- ‘My Experience’: Dan’s intimate colonoscopy experience
- More information on colonoscopy
- More information on bowel cancer (colorectal cancer)
Dan may have become the ‘butt’ of a few jokes for a short time before his colonoscopy, but screening for bowel cancer is no laughing matter. Though Dan was apprehensive at first, he says that now that he has done it, he knows this procedure is absolutely nothing to fear. In fact, it actually turned out to be one of the best naps he’s taken in ages.
If you’ve left your screening ‘in arrears’ for too long, Dan says it’s time to face the music. It is recommended that people over 55 be screened every couple of years since your risk of bowel cancer increases the older you get.
“I was having my annual check up with the GP and he asked me if I’d had a colonoscopy because I’m over 50,” he says. “My uncle died of bowel cancer so I knew it was an important thing to do. He only had six weeks from when he was diagnosed until he passed.”
So if you’re over 50, and especially if you have a history of cancer in your family, it’s time to stop putting it off.
As Dan says, “Getting it done is no big deal … actually, I felt very refreshed afterwards.”
Dan says that you have step-by-step instructions the whole way through the process so there aren’t any crazy surprises.
“They send you an information sheet, telling you how to prepare for it,” Dan says. “You start with a special diet with foods that are easily digestible.
“It’s very important to follow because if your bowels aren’t perfectly clear, then you will have do re-do it anyway.
“The diet was boring but I rather like fis,h which was allowed, so I ate a lot of salmon with consommé.”
Thaaar she blows!
Two days before the procedure, Dan took a couple of tablets to ‘purge’ his body. This is the start of the cleaning out process and though it mightn’t be pretty, it is very necessary.
“Then, on the evening before the procedure, you go to the chemist and pick up a couple of sachets of a special drink,” Dan says. “Basically, it brings on diarrhoea and it tastes quite terrible. You have to drink lots of water and you have to start fasting too.”
Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like the best experience you’ll ever have, but if it catches the cancer in its early stages, then it’s the best time you’ll ever spend.
Is that steak I smell?
“You can’t eat anything solid after 10.30am the previous day, but you can have tea, coffee and fruit juices,” Dan says.
“My wife also got me some energy drinks to keep up my nutrients and water intake.
“Then you just have fluid running through your system.”
The morning of the procedure, at least three hours beforehand, you need to take another sachet to finish off the job and then you can’t have anything else at all.
“I was dying for a steak,” Dan says. “The worst feeling is when people start heating up their delicious lunch in front of you.
“Even when you go to the hospital the first thing you smell is the food cooking. But before long you are admitted and you get prepped for the procedure.”
After the medical staff reviews your history you get your ‘peek-a-boo’ gown and booties. Perhaps not the hottest fashion statement, but at least it gives your doctor easy access.
“After checking your vitals and checking for any allergies, the anaesthetist explains how he’ll be knocking you out for the day,” Dan says. “Finally, they put a needle in your arm and pop a towel under you posterior … the next thing you know, you’re waking up.”
In the end, Dan wasn’t traumatised at all. In fact, he says, “I don’t remember a thing about it.”
When Dan woke up (and after a hearty meal) the doctor came down to talk about all the things he did and saw while ‘vacationing’ in Dan’s bowels. He even showed Dan photos taken from inside his guts.
“In my case, the specialist saw that my bowel had a few little scars on it,” he says. “Apparently it’s a natural thing and happens from years of going to the loo. So I was told that if I ever get pain there I may need to have antibiotics.
As you can see, there are many reasons to get a colonoscopy because you never quite know what kind of party your bowels are throwing down there.
No ifs, no butts
Soon after, Dan’s GP called to discuss the results.
“He asked me why I was straining in the loo, he assumed it was because I was suffering from constipation.
“I said it’s only because I’m impatient!
“I have a busy lifestyle and I like to get in and get out, if you know what I mean. But now I realise how important it is not to force it. We shouldn’t rush our bodies.”
Even though Dan’s screening went very well, he will need a check up sometime in the next three years. If you are of the age to get yours done, it’s time to book now. No ifs – no butts.
For more information about how to prepare for a colonoscopy procedure and its potential risks, see Colonoscopy.
For more information on bowel cancer, types of bowel cancer, and its tests, treatments and useful videos, see Bowel Cancer (Colorectal Cancer).
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