We all tend to put off appointments that make us uncomfortable. Most doctor and dentist appointments fall under this category, and a colonoscopy is one most of us put off. For Katie Couric, however, this exam became personal, and on the Today Show, 19 years ago, she shared a painful memory and why she decided to have her colonoscopy on live TV.
Couric was on a mission: To educate national audiences on the importance of getting screened for colon cancer. She didn’t want others to go through what she and her daughters went through when their beloved husband and father, Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer. “It felt like this disease cheated Jay out of so many things, taking him when he was just 42, and our girls were 2 and 6 years old,” Couric told SheKnows. “I was compelled to try to have something good come from his senseless death – to help other families avoid the type of terrible loss mine had endured.”
The main benefit of a routine colonoscopy is that it detects early signs of cancer and allows a gastroenterologist to remove any polyps that might be cancerous later. It is also a great way to detect other symptoms such as ulcers, bowel discomfort, bleeding, and weight loss. Your doctor may recommend you have your colonoscopy at age 50, but those with a family history of polyps, colon cancer, and other lower GI issues are encouraged to make an appointment earlier.
Most people agree that the prep (the days leading to the colonoscopy) is worse than the actual procedure. Most doctors will recommend you limit your fiber and solid food intake and increase fluids. A liquid laxative is prescribed the day before the colonoscopy which cleans out your bowels completely so doctors can clearly see inside your large intestine. The whole appointment from arrival to departure can last three hours with 30 to 60 minutes of that time for the actual procedure. The medical providers help you relax and will give you sedation so you can sleep right through it. Usually, within an hour of the colonoscopy, you are up and ready to leave. You are required to have someone drive you home.
Don’t delay. Give yourself peace of mind. Schedule your colonoscopy at age 50 or earlier. Get a clean bill of health, and usually, you won’t need another colonoscopy for five to 10 years. It’s worth it.