Thursday, December 22, 2016

Colonoscopy's Proper Use


This is the letter I wrote my GP after my colonoscopy:

When your resident recommended I get a colonoscopy, I asked him for an article that compared colon cancer testing alternatives. He didn’t know of any. The colonoscopy was worse than even I had anticipated.  Since then, I have found the article I wish I’d read in the first place.

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/dreading-colonoscopy-other-effective-tests-for-colon-cancer-032015#1

Had I seen this, I would have opted for FIT or FOBT and only agreed to a colonoscopy if the FIT or FOBT came back positive.

I will never go for another colonoscopy again, as a regular screening.

The nurse at gastroenterology did not know how to insert an IV.  She missed twice at my elbow, leaving behind two nasty blood clots. Then she took more than 2 minutes of digging and twisting and turning that needle while I screamed. (Nobody came to my rescue, so they must have a policy that says screaming is okay, which also means it is common.) Then she said she was done, gave me a few seconds of relief and went back to digging and twisting for another minute while I went back to screaming.  Again, nobody came to my rescue.

When she finally got it in, and started the IV, my arms started shaking uncontrollably. She walked away. After a while, I got the attention of somebody else who worked there. This person put a heated blanket on my legs. Why my legs?  I tried to pick the blanket up to put it on my arms, but my arms were shaking uncontrollably and I couldn't do it.

After a while I got the attention of another person who brought another heated blanket for my arms. That did help.

I have had surgery with IV insertion 5 times at this medical center. 3 times at Orthopaedic Care, and 2 times at breast cancer surgery.  I have never had trouble with IV insertion or with shaking after the IV started.

I wrote to the hospital president’s office asking that they make 3 changes:

1) a nurse gets 1 miss and then apologizes and finds a more experienced IV inserter to finish the job.

2) if there is screaming, somebody comes to the rescue immediately

3) gastroenterology should find out what IV solution is used at Orthopaedic Care and / or Breast Cancer Surgery and switch to one that does not cause shaking.

Instead, his flack-catcher wrote me that she would investigate and get back with me.

Several weeks later she wrote that she had concluded her investigation and closed the case.  She said she and my nurse "apologize if you experienced any discomfort. But, you should be informed that inserting an IV is uncomfortable."

The words IF and DISCOMFORT and UNCOMFORTABLE do not apply.  This was torture.
And the clear meaning of her words are that they will not be making these three crucial changes.

In addition the preparation solution caused damage.  It was painful on the way out.  The doctor who performed the colonoscopy took a photo of my swollen red anus if proof is necessary. And, even more damaging, it washed out my healthy intestinal flora.  I never used to get headaches.  After the colonoscopy. I started getting headaches. I tried yogurt and kim chi, to no avail.  I tried 3 different brands of probiotics.  Finally, the 3rd brand stopped the headaches. But I'm still gassy, so I've ordered a 4th brand.  In other words I'm still not back to normal, months later.

In summary, I do not recommend the gastroenterology department.
I do not recommend colonoscopy as a standard of routine care.  Most of the warts removed are hyperplastic, which never become malignant.
I suggest that the FIT or FOBT be used as the primary test and colonoscopy only be considered if that test comes back positive.

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