Janet live-blogs her mammogram

It seems to be an evolving tradition around here to put descriptions of our medical adventures online. Janet contributes with a an account of her recent mammogram. I was disappointed — there are no pictures.

Hey! I’m scheduled to have a colonoscopy late next month! Shall I…?


  1. BaldySlaphead says

    Would you be prepared to eat a bit of Jesus-wafer we we could see the miracle of the actual, real, very definitely genuine body of Christ being turned into some shit?

  2. Patness says

    Not only should you do it, but I want video footage of any pinworms you might have crawling around down there.

  3. Kurt says

    Other people who have done this have only shown interior pictures. Frankly, as someone who’s facing getting one of these exams in the near future, I’d be much more interested in seeing what the instrument looks like from the outside, and, um, how exactly it’s used.

    There’s no prurient interest involved, I can assure you. Just medical curiosity.

  4. Jason Failes says

    PZ, this is your blog and you can do what you want, but, please, please put it “below the fold” the day you post.

  5. Otto says

    Well, it makes for quite colorful pictures.
    And if you can catch one with the mushroom cloud of a polyp being zapped, that would be cool.
    I put a pic of my colonoscopy on my desk at work.
    It did offend the sensitivities of several coworkers and disappeared.

  6. Michelle says

    I put a pic of my colonoscopy on my desk at work.
    It did offend the sensitivities of several coworkers and disappeared.

    Well… Somewhere out there maybe someone has a picture of your ass’s insides and doing something with it!

    …When I went for my colonoscopy, I was staring at the screen (No anesthesia. That’s for pussies.), and commented that it looks totally disgusting. Then the nurse said she thought that colons are cute.

    …I think I might have given her a very disturbed look.

  7. clinteas says

    Being a physician I am well versed in colonoscopies PZ.

    Would I like to witness yours? Ehm,no…
    Would I do one free for Bride of Shrek,Kseniya and Lilly de Lure? Of course not,dont be ridiculous !! Thats disgusting !

  8. bigjohn756 says

    Do it, PZ, show them thar Catholics that you are not as big an ass**** as they think.

  9. forsen says

    Don’t even think it. Many of us haven’t even recovered yet from the Lovecraftian horror of seeing your nipples.

  10. says

    Depends: how do you react to sedatives? Some people just go to sleep during theirs. I was awake and babbling drunkenly. If you’re among the latter, it could be amusing ;-).

  11. says

    I think you should totally live-blog your colonoscopy. Think of the service you’d be doing for those who fear the procedure. Really, it’s for a good cause… :)

  12. Judith says

    I totally thrilled the doc doing mine by telling him if he found any wigglers that I wanted them for my museum’s parasite collection. We had a very enthusiastic chat about the possibilities and probabilities before he got down to work. Alas, I was clean as a whistle. Damned healthy living…

  13. says

    PZ, this is your blog and you can do what you want, but, please, please put it “below the fold” the day you post.

    Don’t you mean “below the crack”?

  14. leki says

    Oh please show the photos! They are glossy and in full colour!

    Unfortunately, you have to be 100% poop free before the scope is inserted, so no cracker digestion can be witnessed for those hoping for such a treat.

    @ Kurt #8: It’s not a painful procedure, and you won’t remember a thing because they pretty much knock you out (a conscious sedation where you aren’t aware of what’s happening, but you aren’t totally out, either). The worst part is taking the ‘citro mag’ the night before and having to spend the rest of the night on the toilet while you explosively empty yourself of every last remnant of fecal matter. That’s the worst part.

  15. mas528 says

    Hey do what you want; even put up a video.

    There is no shame at hugely magnified pictures of any part of the organs inside the body; may not be tasteful, but no shame at all.

    However, I do vote for some self-censorship.
    For example no video of the scope *entering* the colon.

    Shoot, I get fascinated by the film of the vocal chords of a singer, and the (somewhat famous) fluoroscope movies of a person eating.

  16. asad says

    It would be interesting to see a liveblog of a procedure where you’re (typically) partially sedated.

  17. Sean D. says

    “Hey! I’m scheduled to have a colonoscopy late next month! Shall I…?”

    Hell yes, it’ll make an amazing You-Tube post.

  18. kerovon says

    You should post the pictures at the top of another article where you desecrate another holy object. That way, if Donahue wants to read the article so he can rant, he is also forced to look at your ass.

