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Let me tell you about my day today.  I got up at 4:30am.  I piled myself and Mr. RenaRF into the car and drove an hour to Warren County Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, VA.  We had to be there by 6:45am.  Mr. RenaRF was scheduled for his first colonoscopy.

Over the fold, I'll give you some graphic details about the day before and day of as well as some background on how and why he came to schedule it without any nagging whatsoever in the first place.  Take a deep breath and follow me.

Most of you know that Mr. RenaRF and I are musicians.  Because of this, we have many musician friends.  Because music as a full-time pursuit makes it difficult to pay the bills, our musician friends (like us) all have day jobs.  One of our friends is a Physician's Assistant (PA) for a colorectal doc.  In this role, he spends a lot of his time assisting with colonoscopies.  Just to speed this along, the friend had one of his friends develop colon cancer and die from it.  This struck our friend hard, and he started on his campaign to ensure that his friends over a certain age get screened for colon cancer.

One of those friends was Mr. RenaRF.  Having turned 50 a few months ago, he wasn't rushing out to schedule his colonoscopy.  He has no family history that would warrant concern.  Yet our friend essentially badgered him until he came in to the doctor's for a consultation.  The doctor opened by telling Mr. RenaRF this:

"NO ONE has to die from colon cancer.  No one."

It was delivered in such a way, with such conviction, that Mr. RenaRF instantly took the guy seriously and listened to what he had to say.  He counseled Mr. RenaRF on colon cancer, it's slow-moving nature, and the imperative of early detection as well as intervention with things that might become colon cancer down the road.  He explained that the procedure itself was nothing, that he (Mr. RenaRF!) would be sedated and not even know it was happening.  Before leaving the hospital, Mr. RenaRF scheduled his colonoscopy for two weeks later.

Preparing for the colonoscopy starts the day before the procedure itself.  Although they tell you not to eat solid food on that day, the doctor told Mr. RenaRF that he could have breakfast which, being a foodie, he did.  You don't have to fast the rest of the day - you can have broths and bouillons, jello, and popsicles.  The ONLY caveat is that NOTHING you eat can have red food coloring in it.  Apparently this makes your colon look like some kind of 1970s-era Saturday Night Fever disco and interferes with the process.

The doctor prescribed to Mr. RenaRF two things in preparation for the colonoscopy.  At about 2pm the day before the procedure, he had to take four pills.  What these were were prescription strength laxatives.  It took about 45 minutes to work and did cause about 20 minutes of cramping before he was off to the powder room.  That first post-pill powder room visit is a signal to start drinking the fluid.  What that was was essentially either a litre or a half-gallon container with about 1/2" of powdered stuff in the bottom.  The doctor told him to mix it with Crystal Light (lemonade - remember - no red food coloring!!) and then follow the instructions.  The instructions were to drink one 8oz. glass every ten minutes.

Now - where I come into this preparatory process is twofold: I was the food police early on in the day (making sure he didn't eat too late and didn't eat after breakfast) and the administrator of the drink at ten minute intervals.  I know the cramping was uncomfortable for Mr. RenaRF, though he said it was only about 20 minutes of discomfort that was not pain.  The stuff he had to drink was probably the most problematic.  I looked it up on (the total treatment, pills plus liquid, is called HalfLytely if you're interested) and saw that about 50% of people who use it experience some level of nausea, and Mr. RenaRF was no different.  It passed, however, and so did a lot of other stuff, if you get my drift.  The idea of the pre-colonoscopy treatment is, of course, to get you all squeaky clean and shiny so the doctor see your actual colon.

With all of that completed, we called it a night and, as mentioned in the intro, rose bright and early to get to the hospital.  We went much further in terms of distance than most people would go, but we did so because of our connection to our musician friend.  We arrived there about 10 minutes before the time listed on the informatin sheet he had been given and they settled him into a room.

The first thing is that everything has to come off and be placed in a personal belongings bag.  I helped him into a hospital gown and tied the back, and they gave him these socks with grips on the sole part and told him he had to wear a surgical cap.  With that, he laid down on the bed/gurney in the room and chatted with me and others as they took his blood pressure, ran an IV, and hooked him up to a heart monitor (the kind that clips on your finger).  

His procedure was scheduled for 8:15am.  At 8:00, they came and wheeled him out to the "day surgery" area, a place I could not follow.  They told me that he would be given a "twilight" anesthesia once there.  This isn't the kind that causes you to be semi-aware, but it's not the kind they put you under when you're being operated on, either.  At any rate, I was assured that he'd be out during the actual process.

It tuns out they took him just a tad early - 8:10am - for the procedure.  At 8:35am, the phone rang in the room.  The nurses had told me that the doctor would call once the procedure was complete to give me the results (for obvious reasons, the actual patient, although told after the procedure, is too groggy and out of it to retain the information).  The phone call was, of course, the doctor.  The procedure had gone smoothly.  Mr. RenaRF apparently snored through the whole thing.  They had found four polyps that they actually removed by cutting them, and another 8-10 that they cauterized.  This was a relatively high count, but the doctor assured me that there was nothing remotely concerning about the actual polyps.  He wanted Mr. RenaRF back in three years and if everything was clear that time through, he wouldn't want to see him again for another five years.  He told me that they'd bring him back to the room after about 10 minutes.  I thanked him and hung up.

When they wheeled him in he was out of it.  The nurse explained that everyone reacted differently - some people came out of the anesthesia relatively quickly, and others took up to two hours.  The goal was for Mr. RenaRF to independently keep his eyes open for five solid minutes before they let him go home.  Let me tell you - he was closer to two hours than twenty minutes.  :-)  He would wake up and crack one eye and look at me, confused.  He would get his bearings and hold up the finger with the heart monitor on it and attempt to take it off.  He would then attempt to poke at the little oxygen nozzle thingys in his nostrils.  After dissuading him from pulling either off/out, he would ask "what did the Dr. say?".  He would slur/mumble this, but I knew what he wanted to know, so I would tell him.  He would fall back to sleep for another 15 minutes and then repeat the whole process (finger; nose; question; sleep).  When a nurse would come in to check him, he would open his eyes and say "Let's go - I'm ready to roll" and then fall back asleep.  You get the picture - he was out of it.  The only thing he was doing consistently (and loudly and frequently) was, well, FARTING.

About 90 minutes after they returned him, however, he perked up.  He talked to me and to our musician friend.  He asked, lucid this time, about what the doctor said.  He stayed awake.  I asked him how he felt, physically.  He remembered nothing - he was out the whole time.  He had no pain.  He was kind of hungry.  They counseled him, as part of the discharging process, to avoid fried/greasy foods, raw vegetables and red meat for today.  They wanted him to take it easy for the remainder of the day as well.  They said that he might feel a bit dizzy or light-headed if he suddenly shifted position.  Stuff like that.

It's now 3pm EST, and he's been out of the procedure for 6+ hours and home for 3 hours.  He is not groggy.  He has no pain.  He's eating salmon.  And he's calling every friend he has and is paying HIS friend's favor forward, working to get his friends of a certain age to save their own lives by going for a colonoscopy.

One big bonus for us is great health insurance.  I work for a huge company and my benefits are excellent.  It will cost us something, but I don't know how much yet.  There is little information on the web about resources for those who are uninsured but who should get screened either because they have a family history of colon cancer or because they're 50+ and it's just time.  Some of the message boards out there recommend that you go for a consultation and explain to your doctor that you have limited ability to pay and no and/or poor insurance.  There are many messages out there about doctors being willing to work with patients so they can receive a potentially life-saving screening.

In researching my last diary, I also saw where Planned Parenthood will give colonoscopy referrals.  I am furthermore hopeful that others will add to the list of colonoscopy resources so that I can append the diary.

I don't have to have one yet.  But I'm telling you - and I'm totally squeamish - after seeing Mr. RenaRF go through his yesterday and today, I'm not afraid and I'll go when it's my turn.  Please - save your own life.  Get screened as soon as possible.

Update [2007-5-14 15:48:24 by RenaRF]: Mr. RenaRF has read the diary and has fully encouraged me to update the diary with a link to his email. He says to please write him if you're afraid or if you have questions.  Just reference Daily Kos so he's not confused  ;-)

Originally posted to RenaRF's Random Ramblings on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:14 PM PDT.



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Comment Preferences

  •  If you need to, go get screened... (142+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arlam, katiebird, sj, Sean Robertson, tundraman, ogre, areucrazy, Margot, Unstable Isotope, ScientistMom in NY, BigOkie, RunawayRose, Lahdee, Xan, Firewalk, ablington, Pompatus, frisco, logorrhea, Carnacki, zeroooo, exNYinTX, HighSticking, RubDMC, TheMomCat, concernedamerican, anotherCt Dem, megs, nyceve, srkp23, HippyWitch, Hprof, arrgh, Jesterfox, CocoaLove, SensibleShoes, Moody Loner, weary hobo, MTgirl, greenheron, Samer, redmcclain, TiaRachel, snakelass, dnn, tabbycat in tenn, AbsurdEyes, papercut, Eddie Haskell, PerfectStormer, DMiller, anneschu, WV Democrat, Thestral, gsbadj, rapala, arkylib, Fabian, chumley, marina, rstnfld, el dorado gal, Elise, Alegre, Bodean, PBen, wizardkitten, offred, Webster, clammyc, crimsonscare, ThunderHawk13, stitchmd, kaye, catleigh, Brooke In Seattle, michaelmas, klk, Morrigan, Buffalo Girl, GreyHawk, paxpdx, The Raven, Shotput8, wiscmass, LithiumCola, SleeplessinSeattle, liberalsouth, lcork, alrdouglas, Shirl In Idaho, Do Tell, vigilant meerkat, tobendaro, Ellicatt, deha, aggieric, Rachel in Vista, arbiter, condoleaser, FireCrow, NearlyNormal, plf515, CTLiberal, bleeding heart, max stirner, Jjc2006, a small quiet voice, lazybum, JugOPunch, CA Nana, fezzik, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, buckeye blue, means are the ends, Dreaming of Better Days, worried dem, slksfca, AntKat, goon 01, khereva, oscarsmom, Femlaw, blue armadillo, godislove, jetskreemr, Nespolo, Blue Waters Run Deep, kath25, joyful, Sean in Motion, madgranny, Spedwybabs, gizmo59, MKinTN, fayeforcure, Justus, wayoutinthestix, Rippen Kitten, Lucius Vorenus, noddem

    And thanks for reading.

  •  Thank you (19+ / 0-)

    My grandmother died from colon cancer.  Even though she lived to 90 and her mind was active until the end, she probably could have lived another 10 years if she had let them operate.  I still miss her 5 years later.

