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    Old 11-15-2005, 10:54 AM   #1
    Uff-Da!
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    I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Female, 64, here. I've never had a colonoscopy and would prefer to delay doing so as long as I can unless there are symptoms which really should be checked immediately.

    I've had diarrhea for over three months. After about a week I went to the doctor, had five different tests done from stool samples, all came back negative except for yeast. I was on medication for that (I think it was Nystatin) for four weeks. Another stool test then came back negative for yeast. But I still have diarrhea.

    I've gradually become a near-vegetarian over the past year or so, and am very suspicious that I may have developed food intolerances I didn't have previously, and that that is the source of the diarrhea. I've started a food diary and am suspicious of certain foods (wild rice and beans in particular), but it may take some time to find out for sure that food intolerance is the total problem, as it is possible that other foods also might be a problem. To really know for sure what is giving me problems, I should probably do an elimination diet, starting with only a few things, like the BRAT diet, and adding only one new food every couple of days. But that is likely to take a month or longer to solve this problem.

    Sooooooooooo -

    Could my symptoms of a stool which ranges from watery to loose to semi-formed be a symptom of bowel cancer or something else really serious that shouldn't wait to have checked out? If I did a BRAT diet for several days, would that eliminate the possibity of cancer if the diarrhea went away on it? I'd like to avoid having a colonoscopy if I can, and I know that's what the doctor will suggest if I go back at this point. But I probably shouldn't wait another month if the symptoms could be something serious, either.

     
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    Old 11-15-2005, 11:35 AM   #2
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    I wouldn't be so squeamish about the procedure. I've never had one, but my dad did last year and said it was nothing. Anyway, it's something you're supposed to have at your age whether you have symptoms or not. The problem you're having could be cancer, or it could be any number of things. But the only way to rest assured is to get the colonoscopy.

     
    Old 11-15-2005, 12:47 PM   #3
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Well, it isn't only a matter of being squeamish, but if I can delay it safely, I'd like that flexibility. See, I'm 64 and am under an individual health insurance catastrophic program with a $1500 deductible. Most years I don't even meet my deductible. In about eight months I'll be eligible for Medicare. I don't know at this point whether I'd be better off financially to wait until I'm under Medicare or not, but I suspect so. I'll have to check that. Of course, if symptoms indicated it was wise to have testing done right away, I'd do it, but it would mean eating into my meager savings for anything out of pocket.

     
    Old 11-16-2005, 07:33 AM   #4
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    What's more catastrophic-- paying some money out of pocket, or dealing with the possiblilies of something really catastrophic later? Now that I've said it, I should let you know that it doesn't sound consistent with cancer. Are you having any other symptoms of cancer... typically diarrhea alone or even in combinations is usually not a sign of cancer. Flattened stools, increased frequency, blood on the stool or in the toilet bowl, are all signs. What you describe is more of a problem with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a condition that can be managed (not cured) with some pills. Have you been to a gastroenterologist? I would recommend that be your first appointment.

    Please keep us posted. And you really DO need a colonoscopy... You should begin having them regularly after age 40. Some say 50, but newer guidelines call for 40. And believe me, from someone who has been probed more times than I like to admit, It really is NO big deal.

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    Old 11-16-2005, 10:18 AM   #5
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Thanks for your reply. Yes, that's what I wanted to know, whether or not just the diarrhea big-time for an extended period like this was a symptom of cancer without any signs of blood in the stool or something. It is such a drastic change, as most of my life if I didn't eat a high fiber diet, I'd practically need dynamite! I have been eating high-fiber, though, and I think maybe my body can't handle all that fiber (and maybe some other things) after the intestinal flora got changed so drastically with antibiotics, then the medication for the yeast infection.

    I've never seen any signs of blood, but I have definitely had increased frequency of BM, up to 8x daily, and urgency to the point of an occasional problem with incontinance. I really do think the greatest likelihood is that I've developed new food intolerances, and if that doesn't prove to be the entire solution, then I'd be suspicious of IBS. But I didn't want to delay checking for "the bad things" if it sounded like something serious. And I thought those of you on this board would be the ones most likely to know that.

    I started with a very limited low-fiber diet yesterday and didn't have a single BM. First time that has happened since all this started, or in years, probably. Of course, I'd expect to have fewer, since I got totally cleaned out the day before. Transit time was only about 1 hours that previous night - I know because one of the pills I took at dinner was found intact in my stool! I ate wild rice that night, and I think that was the offender that time. But if this is strictly food intolerance, there are likely many other foods that are a problem.

    I'll add new foods to my limited diet slowly, like one new food every couple of days and maybe I can figure this thing out. But if I have more diarrhea episodes that don't make sense with the food intake pattern, I guess I'll have to have my doctor schedule a colonoscopy right away.

