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[cancer] Time for another alien abduction experience - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-08-19 05:15
Subject: [cancer] Time for another alien abduction experience
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal
I am having another colonoscopy tomorrow. That means I'm on a clear fluid diet today, and this afternoon will be taking WonderDrugs™ to ensure the pipes are clean. I've warned everyone local to stay the heck away from Nuevo Rancho Lake today. There truly are some experiences that should not be shared.

A lot people are very uncomfortable with the idea of a colonoscopy. It's invasive, in a manner and location which can feel very transgressive. It's a little spooky, especially if you happen to get a look at the probe beforehand. Imagine a Norelco razor duct-taped to a black garden hose... Then imagine that going where the sun don't shine. We're talking Fantastic Voyage, except with John Candy in the Raquel Welch role.

I like to think of colonoscopies as alien abduction experiences. I'm taken into a little room with bright lights by mysterious figures in face masks and splash guards, I'm forced to strip and lie on a cold table, I get to enjoy an anal probe, and afterward remember almost noting of it. Really, how different is that from the classic contactee narrative? Perhaps the CIA has had field-expedient colonoscopy teams roaming the country in black helicopters all these years, when they've been able to take time off from mutilating cattle, staring at goats and overthrowing Third World dictatorships.

But there's two critical facts about colonoscopies.

One, they don't hurt at all. (I'm far more wiped out by the sedation.)

Two, they can and will save your life.

So do me a favor. Do yourself a favor. Do everyone who loves you a favor. If you're eligible for a colonoscopy (in most US healthcare environments, that means being aged 50 or older), go get one. More to the point, if you have experienced any of the warning signs of colon cancer, whatever your age, go get a colonoscopy.

Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with about 6% of the population eventually suffering from it. It's the second largest killer among cancers, after lung cancer. The procedure is a little embarrassing and rather disruptive, but I'm here to tell you from deep personal experience that living with colon cancer is a hell of a lot more disruptive than half a day on the toilet and some bright lights in a little room.

So enough with the PSA. I'm doing my bit, because we already know my colon loves to produce new polyps, the bad kind. Due to my medical history, that induces a certain amount of fear and trepidation on my part, but the alternatives are worse.

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Laura Anne Gilman: MEDIC
User: suricattus
Date: 2010-08-19 12:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:MEDIC
Seconding what Jay said. Those of us with Digestive Issues (IBS, Crohn's, colitis, etc) know that it's more embarrassing than anything else [when you wake up you may experience 'some gas'] but it's one of the most useful medical-deductive tools we have. And it's hella less invasive/expensive than exploratory surgery.

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W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2010-08-19 12:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
I had one a few years ago--need to schedule another--and the exam itself was a breeze. What got me was the prep. That was downright dreadful. I'm working up to putting myself through that, again. (My mother had a cancerous polyp removed years ago during a routine colonoscopy, so my doctor started screening me in my late 30s.)
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Brent "Chip" Edwards
User: chipuni
Date: 2010-08-19 16:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree completely: The prep is far, far worse than the examination.

I did it. I'll do it again in ten years. I'd rather go a day without eating and half a day on the toilet every ten years than go through colon cancer.
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2010-08-19 18:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Is there an echo here? The prep was hideous, but I understand that if you let your doc know, there are alternatives to some of the sick-making elements.
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W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2010-08-19 18:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
Thank you. I will be SURE to talk about alternatives with my doctor, now that I know there are options.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-08-19 13:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What everyone else had. I have a family history of colon cancer (paternal side--grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great grandfather), father and both brothers had bad polyps removed, have IBS myself, and have a son with Crohn's (yes, Jay, Kaiser's scheduled me for genetic testing). Colonoscopy was a lot easier on me than flexible sigmoidscopy (done for the IBS, with a GI doc who couldn't understand why I wasn't all excited about watching it while doubled over trying to keep from screaming with pain--yeah, yeah, ain't supposed to hurt but it did). I remember talking to the doctor in the room, and then---nothing, until I was back in the recovery area. At least I wasn't apparently too entertaining throughout the colonoscopy, and I didn't have any pain.

Versed is a wonderful drug when it comes to colonoscopies.
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adelheid_p
User: adelheid_p
Date: 2010-08-19 14:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, the prep was the worst part of the experience. I wish they would put me out for some of the procedures I've endured for the female bits. Of course, I voluntarily had my daughter "naturally" so I can take quite a bit of pain. But now, I'm less inclined to do so if I don't *have* to.
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Kate Schaefer
User: kate_schaefer
Date: 2010-08-19 14:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks for the public service announcement, Jay.