  19. rjb says

    You mean, you actually could liveblog a colonoscopy?? In my one experience, they drugged me up with something that completely wiped out my memory of the event. I remember lying in the bed before the procedure, talking to the fine doctors and nurses, and then waking up in the recovery room. The woman that I shared a room with wasn’t so lucky. She said it was horrible. I was–quite happily–oblivious to any traumatic events.

  20. ThirtyFiveUp says

    Hey, the worst part is the day before. I could not finish the ten? gallons of clean-out stuff and like a fool, I admitted that I could not drink all of it during the pre-procedure interview. I got a scolding. Nurses are experts at scolding. So either drink all, or be prepared to lie.

    Result was one benign polyp which was cute and pink.

    So, PZ, if, and only if all is healthy, post the interior photo.

  21. says

    PZ lets not and say ya did. The doc put me into “twilight” for the procedure along with a shot of Ativan so I wouldn’t remember the procedure. Despite the drugs, I do remember most of the procedure. It kinda reminded me of the old “turn and cough” routine except I was on all fours. They had a flatscreen set up so that I could see what was going on – what a treat. The colon is basically empty, but inflated with air so there is room for the scope to move around. Unfortunately in my case, he found Crohn’s at the beginning of my large intestine which led to removal of 6 inches of large intestine/cecum/appendix and 15 inches of small intestine w/concurrent resection a couple of weeks later.

    The most uncomfortable part was the air filling the intestines. It gives you quite a case of the cramps. They wouldn’t consider letting me go until I had “expelled” the air. With several other people in there farting it was no big deal. It remined me of the scene from “Blazing Saddles” where all the cowhands were sitting around the fire eating the beans – the first real fart joke on film. Mel Brooks, ya gotta love him!

  22. says

    I had my first colonoscopy a couple of weeks ago, too. (I’m 26 years old. It wasn’t a routine thing.)

    I agree, the prep is orders of magnitude worse than the procedure. PZ, if you’re reading this, INSIST that you be given the tablets instead of the solution. If your doc prescribes MoviPrep, *RUN*. Dave Barry was truly being kind when he described the stuff. I could finish about 2/3 of it, and only got a very mild scolding, as the nurses knew how bad it is. They assured me that as long as my innards were free of solid matter—and believe you me, it was—it didn’t really matter how much of the solution I drank.

    But no, I didn’t remember the procedure itself. I fell asleep a few seconds after the meds hit the IV, and woke up later in the recovery room.

    PS: Why are recovery room nurses always attractive women? In case you’re not aware, they inflate you during a colonoscopy, so they can see. They get most of the air out… but not all. So, there are these gorgeous nurses walking around, and I’m lying in a gurney farting like a Howitzer. Even the fact that they encouraged it didn’t help…

  23. Kseniya says

    That settles it. I’m going to blog Lilly’s reaction to Bride of Shrek’s critique of Clinteas’ alien probe fantasies.

  24. Barklikeadog says

    You have to take pictures. You won’t remember after the Versed and Demerol if you don’t. Getting a bill for something you don’t remember doing is rather disconcerting. Especially after you call the billing dept and complain that you never had such a thing and why would you accuse me of showing my ass to a stranger. And it explains the sore ass part too. “Honey why does my butt hurt and what happened to Wednesday?”

  25. Stephen Llewellyn says

    Hey, if I wouldn’t watch Katie Couric what do you suppose your chances are?

  26. Matt says

    If it’s anything like mine (and it should be) you will be knocked out within 20 seconds of getting on the table. I think the blog would look something like “The doctor just put something in my IVVVVVVVVVvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv” and so on.

  27. Stagyar zil Doggo says

    You should read this NEJM article before the procedure, if you haven’t already.

    Why they anesthetize you during the procedure is a mystery to me. (I’m guessing something about feeding indigent Anesthetists.) I was wide awake for mine, and really, the discomfort during the procedure was minimal, particularly in comparison to the bowel preparation before and the gas cramps afterwards.

    Besides, how can you clock your butt probe jockey if you’re all knocked out? I mean that graph (in linked paper) really does suggest that they should be paid by the minute. Also, if the dude perforates your colon, you’d like to be awake to scream at him/her.

  28. aginghippie says

    I just got a unrinalysis where the protein was +1 and labeled as “abnormal.”

    I e-mailed my doctor with some concerns (yes, he’s pretty cool about that) where he informed me that the results were “minimally abnormal.”

    Given that everyone who knows me finds that phrase a dead-on description of the gestalt that is me, I’m thinking of having a t-shirt made with those words as a proud statement.

