Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Colonoscopies and Other Invasive Medical Procedures

Today's subject is about the importance of getting a regular colonoscopy once you are over fifty years of age.

I was having a hard time coming up with a subject for today's blog post until I read my friend Dr. Spo's blog today. He will be undergoing his first colonoscopy in a couple of days.  I left two comments on his blog on the importance of getting regular colonoscopies.  

I was going to write about my upcoming procedure for my prostate cancer. My first appointment is tomorrow at the radiation oncology  unit at the Tunnel Cancer Center in Rehoboth Beach, DE.  Of course I am dreading this, the precursor to yet another invasive procedure to my body but a necessary one if I am to survive cancer free for a few more years.  Tomorrow I won't be poke or jabbed or suffer humiliation, pain and discomfort.  Tomorrow is a "get to know you" meeting which will take about two hours.  After going through all my options, I have decided to have radioactive seed implants.  More about that in another post.  This post is about the importance of colonoscopies.

I have had three colonoscopies.  The worst part about the colonoscopy procedure is what they innocently call "the prep."  That is the night before the procedure in this you have to cleanse your bowel tract of any fecal matter.  I won't sugar coat this, it is rough.  You have to drink 8 oz glasses of 4 liters of a liquid that taste like a mixture of toilet bowl cleaner and lime juice.  Gag?  After drinking the first few glasses you can call yourself "Lady Gag.....a".  God, it is AWFUL.  During my last "prep", I had Bill take a video of me drinking it and I posted it to You Tube.  It wasn't funny while I was taking it but I knew it would be funny someday.  I sort of see the humor in it now, I didn't then.  Dave Barry has a very funny article about his own "prep".  Hilarious but so true.  To read his colonoscopy article click here.

The actual procedure itself the next day is nothing.  In fact, it's sort of fun.  You don't even remember going out.  My last colonoscopy was in April of 2011.  It was a breeze.  I remember right before I was administered my "flight" medicine, my physicians' assistant asked me "Are you ready for your trip?"  I responded "I am sir".  The photos below were taken after my procedure.  As you can see I was still a little high and just returning to earth.  Now you can see why you need a driver.

Afterwards I was STARVING.  Hey, a little chicken broth the day before doesn't do it for me.  So what did I do?  I had Bill take me straight away to the Rehoboth Diner and I ordered my fav:  Eggplant Parmesan with fries!  This was 10:30 in the morning.  Best eggplant parm I've ever had in my life and I ate ALL OF IT.  

Let me emphasize the importance of having a regular colonoscopy after age fifty.  My Uncle Sam Tipton and my cousin Jeffrey Tipton never had colonoscopies.  Uncle Sam was 67 and cousin Jeffrey was 43. They always refused to have the procedure.  They both died of colon cancer.  My friend Ron B. never would have a colonoscopy. He died last year of colon cancer.  He was my age.  
My good friend and former boss Bill P. discovered he had colon cancer five years ago during a routine annual medical exam.  He had an operation that lasted eight hours.  He was given a one in four chance of survival. He sold his house and moved into a development so his wife wouldn't have to worry about mowing the grass and house maintenance.  He survived his operation only to have the colon cancer return six months later.  He had another operation which was successful.  He has now been a cancer survivor for over five years.  His doctor told him that if waited until the symptoms of colon cancer (usually blood in the toilet which is what both my uncle and cousin experienced), then it is usually too late.  

I know a colonoscopy is a very invasive procedure.  I recently had a prostate biopsy which was also a very invasive (and painful) procedure.  There are always risks involved in invasive procedures but when you weigh the odds, they're just not in your favor when you are over fifty and there is a history of colon cancer in your family.  

I wish my friend Dr. Spo well during his colonoscopy and also want to emphasize that he is doing exactly the right thing.  
My brother John laughing after I told him about my colonscopy "prep" night when I told him of my travails on iPhone FaceTime - brothers - never any sympathy


Amanda said...

That is something I look forward too (gag!). I am going to have my first colonoscopy in June. Thanks for the info as I now know what it is going to be like drinking the brew.

Anonymous said...

You are certainly right: the procedure is really nothing, even if you stay awake during it, but the prep is really the pits!

nitewrit said...


You need to chug-a-log it like ripping a bandaid off. Get it over quick! Laughing watching that. Even started funny with you trying to open the bottle. Don't you just love those child proof caps?