    I hope that everyone reads and acts on your diary.

    •  Thanks Kaye. :-) (10+ / 0-)

      Considering that the farting seemed to be the worst part of it, it was much easier on him than I had anticipated and went a long way to ease my own fears.

      •  I had to drink the ghastly "juice" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, RenaRF

        and experience the cramping. I found out later that colon hydrotherapy is an acceptable alternative.   While I found colon hydrotherapy a little embarrassing, it is not unpleasant and I left my sessions with an uplifted attitude.
        Does your friend have any opinions on this alternative to colonoscopy prep?

        •  BTW, I had my colonoscopy at Warren Memorial. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          katiebird, RenaRF

          It's a small hospital in a little town (connected to a big medical center), but it has good doctors, service and personenel. I volunteer there :)

        •  The procedure itself is easy enough (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, kaye, FoundingFatherDAR

          since you are completely unconscious.

          But the prep is bad. The Gag Me Juice is like drinking dishwater soap.

          And of course there is the literal — shitting your brains out.

          I hope that they perfect the non-invasive procedure colonoscopy.

          •  I've seen a variety of prep comments (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RunawayRose, nyceve, mxwing

            Some people had the full GoLytely prep with the TONS of gag juice.  Mr. RenaRF had the HalfLytely prep, which wasn't too much of the liquid (which tasted fine) but made him nauseous.  He combined that with pills.  Still others have talked about a pill-ONLY prep.

            But yeah - the entire point of any prep is to clean you out, so into every prep a bit of shit must fall.  ;-)

            •  As a bit of a colonoscopy veteran... (8+ / 0-)

              (I have them every two years, just for fun -- heh), I advocate something my doc calls "the dilution solution".

              Our standard prep involves great-tasting (bleh) Fleet's Phospha-Soda(tm) and ginger ale. The Colyte, GoLytely, etc. are all designed to keep you hydrated as they clean you out, which is a really good thing (more on which later), but you have to taste that stuff in every mouthful.

              We use the Fleet's in half-doses mixed in with 8 ounces of ginger ale. The relatively strong taste of the ginger ale sort of disguises the disgusting taste of the Fleet's. You just have to be able to handle drinking eight ounces of fizzy liquid in fairly short order.

              Fortunately, I had lots of practice doing this at keggers in high school college. Ahem.

              Now, about that all-important hydration thing: in order to get the drugs, you have to have the blood pressure to support the sedation.  I happen to have naturally low blood pressure, which is usually fine, but being dehydrated makes your blood pressure drop. No reasonable blood pressure, no drugs. And you WANT those drugs.

              I had a colonoscopy a few years ago during which I received almost no sedation. I had four polyps removed -- that wasn't even the uncomfortable part. I had this done during the time I was nursing my daughter, and my doc thinks maybe my electrolytes were just sort of screwy or something and I became dehydrated despite my best efforts.

              ANYWAY, for my last date with the 'scope, I drank tons and tons of extra fluids, and just to be on the safe side, I brought a little flip-pad into the exam room with me. On separate pages I had written phrases which I knew would cause my blood pressure to rise:

              Page one: George W. Bush

              Page two:  Extraordinary rendition

              Page three: Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth"
              ... and so on.  I read and flipped as they started giving me the drugs.

              Guess what? It worked!!!! My blood pressure styed up, I got a whole armful of the good stuff, and my colonoscopy was over before I knew it.

              Anyway, under normal circumstances, a colonoscopy is just such a breeze, and it really does save lives.

              Be sure to ask your doc about Fleet's (or its generic equivalent) and the "dilution solution"!

              Thank you so much for this diary, RenaRF.

              "...hope is not the equivalent of optimism. Its opposite is not pessimism but despair. So I'm always hopeful." William Sloane Coffin

              by mxwing on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:25:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Another veteran here.... (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RunawayRose, mxwing, RenaRF, kaye

                Read your response to my note....

                I too, use the Fleet dilution solution.  I think my last one, this March, was my 30th colonoscopy.   In the early years, they gave me a gallon carton, with powdery stuff in it. I had to fill it with water, and drink it all.  By the end of the night I used to think I was going to explode.

                Flett with Gingerale is the best so far.   Of course, I cannot drink Gingerale any more at all except for that test.

                I do get very dehydrated....and it is always difficult for them to get a vein for the IV but overall, it's an easy test and then I always treat myself afterward to a nice brunch.

                This test is absolutely worth taking...and it is not that hard.

              •  mxwing, I nominate this as a top comment! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TXsharon, RenaRF

                I am in awe of your resourcefulness!

                I unfortunately take medication for hypertension, so your plan won't work for me.

                I would need to take a flip-pad with the following:

                Shrub impeached!

                Darth Cheney impeached!

                Gonzo impeached!

                Speaker Pelosi installed as 1st female Prez.

                Seriously, this is something I have been putting off for way too long now....

                So thank you RenaRF, I know you have saved a life today, who knows, maybe mine?

                Wanted: A Dem who can win PA-18 in 2008!

                by AntKat on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:29:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Virtual colonoscopy (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            katiebird, RunawayRose, RenaRF

            The only problem with the non-invasive virtual colonoscopy is that if they find anything, they're going to have to do the real thing in order to remove the polyps. Also, I think the prep is required either way so they can get a "clean" image.

            America, America, God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law!

            by Brunette on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:59:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Mine too. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, RenaRF, kaye

      But that was back in the early 1950s when diagnostics and treatments were a bit lacking.

      My Karma just ran over your Dogma

      by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:06:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The worst part BY FAR... (23+ / 0-)

    ...was drinking all that stuff the day before.   The rest -- piece o' cake.  And I had an endoscopy at the same time.

  •  My grandfather died of colon cancer (27+ / 0-)

    At the ripe old age of 64.

    He had lived an extremely healthy lifestyle, but didn't start going in for examinations until he was about 60. They found something, thought it was cured, but a year later it returned with a vengeance. He had a lot of money and spared none of it in trying to save his life - he and my grandmother had just retired to their dream house in the mountains of Arizona - but in the end it wasn't enough, and he died a week short of his 65th birthday in 1999.

    Ultimately this is an argument not just for early screening, but for universal single-payer health care. Only under such a system would folks have the financial encouragement to go for early and regular screenings. Otherwise it becomes way too easy for people to put it off because they are underinsured, because of the cost.

    Glad to hear Mr. RenaRF is doing fine! Woohoo!

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:11:36 PM PDT

  •  My Republican buddy (20+ / 0-)

    even thinks that the Federal Govt. ought to pay for everyone over 50 to get regular scopes.

    Be like Nike and Just Do It.

    Oh, by the way...if you want some real explosive ass rippers, I'd recommend Kashi or Fiber One snack bars.  Good God Almighty.

  •  Important story, thanks for sharing it (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nyceve, tabbycat in tenn, RenaRF, kaye, kath25

    I've had 3 colonoscopies -- I'm high risk and they wanted me to start getting them when I was 10 years younger than my mom was when she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

    I've NEVER been put under or given anything (other than the clean-you-out stuff)  I have a fear of being given anything that affects memory and generally being put under.  And I don't actually understand why anyone would want to be knocked out for it.

    You get to watch the whole thing on a TV & the Doctors and nurses are VERY nice.  It's sort of like watching someone play a video game.  They even let me wear my glasses.

    And if you do your prep right -- they're very complementary!

    I call for an immediate expansion - by Executive Order - of Medicare to Everyone.  Then figure out how to pay for it.

    by katiebird on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:13:42 PM PDT

    •  ? I thought you were sedated for the procedure? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, RenaRF

      Different hospitals different policies?

    •  Yeah... (5+ / 0-)

      Apparently they don't like those who do NOT prep well.  :-)  You win the "balls" award, though - not only will they have to fully know me out (with permission), they'll have to sedate me to get me to the point where they can knock me out.  I'm a needle- and doctor-phobe.  But I'll still go after seeing it was so smooth today.

      •  If you gotta prep, prep right (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        katiebird, RunawayRose, RenaRF, zett, Morrigan

        My thought on this is that if I have to prep, I'm going to get it right.  There's no way I want to redo it all because I had to have red jello or cheat in some way.  
        It's not fun and I don't care to do it more than once a a year (yep, you heard me - once a year.  I have ulcertative colitis so I have one every year as I'm at higher risk for colon cancer).

        Support Street Prophets. Order your Coffee Hour Cookbook today!

        by Mrs Pastor on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:14:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Aw don't be a suck, RRF (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've had two done and both times I don't remember a damn thing.  Even the prep wasn't as bad as was made out.

        I even asked him if I said anything stupid when I was out.

        He said "no more stupid than anyone else" but I talked the whole time.  Don't remember anything.

        Just practice saying "Fuck Bush, Fuck Bush".  Oh and get a Democrat for a GE.

        Ninety percent of life is just showing up. Woody Allen
        The other 10% is homework. Anonymous student.

        by captainlaser on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:46:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Doesn't it hurt, katiebird, if you're not out??!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, RenaRF
      •  It doesn't hurt at all, nyceve -- really (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nyceve, RenaRF

        It's very relaxing.  A nurse holds your hand and the doctor asks you about your job or books or whatever you want to talk about.  

        And you can see the whole thing on a TV screen right in front of you.

        There were a couple of moments (each time) when there was a little bit of cramping.  But, I wouldn't remember it if I didn't deliberately think:  "Is This IT?  Why is THAT such a big deal?"

        I'm not saying my way is for everyone -- I only mentioned it because I have this phobia and couldn't have done it any other way.

        And, it was actually interesting to watch it and hear in real time that everything looked good.

        I call for an immediate expansion - by Executive Order - of Medicare to Everyone.  Then figure out how to pay for it.

        by katiebird on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:56:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it is interesting (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          katiebird, RunawayRose, RenaRF

          One time I wasn't quite out all the way so I watched on the screen.  Since I was a bit high from the meds I did get, I guess I kept going "WOW, is that my colon?  That is soooo cool?"

          PD says that I was particularly entertaining in the post-op area that time, too.

          Support Street Prophets. Order your Coffee Hour Cookbook today!

          by Mrs Pastor on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:15:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Aw, I missed this comment before I wrote my other (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          katiebird, RenaRF, zett


          I still cannot believe you had no pain. And I cannot believe you have a nurse who holds your hand and a doctor who talks to you during the procedure. Doesn't sound like medical practice in the Windy City. Here I asked a doctor during an angiogram (or whatever that look-see at the heart is called) to turn off the rock music and he said no, that he'd be bored during the procedure without it. So he and the techs kept it on and sang and wailed to it as they discussed someone's upcoming divorce.

