You may not be aware of this (actually, we would be concerned if you WERE aware of this), but March is colorectal health month.
So, in addition to sending your colon a card or flowers, have you had your colonoscopy?
We get it. No one likes it. It’s one of the many milestones of turning 50. You notice your upper arm might be waving at you when you brush your teeth. Your roots are changing from annoying brown to scary grey. And sure, there’s all the fun associated with menopause. You might feel like a colonoscopy is adding insult to injury, but if you’re past 50, you should have one.
Colorectal cancer is the second most deadly cancer in the United States. According to a recent study by the British Society of Gastroenterologists, screening colonoscopy use is associated with a 65% reduction in risk of death in the right colon and a 75% reduction in risk of death for left-colon/rectal cancers.
Those seem to be pretty good reasons, right? And if the doc doesn’t find any polyps during the first go around, you can wait ten more years! However, if polyps are present, you need to revisit the procedure after three to five years.
Probably the most dreaded part of the procedure is the preparation. Indeed, cleaning out your colon isn’t much fun … but hey, a lot of people are paying big money for a “colon cleanse” at a spa! Most often, you’re prescribed a special cleansing solution that you drink the day before as well as a laxative. Instructions also include a liquid diet a day or two prior to the procedure that avoids certain foods, especially anything red (like jello). It’s important to adhere to these instructions – if the doctor can’t see the lining of the colon, it may have to be repeated. And no one wants to go through all that TWICE within a few days.
Patients are usually provided a sedative to relax and then a “twilight sleep” anesthetic; the procedure generally takes 30 minutes or less. The docotor or his nurse will discuss his findings with you prior to discharge. You must have someone to drive you home, and preferably hang around to make sure you don’t text your old boyfriend … tell your mother-in-law exactly what you think … do anything harmful. You’ll probably have the best nap of your adult life.
While not the most pleasant procedure, it is exceedingly accurate in diagnosing issues that would go undetected otherwise. Think of it as an important milestone in your aging process and schedule your colonoscopy today.