  29. Owtth says

    Patricia #24

    Dammit Patricia I´ve just eaten and now I´m hungry again!!
    Mmmmmmmm beery BBQ chicken.

  30. says

    #45: Actually, with me, it went like this:

    “Nurse? My hand [where the IV needle was] is burning…”

    “That’s normal. It means the sedatives are on their way.”

    “Okay, good. I guess I’d better make sure I’m in position, then… [head on pillow]”

    And they didn’t ask me to count backwards from 100, but I did anyway; I figure, the more information the anesthesiologist has, the better. If memory serves, I got to 96.

  31. Alan Chapman says

    Don’t post pictures unless they find an image of Jesus or Mary on the wall of your colon.

  32. Nadai says

    (No anesthesia. That’s for pussies.)

    Weird. They didn’t anesthetize me during my last pelvic exam. Maybe I should talk to my gynecologist.

  33. Lana says

    This is the funniest thread I’ve read in ages. I’m giggling helplessly instead of working. Actually, what I should be doing is making appointments for both a mammogram and colonoscopy. Both are overdue. Yep, I’ve been putting them off. Thanks, guys.

  34. says

    Will the blog fit?
    Um, well, in fact, how would the blog be, ah, inserted?
    Methinks this line of though is perhaps not worth pursuing…

  35. sea creature says

    I say go ahead and blog it. Colon cancer can be a killer and if you can reassure others that they can survive the big colon invasion then all the better.
    It seems they are giving more sedation these days than in the past. I have two friends who had colonoscopies in the early 90s and they watched the whole thing on the screen, said it wasn’t fun but was interesting. One said she was told there was a high rate of no-shows for the procedure when she arrived. Perhaps that is why there is more sedation now?
    My parents, of the WWII generation, got them done regularly and never complained, but hey their generation thought it was wussy to complain about anything short of amputation.

  36. Dave says

    There’s another possibility for the prep, one my doc used (I had my first colonoscopy last week): Phospho-soda. It’s pretty salty but you only have to mix it with eight ounces of liquid (I recommend ginger ale or Sprite, which help mask the taste). Skipping the drugs is possible (I did), but I’ll warn the readership that the procedure, though quick (mine was only a few minutes) does feel like fairly sharp gas pains. If I hadn’t had plans for the evening and a 1 PM appointment (that actually took place at 2:15), I’d probably have opted for the drugs.

  37. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nick Gotts @ # 57: Only for those whose jobs include health benefits.

  38. Faithful Reader says

    Matt at #45 has it right. Sedation is a good thing, one of science’s very best.

  39. Nick Gotts says

    Pierce R. Butler@59,
    Thanks. I hope someone’s done a proper risk/benefit analysis on this – must be some risk of perforation, adverse reaction to either laxative or sedative, false positives.

    In Scotland they have recently started getting everyone over 50 to give a “stool sample” every 2 years – a lot simpler than a colonoscopy. I guess they’d do a colonoscopy if the sample showed anything suspicious.

  40. Nick Gotts says

    Pierce R. Butler@59,
    Thanks. I hope someone’s done a proper risk/benefit analysis on this – must be some risk of perforation, adverse reaction to either laxative or sedative, false positives.

    In Scotland they have recently started getting everyone over 50 to give a “stool sample” every 2 years – a lot simpler than a colonoscopy. I guess they’d do a colonoscopy if the sample showed anything suspicious.

  41. says


    Nick, it’s recommended in the U.S. that everyone get a screening colonoscopy at age 50 (that is if they don’t have increased risk factors), mainly to check for polyps which could turn into colon cancer over many years (some of them can). Depending on the results, its recommended you get one every 5-10 years after that.

    PZ, I have to say, as different as we all are on the outside, our colons pretty much all look the same. You can post anyone’s colonoscopy pics and we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference… except for maybe the little bits o’ desecrated jesus floating through :)

  42. DLC says

    hmm.. pictures of someone’s large bowel from the inside ?
    I’d say “let me think about it” but, really, it’s nearly dinner time here and I’d rather not.

    re #30: yes, it should be below the crack . . .

    Re Crackers — you wouldn’t see it, they make you clean it out before shoving the fiber scope up there. I had a colonoscopy in 2001, which is how I became acquainted with Eneman.

  43. Hugo says

    Please don’t, PZ. If so, I may be forced to find another atheist/biology blog (At this hour? In this part of town?)