Jon said...

I applaud you for writing about these things. You are providing an education - especially for people who don't like to think about these subjects.

Ron said...

Thank you Jon. I don't believe these medical procedures should be shrouded in secrecy or shame. I tell all, or as much as I can on a family blog.


anne marie in philly said...

yeah, you DO look rather high there after the procedure.

substitute baked chicken breast for the eggplant and pasta for the fries and I would have a great lunch!

Ron said...


I find the older I get the harder it is to open anything, even cereal boxes!


Ron said...

Anne Marie,

Oh I was high alright. A good high I might add. Al too soon it wore off though but I kept it going with the eggplant parm. They also service chicken parm.


Ron said...


I was awake during one of my procedures. I didn't care for it at all. No pain but a lot of pressure, grunting, and shoving. Very disconcerting. I don't need to monitor what's going on.


Ron said...


I was told that the "brew" was made more palatable. Still tasted like airplane blue laced with lime to me. God awful.


Anonymous said...

Ron, I'm sorry but I couldn't help but laugh at that video. When I had to drink the turbo-lax I just chugged it as fast as I could to get it over with. Yeah, you looked high in those post-procedure pictures.

I remember when they got the anesthesia going, I was talking away with the nurses, and then it seemed like I couldn't hear anything. Next thing I knew, I was waking up. I'm glad I don't need to do that again for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

As I commented on Urspo's blog...even at 54, until my doctor insists on it, nothing is going up my keister!
Peace <3

Randy in NEB. said...

Ron, Good luck my friend, I did the colonoscopy treatment last year at 52. I called it getting the borescope up the a$$ check. Turbo-lax is right, I got 2 bottles of the stuff and drank them 4 hours apart. I think the prep was worse than actual colonoscopy,took 2 days off from work. My two nurses were kind of cute, too bad I'm not straight. I'm sending nothing but good thoughts your way. Randy

Ron said...

Thank you Randy. In about two hours I will be meeting with my oncology radiation team to plan my treatment for prostate cancer. Of course I am nervous. I am looking forward to the day when I can have clear sailing for several months without any medical procedures or doctor's appointments.

I cannot enough the importance of getting a colonoscopy once a person reaches the age of fifty. I know three people who refused to get a colonoscopy. They are dead now. It was too late when they discovered they had colon cancer. I try to avoid unnecessary medical procedures but this one is absolutely necessary.

Thanks again for your good thoughts Randy. Always appreciated.


Ron said...


You sound like my Uncle Sam who said "No one is sticking anything up my ass." His wife often urged him to get a colonoscopy but he was bullheaded and refused. One night, before they were going to go out to dinner, he went to the bathroom. He came out and said to his wife "Honey, come here and look." The toilet was filled with blood. She said "Now you're definitely going to the doctor!" He was diagnosed with colon cancer and four months later he was dead. A similar situation happened with my cousin Jeffrey. He was only 44 years old. Same thing happened to my friend Ron (not me, another "Ron"). No one can tell you what to do Jay, you have to make that decision yourself. But what I can say is that you're playing Russian Roulette. Then there was my friend Bill P. who discovered he had colon cancer through a routine medical exam. He had it operated on and is now cancer free. His doctor said if he had waited until the symptoms showed, he wouldn't be here today. That was enough to convince me to have a colonoscopy. I've had three of them so far, one they discovered two benign polyps that could turn cancerous if left in Just offering some helpful information to you Jay so you can make your own decision.


Ron said...


I laugh now when I look at that video I made. Wasn't fun when I was making it though.

As in all my colonoscopy procedures, I don't even remember going out of coming to. I was "just there", then I was "there" again. I don't remember the fade out or fade in. Sort of fun interesting. Wouldn't want to get hooked on that drug though.


Ur-spo said...

After chugalugging a variety of things normally done by those with anorexia, I've had all day build up like that fellow in "Alien". Finally it is working - twice I've had to change my clothing.
Gads I would give my right arm to have some egg parm. I haven't had one in ages - you bet your knickers it is what I want when i get to Delaware.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,

Can you imagine living like that (anorexia folks) all the time? God, just chicken broth and Jello. I wanted something solid in the worst way. It was like torture sipping watery chicken broth.

I will definitely take you and Someone to the Rehoboth Diner (which is open all night) when you arrive. They serve the best Eggplant Parmesan in the area.