Column – Colonoscopy: A lifesaver hidden in plain sight
Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Prevention and early detection are vital keys to a happy, healthy living. They are important to our physical and mental wellness. Prevention is any action on our part to keep us healthy and well. Early detection and diagnosis can improve health and save life.
The saying or proverb, “Prevention is better than cure,” attributed to the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus about 1500, has become a fundamental principle in modern health care.
I’ve just had a colonoscopy recently, my third, so far. Thankfully it went well. Many thanks to Dr. Ramirez at Lakeview Medical Center’s Bayview Digestive Health and Colorectal Surgery (Ambulatory Surgery Department) and his team for a job well done.
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Colonoscopy is a medical procedure that uses a colonoscope, to examine the colon for possible colorectal cancer, colon polyps, tumors, ulcers, and other abnormalities there. The instrument allows the surgeon to view your colon directly which is much more accurate than an X-ray or stool test.
Colon polyps are abnormal growth of tissue on the lining of the colon that can be cancerous. To determine if it’s cancerous or not, a biopsy is performed.
Like any medical procedure, there may be complications that occur while having colonoscopy, such as perforation of the colon, bleeding and infection, or complications from anesthesia.
The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have a screening colonoscopy at age 50 and every ten years thereafter. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
With routine check-ups, proper diagnosis, and periodic colonoscopies, colon cancer is preventable.
The success of the exam depends on a clean, empty colon and large intestine. The procedure will be canceled or rescheduled if your colon (small and large intestines) is not completely clean or empty.
A week before my colonoscopy, I strictly followed a low-residue diet, with plenty of water or clear liquids so as not to be dehydrated.
Two days before the exam, I took two Dulcolax tablets at bedtime. No more solid foods thereafter. Just clear liquids, no red or purple in color, the first thing in the morning on the day before the procedure. Then, at noon, I started drinking every he solution (the MiraLAX white powder mixed with 64 oz. of Gatorade (I chose the Frost flavor) in a pitcher and chilled), every 15 minutes, until the entire mixture is finished.
On the day of the exam, after giving the nurse the name and date of the last dose of any and all drugs or medicines (over the counter and prescribed) taken recently, and after I changed clothes to hospital gowns and socks, and talking to my surgeon, Dr. Ramirez, I was wheeled to the exam room, transferred to a bed, where nurses and an anesthesiologist attended me.
Ready for the procedure, I was sedated via an IV (intravenous) that put me to a relaxed mood or sleep or (un)consciousness, while my gastroenterologist examined my colon.
After the procedure, I was awaken and then changed clothes. After that I had a brief conversation with Dr. Ramirez. I thanked him and his team for a job well done.
Colonoscopy is a procedure that can save your life by detecting abnormalities inside the lining of your large intestine. So, folks, if you’re due for this exam, go see your doctor and set an appointment to have it.