As an employee of a health care institution, I consider it my professional obligation to inform you that I’ve had one, and it ain’t that bad. Want to hear more? Perhaps not, but I’ll tell you anyway.
Colonoscopies generally are recommended for people age 50 and older, since they account for more than 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases. The procedure, which involves running a thin, tubelike instrument through the colon, helps doctors spot precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
As it happens, I wasn’t quite 50 when I had mine, but I had a few minor symptoms that might fall into the “cause for concern” category. My primary care doctor and gastroenterologist weren’t particularly alarmed, but they wanted to play it safe, and they figured I was close enough to my golden years to experience this rite of passage.
Roughly 24 hours leading up to my colonoscopy, I subsisted on chicken broth, ginger ale and lemon gelatin — the closest substance to solid food that I was allowed to eat.
Then, in the early evening, came the MoviPrep, a magical elixir that quite effectively ensures that your colon is squeaky clean. After downing voluminous amounts of the commonly prescribed solution — which tastes, as another blogger aptly noted, like a mixture of Sprite and sea water — I watched TV, waited and remained very close to a bathroom. The next morning, I repeated the process.
The procedure itself proved less eventful. I won’t pretend I wasn’t nervous — less about the colonoscopy than what it might find — but the nurses and doctor, and eventually a mild sedative, put me at ease. Although some people remember nothing about the colonoscopy, I was awake and somewhat alert during at least part of mine — and I even watched the monitor along with the doctor and nurse. It was completely painless, and as it turned out, the doctor found nothing other than a mild case of diverticulosis.
I’m not particularly eager to have another one anytime soon, but when the time comes in nine years or so, I won’t fear or avoid it. You shouldn’t either.