I've had three colonoscopies because I have a sister with who has had colon cancer twice. In my experience, as Jay says, they don't hurt at all. I'm a bit baffled by the people who are so daunted by the prep; it's just a day of serious fasting, drinking a lot of water, and a few hours of close acquaintance with the toilet.

May your colonoscopy be straightforward and the aliens be sympathetic.
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W. Lotus: Peaceful
User: wlotus
Date: 2010-08-19 18:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Peaceful
I can deal with the toilet and drinking lots of water. Wireless is wonderful for taking the laptop with me for extended bathroom stays. :-) It's how sick to my stomach the solution I had to drink made me feel that turns me off of it. But I understand there are alternatives, so I will talk to my doctor about that, this time.
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Chris McKitterick: space trooper
User: mckitterick
Date: 2010-08-19 15:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:space trooper
Hahahaaha! You slay me with the alien-abduction notion. In fact, next time I get one, rather than thinking about how "the CIA has had field-expedient colonoscopy teams roaming the country in black helicopters," I'll think of it as a vast conspiracy to allow aliens to examine us in safe, non-threatening environments where human doctors can check us out after. Ever wonder why the drugs they give us interfere with memory? Coincidence? I think not.

Good luck, Jay.
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Oz Whiston writing as Oz Drummond
User: birdhousefrog
Date: 2010-08-19 15:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just had mine yesteday, as a matter of fact. Being over 50, it was time. I had agreed (with myself) to take better care of myself and I have the insurance coverage, so there you have it.

The prep was a pain. I hated the taste more than what happened, which was like being sick. But only for a short time. I was awake during the procedure because I wanted to be. I watched it all on the monitor. Because I wanted to. As a result, there was some discomfort, but I had decided in favor of that. And the mild sedation wore off more quickly.

Is it invasive? yes, a bit. Is it like alien abduction? Yes. But you get to choose your level of awareness. You can ignore the entire process if you want and pretend it never happened. I didn't want to. Partly because I was thinking about you, Jay, and what you've been through.

And my results? Healthy, which is what I expected. But now everyone knows for sure.

Oz
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-08-19 15:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Very good for you!
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girlie jones
User: girliejones
Date: 2010-08-19 15:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry for you, the prep suuuuucks.
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scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2010-08-19 15:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This message comes timely, as I just learned that another friend has been diagnosed with colon cancer.

I had a colonoscopy several years ago and you're right: the prep is worse than the actual experience. I woke about halfway through and was sort of fascinated by seeing my own insides. Happily, I was given a clean bill of health and sent on my way.

Here's hoping that nothing new is discovered inside you, Jay.
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2010-08-19 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It was during a colonoscopy (had recurring appendicitis that was misdiagnosed as IBS) that I discovered that Versed doesn't work on me. It's like water in my veins.

Demerol, however, is a lovely, lovely sedative. The whole experience was mellow and not at all unpleasant. I even remember watching some of the images on the screen during the procedure, until I started asking questions and they amped up the Demerol. :)

But yeah, the prep was a bitch. Not scary, just unpleasant.
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Sue Burke
User: mount_oregano
Date: 2010-08-19 18:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Been there, done that, and we got the tumor BEFORE it turned cancerous.

The cancer was prevented!

Go there, do it, it works.*

*Repeat as needed. Every two years for me. But it works.

And yes, the prep is the antithesis of fun, but hey, I'm alive.
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User: lindadee
Date: 2010-08-19 20:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good Morning America yesterday did a piece on colonoscopies. Interestingly, he had to take about 36 pills in a short span of time. Last time I asked my doctor about that, I was told they didn't do it that way. Phooey. I'd much rather take the pills than drink that horrible liquid. (And I've had four colonoscopies, so mentally preparing myself for the prep is getting harder and harder. But since my mother died from colon cancer, I will continue continue to persevere.
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2010-08-19 23:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One good thing about my wife's recent ER visit (and happily, ER visits are one of the few things her insurance covers) for what turned out to be endometriosis was that the doctors tested her for colon cancer and ruled it out. (Whew.)
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User: lnfaw.blogspot.com
Date: 2010-08-20 20:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
wooooow
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