  44. Vince says

    When I was teaching science, (retired now) just as they were about to start to C-scope the doc says to me. “You know, we store this video on a hard drive. It’s easy to burn a DVD. Want one to show your classes?”

    Before I could think of a witty reply, I was snoozin’.

    Note – the C-scope is especially important if you have a family history of colon polyps and/or cancer. Definitely worth being the butt of jokes. (Sorry)

  45. Zscientist says

    I had a screening colonsocopy just this morning and decided against the Demerol and Midazolam, because they turn me into a space cadet. So I was able to watch on the monitor. Apart from some cramping and fullness at points, the procedure was uneventful and any minor discomfort was greatly outweighed by the ability to see the images. Now, as a biomedical researcher, I acknowledge that this may not appeal to all, but I found it fascinating. If you decide to go without sedation, get your GI to go up into the terminal ileum (TI), because the mucosa there has villi (small fingerlike projections). The colonic mucosa is smooth and rather bland, unless you like seeing networks of small blood vessels, but the mucosa in the TI is absolutely beautiful. As a scuba diver, it reminded me of a large field of white sea anemones.

    Leaving the issues of sedation and aesthetics aside, don’t defer screening colonoscopy. The biggest problem with the first time is embarrassment. Colon cancer is surgically curable when detected early. By the time liver mets are detected, chances of 5 year survival are poor.

  46. says

    Do it, burn it on a DVD, make a professional label titling the DVD “The Search For Jesus”, give it to a friend, have that friend mail it to Bill Donohue.

  47. john says

    why would you even want to show that? We don’t need to see pictures to know that is where your head has been for years.

  48. Jen says

    I had my first colonoscopy last summer (lots of abdominal cancer in my family, so I got it done in my mid-40s). I got very light sedation, so there was a little cramping as the scope went around corners, but otherwise I got to watch a lot of it on the monitor. I have a very pretty, very pink, very girly colon.

    The prep was something called Pico-Salax. You only have to drink two small glasses, and it’s tolerably tasty, something like Tang. And because it’s made with magnesium oxide, when you add cold water to the powder and stir fast, it actually gets warm. That was pretty awesome.

  49. says

    Oh, well, if Jennifer asks me to do it, I must. 21 August: I’ll bring my Flip Mino video camera, so even if I pass out or start hallucinating, something amusing will come out of it.

  50. jason says

    Colonoscopy prep is hard, PZ — good luck. I JUST finished mine an hour ago. I’m not having one for normal reasons – I’m 24 – but i will say GOOD LUCK

  51. gary says

    The prep for the colonoscopy is not the hard pard, the horrible part is the so called sedation…I had terrible experiences with Versed and was given it anyway…..severe hives, paradoxical reaction, incomplete exam of course, and with my terrible history and bad bleeding,, I tried to get the exam without the unesessary sedation. Know what I was told? they insist on sedation so that the patient will be amnesic (nice gift-nightmares) and it makes the test go faster and easier for them to do more per day and make more money. I just got back from the ER friday…anemic, black stools (sorry-gross) and the doc said that I needd a colonoscopy NOW. I told them about not doing the sedation, they did a prep and of to the gi lab, where the nurse grabbed my arm and tried to give me Versed again! Sorry that the cannula came out and stuck her, but was this my fault? Ten they call in a CRNA who slurred something about a wonderful drug propofol, I said just to the exam and let the GI doc give me a little fentanyl if I ask for it, the CRNA argues with the GI doc, the GI doc (a nice lady) said that the CRNA was obviously in no shape to be at work…..I asked her if I could just get the painkiller fentanyl, she said fine, then a nurse started to squirt it into my IV before we started! AN argument insued, calmly thanked everyone for all of their help, borrowed a pair of surgical scurb pants (mine were a little bloody and called a cab)………….when did this simple test become do complicated and so cost-driven? The GI doc wants me to return and have it done as an inpatient; but I no longer trust the medical establishment in general. An, I have a master’s degree in biochem and always trusted docs, until now……………maybe the dark blood/constipation/diarrhea will respond to some OTC cure………..I’m scared to death of returning to that place. The idea of the scope is fascinating, I have a high pain tolerance, it’s just the sedation (unecessary and the most dangerous part of the procedure)..that scares me. And, I’m no war hero, but I have flown in combat and it takes a lot to “scare” me” insisting on giving me IV drugs that I have had a previous bad reaction to and a CRNA who was obviously not fit for duty scares me…………