          •  Oh, RAZE -- I'm so sorry for that experience (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm so sorry for that experience.

            I think you must have had a total JERK doing your procdure.  

            My doctor was very, very gentle, he went slowly.  And would tell me when he was coming up to a twist or turn.

            And the 2 Nurses didn't just hold my hand the hugged me -- the couldn't believe that I didn't need major comforting.  And maybe I did -- I sure didn't have a chance to miss it.

            I just took it for granted that it would be like that for everyone.  I guess this conversation is bringing out a lot of good information.

            Really, I'm so sorry.

            I call for an immediate expansion - by Executive Order - of Medicare to Everyone.  Then figure out how to pay for it.

            by katiebird on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:57:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  katiebird, did you have any pain since you had no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, zett

      drug during the procedure?  I had a colonoscopy that they started before the drug took effect. It ranks right up there with the Top Five Worst Pains Ever.

      I can only have a few sedatives and so the techs had to get the drug from the ER after I was already in the room for the colonoscopy. The person started the colonoscopy on me before the drug had arrived and it was one of the worst experiences I have ever been through. I begged, screamed, and railed at the person with the tube to yank it out and tried to get off the table to do it myself, but she insisted it would hurt as much to withdraw it without medication as it had to insert it. She was several feet in.  After the procedure, once the medication had taken effect, she apologized and said she would never again start without a patient being fully medicated.

      So reading about someone snoring through this is rather throwing me off. I cannot believe you had the tube twist and turn through feet of your intestines with no pain medication.

  •  So much better today (9+ / 0-)

    now that they use anasthesia.  This wasn't always the case...and surprisingly, few people were willing to undergo the procedure while totally awake and aware.  If you hear horror stories, they are most likely coming from those who colonoscopies done years ago...from what I hear, these days its not even close to being as bad as a dental procedure.

    •  He didn't feel a thing... (4+ / 0-)

      Doesn't remember a thing, and only minutes ago wondered why he wasn't feeling any discomfort.  How's that for a good story??

      Oh - and our musician friend is going to smuggle out a picture taken with the ass-cam and I'm apparently going to be asked to scan it and post it on the website for our band.  ((sigh))

      •  Just had my first, and learned something . . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, RenaRF

        . . . kind of interesting (I mean, besides the fact that I have the colon of a 12-year-old vegan girl, thank goodness).  The "twilight" anaesthesia most often given, for this and many other procedures, is called Versed, and it isn't really anaesthesia, though it does have sedative properties.  It is classified as an amnestic, which means, as you would guess, that it gives you temporary amnesia during the procedure, so that you may be aware at the time, but then don't remember the doctor sticking a SonyCam up the wrong way.

        I don't know why, but the whole idea of this sort of fascinated me.

        More for the interested:

        You can get pretty far with a lie. But you can never get back.

        by privatewl on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:18:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I had one at 35 because I had a lot of (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, Sychotic1, RenaRF, zett, kaye

    stomach problems. My colon went into spasms during the prodedure and it woke me up screaming. They knocked me out to finish the procedure. I'm nearing the age to have another and it scares me because of that.

  •  my doc has been telling me to get one (11+ / 0-)

    for some years now...can you believe I just don't go?

    I'm 55. I had one of these puppies when I was my early thirties, as part of a workup for what turned out to be lactose intolerance.

    the enema, voiding, part was such a horror...I think that's what I most not look forward to. The actual procedure was no big deal at all.

    The proctologist asked me if I knew the definition of a colonoscope: a long tube with an asshole at each end.  heh, right...?

  •  Here's one thing that helped me. (6+ / 0-)

    I had the op very early in the morning -- I deliberately didn't get much sleep the night before, so I went in tired.   So I actually looked forward to getting the anesthetic -- I was ready to go back to sleep -- and the whole thing seemed more natural to me than to go in wide awake.

  •  I had my first about 4 years ago (6+ / 0-)

    at age 43, since I have a bunch of gastrointestinal problems.  No problems on the colonoscopy though.

    The prep wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.

    1. Instead of liquid, I just took pills
    1. I have low blood sugar, I told my MD, he said, fine, just don't eat after about noon the day before, but you can have chicken soup (with no bits).  No problem with hunger
    1. OK, overnight, before the procedure, wasn't the greatest night of my life.  But no having an intestinal bug.  No one wants it, but it's not so bad.
    1. The procedure itself was no problem.  I fell asleep.

    The Gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds - Rabindranath Tagore

    by plf515 on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:25:57 PM PDT

    •  Absolutely (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, RunawayRose, RenaRF

      I'd recommend that anyone talk to the doc about the prep.  After several times of using the liquid and having trouble, my doc gave me the pill prep, just because I asked.  If I hadn't brought it up, she might never have thought of it.  Sure, it required an extra form for the insurance company, but it was well worth it.

      The other thing I do now is to schedule mine during warm/moderate weather.  When I'm dehydrated I tend to get cold, so I try not to add a cold day into the mixture of having not eaten, being dehydrated and spending the evening in the john.

      Support Street Prophets. Order your Coffee Hour Cookbook today!

      by Mrs Pastor on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:19:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd rather not remember it. (4+ / 0-)

    The best part was that they gave me rohypnol as a "sedative."  Scary stuff though, if you weren't in a medical setting.

    Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

    by rserven on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:26:15 PM PDT

  •  RenaRF (7+ / 0-)

    Your husband farting constantly? That's probably so like him. ;^)

    Glad it went well.

    When a man embarks upon a crime, he is morally guilty of any other crime which may spring from it. Sherlock Holmes.

    by Carnacki on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:26:36 PM PDT

  •  One thing (9+ / 0-)

    there are (fortunately rare) very aggressive colon cancers that can hit younger people.  My mother had one at 34, and was not expected to survive.  She did, and will soon be celebrating the 44th anniversary of her 29th birthday.  But guess what I get to do every few years.  Yup.  Take my word for it, the new regimen, which can even be pills only, is far better than the old GoLytely, which was by far the most miserable part of the experience.

    Punch up your blogs and publications with cartoons from independent lefty artists.

    by dhonig on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:31:09 PM PDT

  •  How much does it cost? (7+ / 0-)

    I have no insurance.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:32:02 PM PDT

  •  My parents recently did theirs (4+ / 0-)

    It sounds unpleasant, but you only have to have it done every 10 years (they were told) unless they find something suspicious.

    Recommended!  Thanks for diarying!

    Never give up! Never surrender!

    by oscarsmom on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:32:16 PM PDT

  •  I was told beforehand to plan on taking off the (4+ / 0-)

    day after the procedure, to let the anesthetic fully wear off. I of course assumed that it wouldn't affect me but dutifully made sure the day was clear. Boy was I mellow! I totally understand how some folks get addicted to some of those things.

  •  I had one last Friday! (6+ / 0-)

    The president of the United States actually has to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. John Edwards

    by Sargent Pepper on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:41:00 PM PDT

  •  Really not so bad (4+ / 0-)

    I was one of those people who was afraid to do it and put it off until I was 59. Good thing I finally did it, as they found 2 polyps (which were easily removed as part of the procedure).

    There are two alternative types of prep procedures. I had talked to a friend who'd had both, and picked the one she said was least bad. The diary describes the polyethylene glycol solution, where you have to drink a large volume of liquid that makes some people nauseous. The alternative is a sodium phosphate prep that does not involve such a large amount of fluid. That's what I used and it worked well and didn't cause much discomfort. The hard part was going without solid food all day; it did leave me a bit weak.

    The procedure itself did not involve any discomfort, either during the procedure or afterward.

    Thanks to RenaRF for bringing this up. It really can be a life-saving procedure, and isn't as bad as you are probably envisioning. Really.

    I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..

    by lesliet on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:41:25 PM PDT

  •  Thank you RenaRF (5+ / 0-)

    For the valuable information.

    Wishing your man (and yourself!) excellent health.

    And I hope you two are not interviewed anytime soon by Katie Couric, who will tell you that some people say you're doing this ALL WRONG.  ;)

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." -- Abraham Lincoln

    by chumley on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:41:44 PM PDT

  •  They're not scary! (5+ / 0-)

    My best friend had to have one when doctors thought she might have contracted an intestinal parasite.

    She said the drugs made it all worthwhile. :-)

    Go! Get tested! No one has to die of Colon Cancer!

    Thanks, Rena, for looking out for us!

  •  I've been through it twice. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm 41.  I have a history of pre-cancerous polyps.  Drinking the prep is the worst of it, by far.  And the drink improves all the time.  

    It's much easier to have a colonoscopy than to have colon cancer surgery, chemo, radiation--and possibly a stoma.

  •  I just went through my fifth Mother's Day... (8+ / 0-)

    ... without my mom, due to colon cancer.  Also lost my beloved father-in-law to it, and a close friend lost his mom to it as well (she was only 55).  Last year my husband and my co-worker had their exams within a few days of each other.  Hubby (who lost his dad to it) was clean - YEA!!!  Co-worker wasn't, but they caught it early enough that she was a able to get effective treatment and it appears she'll beat the thing.

    GET THE TEST!!!  Colon cancer is NOT a nice way to go, and you CAN beat it if you find it early.

  •  Been there, done that! (7+ / 0-)

    I got my screening earlier this year.  It went down exactly as Rena stated in the diary for her husband.  Believe me, the worst part is the laxatives; once past that, it was a breeze.

    Nancy bought me lunch at Red Robin afterward, and no burger tasted better!

    I'm 47, so I went a bit early, but I have familial history of cancer on both sides.  That, and my own medical training, makes me a big believer in screening and early detection.

    Alton IL

    And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

    by AAbshier on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:51:20 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, Rena (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, blue armadillo

    Thanks for sharing your story about Mr Rena. My maternal grandmother and my mom's sister both died of colon cancer. My grandmother was in her 70's when she died, but my aunt was only 36. Because of this, my GE doctor (I have acid reflux) wants me to have one every 3 years, so I've been getting regular colonoscopies since I was about 38 (I'm 45, now). My mom goes every year.

    The worst part is the prep the day before. The best part is coming home, getting what I want for lunch, Mr arkylib telling the kids "leave your mother alone. Don't wake her up", and then having one of them say, "oh sorry, Mom, did I wake you up?" No, he didn't but at least he was concerned about it.

    This is important stuff. Early diagnosis CAN save a life, and I think people should discuss it with their doctors.

