Tuesday, February 28, 2017: 7:27 am
Stories & news

Colon Column

Preparations sometimes worse than procedure

This guest column was submitted by Rob Hunter, a former H-T community columnist.

Many years ago, a student asked me what a colonoscopy was. As I’d never had one, I proceeded to describe it for him.

“Oh, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard!” he shrieked, putting a hand to his eyes. “I wish you hadn’t told me!”

And that’s what this column is about, having a colonoscopy. If I were you I’d head straight for the comics.

Still here? OK, sport, you asked for it.

It’s a straightforward enough thing to describe. Our exit plumbing is one-way south, right? A colonoscopy happens when a doctor—a doctor with a mighty eclectic specialty, if you ask me—takes a tube with a little light and camera on the end (colonoscope) and opts for the northbound ramp. What the scope “sees” is projected on a video screen.

Perhaps your spouse has been encouraging you to have one. Truth told, men and women over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years. The reason has to do with the C-word, and I won’t make jokes about that.

According to the American Medical Association the procedure is done “in order to find and remove polyps or precancerous changes before they produce any symptoms. In this way, colon cancer can actually be prevented.”

Ninety-nine out of a 100 people who’ve had a colonoscopy will tell you that the preparation is worse than the procedure. This is mostly because of the beverage, an “electrolyte lavage,” you’re required to ingest on the day prior.

It’s a concoction one prepares oneself, a mixture whose active ingredient is Miralax. We’re talking more than half a gallon here, but you’ll get it down. Afterward, stay close to the bathroom. Very close. (Just take up residence in the bathroom, OK? And stock it with the softest bathroom tissue you can find.)

After the lavage works its magic, you’ll have the cleanest colon on the block, and a Facebook status your friends will never forget.

The colonoscope injects air as needed for greater visibility. It also has the capability to take samples of anything in your colon that the doctor deems sufficiently interesting. The samples are sent to a lab for testing. And remember how I said this procedure should be done at least once every 10 years? Depending upon what turns up, or your family history, you may have to have another one sooner than that. But, hey, this is for your own good. You’re on top of things now. So is your doctor. Well done.

And if a medical chickenheart like me can work up enough courage to go through with it, so can you. Make that phone call and set up an appointment. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your Significant Encourager.

I’ll hoist a lavage in your honor. You can bet your bottom on it.

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