Monday, November 29, 2021

My First Colonoscopy: Part One (aka Just Do It But...)


For those of us "blessed" with personalities that lead us to overthink, worry, get incredibly anxious and the like, I have a bit of advice for you when you reach middle age...just get the damn colonoscopy.  I don't know if you were aware of this bit of information but this year, they lowered the age to get a colonoscopy to 45 from 50.   Go ahead sucky year...take more from me.

My doctor mentioned this whilst doing a piss poor job on her annual exam and asked if I heard of the poop in a box tests.  

(Literally IMPOSSIBLE for me to say that phrase without thinking of these guys.  Source)

I said I'd heard of it and she said since I had no family history of colon issues that would be an option until I get the drain snaked at 50.  I gleefully accepted that option.  Then I did my research at home.  I did NOT like what I was reading about this option and I couldn't imagine if she'd actually done her research about complaints people had that she would've been happy either.  For starters, the company she said they use allegedly has a very sketchy reputation according to reviews.  People talked about them spamming your email, mail and phone asking for very invasive information they had no reason to possess.  I also read that when you blocked their number, they would actually change the number they called from!  I experienced all of that so I can back up that experience.  It made it seem like the kit wouldn't come unless you answered them and in my case, despite not answering their calls, it came regardless about 10 days later.  I was in no real hurry to do it but then you know how when you decide you're going to buy a new car and you've picked out the one you want in your mind that you suddenly see it everywhere you go?  Same with this.  I'd NEVER seen a commercial for this company that I could recall but suddenly there it was not just on TV but the radio too.  Suddenly stories of colorectal cancer were everywhere when I didn't remember them being prominent.  I began freaking out that it was a sign from the universe.

I finally did the deed and mailed it away.  Obviously, I looked that thing over with a fine tooth comb and not a speck of blood and a shape so perfect I was sure it was going to go in a museum.  As I was looking for test alternatives to keep me going until I reached 50 so I wouldn't have to deal with that company again, I found them.  People on Amazon saying their docs confirmed the ones I was looking at on there were the exact same test they used in house (not the same as my test as it didn't tell you if it had polyps or not) and why not pay less?  Then you start getting into the nitty gritty and reading people who were cleared actually had issues and those who tested positive were negative.  How was I going to trust this?  I tried to put it out of my mind the best I could for a week.  Then I got the call from the nurse at my docs office who despite being given complete consent per their own forms to please leave messages on voice mail, says "call me back to discuss your results."  This is the third time I've gotten that message this year.

Do you know what that does to an anxiety addled control freak like myself??  I comb through the patient portal and it doesn't say anything about test results in the obvious spot but after some serious digging, I find the results...positive.  I start shaking and call back and of course she isn't available.  I leave a message saying I see the results in the portal and I'm freaking out.  She calls and says that yes, it's positive for polyps but the doctor wants to emphasize this doesn't mean I have anything worse and they will refer me for a colonoscopy.  (As I look in the notes later, that isn't quite what the doc said.  She said "it came back positive.  Refer for colonoscopy so she can get some answers."  So the nurse was the one who tried to calm my worst fears.  You can imagine the places I went and the spiraling that happened.  Now I was going to have to end up having the damn test anyway and guess what, because the boxed poop is considered screening, this bigger procedure was now going to be diagnostic which costs much more out of pocket because insurance sucks.  Like I haven't already paid out the ass (no pun intended) in other medical issues all friggin' year.  

It took just over a week for the test to be referred and then I was contacted for scheduling.  If I wanted twilight, I was going to have to wait 2 1/2 months for it in January.  Yes, because nothing says relaxing holiday season than obsessing over health issues you can't control.  If I wanted sooner than that, I could do it a month later but be under anesthetic or choose to do no anesthesia which I've heard horror stories about.  I was not happy about having to be put under but then again, I had an endoscopy done in 1998 under 'twilight' and was fully awake for the whole thing and I remember every second of it.  She said based on that alone, they would probably put me under for it anyway.  Great.  

It was an agonizing month wait.  I tried desperately to put it out of my head and the first two weeks I did okay with that.  The last two weeks, I could barely stop myself from crying trying to be strong in front of the Mr so he didn't think I was being extra.  (This got especially bad after the gastro group sent over their legal stuff telling me all of the things that could go wrong.  I was convinced I was going to die, wrote a death letter, prepared some meals to freeze including most of Thanksgiving so he could have one more holiday season of my food.  Yes, this is where our minds go for the anxious.)  The Mr's appointment for his annual was coming up and he knew based off of my experience that it wasn't worth getting the 'easy' way out because it wasn't really easy.  It's way worse on your mental state to have to go through 6 weeks of dealing with the wait, worry and what ifs.  

If you are the anxious type and that time is coming up for you, don't try to take the shortcut.  For me, if it was positive I'd need to get it done and if it was negative I'd always wonder and then it might've been too late just like the false positive and negatives I read about.  Obviously, I can't tell you what to do but it is a horrible thing to put yourself through mentally especially if you end up just having to have it done anyway.  At least if you have it done, they can remove any polyps which can't be done any other way.  Some of you may wonder about the part that everyone dreads more than the test itself..."the prep."  My friend who has horrible bowel issues sent me this video with some helpful tips.  I had several people tell me the 'explosive diarrhea' people warn you about never happened to them so it wasn't bad.

Come on back tomorrow to see what my experience with the prep was as I took detailed notes while going through it.

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  1. As always, the waiting is the hardest part because it's like you're in limbo until you just get your results. I won't say more since there is a part 2 on this but I am glad you shared this info!

  2. Fingers crossed here!
    My thoughts are that the colonoscopy though necessary is the biggest insurance scam ever. I know no person who had no polyps. Then you get surprised with like a $1200 out of pocket. The poop stick test is not reliable. My Mom coded twice during a colonoscopy performed based on that crap test. Very misleading as it starts out as preventative.

  3. My doctor recommended a colonoscopy last year, and gave me the pamphlet for the poop in a box test so I could make up my own mind. She didn't recommend it, but didn't tell me not to do it. I stuck it in a file to look at later and later hasn't come yet. I know she will push me harder this year and I'll have to give in and go get the thing done. Ugh.


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