    I'm not a slacker...I'm just surrounded by overachievers!

    by arkylib on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:52:13 PM PDT

  •  You certainly didn't fart around putting this up. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, HighSticking, RenaRF, AntKat

    Thanks for the public service tip. It's a good'un.

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:53:49 PM PDT

  •  My sweetie busted a gut (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, zett

    at the age of 49.  She didn't even know she had diverticulosis, let alone that it was about to devolve into acute diverticulitis, then rupture causing peritonitis and excruciating pain.  After emergency exploratory surgery, she had a colostomy and had to wear that external poop bag for about six months.  Reconstruction has happened since then, thank heavens.  

    The warning symptoms were not at all clear. The pains in her middle were attributed to back pain, or to uterine fibroids.  The persistent low fever was dismissed because her normal temperature is 97.5, not 98.5.  The fact that her dad AND grandmother had both had the same surgery was never told to her.

    Colonoscopy might or might not have caught this because the diverticular lesions were at the far far end of where they usually look.  CAT scans of the middle GI tract would have been definitive.

    Bottom line?  What you don't know can kill you.  It nearly did her in.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:55:19 PM PDT

  •  Scheduled (5+ / 0-)

    For later this year.

    I'm kind of looking forward to it - both for the newfound experience of getting sort of fucked in the ass; and for the drugs - though, because of the drugs, I won't remember getting sort of fucked in the ass.

    I think all guys should get sort of fucked in the ass; is there a childbirth metaphor that we could also experience?

    Promoting colon cancer awareness is one of the few things (the only thing?) that Katie Couric can claim as justification of her existence.

    I could share some colon cancer stories - all sad and unnecessary - but those will need to wait for another time.

    Thanks for the diary.

  •  Just do it! I dreaded mine colonoscopy mostly (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, tryptamine, RenaRF

    because I had seen what my husband went through a few years prior.  (drinking the stuff, not eating, etc.)

    My actual experience was much better than his because I think that they changed the drink stuff and it was not so bad.

    The worst part was that I was hungry during the day when I could not eat.

    The actual procedure is a piece of cake and you feel very rewarded when you are finished (if you have a clean bill of health).  

    My advice is to just do it!

    I will vote for whomever gets the Democratic nomination, until then it is all up for grabs.

    by Do Tell on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:56:13 PM PDT

  •  I'm scheduled for mine in October (5+ / 0-)

    and totally not looking forward to it. I know, I know, it's easy and painless, but, well, I think you all know since everyone has pretty much the same reaction.
    But more power to the docs who choose this as a profession. It takes guts to look up peoples butts all day long!

    And one more thing. Iof our health insurance in this country is so great (sarcasm) how come it takes 7 months to get an appointment?

    "Keep raisin' hell!" - Molly Ivins

    by MA Liberal on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:56:35 PM PDT

  •  so important! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, nyceve, RenaRF

    great diary, rena!  everyone 50+ should definitely get their screening.  it's so important!

    sometimes when you look in his eyes you get the feeling that someone else is driving. - letterman (-8.00, -7.18)

    by liberalsouth on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:05:28 PM PDT

  •  Absolutely vital. And don't wait until you're 50 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, nyceve, RenaRF, kaye

    if you're showing any signs of problems.

    My son-in-law just had a colonoscopy at age 30. Although nothing showed up in the variety of tests leading up to the colonoscopy, several polyps were found, including several that were "pre-cancerous."

    A precancerous polyp is not unusual in and of itself, but, if ignored, stops being benign. A young person could easily postpone a that procedure until it's too late.

    Getting that young man to submit to the test was a bit of a wrestling match, but our daughter has her mother's genetics and prevailed.

    Thanks for a a helpful reminder, RenaRF. And tell Mr. RenaRF to quit having so much fun tooting or he'll get the Presidential "Pull My Finger" award from the sitting president. Who would want that???

    "You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else." -- Winston Churchill

    by bleeding heart on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:07:48 PM PDT

  •  My mom passed away (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, tryptamine, nyceve, RenaRF, AntKat

    from complications due to colon cancer when I was 11 years old(1990).

    It never should have happened and it wouldn't have if we had known half of what we know now back then.

    I turn 30 in 3 years and I'll be starting mine up then due to the family history/increased risk factors.  

    Rena, thanks for the great diary, good advice for us all.

    You snooze you lose, well I have snost and lost, I'm pushing thru, I'll disregard the cost...

    by Sean in Motion on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:15:02 PM PDT

  •  Had one done this year. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, nyceve, RenaRF

    All is well. Drinking the gallon of GoLitely, or whatever it is called, is the worst part of the whole thing.

    The great tragedy of Science, the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. T. H. Huxley

    by realalaskan on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:15:07 PM PDT

  •  Why is this cancer so common in the first place? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, tryptamine, nyceve, mrblifil, RenaRF

    What the hell is up with that anyway?

  •  Scheduled for next month (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, nyceve, mrblifil, RenaRF

    Five years have passed since my first colonoscopy and it's that time again.

    Yes, the prep is kind of nasty and inconvenient but all in all, it is no big deal.

    My husband is now over 50 and I'm going to have to encourage him to do this.

  •  RenaRF (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, HighSticking, nyceve, RenaRF, zett

    Thank you for posting this.  My wife has the test scheduled next month.  She has been nagging me to schedule one, but I have been procrastinating.  So you have convinced me.  Good diary...

  •  I'm going right now to get my HalfLytely (7+ / 0-)

    Yuck.  I go in tomorrow at 1pm.  My first.  OMG.

    I guarantee 100% the impeachment/resignation (in disgrace) of Cheney&Bush. I am the Hellhound of Impeachment and I WILL prevail.

    by Ghost of Frank Zappa on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:33:23 PM PDT

  •  I'm not one, but for the gals in the audience (8+ / 0-)

    Go here to use a simple "immunization and screening wizard" that will help guide you through any necessary screenings you should pursue, and since this is National Women's Health Week, on that same site is a listing of nationwide events by location where they are offering health information, I think some free screenings, etc.

    "[Insert GOP presidential candidate here] is a racist, homophobic, child molester." Sufficiently Coulteresque? No, no, I need a veiled threat of violence. Damn!

    by Whigsboy on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:35:08 PM PDT

  •  I'm planning on doing it (8+ / 0-)

    I'm only afraid that my doc may end up discovering my own head stuffed up there.

  •  That was so not my experience. (6+ / 0-)

    I have Kaiser. When I found out there was a history of colon cancer in my family, I scheduled a colonoscopy.

    No cleaning. No fasting. No anesthesia.

    Just a camera roughly the size and shape of a pony's leg shoved into an extremely personal and private portion of my anatomy.

    Let me tell you, the discomfort when they turned the camera on the end 180 degrees was indescribable.

    But still, I get regular blood checks for warning signs and I get a colonoscopy again next year. Because uncomfortable and humiliating as it was, dying of colon cancer is worse.

  •  My grandmother died of colon cancer (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, mrblifil, RenaRF, zett, AntKat

    Well, technically it was pancreatic cancer, but it started in her colon. She had a colostomy and lived for about 10 years after, then was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died a slow death in a nursing home. Toward the end she didn't even recognize me or my father. I'm trying to convince my husband to get a colonoscopy, but he isn't willing. I don't want him to hurt, and he is very pain averse, but it's so important. Thanks for this. Maybe it will help a bit. I'm forwarding it to him.

    •  Diane - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mr. RenaRF's email is linked in the update to the diary.  Your husband is more than welcome to write him, man to man.  Mr. RenaRF isn't a blogger, either, and just a guy who expected it to be horribly bad and found it was barely inconvenient.

      •  Everything has a price. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, AntKat

        I am fond of pelting my wife with little aphorisms that, I feel, amplify my perspective on life.  One of my favourites is:

        The only time you do something in life, is when the cost of doing it is less than the cost of not doing it.

        The way I see it, that applies to everything in your life: from paying your bills, to mowing the lawn, to cramming for exams, to getting married, to having that piece of cheesecake, ... and to getting a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.  The cost can be monetary or emotional or intellectual or moral or value-based or whatever other scale you define.

        I am Mr.DianeM.  Or you can call me Ed or Eddie.  And I can literally feel my sphincter pruning up tight as I read this article.  At this point in my life (I turned 53 a couple of weeks ago), my perception is that the cost of getting a colonoscopy is more than not getting one.  I am trying hard to find a justification that will convince me that the cost of not doing it would be more than the cost of doing it, but it's not easy.

        There are no examples of anyone in my bloodline dying from any form of cancer in the past 4 generations up to my great grandfathers on all sides of my family.  That's pretty remarkable.  Barring car accidents, gun shot wounds, being gored by a bull, drowning while fishing, or a congenital heart history on the Irish side of my family, we all tend to live into our 80s and 90s without serious incident.

        As far as the threat of imminent death or severe discomfort is concerned...  No entreaty given to me by friends and family: that quitting smoking was good for my health or would prolong my life or would prevent a horribly painful death or would demonstrate my true love for my family or friends, ever had any effect whatsoever in getting me to quit smoking.  I had to wait until the cost of quitting was less than the cost of not quitting.  And anyone who has honestly tried to quit smoking knows just how high that cost is.

        The point I'm making is this: When you are at a lower health risk factor, and blessed by God with a rugged streak of obstinacy, it is difficult to convince yourself that it's a pretty good idea to have a total stranger, who is not emotionally linked to you, insert a foreign object into your rectum and wiggle it around so they can satisfy their curiousity as to what's on the inside.  As I said before, the mere thought of it makes my sphincter feel like I've been power-washing it with lemon juice.

        But I am appreciative of your article and that, along with episode #235 of my wife's entreaties (she does not nag), has helped push me a bit further towards the point where I find getting a colonoscopy to cost less than not getting one.  Thank you.

        Je serai peut etre pas d'accord avec qu'est ce que tu dis, mais je defendrai a mort ton droit de le dire. ~ Voltaire ~

        by jebldmm on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:32:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'll just give you one little additional thought (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dianem, zett

          It's not really scientifically based; rather, it's based on my impressions.

          Mr. RenaRF doesn't have ANY risk factors.  At all.  No family history of any kinds of cancers that would warrant a colonoscopy.  Yet they found four polyps they actually removed and they cauterized another ten.  Why?  Why would he have polyps?  It's difficult to know.  It's not difficult, however, to think about the amount of shit they put in our food and the amount of shit that's in our water and the amount of shit that's in our air.  We eat it, drink it and breathe it - even the most conscientious organic vegan can't totally get away from physiological pollutants.  Bill Maher opines frequently that our food is killing us, and the audience laughs.  But he doesn't.  Environmental pollutants are real and although I certainly can't prove that they are a part of what's behind the increased rate in some cancers, I'm also not a conspiracy theorist or nut for thinking there's a strong possibility that there's some relationship.  Your past generations have not dealt with those types of things the way you have, and your children will have a different experience as well (hopefully better, but at the rate we are going, probably not).

