 
While eating right can help keep your colon happy, the most powerful way to prevent colon cancer is through screening. A colonoscopy is a structural examination of the colon that allows physicians to both screen for and prevent colorectal cancer. 

Go to savannahgi.com for more info.

Subscribe now to the print edition or get instant access to our interactive digital edition.

Add your comment: