Rob Knight

Turning 30: The Colonoscopy

June 22, 2006

It has now been 12 hours since I last ate solid food. I’m kind of hungry, but I have another 14 hours to wait. Later today, I’m going in to have my first colonoscopy. At 30, you say? Too early you say? It’s true that I am having this procedure done a bit early in my life, but I have a good reason.

In 1982, my mother died after a year-long struggle with colon cancer. She was 37 years old. I have carried my mother’s memory with me all of my life. Likewise, I have carried the memory of her death with me all of my life. I adopted a healthy lifestyle very early in my life, and have maintained it into adulthood. Being the offspring of a cancer sufferer, I am haunted by a higher than average possibility that I could develop cancer. With that in mind, I chose the occasion of my 30th birthday to start taking preventative measures against developing cancer. The first step anyone can take in avoiding colon cancer is to aspire to a healthy diet. The second step is to get a colonoscopy every 5 years after age 50. That is the current recommendation for anyone without a family history of colon cancer.

24 hours before the procedure, I had to stop eating solid foods. I can only drink clear liquids and “eat” popsicles made with clear liquids. So my diet has consisted of lime juice popsicles, white grape juice, and water. But the real fun began at 9 p.m. last night. That was when I had to do the first pre-treatment “cleansing” of my bowels. To do it, I drank 1.5 oz. of Fleet Phosphosoda. It has a label on the front that says “Lemon Ginger” but I can assure you the only flavor I tasted was salt. It isn’t the best tasting stuff. The upside is that you’re allowed, in fact required, to mix it with at least 8 ounces with another liquid. The experience made me wish I was the drinking type, because I’m sure I could have found a more entertaining clear liquid to chase this stuff.

Once it is down, it is recommended that you stand next to the toilet with your pants down. Actually it isn’t that bad. It took about 50 minutes to take effect. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say there cannot possibly be anything solid inside of my colon. I promise and I’d bet on it. And just to clarify the rumors, when people mention a “black snake” that supposedly comes out during one of these colon cleansing episodes, it’s bullshit. You know what comes out? Poo. Period. Not crayons you ate as a child, not piles of gum you’ve swallowed over the course of your life. Just poo.

I get to do the cleansing one more time in the at 9:30 this morning. It will probably be far less…impressive(?) than the first cleansing, considering I’m living on water…have I mentioned I can’t have apples? I love apples! I can’t wait to have an apple. I’ve got some nice Fuji apples right now. Crisp, sweet…damn.

I still have to decide whether I will be completely knocked out for the procedure, or just mildly sedated. It is my choice and my natural curiosity is making it a hard decision. There is the natural desire to just avoid the whole thing by being asleep. But I am very curious about what it is like. So, I’ll decide tomorrow and let you know. Right now, I’m going to try to sleep and not think about cookies and apples.