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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This time, it's personal

Oh my girlfriends. After more than three years together I do feel that we have established enough of a rapport together for me to tell you that as I write this I am in full high colonic mode.

Yes I have spent my last two days off drinking clear fluids and taking Pico-Silax in preparation for my Tuesday morning colonoscopy.

And might I say, that I was the perfect patient. I have no doubt that as you read this, Dr. Carl Brown will be navigating my splenic flexure with his all star colonoscopy skills in awe of the cleanliness that is my large bowel.

After 48 hours and a strict following of instructions I must say that yes, my bowels are immaculate. I would argue that even a first year resident could navigate my twisty turny insides without a care in the world.

Needless to say the last 48 hours have been an exercise in adjusting one’s perceptions. For those of you ever having a colonoscopy- here’s a few tips.

You will need to spend the day before the scope evacuating your bowels. This is really a full time job. There are a few key pointers that I will outline below in order to make the situation as ideal as possible.

STEP 1: Location:
Make sure your bathroom is more like a spa. Get some fancy candles and the Sunday New York Times. Bring in an Ipad with a series of television shows you may want to see. You will inevitably spend a good 8-hour there- best it be productive and enjoyable. I like to set up the ambiance of it being a bit of a spa with stuff do. But make no mistake- do not skip on the smelly candles- these are definitely a game changer.

STEP 2: The Supplies:
You will be on a clear fluids diet. This includes broths, teas, Jell-O (only in green and orange) It’s bullshit and I am hard pressed to make it fabulous only to tell you that I spend the day drinking diet Mountain Dew out of martini glass and am now a professional chamomile tea maker. As for the broths- I bought mine at Granville Island.

Yes I had to wade through the isles of vegetables and fruit to get to the liquid but hey- small price to pay.

STEP 3: What to avoid-
I had to spend the weekend off fruits and vegetables and I am a vegetarian who occasionally eats fish– food wise- it was not good. I ate brown rice and the odd bit of salmon. It was culinary hell.

Throughout the whole procedure I could not help but reflect upon the fact that as a doctor I had undoubtedly and rather flippantly at times order this test for others without a care in the world. Should they have complained to me about the prep and the clear fluids I would have brushed it off rather rather non-shalontly while the voice in my head made a judgement call about their whimpiness.

But here I was in my own whimpy fresh hell. This clear fluid cleanse is pretty crappy. (excuse pun). I am 18 shades of hungry and trying to make the best of it.

Why go through all this torture, my sisters? A cleanse perhaps? Hell no. As my sisters will know from a previous post- I am not a girlfriend who believes in cleanses.

My colon is spotless- for one reason- my colonoscopy is indeed my dear father’s legacy to me. Having a family history for Colon Cancer puts me in line for a colonoscopy every 5 years and wonders of wonders- my date is due.

And so here I am passed out on some serious drugs (yes, I put in some special requests) so that I can ride the pharmaceutical high while a dear friend and the only man I would indeed trust to my large bowel- is taking a peak.

According to the American National Cancer Institute, for the great majority of people, the major factor that increases a person’s risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing age.

Risk increases dramatically after age 50 years; 90% of all CRCs are diagnosed after this age. The history of CRC in a first-degree relative, especially if before the age of 55 years, roughly doubles the risk.

Other risk factors are weaker than age and family history. People with inflammatory bowel disease have a much higher risk of CRC.

Screening should be done with a colonoscopy in higher risk individuals (those with family history) one decade before the individual receive the disease. For the rest of us- it’s not a bad idea to be screened (and colonoscopy is not the only way).

I know I make the process sound ever so glamourous but relative to the big C, some Jell-O and 36 hour bowel purge is small change.

So get out there girlfriends and know your colon risk- get it checked and report back. You too could find yourself with an HDTV version of the dark side of yourself sometime soon- but of course make sure by all means- you get the good drugs. 

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