By Jeff D’Alessio, News Editor, The News-Enterprise
You are about to read something, if you keep going, something you probably never thought you would read with my name attached to it.
Actually, these are words I never expected to ever write. But then again, life is nothing if not unpredictable.
I’m a fan of having a colonoscopy. There, I said it.
In 13 months, I’ve had two. I had two because being a D’Alessio male means being stubborn and a procrastinator. I waited 6½ years longer than I should have to have my first one.
As a good rule of thumb, you should have them when you turn 50, according to the Mayo Clinic. I heard the commercials and saw the articles that age 50 was that magic colonoscopy number. I heard my wife, without fail, tell me I needed to go have one done, just to be on the safe side.
I had all of the reminders a guy could have had. And I still waited.
It’s not a procedure you really look forward to. There’s the procedure prep of a salty solution mixed with water. You drink it and then drink more and more water or Gatorade. Then you make reservations in the bathroom for the next several hours.
Then you do it all over again about three hours before your procedure.
The prep work was my fear. My wife had a few experiences with it because there is a history of colon cancer in her family. Even before she turned 50, she had a colonoscopy.
To this day, she cringes at the thought of drinking it. She cringed at me drinking it. I didn’t think it was as bad as I expected it would be, not that I’d want to drink it very often.
I was apprehensive about the December 2016 procedure. I’m not going to lie — I really was scared. The unknown always is unnerving.
All I remember is seeing Dr. Kevin Moreman coming my way with a scope in a hand in one of the procedure rooms at Hardin Memorial Hospital. I looked at a clock and I was out.
Next thing I know, I’m groggy and waking up.
One of the few things I remember being told by the medical staff that day was if everything was OK, I wouldn’t see Dr. Moreman in my waiting area.
I didn’t see him.
And then I did.
Seven polyps were “in there,” he said. Now I have no idea what the world record is for polyps in one 56-year-old colon, but seven seemed like a lot. Crazy as it is, I remember thinking that the number seven is my favorite number so I had that to fall back on.
He said only one polyp gave him mild concern, saying there was a small chance it was cancerous. It wasn’t.
Because of his findings 13 months earlier, it was recommended that I have another a year later to ensure there wasn’t a polyp party going on in my colon.
So, I again drank up and, well, you know the rest. This time there wasn’t anything that would be considered a polyp or anything of concern, so Dr. Moreman, a skinny kid who I frequently wrote about as a local tennis star decades earlier, told a nurse to tell me he would see me in three years.
I’m thankful I didn’t again see him pulling back a curtain to my waiting area.
I’m convinced if I had waited another year before my first colonoscopy, or even six months, I wouldn’t have been as fortunate and that “mild” concern would have become much, much worse. Maybe it’s just my way of justifying why I waited so long.
Fear is a crazy thing. I worried that maybe I had waited too long to have a colonoscopy and if there was bad news to hear, how could I look my wife in the eye after all the coaxing she had done? How could I look at my children and grandchildren and not feel my heart breaking?
I was lucky. Very lucky.
The procedure wasn’t really that big of a deal to undergo. The staff at HMH was attentive, caring and conversational.
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.
Do yourself and those you love most a favor and schedule a colonoscopy soon if you are nearing 50, or if you’re older and never have had one.
Do not wait. Don’t be like me.
Colon cancer is preventable if you pay attention to possible warning signs and if you have a colonoscopy when you’re recommended to at 50.
Your only regret will be if you wait longer than you should.
Jeff D’Alessio is news editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the original column that ran in The News-Enterprise, click here.