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The Truth about Colonoscopies

The bark is much worse than the bite – in colonoscopy speak, this means the prep is much worse than the procedure – or is it?

In the last 10 years, I have been the recipient of numerous colonoscopy procedures – 9 in all – for family history reasons and for abdominal complications following our July 28, 2003 auto accident.

All subsequent colonoscopy experiences – after my first, when I didn’t know any better – were anticipated with dread because of the preparation procedure.

It wasn’t so much the requirement to go without food for the day and a half, but more brutally, the swallowing of the colon cleansing phospho-soda prep product known as “Fleet” or the other choices “NuLytely” and “Go-Lytely,” which have been gravely miss named. Go lightly indeed!

In truth, the prep is so bad; it in fact overshadows my dread of the doctor actually finding something wrong during the procedure.

This year’s dread was no different, so when speaking to Lorraine, the nurse who schedules procedures for Dr. Robert Levine, my gastroenterologist , I cried, “Isn’t there any other way to prep”? A question I ask – every time.

After getting nowhere with discussions about diluting Fleet and the Go-Lytely solutions, Lorraine placed me on hold. When she returned she gave me the most delightful news, “There is a pill-prep for colon cleansing,” she explained.

Lorraine has been Dr. Levine’s nurse forever and is fantastic for many reasons, not the least of which is putting up with my monotonous whining.

What is this pill prep you ask??? It’s a combination of 28 Visicol tablets (sodium phosphate tablets) and 4 Dulcolax tablets – 20 Visicol taken in a single hour, the remaining 8 taken two hours later and the 4 Dulcolax taken an hour after that.

Swallowing pills is difficult for me. The thought of taking so many pills was not necessarily appealing, but faced with drinking the other colon prep products….I figured I would take my chances with Visicol.

All in all – until Star Trek body scanners are invented – My next colonoscopy prep will again be with Visicol. The prep was still difficult, but less difficult than drinking the other colon evacuation products I mentioned earlier.

The Visicol tablets, made by Salix Pharmaceuticals are not small, additionally, Visicol is very expensive. If your doctor deems Visicol appropriate for you, click to save $30.00 off your prescription. Visicol is not intended for persons with heart disease or electrolyte abnormalities.

Finally, if you are anything like me in that it is difficult for you to swallow pills, I’ve created a dedicated “chewable & easy to swallow vitamin menu” in my vitamins & health category, found under “Products I Like.”

With family history, a colonoscopy every 2 years should begin by age 30 – for those without family history, the medical community suggests coming at age 50. My advice, don’t wait that long.

The actual colonoscopy is no big deal. You are given an IV sedative and a small lighted video camera, on a flexible tube, called a colonoscope is inserted into the anus. Your doctor will be searching for abnormalities like colon polyps

If polyps are found, the doctor removes them during the procedure, using the colonoscope and then tests the polyps for cancer.  The good news, most polyps are not harmful and usually cause no symptoms.

For those of you wondering – no polyps were found during my procedure and they don’t need to see me for another two years!!!! I’ll be looking for that Star Trek body scanner again in 2008.

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