          Also - smoking increases the risk of a variety of cancers, colon included, even if you quit.

          I hear you.  What I think drove Mr. RenaRF was a desire to live to see his 4- and 1-year old grandchildren do the things grandchildren do.  Grow up, play sports, date, torture their parents, marry.  And while he's lived a reasonably clean life (no drinking, no drugs, no smoking - ever), he's not a food nazi and he was concerned.

          I will say this and say it clearly: HE DIDN'T FEEL A THING.  Not a THING in that procedure, Jebldmm.  He would have told me and he mostly spent the day remarking about how great he felt.  Have you ever taken an Ex-Lax?  I have - the cramps it causes are unpleasant but TOTALLY bearable.  That was the worst he dealt with.  Today, however, was completely smooth sailing.  I had to just yell at him, in fact, in the middle of writing this comment, because he brought home hot dogs for dinner and those are strictly off the list until tomorrow.  He's been completely normal (I swear) since we walked out of the hospital.  He now also has three relatively stress-free years ahead free of worrying at least about colon cancer.

          So - that's just my reply to you and I appreciate your thought process.  Just don't make a mistake you could have avoided, ok?

  •  Good for Mr.RenaRF.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF

    I'm very glad he went through with it, and even more glad the outcome turned out well.

    It will be a glorious day when everyone can feel free to get pre-screening and any medical procedure necessary without having to worry about the very expensive costs they will incur.

    Great diary...thank you!

    No Retreat Baby, No Surrender

    by WI Dem on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:55:56 PM PDT

  •  A friend spent last year in medical facilities (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, nyceve, RenaRF, zett

    trying to recover from colon cancer.  He had surgery and chemo in the hospital for several weeks.  Then was tranferred to an assisted living facility for a couple of months.  After being home for a short while he developed complications, got more surgery, more complications (including staph infection), then finally back to the nursing home again.
     Yet he was lucky his was caught "early" enough to be treated.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:57:45 PM PDT

  •  Have had a colonoscopy, but not for cancer. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, zett

    The worst part of my experience getting a colonoscopy was that I had to drink that GoLitley stuff without the benefit of flavoring; it's disgusting.  I was in the hospital due to internal bleeding (long story), and they didn't allow me the luxury of drink mix flavoring to cover the taste.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:02:22 PM PDT

    •  Oh that sucks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mr. RenaRF's doc was clear to tell him that mixing the HalfLytely with lemonade Crystal Light was totally acceptable.  You might also inquire as to whether or not the pill only prep is appropriate when you have to go again.

  •  Do you have to take someone (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, delphine, RenaRF, Anna M

    with you?  I don't have anyone that I could ask to come with me...

  •  Had mine 4 months ago (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, AntKat

    since I turned 50. I'm just an old lady.

    Can relate to all you said. My only problem was they had to knock me out totally when I cried out in pain several times. Seems I have what they call a "tortous" colon. Just a couple of extra loops where the scope had trouble.

    For me, clean as a whistle, thankfully. I also never have to go through this procedure again. In 10 years, I get MRI/CAT scans. Whichever the doc ordered.

    My hubby wasn't paying attention when the doc was explaining everything afterwards. It took 2 hours for me to even wake up simply because I had to be totally out. Bravo for her, she reprimanded him to pay attention, and put down his damn palm pilot. Best memory I have; hubby getting called out by the doc.

    I seriously recommend that anyone over 50 have this procedure done.

    "I don't think the heavy stuff is coming down yet"

    by MadMs on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:13:50 PM PDT

    •  Argh!!! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, RenaRF, MadMs

      So not only do I need to have a cabbie sit through farting once I wake up and drag myself out to the cab, but I'm going to have aftercare instructions and "crap" that I'm supposed to pay attention to while waking up and dragging myself out to the cab?

      Man, have I mentioned I hate being single?

      No one to yell at for not listening.  

      At least he was there.

      •  hopefully you have a friend (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        katiebird, RenaRF

        kind enough to help, including listening to the fart songs afterwards.

        "I don't think the heavy stuff is coming down yet"

        by MadMs on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:37:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well ok. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, delphine

        I won't indulge the self-pity, but only because I lack the requisite background info to appropriately commiserate.  :-)

        The after-care instructions for Mr. RenaRF were really simple.  Because they removed polyps, he was not to have greasy food, raw veggies, or red meat today.  Because he had them removed, no NSAIDs or blood thinners for three days.  That was pretty much it - it's not like you'll need to operate a slide rule or anything.  :-)

        And regarding the farting - see my other reply to you about that.  ;-)

        •  Twilight anesthesia! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The description of Mr RenaRF's reaction to the twilight anesthesia amused me - it was exactly what my honey went through (another musician!) when he got his stent.  He would wake up, ask what happened, look at the heart monitor... then his eyes would close and he would go back to sleep.  Fifteen minutes later the same thing would happen.  He tells me that while he was being prepped, he told the nurses "Okay, I want to start forgetting stuff NOW."  They took him at his word and administered the anesthesia.

          Fortunately there wasn't a lot of farting involved - must be a side effect of putting a tube up there.

          "I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they kill, there would be no more wars." - Abbie Hoffman

          by Jensequitur on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:34:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was pretty funny. (0+ / 0-)

            They had him hooked as well to a blood pressure cuff that ran on auto-pilot at 10-minute intervals.  He would barely slit one eye open when the pressure cuff inflated and look confused, until I told him it was ok, it was just the blood pressure thingy.  Then his head fell back.

            •  If I hadn't been so worried... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I would have been laughing!  

              My mom-in-law and grandmother finally dragged me off to the hospital cafeteria to get something to eat, so I wrote "Gone To Eat" on a piece of paper and posted it in front of his bed, so he would know.  Problem was, my handwriting's terrible, so in his befuddled state, it looked like I'd written "Gone to Bat."   He spent the next thirty minutes wondering what the hell I was talking about.

              "I believe in compulsory cannibalism. If people were forced to eat what they kill, there would be no more wars." - Abbie Hoffman

              by Jensequitur on Tue May 15, 2007 at 10:05:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I have had a few colonoscopy procedures. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, worried dem

    My sister just had her first and a polyp was found.  Her Doc told her that she needed to come back in 3 yrs also. Her type of polyp was the kind that could turn cancerous. I am due again and told my Doc to expect me in the Fall. I hate the prep.

    "Though the Mills of the Gods grind slowly,Yet they grind exceeding small."

    by Owllwoman on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:19:17 PM PDT

  •  I'm just getting ready to schedule (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, Anna M, joyful

    mine because right now:

    EAT = Pain + Nearest Loo.

    No one in my family has a history.

    But whoa, I didn't realize it was such a big fucking deal, with being knocked out and needing someone to help you.

    Goddamn I hate being single.  

    •  delphine, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      katiebird, delphine, RenaRF

      are you anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area?  Cause I would be glad to help get you there and back safely.  (I am familiar with what happens, as I took care of mr. joyful when he had his procedure done a few years back).

      I'm home during the day, so my schedule is really flexible.  Please email me if I can help out!!

      •  No, but thanks! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        katiebird, redmcclain, RenaRF, joyful

        I'm in Los Angeles, currently sitting in my cubicle hoping no one sees me holding a self-pity party.

        I've just been feeling really bad for a couple weeks now, had a ton of tests, always dragging myself everywhere, missing work, blah blah, you know, the gambit.  So far:  gallstones.  Yippee!

        And they should outlaw the internets and the show House.  (both of which I love dearly)

        I mean, between the internets:  "XX and YY symptom could mean a hangnail or impending death"


        House:  "Every twinge and freckle could mean the difference between life and death!  It's an EMERGENCY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

        I've been basically driving myself insane for a couple weeks now.

        •  Could it be possible (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          delphine, RenaRF

          that you have undiagnosed food allergies?  I personally have trouble with wheat and lactose, and I am familiar with that um...intestinal discomfort!  

          Modified food-combining has helped alot with my digestion.  Its actually easier than it sounds; the books FIT FOR LIFE and HEALTHY LIVING (both by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond) are great resources, and Suzanne Somers also has several books out with great food-combining menus and recipes.

          Its so easy to scare the hell out of yourself with imaginary ailments but I'll bet its simply a digestion-related allergy!  

          At any rate, take good care, and know that I'll be down in your area in September -- and it would be my pleasure to help you with care and transportation!

          My love and thoughts are with you, delphine!

          •  I don't think that's it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I've actually been eating more healthy than I ever have in my life, and my diet is very boring and repetitive.

            Nothing new that I haven't been eating for months.

            I think I read Fit for Life about a zillion years ago (I recall their riff on eating eggs, lol, phew!) and pretty much all I'm eating right now are fruits and veggies and raw nuts (for some reason those DON'T aggravate my tummy!), no red meat, etc.

            Some dairy, so that could be a component.  

            Yeah, the internets are really freaky, aren't they?  I mean, they give you a list of horrors and then say "but you shouldn't diagnose yourself!"

            Of course not.  And on the other hand, there are millions of people out there desperate for solutions that are actually posting their symptoms on boards and asking for input, because their doctors are clueless.

            Personally I think I know what this is, and it's not coming from the internet or Dr. House, but some other stuff that's going on.  

            A huge component is stress!

            Imagine that.  Delphine.  Stressful.  What a shocker.  LOL.  

        •  p.s. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          delphine, RenaRF

          Its so easy to scare the hell out of yourself with imaginary ailments but I'll bet its simply a digestion-related allergy!

          I apolgize, delphine.  I did not mean to minimize your discomfort or your fears!  I know first-hand how frightening it is to deal with these issues all by yourself, without a trusted companion there to listen, offer advice - or comfort you when you have the willies at 2AM.  (The shadows are always bigger at night, aren't they?)

          I truly applaud you for taking control of your health and seeking the answers, and I send you my very best wishes!

          •  Yeah, those 2:00 (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            a.m. willies.

            I should lock up my computer overnight.  Nothing like waking at the wee hours and scouring through endoscopic pictures of diverticula.


            No, I do scare myself, but only for a moment or two.  Generally I'm pretty sanguine about this stuff, you know, assuming the best.  What's really wierd is that eating right, and working out, you suddenly notice your body, you know?  And you realize you've been living with aches and twinges and stuff for a long time that are now disconcerting to a more "tuned up" body.

