“Prep” work is important

Today’s “by request” blog is courtesy of Susan Kemper.  Susan recently began working in the endoscopy department and she asked that I blog about why it’s important do a thorough “prep” before having a colonoscopy. 

I’ve never had a colonoscopy so I called on the experts in the endoscopy department and they suggested that I try the colon prep for myself, after all, how could I write a really good blog about the “prep” if I’ve never done one. 

With that said, I’m letting you know up front that this is not a really good blog it’s just an OK blog because I did not do the “prep”. 

After I spoke with endoscopy staff I went to the internet to find more information about the “colon prep” and I found the tips you’ll read below.  I also responded to each and my responses are in (italics).

Tips for the prep:

  • To reduce any anal discomfort, use adult wet wipes or a water spray to clean off instead of toilet paper (Anal discomfort – maybe this should be the last bullet, I’m not sure I’ll read any farther.  Adult wet wipes – where do you get adult wet wipes and will they fit in the “wipe warmer” I use for my son.  I’m not sure I’ve got a water hose long enough to run into my bathroom so maybe I could use a turkey baster or an empty Windex bottle to spray off)
  • Keep plenty of clear liquids on hand to drink. Water gets boring and you need to stay hydrated. (is whiskey considered a clear liquid – it’s going to take something to get me past the anal discomfort)
  • Follow doctor’s instructions. You wouldn’t want to have to do the prep all over again because you didn’t get it right the first time. (hard to argue with not wanting to do it all over again, as if one round of anal discomfort isn’t enough)
  • Be prepared to spend most of the day before your test on the toilet.  Bring a book.  (If you spend the entire day on the toilet how big of a book will you need, I wonder if War and Peace will be long enough)
  • Call the doctor’s office for help if you have any trouble or don’t understand the prep instructions. (do you think the doctor’s office can tell me where to get Adult Wipes)

So between what I found on the internet and what I learned from the endoscopy staff there’s really no way to sugar coat the prep, it’s not fun, but it is important. 

A colonoscopy is a fairly easy procedure for the patient.  You lay down on a comfortable bed, your doctor gives you medicine to make you relaxed and sleepy, the colonoscope is inserted in the rectum and gradually advanced through the colon while the lining of the intestine is examined.  In most cases the patient doesn’t feel a thing and if there is any discomfort at all it is usually very mild. 

The key to a thorough examination is a good prep.  If you’re going to have a colonoscopy then you need to do the prep as instructed.  You see, the colonoscope is essentially a camera that provides live action footage of your intestine.  The doctor performing the exam uses the camera to inspect your intestine and colon for colon cancer and to identify growths, or polyps, that can be easily removed before they might become colon cancer.  The real benefit of a colonoscopy is that it actually prevents colon cancer.  Finding and removing polyps can help keep some people from getting colon cancer.  If the prep is not performed properly the doctors ability to see what’s going on in your colon is “distorted”.

It’s recommended that anyone age 50 or over have a colonoscopy at least every ten years and maybe more often if recommended by your doctor.  There may be cases when younger persons need a colonoscopy and your doctor can help you decide if you’re a candidate prior to age 50.  No matter the case, be sure you do the “prep” just as you’re instructed otherwise you run the risk of something being missed or having to repeat the procedure.

If you want to know what it’s like to do a colonoscopy on someone who doesn’t do the “prep” like they’re instructed, try this exercise: next time it rains take your camera outside, stick the lens in the mud and take a picture!

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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