Colonoscopy can save your life

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2015

By Chris A. Quilpa

Health is wealth. There’s no question about that. Even if you’re the richest person on Earth, materially speaking, what good is your wealth is if you can’t enjoy life and have fun with others?

No one is responsible for your health but you. Doctors, nurses and hospital or clinic staff can only do so much. Unless you’re completely invalid or incapacitated, the sole responsibility of taking care of your health rests in you.

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You have to keep track of and maintain your health by having regular check-ups, especially if you feel something is not right or bothering. A pain that’s been lingering for a long time should not be ignored. If you do, you may end up with more troubles in the long run.

As a retired U.S. Navy veteran who has worked in naval hospitals and clinics for 20 years, I am aware of the importance of taking care of myself and maintaining a good health.

I’ve always tried to keep my medical and dental appointments, and I observe a balanced life such that I don’t resort to any kind of behavior or habit that may be detrimental to my health and well being.

After 10 years, I recently had another colonoscopy. Thanks to Dr. Wilkerson and his team at NMCP for a job well done.

A colonoscopy is a procedure for the examination of your colon with a colonoscope, a thin, flexible lighted tube that allows your doctor to see inside of your colon for a possible colorectal cancer, colon polyps, tumors, ulcers and other abnormalities there.

Colon polyps are abnormal growth of tissue on the lining of the colon that can be cancerous. The procedure may take half an hour to an hour or more. If your gastroenterologist finds polyps, he removes them with biopsy forceps or cold snare, a specialized tool inside the colonoscope.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have a screening colonoscopy at age 50 and every 10 years thereafter. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

A week before the procedure, I strictly followed a low-residue diet, with plenty of water or clear liquids so as not to be dehydrated. The success of the exam depends on a clean, empty colon and large intestines.

A day before the exam, I started taking the bowel prep. Another prep solution is consumed three hours before the day of the exam. After that, I was advised to stop drinking all liquids 3 hours prior to the procedure. The salty prep solution caused frequent trips to the restroom, of course, leaving me feeling drained, bloated, hungry, tired, a little weak.

Otherwise, the procedure was without discomfort. Ready for the exam, I was sedated via an IV that put me to a relaxed consciousness while the gastroenterologist examined my colon.

After the procedure, I felt light-headed, a little groggy but awake. I was glad to have my wife Freny with me, because I couldn’t be driving while still having the effect of that sedation. A designated driver is required after colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy is a procedure that can save your life by detecting abnormalities inside the lining of your large intestine. So, if you’re due for this exam, go see your doctor and set an appointment to have it.

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at