    •  You don't need to be unconscious (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but you need anesthesia, unless you are a CIA nut or into pain or something.

      Try to see if you can stay in post-op for a few hours, and then you should be fine.

      The Gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds - Rabindranath Tagore

      by plf515 on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:53:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've never used anesthesia & it didn't hurt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've never used anesthesia & it didn't hurt at all.  And I hate pain.

        I call for an immediate expansion - by Executive Order - of Medicare to Everyone.  Then figure out how to pay for it.

        by katiebird on Mon May 14, 2007 at 06:09:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  hype (0+ / 0-)

    Colonoscopies have huge risks.

    To say everyone should have one is simply wrong.

    •  Such as? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Links?  Citations?

      •  perforation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You are completely unaware of risks apparently.

        •  I haven't had one. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          katiebird, MadMs

          But yes, the doc did discuss the risks with Mr. RenaRF during his initial consultation.  The risk of perforation during a colonoscopy is apparently 2 per every 1,000, or .2% (cite here, from a National Cancer Institute 2003 study).  Also from the linked article:

          The new study, which drew from a random sample of the Medicare claims database, involved nearly 40,000 colonoscopies and over 35,000 sigmoidoscopies conducted between 1991 and 1998. All of these procedures were performed on people who did not have cancer.

          So yes - not a null risk, but a minimal risk from a recent study done on a large sample pool.

          So no - I'm not completely unaware of the risks.  I just think that they're negligible.  You could argue that the risk of anesthetic is a factor as well, but not a large one.

          •  Virtual Colonoscopy (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Go virtual.

            90 percent of people do not need an invasive and expensive colonoscopy

            The risk appears small until it happens to you.

            •  Personally I'd love that. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              However, they pointed out elsewhere in the thread that the problem is that if they find something, they have to go on up there regardless.  ((sigh))  In Mr. RenaRF's case, had they done virtual he would have had to turn around and schedule an actual due to the polyps.

              But I hear you - that totally removes the perforation risk for those who have no polyps or other indications.

            •  I also like the cost effectiveness (0+ / 0-)

              of virtual for those without coverage or with subpar coverage.

            •  CT is what I get next time (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              in 10 years. I was a definite candidate for a perforation, since I had a "tortous" colon. Thankfully, I had a careful doctor.

              Biggest problem is getting insurance to pay for CT. Apparently it's more expensive and they don't want to foot the bill. I have to beg for the CT next time. Since it's in 10 years, I hoping for much better procedures. Wishful thinking, I know.

              "I don't think the heavy stuff is coming down yet"

              by MadMs on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:53:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The "virtual" procedure isn't yet available (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              and the article you cite states that traditional methods should be continued until the technology is fully developed.

              "...history is a tragedy not a melodrama" - I.F. Stone

              by bigchin on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:35:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  as an average (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The risk of perforation during a colonoscopy is apparently 2 per every 1,000, or .2%

            A person may have increased/decreased risk.

            •  That's true. (0+ / 0-)

              And there are reasons NOT to go with the procedure for those people.  However, the study itself was on a bucket of non-cancerous people with "normal" risk levels.  So for the "normal" person, it's VERY low risk.

        •  Some Colonoscopy Risks (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          roses, RenaRF, embra, AmericanRiverCanyon

          Rectal Cancer News (I am assuming with a name like that they are fair and balanced)

          Cancer News: Rectal Cancer: Article   Printable Version  

          Rectal Cancer News
          Relative Risks of Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy Defined

          It is currently recommended that all persons over the age of 50 years who are at average risk for colon cancer have screening for colon cancer with biannual testing for fecal occult blood and a sigmoidoscopy every 5 years. However, sigmoidoscopy can only detect polyps and cancers in the lower 40% of the bowel while colonoscopy visualizes the entire colon. There has been reluctance to advise the use of colonoscopy as a routine screening procedure due to the increased risks involved in this procedure. Colonoscopy is performed in the operating room under heavy sedation or anesthesia and has more complications, especially perforation which can lead to death, than sigmoidoscopy. Although the risk of perforation from colonoscopy in the hands of a skilled physician is considered small, it is admitted by most reviewers who have evaluated this issue that there are not enough skilled physicians in the U.S. to make colonoscopy a practical screening procedure for everyone. Thus, physicians and patients need to make choices about screening procedures.

          An analysis of the relative risks of sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, published in the February 5, 2003 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, should help patients and physicians in decision making. Researchers at the NY Presbyterian Hospital used SEER Medicare data in individuals over the age of 65 years who had undergone a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy for screening or for possible signs or symptoms of colon cancer between 1991 and 1998. The researchers found that during this period of time, the number of colonoscopies performed increased while the number of sigmoidoscopies decreased, suggesting that physicians had more confidence in colonoscopies with time. They found that the incidence of perforation was 1.96 per 1,000 procedures for colonoscopy and .88 for sigmoidoscopy. However, for patients who were undergoing asymptomatic screening, the incidence of perforation was 1.34 for colonoscopy and .54 for sigmoidoscopy. Perforation from both procedures was increased by age and co-morbidities. There was a trend for a decreased incidence of perforation over time with colonoscopy; from 3.37 perforations per 1,000 procedures in 1991 to 1.84 in 1998. There were 4 deaths among the 77 patients following perforation in the colonoscopy group, compared to 2 deaths following perforation in the sigmoidoscopy group.

          Definate possiblilities, which should be - most likely - expressed relative to one's probability of being seriously injured in a car accident.

          Driving the car to work appears to be more dangerous.

          I am open to correction on this.

        •  And my "such as?" (0+ / 0-)

          comment really had more to do with the fact that you didn't link any backing information for your assertion as opposed to my relative lack of awareness.

        •  There's a risk with most procedures (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          being done. Doesn't mean I won't get checked out for possible cancer, other health issues.

          "I don't think the heavy stuff is coming down yet"

          by MadMs on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:48:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Of course (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But when you hear about colonoscopy do you ever about risks?

            •  In all fairness (0+ / 0-)

              Mr RenaRF's doctor covered the risk in the consultation before he scheduled the procedure.

              •  "covered the risk in the consultation" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                and was it:

                there is a risk of perforation.


                there is a risk of perforation that may require surgery (possibly more than one), a possible diminished functioning digestive tract and possible disfigurement.

                •  It was (0+ / 0-)

                  (and I had to ask Mr. to get it accurately):

                  "There are risks associated with the procedure, and I need to inform you of them and ensure you understand them."


                  (He handed Mr. a sheet that described the risks in detail, and then went through them).

                  He's a good doc.  And I'm sure not all of them go through as thoroughly as they should.  If I spoke to a doctor who didn't discuss risk and/or who was hesitant to discuss risks, I'd find another doctor.

  •  If I get screened and I'm clean (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    did I really save my life, or did I just make some bean-counter's car payment?

    •  Cynical much? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      redmcclain, RenaRF

      Anyone asking for money in return for their professional services can't possibly have your best interests at heart.  Seriously, don't bother getting screened for anything, they're all just trying to screw you anyway.  

      You know, I hear the doctor actually bills the insurance company MORE based on how many pre-cancerous polyps have to be removed!  How dare they demand more compensation for more work!  They'll probably care your colon up just to make an extra hundred bucks!

      -5.75,-3.69 - Party like it's 1-20-09.

      by Indecent on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:24:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You didn't save your life (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but you might have

      and, if you don't go, you don't know

      The Gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds - Rabindranath Tagore

      by plf515 on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:55:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Had one last year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katiebird, RenaRF, worried dem

    After having a sigmoidoscopy done almost 10 years ago and having some innards problems, I finally gave in.  The prep was ghastly but do-able.  I had a dual procedure - the colonoscopy and an endoscopy as the problems could have been from either considering the area of recurring pain.  

    Results were interesting but not life threatening in both cases: small stomach ulcers, which were cleared up by a course of OTC Prilosec, diverticula and an abnormally long colon with a large bend in it on the right side - the most likely cause of the pain I get sometimes.  No polyps at all.  Since paying more attention to eating enough "roughage" and drinking even MORE water, I'm less likely to get that pain.

    The colonoscopy procedure itself was complicated by a bunch of adhesions from previous lower abdominal surgeries.  So much so, I woke up during the process from pain.  But all in all it was a good experience and I'm trying to get my husband to get his done.  He's seven years past the point where he should have had it done and as far as he's concerned there's no way in hell anyone is going to do that to him.  Wish I could send him to your husband's doctor for that little talk!

  •  It's nothing, except the stuff you drink (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, MadMs, worried dem

    The battery acid they make you drink is totally gross, otherwise it is so nothing!

    I walked out almost immediately, really didn't need anyone there with me but they require it. (NYC, I took a cab, maybe you need someone else if you need to drive.)

    get one
    just icky the night before

  •  Mine was recent (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, MadMs, worried dem

    I have a history of cancer, I was almost 4 years overdue, and I had some symptoms, so they hustled me into the procedure pretty fast. Everything was fine. They didn't find a thing, and it was such a relief to know.

    The prep was a long haul and unpleasant, as others have outlined. Also they didn't tell me I needed someone with me for 8 hours after I went home, and I had to make phone calls from the hospital to find somebody before they would proceed. (My husband was out of town and the friend who drove me couldn't stay.) But the rest was not bad at all. I was awake for the whole thing.

    Now I'm trying to get my husband to schedule his.

  •  an excellent essay (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, deha, MadMs, worried dem

    I had my first baseline colonoscopy at 40. There's a bit of family history that my gp wanted to stay on top of... My dad had colon/rectal cancer that necessitated an iliostomy and my mom has a history of colitis. As so many here have already mentioned, the prep is the worst part of the procedure.

      My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer at 42 and underwent a resection. My doctor told me to let our daughters know that because there's a strong family link they're first colonoscopies should be done at a fairly young age (30!)

     Thanks so much for getting the word out.

  •  Had one a few years back - and I'm young-ish (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, a small quiet voice, MadMs

    had to have an endoscopy as well -- which is REALLY important to get if you have any type of heartburn.  My 35 year old neighbor died of esophogeal cancer about 9 months after thinking he was having reflux problems...

    I thought the prep (that you described well) was the worst part - though I didn't do that well with twilight anesthesia.  Apparently I tried to remove the endoscopy scope - and woke up with a fat lip after they had to put me completely under.

    But you remember nothing -- AND it can save your life.  GREAT DIARY!

    Kudos to Mr. RenaRF

    PS What's the name of your band?  I'm in the NOVA area and love live music!

