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Toby's Take: Time for a Colonoscopy

Photo of a iPad with the word colonoscopy on it

July 20, 2022

It’s time to talk about my colonoscopy. And then yours.

Okay, I realize that might not get you to read any further if you’re dreading the procedure.

Time out.

Hear me out first. And if it somehow makes you feel any better, I’m a lousy choice to be lecturing anyone on the subject.

Beyond time for the screening

I was born in 1967, the last year of the Kansas City Athletics and the year Texas Instruments invented the first electronic handheld calculator. According to a website laden with pop-up ads, the calculator was 6 inches tall and about an inch thick. You’d think I’d be good at math because of this, but the instrument could only add, subtract, multiply and divide. Like yours truly.

I had my one and only colonoscopy, um, this year. I’d always heard it’s recommended adults should have one by age 50. I was only 4 years over! And then I found out (not until I came to The University of Kansas Health System, good grief) that the recommended age is 45. Ugh, 9 years over seems like a lot. A deadline pressure guy, I had so blown past the deadline that putting it off again and again became a habit.

I’m having fun with this subject because, despite my birth certificate saying I’m 54, I can be a 12-year-old with a lot of things. But I finally got my rear in gear this year. (Sorry.)

This is no laughing matter, I realize. What some people wouldn’t give to have caught colorectal cancer earlier. And early detection is the key among keys. I’m lucky. I put it off and basically got away with it. In hindsight (ha), that was unwise and unnecessary.

“This is no laughing matter, I realize. What some people wouldn’t give to have caught colorectal cancer earlier. And early detection is the key among keys. I’m lucky. I put it off and basically got away with it.” Toby Cook

Director, Public Relations, The University of Kansas Health System

Time out – and then it’s on

My physician at our KU MedWest location, Dr. Daniel Buckles, found 2 benign polyps. They put a metal “clip” inside the colon to control bleeding from where they snipped, and I carried around a card explaining why I might set off a metal detector. That was cool.

What else was cool was something I heard right before I fell into la-la land. I heard someone say, “OK, we’re taking a time out. This is Tobin Cook, date of birth 10-30-1967, and we’re doing a colonoscopy. Do we agree?” Everyone responded, “Yes.”

Of course, I had to chime in. “I agree.” That got a mild laugh. The next thing I knew, a nurse was gently waking me after the best nap I’ve had since about 1967. Listen, the prep is no fun. I’m a grazer, a snacker, a guy who eats many small meals. I’ve talked to enough men who say the preparation was enough to keep them away. Nothing solid the day before and a strange brew that night to drink that clears you out. Just the “idea of what they’d be doing to me while I was asleep” factored in. Fair enough.

What this is really all about

This part isn’t supposed to be a lecture either, but it’ll probably come off that way. These concerns are small potatoes compared to those who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It can be deadly. And many times, it doesn’t have to be with early detection. The best early detection is an early colonoscopy. Don’t wait. End of lecture.

Had I knocked this out at 45 or even 50, they might have told me I could wait 10 years. Because I waited so long, I’m back on the table in 5. That’s fine. Having one under my belt (ha, again, didn’t think about it until I typed it) will certainly make the next one easier. And if I’m tempted to procrastinate again, I can say to myself, “Time out! Remember, it’s no big deal. Unless you don’t do it at all.”

Note – Next week, more on the Time Out protocol that saves more than just lives.

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