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Not So Modern Medicine

On the recommendation of both my primary physician and my oncologist, I am having a colonoscopy done tomorrow morning. Most of that has to do with my age and of course the desire on my doctors part to know if the inside of my colon is behaving as well as the outside appears to be doing. The experience, however, reminds me of just how far medical science has to go to be truly advanced, in my opinion.

Some years ago I reached the conclusion that men were generally more realistic than women, because only men start each day with a razor at their throat. That idea was reinforced by the indignity of the prostate examination, and of course a colonoscopy certainly ranks right up there, the notion of a camera on a cord shoved up the rear end of the patient, who then gets to pay for the procedure in an amount similar to a cruise vacation.

I'm not inordinately concerned about the embarrassment or discomfort of the procedure, having been regularly poked, prodded, pierced, injected and so on over the last three years. But in addition to the thrills of the actual procedure, and paying for same in the kind of money that could have been used on a new television or jewelry for the wife, I get to enjoy the taste sensation of Gavilyte. Gavilyte has to be drunk the day before the procedure, a day by the way when I cannot have any solid foods. I get to drink, 8 ounces at a time, a gallon of a clear liquid which will flush out my colon. Remember what mucilage smells like? That's what Gavilyte tastes like. Just imagine the experience of putting down a gallon of that stuff, and not being allowed to have a single bite of real food?

Of course, by tomorrow morning I may miss the Gavilyte, because after midnight I am not allowed to drink anything either. That's especially nice in South Texas in hundred-degree heat.

So what's the point? Three, actually. One, I feel like a mild rant and this is it. The colonoscopy is a minor but annoying procedure, but I don't have to pretend I like it. Two, things like this remind of just how very far medical science is from being truly advanced, given the cost, inconvenience and displeasure of a test that everyone agrees is important. And three, I am likely to be irritable for a while, so I will not be blogging for a little while, in everyone's best interest.


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Comments (24)

Good luck tomorrow, dude.</... (Below threshold)
The Exposer:

Good luck tomorrow, dude.

I just had my (once every 3... (Below threshold)

I just had my (once every 3 year) colonoscopy and my doc switched to Miralax which gets mixed with 64 oz of Gatorade. Same flushing fun without the horrible taste. Good luck.

Life's l intrudes. Take thi... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Life's l intrudes. Take this the right way DJ, I wish you many, many more such experiences. Many, many more....


Things may be changing.... (Below threshold)

Things may be changing.

There have been advances in "virtual colonoscopy," where they use an MRI machine instead. Comparable results, much less annoying and time consuming. It's already in use for people who could be at risk for invasive procedures.

I did that once, under anes... (Below threshold)

I did that once, under anesthesia. That's how I found out that Versaid and I do not get along. My respiration crashed.

However, they didn't find any more hemmeroids then the two they already knew about, and after pumping me full of nupegen for a couple more days, it was off to surgery I went.

My oncologist sent me there to the hospital directly from the emergency visit in his office. Only emergency visit I ever did with him.

I never had to drink that stuff you are talking about, but I had other bad part sof that experence.

Wishing you better luck then I had.

See if your insurance will ... (Below threshold)

See if your insurance will cover a virtual colonoscopy. Nothing is shoved in the darkness, and there is NO risk of puncture!!! The procedure is not available everywhere yet, and it costs more, but safety out weighs the cost for some people.

While I wouldn't say no to ... (Below threshold)

While I wouldn't say no to virtual colonoscopy, the benefit to the ass camera is that if you have polyps the doc can remove them right then and there. So, if there is any history in the family it may be a better choice to go the old school rout.

I agree, Nothing Left. I ha... (Below threshold)

I agree, Nothing Left. I had a couple of polyps removed, and since I was out like a light - thanks, Versed - might as well take care of what you can - Ahem, you've got the probe up in there already, so make the best of it. I'll tell you what, I don't remember much about it. As for the gallon of gunk I had to drink, well, that wasn't so cool. I remember my wife taking me to the Burger King for breakfast after the procedure, and I wolfed it down in the car. Woozy but ravenous. Actually, it sounds a lot worse than it is. It can save your life, though.

It sucks balls but as Nike ... (Below threshold)

It sucks balls but as Nike says, Just Do It.

I feel your pain. Been the... (Below threshold)

I feel your pain. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. At least my doc dopes me up some so I'm in dreamland while he does the guided tour.

Virtual Scopes not the way ... (Below threshold)

Virtual Scopes not the way for DJ to go.

A one day prep is better than the old 3 day one.

There's a Medical Advance for you.

Absolutely hate both exams ... (Below threshold)

Absolutely hate both exams you listed. Equally. The colonoscopy is nothing. The prep for it is an all day bad affair.

While your GI doctor is up there, see if he can find Obama's head. ;) ww

Hope all goes well and you are clean as can be.

