Friday, April 29, 2011

BOTTOMS UP - A BELOW THE BELT COMMENTARY ON A SENSITIVE ISSUE...BUM PLUG #3

April is the month that finally awakes a sense of coming alive after the seemingly endless days of burrowing inside under the warmth of snug blankets or cozy sweaters, venturing outside only when we need to or when we reach the point where "cabin fever" is about to send us over the edge. When April comes we want to break loose and explode out of our cocoon to enjoy the fresh air and the great outdoors while witnessing the newness of nature budding out. We search out the signs that spring is really here, from the singing of the birds and spring peepers to the new shoots...and yes, even those weeds... bursting from the soil. We have a powerful urge to get down and dig and plant and create.

One of the first affirmations that spring has arrived is the blooming of one of my favorite flowers, the daffodil, usually by mid to late April in our area. Its timely arrival in April makes it the appropriate flower to represent the Canadian Cancer Society's annual fund raiser for cancer research. This year, April 27th has been marked as "Daffodil Day" in support of anyone struggling with cancer or suffering the loss of a loved one from cancer.

Another date this month, April 29th, is on everyone's mind for other reasons as they await the Royal Wedding of William and Kate, and while I will be checking in mostly to see "the dress", my thoughts on that day will also be with my mother who would have been 82 had she not died at age 47 of bowel cancer.

Ruth Marie (Wile) Hiltz
April 29th 1929 - Nov. 28th 1976
Paul Merrill Hiltz
Nov. 28th 1926 - May 8th 1997

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The 29th is also time for me to post the third in a series of what I call “Bum Plugs” in my effort to spread the message of the importance of early colon cancer screening. Having a family history of colon cancer, my mom at 47 and my maternal grandfather at 50, puts me in the high risk group for getting colon cancer. But knowing my family history also means that regular colon screening every five years or less is available to me and all seven of my siblings, and that is very reassuring. A new gasterologist in our area who focuses mainly on colonoscopies has shortened my wait for a colonoscopy from what usually takes up to two years from time of referral to just two short months. I encourage everyone, especially if you have a family history of colon cancer to ask your family doctor about screening. Don't let embarrassment put you off...live your life...get tested...and please copy and paste this badge to your side bar with a link back to this post.

COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING  
Live Your Life, Get Tested!



The Scoop On Colonoscopies!

What happens before a colonoscopy?
The day before the procedure is a day of fasting, no solid food, only clear liquids... and nothing red or orange for obvious reasons. Next comes the hard part and there is no way to sugar coat it… it is just plain nasty!!!!

Your doctor will have already given you instructions on what to pick up at the pharmacy and you should have these already on hand. In my case I was given the choice of eitherPico-Salax" or the prep of his preference "Colyte."  Eager to please the Doc, I chose the Colyte over the Pico-Salax (will not be doing that again) which involves mixing the Colyte crystals with four liters of water and drinking it all over a period of four to six hours. While it didn't taste bad, it had a thick slippery texture that was not to my liking and I managed to down only three liters over a six hour period...but enough to do the job. For past colonoscopies I used Pico-Salax and it wasn't bad at all...there is only two glasses of citrus flavoured prep to drink plus lots of water. Whichever prep you choose, they both have the same result...within an hour you start to shit...lots...and lots...and it will last the next few hours.

The day of the colonoscopy…
The day of the colonoscopy you will check into the day surgery department of the hospital. You will be given a beautiful johnny shirt to wear and a housecoat (another Johnny shirt to tie in the front) so your ass is not exposed, paper slippers for your feet and a blanket to cover yourself while you wait. When it is time for your procedure you be taken to the room where the colonoscopy equipment is set up and be given a pain reliever and a sedative intravenously (in your vein); you will feel relaxed and somewhat drowsy. You will lie on the left side, with your knees drawn up towards your chest. 

What happens during a colonoscopy?
During a colonoscopy, the physician uses a colonoscope (a long, flexible instrument about 1/2 inch in diameter) to view the lining of the colon. The colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and advanced through the large intestine. A small amount of air is used to expand the colon so the physician can see the colon walls. This is the only time you will likely ever be told that it is OK to pass gas...it will make you feel better and helps the Doc to get a better view. You may feel mild cramping during the procedure; cramping can be reduced by taking slow, deep breaths. The colonoscope is slowly withdrawn while the lining of your bowel is carefully examined. Some people dose during this procedure but I was wide awake and I didn't feel a thing.

If necessary during a colonoscopy, small amounts of tissue can be removed for analysis (a biopsy) and polyps can be identified and entirely removed. In many cases, a colonoscopy allows accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems without the need for a major operation. The procedure lasts from 30 minutes to one hour. 

What happens after a colonoscopy
You will stay in a recovery room for observation until you are ready for discharge. You may feel some cramping or a sensation of having gas, but this quickly passes. You will probably let one rip but you won’t be the only one so don’t be embarrassed. You will be offered a muffin and tea or coffee before you leave…take it… after almost two days of nothing to eat, the carrot muffin and tea I was given was divine. A responsible adult must drive you home; avoid alcohol, driving, and operating machinery for 24 hours following the procedure. Unless otherwise instructed, you may immediately resume your normal diet, but it is recommended you wait until the day after your procedure to resume normal activities. 

If polyps were removed or a biopsy was taken, avoid taking aspirin, products containing aspirin, or anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen [Advil®, Motrin®], naproxen [Naprosyn®] or indomethacin [Indocin®]) for two (2) weeks after the procedure to help decrease the risk of bleeding; you may take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) if needed. If a biopsy was taken or a polyp was removed, you may notice light rectal bleeding for one to two days after the procedure; large amounts of bleeding, the passage of clots, or abdominal pain should be immediately reported.

Three of my sisters and me have had colonoscopies in the past month or so and two out of four have had polyps detected or removed and will have to go back for a follow up visit. I was one of the lucky ones and will not need another colonoscopy for five years. Although the procedure itself was a piece of cake the prep was not pleasant… but when I consider what it must like to battle colon cancer I won’t complain.


For more Information on colon cancer you can check back to my earlier post, 

BOTTOMS UP - A BELOW THE BELT COMMENTARY ON A SENSITIVE ISSUE...BUM PLUG #1

or 

 BOTTOMS UP - A BELOW THE BELT COMMENTARY ON A SENSITIVE ISSUE...BUM PLUG #2

 or check out the  Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada web site.

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that you are posting this information, Marisa. I know that I have told you before that my mother died of colon cancer at 51. I am due for my next colonoscopy in about a year. I hope many, many people take your advice.

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  2. Important info.

    Daffodils were the get-ready-to=explode-into-action sign in England. Here it's crocuses (croci)?

    ReplyDelete