     
    Old 11-16-2005, 11:12 AM   #6
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Hi:
    Yeah, messing around with your diet like that can change your stool consistency. Especially if you are going to almost all veggies, messing with fiber supplements, etc. It sounds as though if you saw pills in your stool 1 1/2 hrs after eating that you have a motility issue with your bowels. Incontinence and frequency and urgency would be a common thing with severe diarrhea like that.

    Make sure that you are taking electrolyte supplements... buy a sports drink, or many times Pedialyte is the best thing to drink. But if you can't stand the taste of the Pedialyte, go with a higher quality sports drink. Also, try to replensish your natural intestinal flora by eating yougart or you can get some lozenges or drinks that replace acidophillus (spelling?) as well as the 8 or so active cultures necessary for proper digestion.

    Good Luck,
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    Old 11-16-2005, 11:49 AM   #7
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Cancer Dad is right - you need a colonoscopy just based on age with or without symptoms. I had my first screening colonoscopy at 57, having no symptoms whatsoever and was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer. Who knows, if it had been done a few years earlier - it might have been a simple stage 1 or just a precancerous polyp. You don't have to be awake for the colonoscopy which can be done with sedation. Please have a colonoscopy done regardless of the origin of your gastric disorder.
    Leslie

     
    Old 11-16-2005, 03:42 PM   #8
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Wild Rice!! Yep that would do it. I live in the area where a lot of wild rice is produced. I love the stuff and I can say from experience that over doing it will demand a price the next day
    If one is not used to it I could see that it could cause problems in small amounts as well.

    To check if it is a particular food sensitivity you can cut out one type of food(ie dairy products) for a week and see if it makes a difference. Then reinclude it in your diet and try cutting out another for a week. Spices are more of a problem if you eat out a lot but if you eat at home you can try no pepper one week then reinclude pepper and cut out garlic for instance. You can try meats one at a time, chicken one week, pork the next, prepared meats (sausage, pastrami, etc.) the next. Vegetables one at a time as well starting with cabbage family(cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts), then corn, then green peas etc.

    Finding out you have a sensitivity does not mean you have to cut it out of your diet altogether. You simply have to be aware that you can only have it in smaller quantities and not too often. I love peanuts of all types but again I know that if I snack on them to often I pay a price. A handful twice a week however is no problem.

    Luckily, even living where I do wild rice is a little expensive so we only have it 5 or six times a year

     
    Old 11-17-2005, 06:29 AM   #9
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Hi there, Uff-Da!

    I, too, have had uncontrollable diarrhea for quite some time and narrow stools (tho not "flattened" per se). I am submitting to colonoscopy on November 30. I am 48. One reason I am doing so in spite of a negative fecal occult test is that my mother is recovering from surgery right now -- she had a nearly complete bowel obstruction from a poorly differentiated tumor in her ascending colon.

    Now, I am going to hope and pray mine is simply of the IBS variety, but I cannot really know, can I?

    Making matters stranger for me is my mother's heritage. She is from Newfoundland, where there is a huge cluster of colon cancer. Except the way of Newfoundlanders is to not talk about it, and to even cover it up among themselves, claiming even to family members they've been in hospital for "a little bit of stomach trouble."

    I read the colon cancer list headed by Kate Murphy, a 22 year survivor and amazing researcher. I am nearly certain her only symptom was diarrhea. So I would not discount it.

    A final point.. A couple years can make a huge difference. My mother had a colonscopy two years ago which was clear. She had another colonoscopy a few months ago due to unrelenting pain and found the tumor which according to the surgeon would have perforated her colon in about three days. So while generally cancer grows slowly, that may NOT be the case, and waiting a couple years in some cases could kill you.

    If it were ME, I would find a way to get it done.

    Please take care, and best wishes.

    Michelle

     
    Old 11-17-2005, 10:01 AM   #10
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Thanks, all, for your replies. You almost had me totally convinced last night. I'm backing off from the "yikes, I'd better do this right away" attitude a bit this morning, but still may go ahead, especially if they could get me in before the first of the year. I checked on the hospital cost and where I am on my deductible, and it looks like it would only cost me $400 or $500 more to do it now than to wait until I'm under Medicare. If I did it between January and my eligibility for Medicare in August, I'd be out more than $2000 out of pocket.

    What scared me was that going on the low-fiber diet did stop the diarrhea, but when I had a small BM last night, it was pencil-thin. Not flat, just narrow. But I felt then that I was a bit constipated, and I thought I'd probably gone TOO low fiber, so I took just half a normal serving of Metamucil. This morning I had a more normal BM.

