Colonoscopy in a Box. Sounds Interesting, No?
As my mother-in-law used to say, frequently, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” That goes double when one contemplates screening for colon cancer. Note, this is NOT for the squeamish. Which I kind of am—squeamish, that is. In fact, I probably wouldn’t read past this paragraph, if I hadn’t written the post. If you’re eating, or don’t like reading about icky bodily function stuff—DO NOT READ MORE.
Before following the links, you may want to open this in the “Incognito Window”.
Screening for Colon Cancer is Not Fun
On Wednesday morning, I walked the three miles to my physician’s office to deliver a sample (actually 6 samples) of my poop.
There’s no other way to say it. Eleven years ago, I got a colonoscopy at 50 as was recommended and as EW had done a number of years earlier. Pretty much all of you know the preparation prior to a colonoscopy—not fun, but once you get past the taste of the stuff, you just go-and-go-and-go until you’re empty. (NOTE: It’s easier now to prepare, but still involves staying pretty close to the toilet.)
Our History with Screening for Colon Cancer: Colonoscopy
When EW had done his first colonoscopy prep we lived in a house with two bathrooms so it was no big thing. Afterward, the doc told him that it could be his last colonoscopy as “in a few years, they’ll have a much less invasive way of testing you.” I hoped that when my time came the less invasive method would be available, but my doc in Maine insisted on doing the whole major-cleanse-and-get-a-scope-stuck-up-my-butt deal. Bummer. By that time we were living aboard the boat and my test was booked during the winter when we lived on the dock and did “our big business” on shore, (think about it) so I booked myself into a small hotel near the medical center. It was either that or sleep in the laundry room.
Screening For Colon Cancer with A Packet of Matches
Fast forward 10 years and we had sailed back to the states. At my physical in October of 2016, my doctor wanted a screening for colon cancer and gave me three little flat match-book-like packets, three sticks, and a sheet of paper with instructions. The instructions told me not to eat red meat or spinach for 7 days. I started the seven days plan, got to Day 5 (first sample day) read the instructions again and found out that medical folks don’t believe that pork is “the other white meat”.
Well dang. The advertisers lied. Who knew?
So, I started the seven-day-diet again and on Days 5, 6, and 7 and successfully gathered my samples. Once the week was over, I delivered my harvest to my physician and shortly thereafter learned I had a healthy colon. (I credit the chia seeds.)
My Doctor Believes in a Yearly Harvest
This past fall, I again had my annual visit and was handed the packets, sticks, and instructions. But then Hurricane Irene happened and three days later we moved from apartment to boat, and somehow I lost the packets, sticks, and instructions. A month ago, I visited my doc and mentioned that I had been negligent on the poop harvesting thing. He gave me more packets, three more sticks, and one page of instructions.
This has been a particularly social time in St. Augustine and there I was suddenly trying to do a special short-term “diet” without telling folks why— because icky. My friend Jody has few brakes, “OH! You’re doing that colonoscopy in a box thing!” Having not been given a box (or even a bag!) I wasn’t sure what she meant. She said there was an ad on TV. Yep. Not my product, but same kind of thing.
I “dieted” for two days and then stopped due to St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef. It’s a big thing here. There was a festival, a week-long celebration and two bar meals featuring the Irish/New England feast. Afterward, I began again, but it was a weird week and I didn’t consume my daily morning allotment of chia seeds. (This is important.)
The Challenges of Life in St. Augustine without a Car
Now, the other part of this story is that my physician and the two pharmacies we use (one for EW and another for me because of my insurance) are all about 3 miles from the marina so I try to plan my trips to include both pharmacies and the grocery store. It was past time for a trek; we both had medicine waiting for us and our pharmacies were texting daily and threatening to put the stuff back into inventory. EW was most plagued and most anxious that one of us get our butt moving. I explained that I’d go when everything was ready for the lab, and (unfortunately) mentioned that it would “probably be Monday”. Ha! I should never have mentioned a day.
Being Anal Retentive Takes on a Whole New Meaning
Day five, I go through the instructions, clean the head (that’s a marine toilet), rinse the head, poop in a dry head, and use both ends of the stick to harvest two smears, from “different sections of your movement”. Yeah. Fun not, but not horrible.
Day six, I’m invited to spend about 4 hours on another boat, which will be underway for the Blessing of the Fleet. Alas! No morning poop. This presents a problem. I had to text my regrets about missing the Blessing and kind of made up a client issue to cover it. I should have sailed. It was a poopless day. All instructions assume a daily poop. Who among us is not that regular? (Raises hand high. Consumes more chia seeds.)
Day Seven, the seeds work. Two samples collected, another tiny packet sealed for the lab.
Day Eight, no spinach or meat for you! No poop, either.
Throughout all of this, my private movement moment was monitored by EW because he wanted CVS off his back. On Monday, “They are giving me 4 days, and then they are canceling it!” (Like I gave sh!t—either literally or figuratively.)
Finally, on the morning of Day Nine, I expelled a tiny bit of poop. (Told you not to read this.) How tiny was it? Both samples were harvested from the same area. Sue me.
Finally! Walking it off.
As said at the start of this, on Wednesday, I got up early, marched three miles straight to my doctor’s office, dropped off my samples, visited both pharmacies and the grocery, and got a taxi back to the boat by 10. Both pharmacies are happy, I’m happy, and EW is happy.
I fully expect that there will again be no issues, and have been more diligent on the chia seeds to that my colon remains happy.
Fiber up, ladies. Fiber is your friend. Harvesting poop is a pain in the…well you know.
A Scale of Poop
As long as I’ve gone this far—Jody mentioned seeing a tv Doc discussing what one’s poop should look like. Oh god.
I couldn’t let it go. Did you know there was a chart for that? Really. It’s called Bristol Stool Guide. You can get a coffee cup imprinted with it! Wouldn’t that be fun?
No. No. Just N.O.
No to pooping and smearing it on anything – with a stick or a 10-foot pole. I’m waiting for the robot camera in a capsule that I can swallow when poop testing and camera-up-the-butt-thing for normal wellness care goes the way of the Sony Walkman. OMG, all this AND you had to walk 3 miles for the privilege; or, 6 miles – no 12 miles!!! Seriously, Barb, you must really LOVE living aboard.
That. Is. All.