Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a comparison

I wasn't going to write about this, but when you have an opportunity to write about butt cancer, you ought not to pass it up.

No no, don't worry, I haven't got butt cancer, or cancer of the colon, as it is more commonly known, but my Grandmother did (and beat it!), her uncle died from it, my father had pre-cancerous polyps, my sister had juvenile polyps and I have had them as well. That means I've had a colonoscopy before, and will have to have them every five years for the rest of my life. Yesterday I had my second colonoscopy, and since I've now had this procedure done in two countries, here, as a public service to my readers, is a comparison of what to expect when undergoing a colonoscopy in America and France.

Special Diet
America: no solid foods and only clear liquids for two days before the procedure. I subsisted on Gatorade and clear jello.
France: restricted diet with no fiber for three days before the procedure. I had coffee and biscuits with jelly for breakfast, meat and starch for lunch and dinner, and chocolate for dessert.

Advantage: France

Sorry, there's no nice way to say it, but the colon must be cleansed before the procedure. This is done by force-evacuating everything you've eating for the last ten years of your life...
America: The two evenings before the procedure, a small bottle of liquid is added to a glass of a clear drink (7-up was highly recommended). Pretty nasty but doable.
France: The night before the procedure and the morning of the procedure, a powdered medicine is added to two liters of water, which must be drunk in two hours. It was recommended to keep the water very cold but this didn't stop it from tasting like ass-flavored sea water. Then I ran up and down the stairs all evening/morning. I could have added lemon juice, but I figured it would have just tasted like lemony-ass-flavored sea water, so I didn't bother.

Advantage: America

The Procedure
America: Performed in an examination room at a clinic. I wasn't completely knocked out, but was in what is commonly called "twilight" - I could have forced myself to stay awake and even watch the procedure if I wanted, but I have better sense than that and slept through the whole thing.
France: Performed in an operating room. Actually checked into a room at the same clinic where Fry was born, hung out in the room (and did a bit of knitting, actually) before I was wheeled into the operating room, where I was given a shot intravenously which knocked me out cold and my vitals where constantly watched by an anesthesiologist during the procedure. I felt a lot safer knowing I was already in an operating room in case anything went wrong, even though it only very rarely does with this kind of procedure.

Advantage: France

The Recovery
America: Woke up in a large room filled with beds with only sheets to divide them. Here is another embarrassing fact about a colonoscopy - you will experience epic farting afterwards! You'll have to bring someone with you because you won't be able to drive, so make sure that person is someone very, very close. Very close. Was released under my friend's care, and we went to IHOP before I crashed on her couch for the rest of the afternoon.
France: Woke up in the operating room, was transferred to a rolling bed and wheeled into the recovery room. Was given oxygen and my vitals were monitored until I was totally awake. Wheeled back to my room, where luckily I had the room to myself so I could fart in peace. Was offered a choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and given a little snack and rested for a couple of hours. The doctor passed by my room and told me all was well and to come back again in five years, the needle was removed from my arm, and I was released under my husband's care while Fry charmed everyone he came in contact with. We went home and I made chicken wraps for dinner.

Advantage: France

Well, I have to admit, it looks like France wins out, but considering how nasty that liquid ass is, I think I'm going to have to call a tie!

And finally, in case you're wondering whether you shouldn't run right out and have your own colonoscopy done, most people don't need to start screenings until they're fifty years old. However, if someone in your immediate family has ever had polyps or cancer, your risk is much higher. I was thirty when I had my first colonoscopy, and I had two polyps. Luckily I didn't have any this time around, but I won't take any chances and will go through the whole rigamarole again in five years. I'll let you know if they make any improvements on the ass flavored cleansing products...


Meryl said...

Wow, I thought the American liquid was horrible.

Vivi said...

Yeah, but imagine drinking EIGHT glasses of it!

Ms Mac said...

Believe it or not, you've brought back some very fond memories for me. I used to work in an Endoscopic centre where the surgeons performed colon & gastrocscopies. Sometimes we had a great laugh up in the recovery room as the patients got rid of their gas

We used to tell the patients no solids for 24 hours before the procedure and gave them the 2 litre drink you got in France. I would joke with the patients that they should just take the telly into the bathroom with them for the evening. Some of them even did!

Lili said...

When I use to work for the Gastro doc back in Charlotte, I could give the patient a choice of a gallon of the nasty flavored stuff, or pills to take called Visocol (Visicol, maybe?). Anywho, you had to take 28 over the course of a couple of hours, so if you have trouble swallowing pills, that was out. Otherwise, no nasty tasting stuff!

And just so ya know, our one of the focuses of our research in the lab is chemoprevention for folks like you who have a genetic predisposition for polyp development, trying to understand the mechanisms for early tumor development so we can attack it from the front end! hahaha

PutYourFlareOn said...

Epic farts? I laughed out loud at that.

Vivi, you are seriously my hero.

Doc said...

thanks! I needed this tonight, farts and all.

Tracey said...

Definitely the most in depth and hilarious butt story I've heard in ages.

Denise said...

It's not easy to make a colonoscopy funny...and yet somehow you managed.

Seriously though...always good for to have a PSA done by someone who has been through it! I know I was told by my family to get one 10 years earlier then when my parents' had theirs since they had polyps. Looks like 43 will be a special year for me :-)

GutSense said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mrs C said...

My doctor told me that my intestines were beautiful after I had this procedure done a couple of years ago. That they were a stunning purple. I felt weird and flattered at the same time. Who gets complimented on their poop paths?... How do you react to that?

Suz said...

OMG! This gives me the willies. I know, I'm ridiculous.

I too love the new template and thanks for the link to Stuff Parisians Like. HILARIOUS!

Sarita said...

My mom had colon cancer this year...guess I better start getting myself checked out, huh? Ugh.

I loved your run-down though...and I am glad that things went smoothly except for the ass juice.