    Too early for me to decide on an 08 candidate...

    by worried dem on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:50:58 PM PDT

  •  I hope everyone takes heed of this, RenaRF (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sally in SF, RenaRF, MadMs, Indecent

    Colon cancer looms large in my life right now.

    I recently had my first colonoscopy and had 3 polyps removed.  My father had surgery for colon cancer 3 years ago (he likes to joke that he has a semi-colon), and he just had his first follow-up scope.  He's fine, hooray!

    Unfortunately, we seem to have a family history of colon cancer.  We recently located my father's birth family and discovered that his maternal uncle, a physician, died from colon cancer. Not encouraging news.

    My uncle's wife died last fall from colon cancer after lingering 14 days in home hospice. It was a horrible way to go. My cousin told me that she would never agree to have a colonoscopy even though her doctors kept telling her to.

    So I'm a big proponent of screening, obviously. One of my sisters has already done it, but my youngest sister won't even talk about it.  That makes me very sad.

    Thanks for raising the topic.  It's an important one.


    What if the hokey-pokey really IS what it's all about? -Anon.

    by deha on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:02:50 PM PDT

  •  Here's why I'm skeptical (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here's why I'm skeptical of expensive screening tests.  They are only a snapshot (at best) and there are risks, such as the risk of a false positive, overdiagnosis and overtreatment.

    From Darshak Sanghavi in Slate:

    Take a random airport test for cocaine that correctly identifies 99 percent of cocaine smugglers and correctly excludes 99 percent of nonsmugglers, and assume about 100 smugglers enter an airport of 100,000 passengers. Among smugglers, 99 would have a positive test, and one would be negative. But among law-abiding travelers, 999 would have false-positive tests. Thus, only 99 out of 1,098 people who test positive, or less than 10 percent, are real smugglers. So, a lot of innocent people endure fruitless internal body-cavity searches. If all you care about is catching smugglers, the results are great, since only one escapes. But if you focus on the harm to bystanders, the screening procedure seems pretty draconian.

    "Everything's shiny, Captain. Not to fret."

    by rmwarnick on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:36:21 PM PDT

  •  I'm a vegan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, RenaRF, joyful

    So i dont need to worry. I'm a step ahead of the curve.

    Real beauty is seldom appreciated by popular culture

    by Mikesco on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:08:56 PM PDT

  •  How much with no health insurance? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, Brooke In Seattle

    Sounds like what, $3,000 minimum?

    Have Mr. Musician Friend get back to us with that.

    Be good to each other. It matters.

    by AllisonInSeattle on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:21:15 PM PDT

    •  Allison, (0+ / 0-)

      I've seen it on other message boards ranging from a basic cost of $650 to $750-$900 w/polyp removal to $1200.  I think it depends.  I think the key is to speak to your doctor in consultation and talk about financial constraints and resources available.

      •  Uninsured people have doctors? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RenaRF, Brooke In Seattle

        How does that work? How do they access the medical system?

        Be good to each other. It matters.

        by AllisonInSeattle on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:30:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hey, Allison (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, AllisonInSeattle

          It's funny how so many people don't seem to GET that point about being uninsured.

          I'm sick as hell with the flu or something right now, and I can't do anything about it but tough it out. No doctor, no insurance, and neither WA state nor Oregon next door sell anything over the counter that would do more than gargling mouthwash would do.

          And some people wonder why the emergency rooms are always full.

        •  They may not have doctors (0+ / 0-)

          but they do have access to doctors.  Check through your county or state's health department and, if necessary, show up at your Congressman's office and ask for an advocate.  We did that on a totally separate subject for my grandmother (who was being totally jacked around in the military HMO system) with GREAT effect.  But show up in person.  It's difficult for staff to ignore an actual person standing in front of them.

          It's a long haul, going the Congressperson route, but that's also their job and they have advocate staff who can find information for you if you've hit your own personal wall.

          •  You missed the point: doc consult = $70-90 (0+ / 0-)

            For me to consult a doctor about anything, including less than 5 minutes of their time, it costs $70-90. More if they want to, oh, I don't know order a test.

            I went for a physical in the last two years, and with a total of 3 tests, the bill was $500.

            This includes the fact that my doctor changed the system so that the uninsured are given a 30% discount for paying in full at time of visit.

            Asking an uninsured person to "consult a doctor" sounds to that person like "go spend an unreasonable amount of money to get an opinion about this".

            Be good to each other. It matters.

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue May 15, 2007 at 09:36:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you sure, Allison? (0+ / 0-)

              I'm not trying to be argumentative - but i know that in No. VA they have consults free of charge for those who qualify.  Don't get me wrong - they don't make it easy (I tried to help my stepson, 22 and uninsured, access the system here) - the paperwork, proof of citizenship and residence in the County as well as income verification was onerous.  But when he needed to go to the doctor, having gone through the paperwork, he had one free of charge.

              All I'm saying is look into it AND if you have NO free access, go to your Congressperson's office.  No, it shouldn't have to be that hard for a little bit of decency and dignity, but the squeaky wheel DOES, in my experience, get some grease.

              •  I am trying to advocate for Universal Health Care (0+ / 0-)

                When I am sick I do not have time to go to my Congressperson's office to beg for a doctor visit.

                Your grandmother was part of a program that was SUPPOSED to be paying for her health care, and you advocated for that to kick in. I applaud you for that.

                I am part of ZERO health care program. There is nothing for the Congresscritter to advocate for on my behalf. Nothing.

                I have a doc that I have a 20-year relationship with, tho I don't see him often. To see him, or anyone in his office, I do know what it costs. I've seen the bills, I've paid the bills, I know what it costs. This is WITH my 30% discount from that particular outfit, where my doc, wonderful person that he is, forced the system to institute that discount for uninsured people.

                I know I can go to the health clinic, and after the $500 bill, decided that's exactly what I would do the next time I need a doc. To hell with the fact that there's a person who's known me for 20ish years that I could talk to, eh?

                Finally, I advocate for different things, like alternative energy, and troops out of Iraq at my Congresscritter's office. His aides and I have spoken at many meetings. I'll be damned if I'm going to go in there whining about some medical procedure that I think I need. How humiliating. I won't do it.

                People don't even have time to go to a Congressional office when they need health care, they need to have Universal Health care, and be able to go to a doctor when they need health care.

                Be good to each other. It matters.

                by AllisonInSeattle on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:28:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  For me, was a bit over $4,000 with endoscopy too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, AllisonInSeattle

      as I recall. I had an endoscopy at the same time, though. Doctor's charge was around $1,800; hospital was also around $1,800; other associated bills were around $500 (lab, anesthesiology, etc.) or so, as I recall.

      That was my second colonoscopy. I had decent insurance the first time, so it was just a small copay. They found polyps the first time, so I needed the second one a year later. It took me three years to pay off the debt for the second one because I can only afford very high-deductible insurance. I'm due for another colonoscopy in a year or so--it'll be hard to pay for it then too, no doubt. Sure wish it was possible for all of us to have decent health insurance!

      •  It IS possible! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        roses, RenaRF

        Every other first world country simply gives their citizens health care.

        We could do that, and spend less on health care than we are. See chart at below link.

        Actually, many of the US's problems are simple, and health care is just one of them.

        Wish you the very best in figuring out how to pay for your treatment. Have you explored coming into the system via a county healh clinic?

        Be good to each other. It matters.

        by AllisonInSeattle on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:17:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Haven't thought about a county health clinic... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RenaRF, AllisonInSeattle

          I don't know if I'd qualify, since I do have high-deductible major med. coverage (minus coverage for preexisting conditions). I'd like to get into the state health insurance risk pool (legislated to charge 2 times the going rate for health insurance!), because I'd have all conditions covered. Just haven't been able to afford it yet... but I think I'll get there eventually! Then even though I'd still have a high deductible, I would have copays for doctor visits and meds., and reduced charges on some other expenses.

          I will check out the county health clinic, though. Also, it occurred to me from reading some of the comments that I might be better off to shop around for the next one, instead of relying on my family doctor (who previously practiced in his gastroenterology specialty). I might be able to lower the cost by shopping around in advance--and maybe my doctor would match a lower charge if I found one from someone else.

          •  Re shopping around (0+ / 0-)

            My doc says to be up front about your needs when talking to docs in the beginning about any service. Ie, that you're uninsured.

            I've spent some time calling around to check prices at dentists. Can't say was entirely successful, but at least I did speak up. It was interesting to hear them try to woo me to come to their clinic. I hope that it was at least instructive to them that an uninsured person would ask and care if they offered a discount to such patients.

            I would hope that in time, with more people doing that, such a discount might emerge.

            Do agree that your doc might match a lower price, should one exist.

            Be good to each other. It matters.

            by AllisonInSeattle on Tue May 15, 2007 at 09:42:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  On one of the message boards (0+ / 0-)

        I went to prior to posting the diary, I saw guidance that basically said that, if you lack insurance or have not-so-good insurance, you should work with the doctor.  A lot of the reason for this is because there are different price points for different patients.  E.g., those with insurance, those with great insurance, and those without.  The doctor should be able to work something out with you.  

        Another great suggestion was to contact your city/county health department and inquire as to resources for those without insurance who need a screening.

  •  Wow, you're all so good. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RenaRF, zett

    I'm amazed at all the positive responses here.

    And scared and horrified that I will never be like that.

    I was dismayed at the story in the news today about fewer women having mammograms -- and no one is quite sure why. I can guess, because it's why I haven't had one in 10 years -- I can't afford it, and they aren't free. Same with colonoscopies.

    I'm probably rotting away on the inside from any number of things, but I can't even afford to worry about it. I have no job, no insurance, no doctor, no support network. I don't even have a home right now. Chances are pretty good that I'm not going to be having ANY medical procedures done anytime soon -- life-saving or not.

    Universal health care. Now.

  •  There is a mri type colonscopy that costs more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but is the procedure I will opt for next time.  I have had two of the traditional type and have been very dissapointed in the assembly line type procedure.  I am a critical old hospitalcorpsman and I felt both times the procedure the way it was done at Wilcox hospital on Kauai carried with it the risk of introducing bacteria and virus material into my body.

    The most recent procedure was done at 6:30 am and I was the second person of many many that day to use the same gurney, using the same equipment, (When I asked my doctor about it afterward he said he was sure that they autoclave the actual part they insert in your anus...but) same team of nurses, same colonoscopy station etc.  

    Now some cancers originate as viruses, and others they have no idea how they are transmitted.   The person immediately preceding me was a terminal case of cancer who was staying at the hospital as an inpatient.  IMO the nurses were paying so little attention to what was going on that they could provide a disease vector on their clothes or person.

