Preventative medicine is key to longevity, we’ve all heard that mantra – time and time again – yet all too often our “procedures” take a back seat to life.
I was guilty of that.
There was always tomorrow, next week, next month. If there was a reason to have a love one checked out, however, that was a priority.
I woke up to the reality that I was not walking the walk — preaching prevention and yet not getting the mammogram or the colonoscopy or pap that my Dr not-so-subtly suggested I do with regularity.
Well, that changed this past spring. As we know with Canadian healthcare, we often need to wait in line for our procedures…so, I made a deal with myself that I would cover all of my missed bases this fall. I booked it all, in ink. My promise to myself was that these appointments would be immoveable. I’m proud to say that today I put a big check mark beside them all.
Yesterday was the grand finale: the colonoscopy. I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT a big deal. Yes, the prep sucks — “prep” is a nice way of saying you clean out your system a-la a trendy cleanse without the trendy process. It’s a massive dose of laxative that you take after 7 days of a restricted diet (no seeds, nuts, whole grain breads, corn etc). It’s 24 hours of fasting, no big deal, and then a few hours on the toilet followed by a few more hours in the GI Clinic to have the :20 procedure.
“The Procedure” is quite uneventful. My first time, 7 years ago, I slept through it — this go around I was awake, but didn’t watch. I think I talked the entire time, but don’t really know what about. (insert chatty Jody remark). I do recall asking my Harvard Graduate of a GI Specialist to “come on the show”.
Yes, you get an IV – so those who hate needles will not like that part. That said Natalie, who spends her days inserting the IV’s in patients, was amazing. She puts you at ease – calls you “Darlin” while giving you a warm blanket and taking blood pressure…..she was an angel in a place that many might find scary. I saw many characters move through this room. One man was unable to tell Natalie if he’d had any medication that day as his “wife is in charge of everything” and he simply “does what she says” — needless to say, I love him. There was another woman who came through saying that she’s had “dozens of these” when Natalie asked her ‘every patient question’ about their history. This woman also said she’d “seen the doctor this week and he’s taking a biopsy today.” This woman was in the thick of colon cancer — a 75 year old survivor — working hard to tack on further decades of cancer free existence.
Over the course of my 3 hours in the GI Unit, I heard many stories.
Let me take you back to my first few minutes. I had just changed into the garb — the double tie piece of blue cotton we all draped around ourselves. This is a very communal experience, no place to be shy. I immediately met “Jed”, while standing at the Nurse’s station. Jed recognized me (which is always fun when standing in a hallway dressed in only hospital robe). This was Jed’s first time at the GI clinic and, while was clearly a kind, and cool, customer – he was a little nervous. We found ourselves going through much of the process together. Chatting through the waiting time, navigating the various rooms involved in the process, hilariously we found we had friends in common and were even connected by business.
Jed’s Dr was running on schedule, so in he went — my physician was running behind due to a bit of an emergency. Being on “stand by” — or sit by, I guess as I sat amidst it all watching as a gentleman in the far corner bed seemed to be suffering great discomfort. My Doctor on him like a fly on honey.
My front row seat, while unnerving, showed me the pressure involved in the work day of a physician. So often we hear complaints about our medical system, but WOW is it something to see a great Doctor in motion.
For reference sake, her name is Jennifer Telford.
I watched and waited. Impressed by her care and concern – knowing that my wait meant this man would be on the fast track to finding comfort and relief. If you need urgent care, you do not wait. Big lessons.
While I sat there, Jed came out of his procedure. He was wide awake and gave me the thumbs up as he reached for his iPhone to scroll through his social media. Whew.
Once things started moving in my direction, it all happened so quickly. All of a sudden you are everyone’s priority. All of a sudden your well being is the #1 subject matter. Dr. Telford was quick to tell me that it was “All Clear, no polyps, see you in 5 years.”
It took seemingly no time at all for me to be handed cranberry juice and the tastiest tea cookies EVER. (they gave me extra) … I went off to retrieve my belongings out of locker #14.
As I walked out, I waved to the young (I’m assuming son) man waiting for the man who’d been in pain. They all looked much more relieved than an hour prior. Jed left, and I likely won’t see him again — however we both have stories for our mutual friends for the next dinner party.
A couple of days out of my life to know that my high risk colon is fine. Colonoscopy = check = piece of mind.
Do it. Just put it in ink and get it done. Ask for Dr. Telford…..she’s the goods.