Quinquennial

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Yesterday, I celebrated my quinquennial colonoscopy. Said procedure took place at high noon, after not eating any solid foods for almost 40 hours.

The hardest part was the first 12 hours, in my view. I also almost tore into my kids’ lunches as I was making them yesterday morning (that bag of Fritos sure looked good to me for breakfast). But I stayed the course. Once you get used to just liquids, and you find other stuff to do/keep you mind off of what you are denying yourself, it isn’t that bad.


So, today’s post is a public service message of sorts.

Did you know that alcoholics have a higher risk of colon cancer than people who do not drink, or, have less than one alcoholic drink a day?

My friend, Donna the Nephrologist, has told me that physicians still cannot put ‘alcoholism’ on a death certificate (it is considered a psychological illness rather than physical cause of death), even though the cause of death is directly linked to the deceased’s alcoholism.

For instance, Emmett’s death certificate says he died of uremia (kidney failure), although Donna said the kidney failure was linked to his cirrhosis (liver failure). It is very likely those were not the only health problems; she added that she would not have been surprised if Emmett had significant gastric problems, including colon cancer given the state of his health at the end.

Alcohol is considered a carcinogen, according to this article. I looked this up after my gastro doc confirmed it for me when I was in the office last month setting up the appointment.

I’ve had three of these procedures. I’m considered a high risk of colon cancer primarily because my mother died of it six years ago, and, two years ago, my father developed it. In both of my parents, it was not found until it was almost Stage 4. My father has been clear of cancer since it was discovered and treated, but, the odds are that it will likely come back. He takes better care of himself, but, he still “drinks a little,” which is what he should not be doing.

Stubborn.

Had my mother taken better care of herself, and had regular colon screenings, she might still be here today.  She had been advised by doctors to have a colonoscopy after she turned 50, but she always turned it down, saying ‘she felt fine’.

Stubborn.

Colon cancer is insidious. My gastro doc says patients often don’t know they have it until it is advanced, which is when the symptoms become evident.

Which, most often, is too late for that patient.


Epilogue:

The procedure went fine. My gastro doc (who has a great sense of humor) told me that I have the most boring, unremarkable colon in Maryland.

Take care of yourself. Get screened.

It can save your life.

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