As a contributor to this fine publication, my basic charge is to comment on the lighter things in life. This month, I’d like to flip the script a bit and instead find a little light in a relatively dark topic.
The little light at the end of a colonoscope, that is.
After her husband passed away from colon cancer, noted television news person Katie Couric underwent a very public colonoscopy to raise awareness about how this simple procedure can save lives. In the wake of her advocacy colonoscopies jumped 20%, an effect known as the Couric Effect. This, of course, is a good thing: colorectal cancer is very curable if caught early. This interests me, because with my family history I am considered high risk.
High risk means there are no dancing Cologuard packages in my letterbox inviting me to conveniently mail it in, so there’s no getting around it: when my doctor’s office texts me with a reminder, there’s only one way this will end, and that’s with me in a backless hospital gown in a cold procedure room wishing I had worn socks and counting backwards from 10. Have no fear: I’m no Katie Couric and you won’t be Rick Rolled with a video (if you knew Rick before he was Rolling, you may want to pay attention).
That being said: the colonoscopy has gotten a lot of bad press that might keep you from investing in this valuable procedure. Follow me, then, and see how a colonoscopy is like a book; when you reach the appendix, you’re done.
I received my Prep Kit and stared at it for several weeks while I digested the instructions and pondered my upcoming Prep Day. I knew the basics: I’d abstain from seeds, nuts and popcorn for three days, then spend a day on clear fluids, and some of those clear fluids would be The Prep Solution, the key to a successful procedure. I knew that it was important that I follow The Prep faithfully, because while The Prep Day is hardly the Bataan Death March, it is not exactly a walk in the park that I care to repeat because of my own carelessness.
Clear Fluids Day dawned appropriately clear and bright, and several mugs of steaming broth carried me through the day, though I confess that when it ran dry I was looking longingly at the dregs in my empty cup like they were a tomahawk steak.
I had researched The Prep Solution and found recommendations that it be served chilled, and that it tasted like a tart green apple. Oh, Suprep, I know tart green apples. Tart green apples are old friends of mine and Suprep, you are no tart green apple (Note: if you’re old enough to remember that joke, you really should talk to your doctor).
Drinking The Prep Solution was the only unpleasant event in this Poopapalooza, and it lasted about 20 minutes. Once drunk you soon forget the taste, which is good. When Dad, Interrupted runs the gauntlet (pun not intended, but I’m taking it) in a few months I’ll set him up a flight of Suprep mixers like a wine tasting.
An hour and a half later, events were, as they say, in motion. Note to self: stay vigilant and be prepared. Make sure you're stocked up on toilet paper; this is not the time to make a run to Target (again, pun not intended, but again, taking it).
Five hours later, I prepared another round of Suprep, which further reading tells me is the result of years’ work to make it, and I swear they used this word, "tastier."
They keep using that word. I don’t think it means what they think it means. But I get it down. An hour later, I had no memory of the taste (oh, and if you got that joke, you may be old enough to consider this with your physician).
Three hours later, I finished pondering my bathroom decorating choices and got some sleep. In the interest of full disclosure, I can say that, In terms of an event, this was less eventful than a mild stomach bug. And I still like the bathroom paint job.
Four hours after that, I met the helpful and cheerful staff at the endoscopy center, was hooked up to an IV and in the cold procedure room the doctor and nurse laughed at my feeble attempts at sadly unoriginal bathroom humor and the handsome nurse anesthetist told me that the sedative would take effect soon. I had just enough time to wonder how long "soon" was before I woke in a warm recovery area as the doctor showed me a picture of my squeaky clean appendix and equally clean bill of health.
Within two hours of my arrival, Dad, Interrupted was whisking me away for some breakfast and a very long nap.
In the end, I was slightly hungry for half a day, uncomfortable for a total of 90 minutes, and embarrassed for zero minutes. I will feel good that I took care of this vital step for another five years, until I do it again.
If the Twenty Percent Evans Effect hits, that means three of you will schedule an appointment. Please do; don’t make me Rick Roll you.
Elizabeth Evans is a local mother, wife, daughter, sister, former stay-at-home mom, former work-outside-the-home mom, former work-at-home mom and a human resources consultant.