#319––Colonoscopy––to have or not to have after 75 . . .

Last September when I told my primary care doctor that I thought I should have a colonoscopy, he said that they are not usually recommended once you are past 75. I told him I knew that, but I was high risk due to nine polyps found in 2016. And, I told him, two of those were pre-cancerous. He then said that it takes about 10 years for a pre-cancerous polyp to become cancerous. I told him my father lived to be 91 and my mother to be 105. So, I could live 25 years or more. I wore him down.  He finally agreed to refer me to the same place I had two previous colonoscopies in Springfield on the PeaceHealth Riverbend campus.

Giving serious thought to deciding whether to have another colonoscopy before seeing my doctor and doing some research.

Months before the appointed time, I was sent paperwork where I had to fill out my medical history and answer a zillion questions. Then there was a TeleHealth phone call with the doctor who would be performing the procedure, to make sure I had good reasons for wanting a colonoscopy, that it was my decision, and I was of sound mind. Only if he was convinced would I be able to have a colonoscopy. I told him that I would be really pissed if I died of colon cancer when I was 85 or 90 and could have lived to be 105 or more. I convinced him.

Then lots of texts to me from the colonoscopy folks to make sure I called ahead and then picked up my prescription for the gallon or so of yucky stuff to take during the prep for the colonoscopy. And to make sure I called to schedule an appointment for a Covid test at the walk-in clinic here in Florence four days before the procedure. It had to be negative. And more stuff to fill out online. I heard from them every few days for weeks.

In the past, there was no Covid test to worry about. But I don’t remember so much paperwork. When I got to the Gastroenterology Center on the day of the procedure, I had more paperwork to fill out, check over, and sign—several pages, in fact.

These folks do have the process down to a science. Weeks before the procedure, specific directions were sent to me by email. What to do five days before, four days before, three days before, and one day before. And what to do on the day of—five hours before and two hours before. I followed it, checking off as I completed each one.

One major requirement is that you have to have a driver pick you up after the procedure. You cannot drive yourself. I had taken care of that back in November.

Meanwhile, the weather was making life difficult for those traveling on Hwy 126. This past week on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were King Tides, and heavy rain. During this time, the highway was closed at Cushman for several hours around high tide twice each day. And then on Wednesday was a mudslide between Mapleton and Florence that closed the road for several hours. And another mudslide on Thursday closed the road for awhile. About that time, my driver decided she didn’t want to risk getting stuck over in Springfield and not be able to get back the same day. So, she wouldn’t be able to be my driver after all.

I made reservations for one night at the same place I had stayed a few weeks ago.

She let me know about 2 p.m. on the day before my procedure, and panic began to set in. I went over the paperwork from the colonoscopy folks and found a place to click on for acceptable drivers in case you don’t have one. No, on taxis or Uber or Lift. But medical transports were okay. So, I went online and clicked on that and picked one and called. They could pick me up at the medical facility after my procedure and drop me at my lodgings and they could also pick me up in the morning at my lodgings and take me to the medical facility. So, I signed up for the round trip and gave them the times.

Now, I needed to find some lodgings. I called the same Comfort Inn Suites where I stayed a few weeks ago. (See “#316–Much ado about nothing . . .”) I reserved a room for one night.

Then I called back the transport folks to tell them where I would be staying. Then I called Comfort Inn back because check-in time is 3 p.m. and I would be picked up there at 10:15 a.m. and returned around 1:30 or 2 p.m. All of which were before 3 p.m. They said I could drop off my stuff in the morning when I got there and they would keep it safe for me, and I could check in whenever I got back from the procedure. Whew! The panic subsided.

Now, all I had to worry about was Hwy 126. I checked the tide tables, which were going down each day at high tide. Driving over would be between tides, which should have no water on the road. The weather report was for heavy rain and windy while I was going over, so mudslides were still a worry. I checked TripCheck the night before and morning of about 6 a.m. I decided that if Hwy 126 was closed this side of Mapleton, I would leave at 7 a.m. and go through Reedsport and Cottage Grove to get there. If it was open, I could wait til 8 a.m. to get to the Comfort Inn by 10 a.m.

As it turned out, I got all the yucky stuff taken—2/3 by 8 p.m. the night before and 1/3 between 4 and 5 a.m. the morning of. I packed a small overnight bag with just the essentials and a cooler with lots of food for afterwards. At 6 a.m., TripCheck had Hwy 34 closed but not Hwy 126. So, I took off at 8 a.m. on Hwy 126 and except for an accident that must have happened just moments before I got there, where I had to skirt my way through all kinds of stuff all over the highway that had been dumped by a trailer off the road on its side, the ride over was uneventful. No high water, no mudslides, no problems. Thank goodness. I worried as much about that as about getting a driver and lodging at the last moment.

I was picked up by the medical transport on time, got there and prepped and the procedure took place while I was out. Technically, I’m not totally out, but as far as I was concerned, I was Afterwards, it took me awhile to wake up. The procedure was over shortly after noon, but they kept me until 3 p.m. because there would be no one to keep an eye on me in the hours immediately after the procedure in my room at the Comfort Inn. They prefer that someone be with you for a few hours after the procedure.

My cooler can hold a whole lot of food and I had it packed full. As it turned out, I only ate half of it.

By the time I got back to the Comfort Inn and checked into my room, I was ravenous. It had been 27+ hours since I had eaten solid food. So, I had some lunch—small portions, not too much, nothing spicy, no alcohol. I followed directions. Then I took a nap. After I got up, I ate some dinner—more of food I had brought. By then I was beginning to feel almost normal! The next morning, I felt totally normal. I had a wonderful complimentary breakfast and had an uneventful drive home on a lovely day of no rain.

During the colonoscopy, they did find one polyp, and it has been sent to be biopsied. I hope it is benign. I’m glad I decided to have one more colonoscopy, in spite of the obstacles put in my way.  

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.