March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: Are You Ready for Your Booty Call?

8 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

The idea of getting a colonoscopy scares a lot of people. I've talked to many whose reaction is: there is no way anyone is sticking a tube up my butt! But, in September '07, I had a colonoscopy by choice.

Although the general recommendation is that people start getting colonoscopies at the age of 50, I was told to start ten years earlier due to a family history of this disease. Some people should start getting screened as young as 30, depending on their risk factors.

I would have preferred to wait until 50, believe me, but knowing that colorectal cancer strikes an equal amount of women as it does men and is also one of the most easily prevented cancers if detected early -- well, that made me get my ass in gear, so to speak.

Back in '07, I decided to write about it so that some people could learn what a real procedure was like. And, in honor of March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (NCRCAM for "short"), I will republish my thoughts from that September for those of you who are still thinking, There is no way . . .

Day One: The Prep

I've had a few disgusting things happen to me in my life, but nothing could quite prepare me for tonight. I'm preparing for my first-ever colonoscopy and thought that the worst part of it would be the procedure in the morning. But, after fasting all day long and then drinking 80 ounces of somewhat thick, salty-sweet liquid, I've changed my mind. I am dreaming of food and, inexplicably, unable to watch anything on TV but Top Chef and The Food Network. I almost licked the television screen when they made a muffaletta, despite the fact that I rarely eat any meat. I'm dreaming of food even during the "cleansing," which is pretty remarkable. Oh, the cleansing. If you've ever been told you are full of shit, well, you are. You are full of more shit than you think is possible.I am astounded by this and hungry. And probably 10 pounds lighter. Wait, let me go check that one . . . nope, dammit, exactly the same weight. How is that possible???

The good news is that despite all the rumbling in my belly and the running to the bathroom, there is no pain, no stomach cramps. This isn't like have a stomach bug that keeps you tied to the toilet, sweating and praying for relief. It's relatively easy, but a little messy. Next time I'm wearing ear plugs so I don't have to listen.

OK, all appears to be quiet in the belly region. I'm off to bed to dream about muffaletta and bagels and goat cheese and French fries and ice cream.

Day Two: The Procedure

After complaining about last night, I feel kind of silly posting tonight. I think I get it now . . . prepping for a colonoscopy: kind of yucky. Having the actual colonoscopy: as easy as taking a nap.

Seriously, once the sedatives were put into my body, I disappeared into la-la land, waking only to think, "Oh, this must be the beginning," but hearing the doctor say, "All done!"

I had planned to chat throughout the entire procedure, a la Katie Couric. Instead, I probably snored.

X-ray of intestine and pelvis

Once I had regained consciousness, I was relieved to hear that all looked good -- one polyp was removed and will be biopsied, but this is apparently pretty common. I was on my feet and scarfing down an egg-and-cheese bagel sandwich before my husband's car drove us out of the parking lot.

One benefit of the fasting? It allowed me to see what a flat stomach looks like. Either that, or I hallucinated due to lack of food.

I am a bit worried that the first half of the post may have convinced some people never to have a colonoscopy, so I will attempt to convince those of you who feel this way.

First, fasting isn't THAT bad. You can eat popsicles, Jell-o and drink soda! You can feel virtuous, like: "My body is my temple, and I will not eat for a whole day!" Plus, after I got through the night, I was no longer hungry in the morning (that is, until the bagel sandwich appeared in front of me).

Second, here is a tip for drinking down glass after glass of HalfLytely (the stuff that will cleanse your system): Pretend you are in college, at a bar. Grab your glass like a shot and drink it all -- yes, all eight ounces at once (you know you could do this at one time). As soon as the glass is empty, grab a piece of lime and suck it. The lime wipes away all the nasty taste from your mouth, plus you can almost pretend you just drank a tequila shot. If the fasting is going well, you'll be a bit dizzy anyway, so the illusion of drinking is there. If you repeat this every ten minutes, you will be finished with the solution in less than an hour and a half.

Third, make sure you have NO responsibilities after 6 p.m. Lock yourself in your bedroom and keep the path to the bathroom open. Watch TV, read, play on the computer, whatever. Light lots of candles in the bathroom for odor control. When you feel the rumbling, run for the bathroom. Repeat this until the rumbling quiets down. I was still able to get a decent night's sleep, with minimal interruption.

Finally, schedule your appointment first thing in the morning. My appointment was at 8 a.m., and I was out of the hospital by 9:30. Just get it over with before you have too much time to wake up and worry about it.

All joking aside, do me one favor: Ask your parents when they had their last colonoscopy, and if you are 50 or older (or 40 with family history), ask yourself. The procedure is so easy, mostly painless and quick.

Colorectal cancer, on the other hand is a horrible, terribly painful disease, and yet preventable with regular screenings. I lost my dad to colorectal cancer when he was only 62 years old and that was partly because he let too much time pass between his appointments.

Don't let too much time pass for you.

Fairly Odd Mother

http://fairlyoddmother.blogspot.com

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