This year marks ten years since I had a colonoscopy—which means, I’m due for another. In honor of that historic milestone, I thought I’d republish an article from my first experience in 2011. Enjoy!
If you’re over 50 and you haven’t had a colonoscopy, pick up the phone and schedule one right now. There’s no good excuse to avoid it. Unless, of course, you object to purging your entire digestive system and then letting a doctor (who, by the way, chose to focus on patients’ hind quarters for a living) insert a small, and by small I mean huge, video camera up inside you to check for abnormalities. If that’s your objection, you’re in good company. But, colonoscopies save lives so I suggest you get over your explorarectaphobia and just do it.
Knowing the importance of colonoscopies for detecting treatable cancer, I told my physician that I wanted to schedule one right after I turned 50. And no, I don’t have some weird fascination with digestive photography. It’s just that I worked in hospice care and know the value of preventive procedures.
So, I contacted the local Colonoscopies R Us Supercenter and picked a time in January when my speaking schedule tends to be slower. I completed a 750-item, pre-procedure questionnaire that asked for my medical history, my eating habits, my bowel routines, and whether the bathroom plumbing in our house worked properly. That last question gave me pause.
I returned the forms and several days later I received an instruction sheet with a prescription for MoviPrep which is described as a “dynamic cleansing solution.” I was impressed by the clever name and quickly discovered that it was not referring to the anticipation of a blockbuster cinema experience.
If you’re not familiar with the colonoscopy process, let me explain.
Basically, the procedure involves inserting a camera-equipped tube into your colon as a way to detect abnormalities, especially cancer. From what I’ve heard, the procedure itself is easy—BECAUSE YOU ARE ASLEEP. It’s the preparation process that deters most reasonable humans because you have to eliminate any visual obstacle from your colon so that the camera has a clear view.
This is where MoviPrep comes in…or out as it were. MoviPrep is a NASA-grade laxative that cleans you out from the top of your colon to…well…Uranus. One must drink thirty-two ounces of MoviPrep the night before the procedure and another thirty-two ounces on the morning of the procedure.
The day before my colonoscopy, I was not allowed to ingest anything but clear fluids. So, I stocked up on a variety of bouillon, sparkling drinks, fruit juices, and teas as a way to trick my body into thinking that I was eating. I woke up and had a lovely breakfast of bouillon and tea. By 7:30 am, I was famished. As the morning drug on, I considered chewing up an Oreo and then spitting it out just to experience the flavor and texture of food. But I was afraid that a piece of the cookie might slip into my colon leading the doctor to schedule a more extensive exploration. So I just drank lots of bouillon, juices, and teas.
At 5:00 p.m., the real fun began. It was time to start drinking the first round of MoviPrep. The solution was premixed and tasted like a combination of aspirin and chrome with a hint of lemon. The consistency reminded me of watered down kindergarten glue and I had to choke down four eight-ounce glasses during this first round.
To make the ingestion process a little more fun, I used a fancy mug that I had purchased from the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. You see, I had played a crappy game of golf at Kiawah so it was the perfect glass for drinking this (literally) crappy MoviPrep solution.
The first eight-ounce glass wasn’t too bad. But I had held my breath.
The second glass didn’t go down as easily. I accidentally breathed on the second swallow and the memory of the taste was permanently ingrained in my brain.
The third glass made me frumph. A frumph is a rapid cough-burp-heave sequence that leaves you wondering if something is going to come back up. But I got through that glass without incident.
I had to force the last eight ounces down. I experienced multiple frumphs.
Then I waited.
Fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes. Forty-five minutes. One hour.
At about the seventy-eight minute mark, the MoviPrep started to work. It began with a rumble that snaked its way down my digestive tract and then burst through like an NFL lineman. I barely made it to the bathroom in time. I finished, went back to my chair, and the rumbling started again. This would be my MoviPrep experience for the next three hours. After that, the process began to slow down.
By 10:30, I was done.
The final count was seventeen MoviPrep “moments.” I estimated that I was 20 pounds lighter at that point and no longer wanted anything to eat because I knew it would come right back out. I was exhausted.
Then, something unexpected happened. Something that was not on the prep sheet nor in any of the pre-procedure instructions. It was the worst possible outcome after five hours of continuous colon cleansing.
It was a phone call from the doctor’s office.
“Mr. Culberson. This is Mary at Dr. Jones’ office. Due to the impending snow storm, our office will be closed tomorrow. We’ll need to reschedule your colonoscopy.”
In a fit of rage, I threw the next morning’s round of MoviPrep solution out the kitchen window. The strain sent me back to the bathroom.
But, my procedure was rescheduled and I made it through another MoviPrep experience. There were no issues found during the colonoscopy and I’m pleased to say that it all worked out in the end.
So my advice to you is get your colonoscopy but just check the weather forecast first.