A colonoscopy is a screening test of the colon. Just as a mammogram is a test to check for breast cancer, a colonoscopy is a procedure to screen the colon and small bowel for cancer and benign growths. If you are experiencing signs such as blood in your stool, a change in bowel habits, abdominal pain and/or unexplained weight loss, your doctor might recommend a colonoscopy.
It is also encouraged that everyone, regardless of family history or symptoms, have a colonoscopy at age 50. Well-known medical expert Dr. Oz recommends that you have then have the screening done every ten years.
The colonscopy involves a physician, usually a gastroenterologist, inserting a colonscope to examine the colon, small bowel, and rectal area.. The colonscope is able to check for polyps and any cancerous growths. The doctor can remove the polyps during the colonoscopy.
I had a colonoscopy done several years ago in my early 20’s. Truthfully, the procedure itself is not what is bad.
It’s the necessary prep work that’s isn’t too fun.
In order for your doctor to get a clear view of colon, it must be empty and clear. This must be done by drinking a gallon jug of a drink called Golytely. I had to drink one 8 oz glass of the golytely every 10 minutes until the jug was empty. It is not that very palatable and has an unusual taste. However, my doctor said I could mix it with 7-up, Sprite or another clear liquid to help get it down. (Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can do that.) I believe that Golytely now comes in different flavors as well.
The golytely will then help you completely eliminate the stool in your colon. In other words, it will give you diarrhea. This can cause some discomfort in the anus area, and it is recommended that you use wet wipes. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on the toilet the day, or evening before. This preparation is absolutely necessary for the colonoscopy. Obviously, you cannot eat as well.
After you’ve finished the preparation, you can relax, as the hard part is behind you. The next morning, you will meet your doctor at a specialized clinic or hospital. (In my case, I actually did the prep work, and stayed overnigh at the hospital, however I don’t think this is the norm.) Be sure to have someone to drive you home after the procedure. You will be sedated through the entire tests.
You might feel the scope enter you as the anesthesia is taking effect. It is not that uncomfortable.
If the doctor finds any polyps during the test, they will (hopefully) be removed during the procedure. After the procedure is over, you will be watched as you wake up from the anesthesia. Your doctor can then review with you the results from the exam.
You can resume your normal diet after the exam. You might have some continued discomfort and gas pains for a day or two.
In all honestly, a colonscopy is not that bad. It’s a necessary procedure to help screen for colon cancer. If you are reluctant to have one because you’re embarrassed or afraid it will be uncomfortable, please don’t be. The earlier cancer is detected the better the prognosis is for a full recovery. For more articles to read, check out “Don’t Fret, Getting a Colonscopy Isn’t So Bad.” and “Colonoscopy – What to Expect Before, During and After.”
Take it easy and Hang in there!