    With all the preceding in mind I had made a 6:30 appointment to be the first, but the hospital put this fellow in first.  I had to follow him.

    So, I decided to use the less invasive type next time despite the costs.

    •  Dr. Neil S. Had his own team (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RenaRF, Keone Michaels

      and his own space in KMC.  It was far nicer than going to same day surgery and you could watch under sedation. I hated the sodium phosphate prep, but I watched the procedure on the monitor without difficulty.

      I think Dr. S finally got sick of the nasty KMC politics and retired to his ranch in Texas. Too bad. He had a better colonoscopy set up.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:52:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had my first at age 17 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sally in SF, RenaRF, zett, FishOutofWater

    Unfortunately I have ulcerative colitis, so I had to have a colonoscopy at age 17. I don't remember the procedure because of the medication, but I do have a print of one of the images from inside my colon.

    I have to have another one soon, in a year or so, and then very often until I eventually have my colon removed. sigh

    •  Oh Dave... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Do you know that they will have to remove it?

      •  Not for sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Not 100% sure, but I have a hard time getting into remission. It was only 5 and a half years ago I was diagnosed, so perhaps I'm being a bit pessimistic. I'm really hoping for advances in medicine by the time I'm in my 40's. Maybe even a cure in 20 years, who knows?

        Unrelated, I saw you mentioned going out to the hospital in Front Royal. I was out in Warrenton for Mother's Day. I forgot how beautiful it is out there!

        •  I hear you on that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Although it's nowhere near comparable, I keep hoping for improvements in breast cancer screening (the boob smashing thing - so medieval) AND improvements in menopause treatments.  I don't think the boob thing will get here in time for my first official screening (this fall), but I have (approximately) 14 years before the whole menopause thing, so I hope they advance that technology.

          Hang in there - I'm sure I don't have to tell you to be your own advocate in this and to leverage the considerable resources the internet provides.

  •  I had one, here's one thing they don't tell you (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roses, RenaRF, zett, paxpdx, sylvien

    When you drink that stuff the night before, they tell you to drink much more than you need to because they figure you won't drink all of it anyway. In my case, they didn't change their instructions at all in light of the fact that I am a 115 pound woman. They told me to drink a monstrous amount, don't remember how much, but surely an amount that would be more appropriate for a 220 pound man.

    Long story short, the amount I drank was a toxic overload in my system. I went in to anaphylactic (sp?) shock, which means your throat closes shut - without diphenhydramine (like in those injections people carry for bee stings), you can't breathe, pass out, and if you're lucky an ambulance comes in time to save your life.

    In my case, I both know what anaphylactic shock is, and keep liquid Benadryl in the cabinet. A few swigs of that (yes it is red colored), and symptoms instantly subsided.

    The people at the hospital the next day found it novel that I almost died because they don't trust their patients to handle instructions (we'll tell you to drink 3 times what you need because you're surely not going to do it anyway!), however, they didn't document what had happened because they had "never heard of it before." I guess they simply didn't believe me, but if no one ever documents for that reason of course they won't have heard of it.

    Also, even though I was supposedly knocked out, I wonder if all they gave me was an amnesiac. At one point it hurt so much that I had a partial memory of it after I woke up.

    I beleive in full disclosure, not fairy tales! You should still get screened, but you need to know what to expect.

    By the way, I was at Northwestern in Chicago, which is a good hospital, according to however they calculate those things.

    •  Good to know, I'm also a small woman. nm. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the peanut butter.

      by sylvien on Mon May 14, 2007 at 06:41:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The key is asking the question. (0+ / 0-)

      So thanks for your comments.  My hubby is a 210lb. male so he was OK.  But you are precisely right - ALL potential risks should be disclosed and discussed with your doctor.  If thye don't address them correctly, find another doctor!!

      •  If you know what questions to ask! (0+ / 0-)

        I agree, but sometimes things happen that a patient can't be expected to know about in advance and guess. It would never have occurred to me to ask - are you sure you are telling me the right amount to drink given my body weight?

        Finding another doctor wouldn't have made sense, I couldn't have known I was being told to take too much until after I did.

        The key is knowing enough to know to ask the right questions in the first place, and the problem with that  is that we don't always know what we don't know. And if we can't depend on finding that out from the doctor without knowing enough about what we don't know to ask the right question, we have a problem.

        Also, if you go to a hospital, it will likely not be the doctor who gives the instructions, but staff who set up the appointment for you.

        I add this not to disagree with anything hat has been said, but to use my experience to warn others that any medical care a person seeks to undertake must be navigated very carefully. We are forced to trust people that we can't possibly know are trustworthy, and take advice and instructions that we can't determine the soundness of.

        We can research to an extent, but you can't exactly google to find out if you are being told to take the right amount of something. The closest thing to information you will find is "ask your doctor."

        I am sure there are many more similar things that a person may not know enough to know what to question, but I don't know enough to know what those things may be.

  •  Get screened. My favorite uncle died. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sally in SF, RenaRF, paxpdx

    I knew he wasn't going to make it when he lost to me at the family poker game. I knew that night when I won. I wish I hadn't won that night and he was still here.

    Get screened. I did. Just do it.

    Ultimately, I lost that night.

  •  It's incredibly important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that everyone, when turning 50, gets a colonoscopy.  Women too, not just men.  As soon as I turned 50, my doc sent me off for the colonoscopy and for a bone density exam, another test ALL WOMEN should have at 50.  If you're female and 50 and your doc hasn't sent you yet, demand a referral.  As a woman, you need to know your calcium levels are right and that your bones are healthy and not prone to breaking.  

    I did not experience what your hubby did during my colonoscopy.  I was alert and able to leave rather quickly, but they will not let you leave by yourself for obvious reasons.  And they were right, I didn't feel a thing during the procedure.  It's preparing for the test that really SUX.  

    I'm so glad your musician friend convinced your hubby to do it.  And it's nice to hear he's paying it forward!  

    Practice random acts of kindness (favorite bumper sticker)

    by Sally in SF on Mon May 14, 2007 at 06:26:01 PM PDT

  •  I'm 50 so posted *other*. m. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Pet peeve about polls, they always leave the the decade age in limbo.  It is either over or under ;).

    Anyway, good advice.  I have scheduled a physical for next month and will include your advice.

    Thanks for a needed heads up!

    The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the peanut butter.

    by sylvien on Mon May 14, 2007 at 06:38:06 PM PDT

  •  Removed Polyps Make Tasty Shish Kabob's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is always a use for things.... waste not want not.

  •  Thanks for this, Rena (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My husband recently turned 50, and after much nagging he went to the doctor for a general checkup.  He came home with a colonoscopy referral, but we've been dragging our feet about checking whether our insurance covers it.  Now I will make sure I check the first thing tomorrow.  And thanks for the warning about the farting.

    "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Nespolo on Mon May 14, 2007 at 06:47:28 PM PDT

  •  I used to sail with a doc that referred to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    a colonoscopy as "driving the big black snake." A few years later I helped design a gatro-ent office for four docs, and learned more about "the procedure" than I wanted to know.

    The one thing I am glad I learned: it does save lives. Have it done, because no matter what horror stories you've heard, none of them are worse than dying.

    17. Ne5

    In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

    by Spud1 on Mon May 14, 2007 at 06:59:15 PM PDT

  •  Having known someone who died of colon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    cancer in her 40s, I'll probably be getting colonoscopies even though there may be some risk to the procedure.

    •  Discuss any and all risks (0+ / 0-)

      with your doctor.  They should address any questions you have, and address them fully.  As always, I'm a big proponent of being an advocate in your own health.  If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with your doctor and/or you don't feel they addressed your concerns adequately (a key question would be to ask how many complication they have personally handled), find another one!!

  •  Thanks for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I promise I will go in the next 30 days to get it done!

  •  Links to good personal accounts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    These helped me get over some of my anxiety in anticipation of my first colonoscopy (I find internet research to be strangely calming).

    Much as I do get a certain thrill out of being anally penetrated by a man whose first name I do not know, I felt a little nervous in the days leading up to the procedure.

    The whole thing is here.  It's a hoot.  I should note that I regard his complaints to be exaggerated for comedic effect.

    This one is a little longer, also funny, but a more accurate description of what transpires (although I take exception to his expectation that an overnight hospital stay is the usual):

    The secret to a good experience IMO is good drugs.  I worry more about the discomfort of a dental examination than that of my next colonoscopy (which is to say, not much).  Also, from my research, the Phosphosoda laxative is preferable to the Halflytely approach...there's less of the stuff to drink.  My recollection from discussing it with my physician is that the Halflytely cleans one out somewhat better, but the Phosphosoda does a good enough job of it.

  •  I had my first one at 40 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    because of an alarming symptom, and also family history (Granny had colon cancer diagnosed at age 85, Mom has had polyps but no cancer.)  As most here have said, the prep is by far the worst part.  I did the Fleet ginger-lemon crap.  Boy, that was nasty to get down.  I chased it with 7-up to try to kill the taste.  The actual procedure I barely remember--it was completely painless and I don't even remember farting a great deal.  Maybe I was still out of it (maybe I should ask my husband if he remembers!)

    Because of the family history, I have to have one every five years.  The second one, my doctor said that in addition to the non-red popsicles and jello, I could also drink Boost or Ensure, even the chocolate kind.  That helped a lot!  Happy to report no polyps or any other problems, so far.

    And just a kind word to those of you who are reluctant to have this done:  Quit Whining!  Just do it and get it over with, it's not that bad.  Suck it up.  What'samatter, can't you take a little discomfort?  It beats the hell out of dying a painful cancerous death, I'm sure.

    For those without insurance, the above scolding doesn't apply to you.  I'm sorry but I don't have any advice I can give you, except maybe work with the doctor/hospital as others have suggested.  I hope I get to vote on health care reform someday.  I'm well aware how lucky my family is to have good insurance (I don't suppose my husband would've gotten his new kidney without it....)

  •  What a coincidence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I got the bend-over treatment this morning, before I even got to work. The doc said, "no blood in your stool, and your prostate feels normal." I suppose my dignity is a small price to pay for such good news.

    She (the doc) said I'll be getting probed and scoped in a couple of years (i.e. when I turn 50). I had one done about 10 years ago when I had some bleeding that turned out to be pre-hemorroidal veins. No fun, but better than dying of cancer I guess.

    Hatred is murder (1 John 3:15)
    You can take a break from politics, but life just keeps a-comin’.

    by dirtroad on Tue May 15, 2007 at 07:52:15 AM PDT

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