Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PS - What It's Like to Have a Colonoscopy with Polyps Removed

So over the past couple of days, I've talked to quite a few people  over 45 who are afraid of getting a colonoscopy, and who have asked me what it's like to have a colonoscopy, as well as polyps removed. 

Honestly, it's not as bad as you think.

The worst part is the prep, but even that is 10x better than it was than when I had one 25 years ago.  

You used to have to drink like a 2-gallon jug of Colyte and the cleansing was all day, and it was brutal.

Now, if you don't do the pills, its two vials of Suprep (which tastes like cough syrup) and water.

So you do clear liquids only the day before and one vial a few hours before bed the night before your procedure, and then you do  second vial on the morning of.

(I would recommend with clear liquids doing a half-a-cup of soup  broth every hour to keep you satiated.  Don't wait until you get hungry to do it, go ahead keep the soup flowing to prevent hunger.)

As for the procedure itself, you're asleep, which is also better than 25 years ago.  Back then, I woke up several times, but they now use propofol (injected into your IV) and you won't wake until in recovery.  

And let me tell you something - that will the best nap of your life!  

Seriously, you'll be a bit groggy for an hour or so, but will awake more refreshed than you have maybe even in years. 

Although my mom has had a colonoscopy previously, she didn't have polyps removed, so she asked me how I felt now, and I said, "Like someone went up my bum and clipped stuff out." 😂

Actually, that's not bad either - and especially if you have more than one polyp removed and depending on where they are, you may have a bit of cramping, bloating, and slight bleeding.

(I had 3 - two in the transverse colon, one in the sigmoid colon.  They were 2-3 mm in size.  I originally wrote "cm" in the post below, but meant "mm," and I've edited it.)

Men,  if you've ever wondered what a period feels like to have, this is similar - although I've had worse menstrual cramps, believe me!

The polyp-removal sites can take up to a week to fully heal, but usually within 24-48 hours, you're fine.  In fact, though it hasn't been 24 hours, I'm going back to work in about 10 minutes, because like I said, I've had worse menstrual cramps!

It's not a super fun party, but if you have a family history of colon cancer and/or experience a change in bowel habits, such that a FIT test (Cologuard) won't suffice, then DO IT!!!

In some cases, this could save your life - polyps after a certain size can be precancerous or cancerous, and removing these solves the problem.

Even if a cancerous polyp or actual tumor was detected (as was the unfortunate gentleman in recovery next to me), if cancerous and caught early enough, colon cancer is one of the few cancers we can actually cure at a 91% rate, typically with tumor removal surgery alone and no chemo/immunotherapy (if stage I)!

So think of it this way - a little discomfort now can save you a world of pain later, and could even save your life!

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