Friday, December 16, 2011

My First Colonoscopy

You know you're a parent of a pre-school age child when you look at getting a colonoscopy as an appropriate excuse to take a nap.
That is exactly how I approached Thursday.
I've documented before that I have a family history of cancer.  My dad lost his battle with colon cancer in 1999, and his sister (his only sibling) fought breast cancer before passing earlier this year.  My paternal grandmother beat breast cancer only to be taken by ovarian cancer before I was born.  My dad's cousin continues to battle non-Hodgkin's lymphoma while her son fought AND BEAT colon cancer when he was in his 30s.  And that's the ones I specifically know; I remember one instance of my dad telling me that family members on his side had also had kidney, stomach, and liver cancers, just to name a few.  Apparently, if it's in the mid-section of the body, our family can -and does - get cancer there.
The fact that my dad had colon cancer and my grandmother ovarian cancer is not something to ignore.  Studies are showing, more and more, a relation between the two when there is a genetic disposition toward cancer (I am currently working to have the genetic test done, but this is something that insurance companies don't like to cover, so it's been a struggle, to say the least, and it is an extremely expensive test that I cannot afford out of pocket right now).  So when I went in for my consultation last month, the PA was highly interested in this fact, and even though I have other family history, it was the one that, to her, was the most important in determining that I was indeed a candidate for a colonoscopy at age 33.
So, after consuming only a clear liquid diet (read: apple juice, water, black tea, and vegetable broth) yesterday,  and dealing with "the prep" last night (note - I am pretty sure lemon-lime Gatorade is now ruined for me), I was ready to get that party started.
For the record, the prep really is the worst part.  Aside from the burning sensation in my hand, which was from the sedative when it was introduced to the IV, everything was smooth sailing during the procedure.  Once that sedative was introduced, the anesthesiologist asked me to count down from 100.  I think I made it to 97, and then next thing I knew, HRH was calling, "Wake up, Mommy!" in recovery, where I was given a bit of apple juice before being allowed to get dressed (I was stylin' in my yoga pants and lime green Crocs) and discharged.
I love medical terminology.  Once I was feeling back to normal, I read my "report."  My appearance was described as "well developed, well nourished, in no acute distress."  The "well developed" part always makes me laugh.  Apparently, though, I also have "normal bowel sounds, normal tympany to percussion."  Who can't LOL about that remark, amiright?
Anyway, by the time I got into the car, with the assistance of two nurses, I was ready to eat.  After all, I'd had nothing since about 3AM when I woke up coughing and gulped down some water; after 5AM, I wasn't allowed to consume anything, not even water.  My intrepid husband drove through both In-N-Out (for me) and McDonald's (for HRH - don't judge - we were treating everyone).  That chocolate shake was quite possibly the most delicious thing I've had since the apple juice I had after HRH was born.
Then came the best part of the day.
The five-hour nap.
Moms, be jealous - it was quite possibly the closest thing to heave I could have imagined of late.
All joking aside, I am relieved to have a clean bill of health, to have no colon polyps, and to know that it will be five years before I have to go through all this again.  It's certainly not the way I want to spend a day or two, but when I think of the other option - ignorance - I know that this really is the only option.  I need to do this for myself and for my family.  I am also thankful to everyone at Southeast Valley Gastroenterology who made the procedure as easy as possible - they are truly a great team dedicated to their patients' health.
I believe knowing one's family history is vital for the best preventive health care possible; do you know your family's medical history?  If you do - fantastic!  Remember to bring it with you at doctor visits and update it as necessary.  If not, I encourage you to make it a priority in the new year.  Knowledge, after all, is truly power.


  1. Congrats on your "clean as a whistle" diagnosis. Those are magical words. My 4 sisters and I have all had colonoscopies in the past year in honor of our mother. She had colon cancer surgery (after early detection) and has been cancer free for 5 years now. Ignorance is not bliss in this instance. It is deadly. Thanks for sharing your experience and the good news, Allison! -Jeanne

  2. Hooray! So glad to hear that you have a clean colon. (#372 on the list of things I never thought I'd say.) We were pulling for you. My Dad has been getting a colonoscopy every 6 months for the past 2 years because his baseline was riddled with benign polyps. He just got clear to come in annually because he was clean. Due to that, I'll be getting one this year, and my brother will soon after. :)

  3. What does it even mean to have a well-developed colon? That phrase in particular really mystifies me.

    Regardless, I'm glad that everything is sounding (and moving) normally. In the spirit of it all, gold star for you!

  4. I know, right? I like to think that my colon is a looker! ;)