I did it. I had my first colonoscopy yesterday. And I was grateful to Katie Couric for leading the way.
After Couric decided to broadcast her colonoscopy, a previously distasteful topic suddenly became a suitable subject for casual conversation, cocktail party chitchat, and 'girl talk.' (And, apparently, YouTube videos from a whole bunch of random women who like to share their 'prep' experiences. Here's the first one.)
When I mentioned to friends that I was going to have one, advice and support flowed in. Lorraine was the most helpful, detailing what to expect during the 2-4 day pre-procedure prep. A nurse at my doctor's office recommended sucking on hard candies to help me drink the 2 liters of solution needed to flush everything out the night before the colonoscopy. My husband brought home bags of Life Savers, Jolly Ranchers, and Charms Blow Pops. Like a kid on Halloween night, I gorged on the candy, trying to overcome the impulse to gag over the sweet-salty drink. (Here's a second colonoscopy prep video of my skinny younger doppelganger drinking the same stuff I did.)
When I went in for the outpatient procedure yesterday, the nurses told me, "Last night was tough. This is the easy part." And they were right. I put on a hospital gown, lay down on a bed, had an IV inserted, was told that my sedative cocktail would contain the drug that Michael Jackson OD'd on, but not to worry -- they'd manage my care much better.
I was wheeled into a room where I was told to lie on my left side. The anesthesiologist began injecting the sedative, saying, "You may begin to feel a little dizzy and sleepy," and that was it --I was out like a light.
Then half a second later I heard a nurse say, "Wake up, Linda, you're all done." It seemed instantaneous, and it was painless.
Seriously, the compression you feel in your breast during a mammogram is more painful than a colonoscopy. It's a piece of cake.
Some women tend to avoid the recommended screenings, even if they have the health insurance to cover it. I'm here to tell you that you shouldn't skip your colonoscopy if your doctor says it's time. Cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, and colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths behind lung and breast cancer. A simple procedure like a colonoscopy makes early detection possible.
And it is simple...really. If you doubt my words, take a look at Katie Couric's colonoscopy video. She gets a little loopy, but she looks better than I do in a hospital gown. And she's started a cottage industry of colonoscopy videos by women on YouTube. Proof positive that women like to share...maybe a little too much.