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Feature Commentary September 25th, 2008


 

The Procedure
by lyle e davis

Ah, yes . . . "the procedure."

Came time for little ol' Lyle to have a colonoscopy. Again. This was, I think, the third time I've had it.

As I looked up into the eyes of Dr. Chris Costanza, a young, handsome, and gentle gastroenterologist, I asked . . . "now, you're only going to put the tip of it in, right?"

He smiled and nodded in the affirmative.

"And you're going to take it out when I tell you, right?"

He smiled again.

"And you're going to turn the lights down low and put on some nice, romantic music too, right?”

Again, he smiled. (I had the sense that he had heard these questions before . . . only in a totally different venue . . . and not at all connected to the practice of medicine. Probably from some compliant young lady).

My mom had colon cancer about 30 years ago. She has since passed on but not from colon cancer. She managed to beat that. However, whenever a close family member has had colon cancer the medical community tends to keep a closer watch on you.

It's where and how they watch which is . . . well, somewhat invasive. "oh, it'll be so humiliating . . . I'm just not looking forward to this. . . ."

Relax.

The procedure is nothing. Simple. Easy. And it's not humiliating at all. No more than going in for a vaccination.

You are ushered into the procedure room. Given one of those terribly sexy hospital gowns that open down the back, and invited to lay down on a comfortable table. You are then given both Versed and Demerol. The Versed is a form of anesthesia. Technically, you're awake during the entire procedure but it wipes out the short term memory. While the doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube (endoscope) to check out your innards (normally referred to as 'your colon', you won't remember a thing. You'll just wake up in recovery. While in the Recovery Room you might talk goofy for about five minutes (I did for my first two procedures; gave Evelyn (Madison) and the nurses quite a laugh . . . though I don't remember what I said. This time there was no goofy talk, at least that I remember. I just cleared my mind of the anesthetic, got dressed and rode home with my eldest son. (Evelyn is running for a seat on the local hospital board and I insisted she attend a candidatess forum, so I drafted Scott to assist 'dear old dad.)

The Demerol is given to both relax you and to overcome any discomfort or pain. (Demerol is one of those magic drugs that removes any fear. "You wanna amputate both legs, doc? Sure, go ahead. I'm not walking right now anyway.") You tend to fly high on Demerol and, literally, are feeling no pain.

What is the uncomfortable part is the prep work the night before. Liquid diet all day the day before the procedure. Bouillion, light broths, scrumptious Jello, sodas . . . but nothing solid.

Then comes nighttime and that delicious liquid laxative they give you. Even the "sitting on the throne" a good portion of the evening is not that big of a deal. Hell, I've been in training for that all my life. Got pretty good at it, too. I may try out for the Olympics if they ever have that as a category.

I've had issues with the taste of the various laxatives (initially the Fleet liquid laxative (by those same wonderful folks who bring you the Fleet enema bottles) and I vowed to never drink that again. Tastes like bad, rancid salt water. I gagged on it. I complained about it to my GI (gastrointestinal doc); he prescribed a new drink . . .Colyte. It, too, has a salty taste but you can knock this out by adding lemon flavored, sugar free, Crystal Lite.

Now the problem becomes one of volume. You have to drink one gallon of the stuff! You have three hours to drink it all, with about 8 ounces every 10 minutes.

I learned, too late, that there is a newer product on the market called Golytely. A law enforcement friend of mine who has had four or five colonoscopies told me this was much more palatable than Colyte and you didn't have to drink nearly as much (though they do encourage you to drink lots of liquids the night before the procedure). Golytely was not in stock at my Kaiser pharmacy; they could have ordered it but I was too late. This was the day before the procedure. In five years, when I undergo this procedure again, I shall insist on Golytely (or an even newer product).

And that was it!

"See you in five years," he smiled.

Which is fine.

But he never writes. He never calls. And after such intimate moments we've had together . . .

•••••

Seriously folks . . . if you're over 50 . . . or if you've had cancer in your family, particularly colon cancer, you owe it to yourself to consult with your doctor and inquire about a colonoscopy.

It just isn't that bad, is covered by most insurance plans, and it will give you a great deal of peace of mind. On a worst case basis, if they do the colonoscopy and they do find signs of colon cancer, if you catch it early . . . you can beat it!

Don't be so damned bashful that you wind up killing yourself.

Get busy and talk to your doctor!

Lyle has spoken.

 

 

 

 


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