Me and My Colonoscopy

I had a two hour run scheduled today that’s not going to happen. I’m nauseous, tired, stuffy, and fuzzy feeling. It’s all because of something that happened on Friday.

I turned 50 in December. A right of passage in America when you turn 50 and have good health insurance is a colonoscopy. I wasn’t thinking very hard about this until a friend of mine had one a few months ago (at 51) and discovered she had colon cancer. A week later she had major surgery and today she’s doing fine as they “got it all out.” Another friend had one at age 42 since his family had a history of colon cancer and they discovered a major pre-cancerous tumor. His view is that he’d be dead if he hadn’t had the procedure.

So – in I went on Friday to have my colonoscopy. I have another friend who turned 50 within a month of me who was also having his first colonoscopy on Friday. As we drank our pre-colonoscopy “cocktail” which will be familiar to anyone who has had a colonoscopy, we joked about spending the evening on the toilet getting empty. Little did we understand the magnitude of what we were joking about – that only hits home around 4am on your 11th trip to the bathroom.

The procedure went well and I’m all clear (excuse the double entendre). Amy took a few pictures of me after the procedure. Here I am peacefully enjoying my fentanyl induced nap. I can’t tell whether I’m napping next to a machine running Windows Vista, XP, or 7, but given the various end of life for each it doesn’t give me a lot of comfort.

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I’m always fascinated by the dedicated monitors in a hospital. Non-standard cables, funny button shapes, odd LED colors, and lots of extra controls. On the other hand, my 15 years of running is paying off, as demonstrated by a resting heart rate of 50 and a blood pressure of 105 over 67.

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I slept all afternoon Friday and then went to bed early Friday night. I’d fasted all day on Thursday (part of the process) so my body was extremely uncalibrated. I have no idea what I ate on Friday or Saturday, but when I went to sleep yesterday my stomach was singing strange gurgling sounds. I slept in again today and am pondering taking another nap soon (it’s 10am).

I look forward to feeling normal again tomorrow.


Also published on Medium.

  • Wow. That resting heart rate and blood pressure are impressive indeed! I thought I was in decent shape, but you put me to shame Brad.

    Very glad to hear all is well. Rest up buddy!

  • Rodney Peixoto

    Wish you all the best.

  • Hope you feel better soon!

  • Ok I think you just motivated me to start running. I’m really impressed with your resting heart rate! Best with speedy recovery.

  • I had my first 3 weeks ago – I turn 50 this summer. I should have had my wife take a picture of me slumbering! I was told I had the colon of a 30 year old 🙂

    One other thing – the pre-surgery cocktail they gave me was actually darn good. My last drink was at 11pm, I was up until midnight getting everything out, and then I actually slept straight until 6am, when we got up to go to the center. Much better than what I had been told. They gave me Suprep.

    Great stats – I also felt great seeing a fantastic resting heart rate
    and pulse – I had 4 nurses come over and check out my stats. It’s always
    great to be able to say “I’m a triathlete” and they all nod.

    50 is feeling pretty darn good, so far! Glad everything went well for you.

  • A side note; my friend that is a physician said the gastroenterology lecture he endured was his funniest in med school. In emergency rooms they find a lot of funny stuff in there!

  • Is it a right or is it a responsibility?

  • Scott Sandler

    Glad you did it right away at 50, and got a clean bill of health. I’ve got the letter telling me it’s time to schedule my second go-round on my desk – thanks for the reminder!

    I found you can skip the fentanyl, and therefore avoid the lingering side effects (I didn’t want to be out of it that Friday night or weekend) There’s only mild discomfort associated with the procedure, like having cramps associated with mild tummy bug.

  • Dave Barry

    Congrats on reaching this milestone! So critical…never knew my paternal grandfather as he died of colon cancer at 56 when my Dad was in high school. I lost my Dad at 80 on May 17th. Thanks to Dana-Farber he beat stage IV colon cancer four years ago, but it metatasized on his liver. I get a colonoscopy every 3 years and ride in the Pan Mass Challenge to honor him, the survivors and those that lose their battle with the emperor of all maladies.

  • Due to my fetching personality and IBS since I was in my late teens, my physician enthusiastically prescribed a colonoscopy for me when I turned 40. I took 28 pills instead of drinking Draino. I with a mix of Propofol and Midazolam and asked to go light on the fentanyl. The colonoscopy was a breeze, however something strange occurred: 1) I normally don’t sleep very long or well, and when I woke up, I felt more energized and refreshed than I had in years. 2) I’m a minor polyglot, and when I woke up, I was only speaking Spanish and was getting frustrated at the staff around me who couldn’t even tell me what time it was, much less how long I had been out. It took a few minutes and my wife coming back to point out that I wasn’t speaking English before I realized what was going on.

    Why my brain picked Spanish, especially the Castilian Español with a Catalonian dialect , versus French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Hindi or some other language I’ve picked up on my travels, I have no good idea. I first learned Castillian Español in high school, then High Cuban and South American street spanish in University, then visited Barcelona later, so maybe that’s why, I don’t know.

    The main part of all of this is that I felt an immediate affinity for Michael Jackson and the quality of sleep I felt after being under for only 25 minutes. If it were safe, I would take Propofol at last once a week, probably Wednesday or Thursday nights. The effects were beyond amazing, nearly miraculous. Unfortunately, it is not a very safe drug, & I don’t think I want an anesthesiologist sitting next to me while I sleep while all wired up (being wired up doesn’t bother me after so many polysomnograms and an MSLT) but my wife might object…

    As you already know all too well, be very glad that yours turned out to be boring for the doctors.

    –Donald

  • Sam

    I think we have got our market problem adequately defined now. Wondering whether it will be 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, or more until this way of detecting colon cancer is medical history.

  • alek_komarnitsky

    Welcome to the age-50 colonoscopy crowd. I had mine a couple of years ago … and actually did it WITHOUT anesthesia. The GI doctor does this when he has it done, and while I was “1 in 500 patients” who opted for this, I would do it again. It’s a bit uncomfortable at times, but you have none of the drug effects afterwards. Plus you can drive afterwards – my first stop being Burger King with my buy 1 Whopper, get another FREE coupon … man, was that tasty! 😉

    • Mike Kay

      Yes, I’m surprised you didn’t go drug-free, Brad. It’s safer, you get a free guided tour of your colon and those fancy tools, and it’s possible that doctors tend to be more careful when you’re watching. Glad to hear it was all clear.

  • Congrats on the milestone, and welcome to the colonoscopy club! Been there a few times myself (U.C.), and I’ve also wondered about all that medical equipment that looks like it’s straight out of the 90’s, seems like the whole medical industry is lagging behind technologically, seems ripe for disruption…

  • Congrats.
    When I had mine, all I remember is closing my eyes then waking up 2 seconds later and it was done and clear.

    Once you’re cleared once, I’m told 10 years after is the next check, and some believe the risks of doing it are equal to not doing it. The sigmoid half way procedure comes to mind apparently, as a safer option.

    • They told me to come back in after five years given my family history.

    • Dean Collins

      Yep I had some surgery last year and remember waking up about “Two minutes” after in recovery room…….of course it was actually 5 hours later.

      Makes me happy to be living in the time that we are with awesome technology whilst also being even more hopeful for the future.