I've been mostly out of commission the last couple of days, but it's been for a very important reason, and I'd like to talk to you about it.
I had my first colonoscopy.
|My husband snapped this photo as I was having my IV removed following my colonoscopy. |
My policy toward IV's is simple: always look away.
When I was a little girl, people would never have talked about "private" matters. For instance, no one said a lady was "pregnant"; she was "expecting a baby." I can't remember ever hearing the word "breast" uttered. When I grew up and entered the workforce, I found that my colleagues would never say that they were going to the restroom; they'd say "I need to run down the hall for a moment."
To be honest, every now and then I miss some things about that scrupulously polite society. But there's one thing I'm really glad about. I'm grateful that we can now discuss what's good for our health, even if the topic of discussion involves private parts of our bodies.
I'm grateful that breast cancer awareness has skyrocketed and women are encouraged to have mammograms. I'm grateful that women are getting regular Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. And I'm really grateful that there's a method to screen for colon cancer.
The topic of colon cancer hits close to home for me. My mother died very young--she was just 58 and my dad was 59 at the time of her death. God provided my father with a second wife, a wonderful woman whose husband had died. Theirs was a match made in heaven--but then she developed colon cancer that wasn't diagnosed until it was already Stage IV. Losing my lovely stepmother and watching my father go through the death of his wife a second time was excruciating.
So although colon cancer doesn't run in my family, awareness of it certainly does. And yesterday I took the simple step of getting a colonoscopy to screen for any issues.
I'll be completely truthful: preparing for a colonoscopy isn't fun. No two ways about it--completely flushing out your intestines isn't a pretty process. But I realize now that it isn't that big a deal. The primary product my doctor prescribed was MiraLax, which was very easy to take--it mixes easily with liquid and is odorless and tasteless. I simply mixed it with Gatorade. The most important part, I learned, is consuming lots of clear liquids, which is not too onerous a task.
|This plus a lot of Gatorade was my dinner the night before the procedure.|
As for the procedure itself, it couldn't be much easier. The only painful part was the small stick from having the IV put in. And it wasn't the least bit undignified.
I'd say the greatest difficulty with having this procedure is the inconvenience. The preparation for it consumes a great deal of the day before the colonoscopy, and the procedure itself pretty much takes a full day, since the sedatives take a while to get out of your system. But the peace of mind that comes from having been screened for colon cancer was well worth a day and a half of my time.
I am grateful that my test showed no polyps or other unusual results. I'll go back in 10 years and have another colonoscopy. I suspect I'd be even more grateful if there had been anything unusual, because it would have been found and treated before it became life-threatening.
How about you? Have you had a mammogram? a Pap smear? a colonoscopy? Do you know anyone who has suffered from breast, cervical, ovarian, or colon cancer? Do you have a tip to share? Or would you prefer that we not talk about these "unmentionables"?