|Photo by Hey Paul Studios.|
Crap. I have to get a colonoscopy.
Actually, I'm 2.5 years behind schedule. The guidelines are to have one at age 50, one at 60, and one at 70. After age 75, the procedure can be a bit harsh on the aging intestinal system and is generally not recommended.
A study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine argues that those without prior screening by age 75 receive little benefit from the test.
But I am far younger than 75. I' guessing that the most likely outcome will be a discovery of diverticulosis.
Here are some key statistics about colorectal cancer:
People over their entire lifetime have a 5% chance (or 1:20) risk of acquiring colorectal cancer.
It's the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both genders when combined.
Age isn't the only risk factor. People with certain intestinal problems and people with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, child) with colorectal cancer are at greater risk.
It's Not the Screening, It's the Prep
I have heard that the screening itself isn't that bad. It's the preparation that is difficult. Prior to screening, patients have to empty their bowels as much as possible. This is a little traumatizing for the body.
At noon the day before the screening, I have to take 2 tablet laxatives (bisacodyl). Then over a two-hour time period, I have to drink 64 oz of Gatorade mixed with 238 grams of polyethylene glycol.
That day prior to my screening, I can only consume clear fluids with no red or purple dyes: i.e., broth, tea, gelatin, sports drinks, apple juice. Then at 8 pm the day prior, I have to take 2 more tablet laxatives. I am scheduled for a 9 am screening the next day, and someone has to drive me, stay there with me, and drive me home.
I am hoping that this process will be less dramatic if I eat easily digested foods in the days prior. I found various suggested meal plans for those preparing for a colonoscopy.
Colon Cancer Alliance Sample 6 Day Meal Plan
Aukland, New Zeland Dept. of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 3 Day Prep
Harvard Medical Teaching Hospital Low-Residue Diet
Basically, they are soft, bland, low-fiber foods such as white bread, overcooked vegetables and soft meats.
I don't have to do this for a few more days, so I have some time to prepare myself physically and mentally. For example, I bought myself some fancy clear juices. I will try to take notes about the experience in case I decide to write a bit more about the screening.
But mainly, this retired English teacher just hoping that All's Well that Ends Well and that my results show that this was all Much A-Poo about Nothing.
Why Get a Colonoscopy?
My 1st Colonoscopy Screening.