    It will take a while to sort out exactly what all foods are giving me the trouble. I know there is much more than the wild rice, as I've only eaten that a few times. (And, incidentally, it was just a bit of wild rice mixed in with mostly brown rice.) I strongly suspect beans, and maybe some of my beloved hot seasonings. Since it looks as though going really low fiber (white bread, white rice, white pasta) these last couple of days made me a bit constipated, I guess I'll see if I can tolerate whole grain bread next. I'll hold off testing some of the things I'm most suspicious about until after I have a more varied diet.

    I know that part of the reason I've not been as concerned about having the colonoscopy in the past is that there have been zero cases of bowel cancer in my large extended family, as far as I'm aware. Everyone, instead, has heart attacks and strokes. So I've been very conscientious about testing and lifestyle decisions which might impact possible CVD. But you folks have given me a bit of a nudge in realizing there is always a first in a family for another disease, too.

     
    Old 11-17-2005, 10:40 AM   #11
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    I just wanted to add my two cents again... narrowed stool (or pencil thin stool) IS a sign that there is something growing in the colon, not just flattened stool... precancerous polyp, or polyp. The ONLY way you are going to know is if you get the colonoscopy done. And if you have read any of my posts, I have been probed more times than I like to admit. One of my experts have told me had I been referred to a gastro when I began symptoms, instead of being told by my internist that it was nothing, then they would have been able to catch it BEFORE it was cancerous. Well, 3 years later, I was dx with Advanced Rectal Cancer. And my cancer was moderately differentiated in pathology which means it grows at a pretty slow rate. There are aggressive types though. Talk to many people on this board, they will tell you.

    Please don't be afraid to have the procedure done, it really is nothing. And REALLY it COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

    Regards,
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    Last edited by CancerDad; 11-17-2005 at 10:43 AM.

     
    Old 11-17-2005, 12:22 PM   #12
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    I agree. Have the colonoscopy. Now. At age 56, I had my first colonoscopy last Friday (11/11). I had avoided having one because I was afraid of the yucky prep and not being allowed to eat for a day. And, I was having no symptoms or problems at all, so why bother? Stoopid me. Lucky me.

    Due to an unrelated potentially serious problem discovered by a total fluke this summer with NO symptoms, I learned my lesson. I still am facing more test for that, but that's for another thread.

    As I said, I learned my lesson. Sometimes you have no symptoms and you have a problem anyway. You are already have plenty of probs. Colon cancer doesn't have to occur. A colonoscopy can find and remove any polyps or precancerous polyps. It can save your life. During my colonoscopy, the doc discovered and removed one polyp. Yesterday, his assistant called me: "Completely benign." I wish the same for you (just do it!).

     
    Old 11-17-2005, 07:53 PM   #13
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Well, I tried calling my doctor's office to see if there was any possibility that the doctor to whom they'd be referring me would likely still be able to schedule me for a colonoscopy before the end of the year. Unfortunately, my doctor's office was closed this afternoon. But I'll try calling again tomorrow and see what they say.

    I got to thinking that I have had another symptom for some time that could mean something. I am not sure what it might mean, though. Even before my yeast infection I would often have incomplete evacuation. I'd think I was done with my duties, go wash my hands, and by the time I had them dried I'd decide I needed to go back and finish the job. This happened quite often. Anyone know what it might mean?

     
    Old 11-17-2005, 08:42 PM   #14
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Uff-DA: That is increased frequency and tenesmus or incomplete evacuation. It could be as simple as an IBS problem, but is also a Definite sign of other trouble too. Not to scare you, but it IS necessary for you to get a colonoscopy. I always say, don't worry until you have something to worry about. So, try not to worry... I know it's easier said than done. But schedule the colonoscopy and get involved in something to occupy your time... holidays are here, so try to forget about it. Then after it's over you will at least have piece of mind.

    Hang in there and keep us posted.

    Regards,
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    Old 11-17-2005, 09:38 PM   #15
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    Re: I want to avoid having a colonoscopy

    Yeah, there is not going to be much concern about the holidays around here this year. I only have one relative living in the area, and she is going to be out of state for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. So I'll be alone for the holidays for the first time in my life. But then even when my husband was alive, we never did much over the holidays other than go to church anyway. It wasn't until the last four years that we even had any other relatives living within one day's driving distance. But I don't believe in sitting around feeling sorry for myself. And like you say, I'll worry about my health once I know there is something to worry about. I've been reading some of the other threads on this board and realize how little I have to worry about at this point compared to most of you. Some of you have already gone through some mighty tough times; others are facing major fears of what lies ahead, and still others both of these. At this point I'm going to be optimistic about my own situation.

     
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