Do you at least get the Ver... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Do you at least get the Versed? My stbx said that the prep was worth it for the Versed vacation. She was easier to get along with too ;)

DJ, old chum, I've had one,... (Below threshold)

DJ, old chum, I've had one, too.

NOT fun.

I took a button along with me that read "YOUR PROCTOLOGIST CALLED -- THEY FOUND YOUR HEAD" and offered the doc a deal: he didn't hurt me, he could have the button.

He didn't earn it, but I gave it to him anyway.

One word of advice: you will probably be VERY unpleasant to be around (and a contributor to global warmening -- hint, hint) for about 24 hours afterwards -- and will NOT want to be very far from a men's room. Prepare accordingly.

Hey DJ. My son went for a ... (Below threshold)

Hey DJ. My son went for a physical so he could go out for team sports in high school. Very embarrassed when the doc grabbed his...and told him to cough. Afterward told him, yeah, well when you get older they're gonna do stuff on the other end. He wasn't amused.

You'll do fine. The worst p... (Below threshold)

You'll do fine. The worst part of my scopes was the night before. All part of getting old; better than the alternative.

Amazingly, I just had that ... (Below threshold)

Amazingly, I just had that very thing done this morning. Yesterday was my day with Gavilyte. That stuff tastes like urinal cleaner mixed with a really bad margarita mix. Personally I only managed to choke down about half that stuff.

Got down there to the hospital and was waiting and waiting to be called. Some of the other patients got up and asked how much longer. I thought it was amusing that the Endoscopy unit was "backed up".

Then it turns out that all the people waiting had my doctor. The lady behind the desk explained that he was very thorough and that he usually ran late. Great. I got the anal butt doctor.

In the end, they gave me someone else and I got through pretty quickly. It was a breeze compared to what I expected. The prep is by far the hardest part.

And, when I got out, we went right to my favorite Chinese restaurant and I got to enjoy solid food once again.

Life is good.

I'm sorry you are going to ... (Below threshold)

I'm sorry you are going to be uncomfortable, but seriously. The "indignity of the prostate examination"? Try getting yearly pap smears and gynecological exams. At least your goodies are on the outside. Plus, the Gavilyte routine is standard for other surgeries, as well. Feel better soon, OK?

Denise, sad to say for all ... (Below threshold)
Not Always Right:

Denise, sad to say for all us men who have to have a prostate exam, that bit of the body is well inside a man.

This is an easy procedure a... (Below threshold)

This is an easy procedure and as everyone else said the worse part is drinking the clean out liquid - ick.

At the end (no pun intended) you will get this neat little picture (black and white) that you can display proudly in a picture frame. It looks very much like a modern art picture and there is nothing more fun than having it displayed and watching people admiring your innards and telling them what the picture really is and having them jump back.

You guys are complaining ab... (Below threshold)

You guys are complaining about being examed...what about us women...lot more to exam and very uncomforable/painful. Lucky you don't have to have "mammograms" of your lower parts. And as far as rectal exams we get them too along with the frontal exam-the worst. You tend to loose all your modesty year after year of exams.

But, the worst of the colonscope is the drink. My mixture tasted just like salty water and made me so sick to my stomach...but everything was a breeze.

Got my third one coming up ... (Below threshold)

Got my third one coming up - polyps found in the first two, so I keep going every 3 years til it comes up clean. For me, the worst part of it all was the anticipation of the first one. After that, when I realized how minor the process really is, I don't give it much of a second thought. Unpleasant? Sure, but a hell of lot better than the possible consequences of not doing it. It just isn't that big a deal .

My prior day drink of choic... (Below threshold)

My prior day drink of choice has always been GOLITELY. Imagine that? Go-litely. It is certainly NOT what you wind up doing for several hours. Anyhow, just have your doctor knock you out--COLD. I don't remember what he put into my I V, but I do know I was GONE from the beginning until the moment I woke up in the little recovery room.

Huh... that's interesting. ... (Below threshold)

Huh... that's interesting. The last couple of doses of 'the stuff' that I took were to be taken the morning of, and I was also allowed to drink all the fluids I wanted, practically right up to the appointment time... anything you can see through, just nothing red, for fairly obvious reasons.

I've always called Versed the 'I don't care' drug.

Also... the pharmacist, after assuring me that he was NOT dispensing medical advice, told me the consensus was that the pineapple flavoring packet that came with 'the stuff' was the least obnoxious.

Actually, the worst part was the fact that you are supposed to refrigerate the stuff once it's mixed up. My teeth are sensitive to cold. Nothing for it but to 'man up' (or the girl equivalent thereof, whatever that is) and just glug it down.

Ditto to the ::ahem:: 'global warming warning' for afterwards. I coulda won one of those contests some of the less-refined kids used to have in high school..........






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