As a physician, I am supposed to help patients, at least periodically. While I would like to think I do so every working day, I have two personal experiences outside of radiology to report, which I think will benefit you, my faithful readers.
First, let’s deal with a bit of technology. In perusing Medgadget a few weeks ago, I came across this intriguing tidbit:
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a solar-powered toothbrush that doesn’t require toothpaste. At the base of the brush is a solar panel, which transmits electrons to the top of the toothbrush through a lead wire. These electrons react with acid in the mouth, breaking down plaque without the help of toothpaste. It is an advancement of a model described 15 years ago using a titanium dioxide rod which released electrons when illuminated. The researchers are currently recruiting 120 teens to test the brush. The model is named Soladey-J3X and is manufactured by the Shiken company of Japan.
I had a peek at the Shiken web-site, and my curiosity was really piqued:
After a bit of back-and-forth with the Shiken rep, I was able to purchase a sample version, as full production and distribution of the J3X has not yet ramped up. I’ve been trying it for the past couple of days, and…the damn thing works! I’ve been using a Philips Sonicare brush, recommended by my dentist, for many years. After two days with the J3X, my teeth feel significantly cleaner, with a definite (although subjective) decrease in my perception of film/plaque as compared to the Sonicare. And this clean feeling lasts all day. I’ll keep you informed, but I think we have a winner. I am adding a bit of toothpaste at the end of brushing to keep all my lovely teeth fluoridated, and to keep my breath from lethal levels, but so far, this new toy does what it promises. And it looks really modernistic to boot! (I have the blue one.)
Moving now to the other end of my aerodigestive tract, I finally did something every 50 year-old needs to do: I had my colonoscopy. Sadly, I am actually 51.5 years old, and so this little party was a bit belated. That could have been a disaster, as you will see.
The worst part of the procedure was, of course, the prep. I mean, the induced diarrhea is bad enough, but drinking a gallon of GoLYTELY is sheer torture. This crap has a faintly salty taste and slimy consistency, and by the time I had my last 8 oz. cup of the stuff, I was ready to croak. My green Jello tasted wonderful after that.
The procedure itself is easy as can be. The worst part is anticipation, and the insertion of the angiocath for the IV. After that, a pop of Demorol and Versed sent me off to La-La land, and I awoke in the recovery area with some minor gas pains but no other discomfort. I do have a millisecond-flash of memory from the test itself, in which I think I complained of cramping. That’s it. Well, I did get a little woozy about 48 hours later, probably a delayed reaction to the drugs, which gave me an excuse to bail early on Rosh Hashana services. Fainting in Temple is bad form, you know. But I’m absolutely fine now.
Another famous physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz, of the Dr. Oz Show, just recently had his colonoscopy. Being a TV celebrity, he had to do his on time, at age 50. Rather frighteningly, Dr. Oz had an adenomatous polyp, which is considered precancerous, although the potential for malignant degeneration is rather low. Still, someone with as healthy a lifestyle as Dr. Oz is considered at low risk for development of polyps, and of colon cancer. If he can get one, we should all worry.
And indeed, my encounter with the Big Black Snake yielded a polyp as well:
Behold my sigmoid colon, and a 1.8 cm partially-pedunculated polyp within. My gastroenterologist snared this little sucker, and sent it off to pathology. He then skipped town for a much-deserved vacation. Fortunately, I have access to most of the local EMR’s, and against my better judgement, I checked the path myself. This is, of course, a bad idea, but thanks to God, Dalai’s Polyp was hyperplastic, and this is the most benign variety, with very little chance of ever turning malignant. Still, as the little SOB was over 1cm, I’m compelled to repeat the colonoscopy every three years instead of every five. Since my son has Crohn’s Disease, and must be scoped every year or two, I get no sympathy at home for the increased frequency, and frankly, the procedure wasn’t really a bad experience at all. I do hope, however, that there are some advances in the prep by 2013.
I want you all to learn from my experience. I was very, very lucky. Had Polly Polyp been adenomatous, I would be in greater danger for having
been a wimp delayed my colonoscopy 18 months past the point I should have done it. So, if you are close to age 50 (or 45 for African-Americans), call your gastroenterologist and make the appointment ASAP! Don’t fool around with your health. Colon cancer is almost completely preventable, but far more so if the precursor lesion is caught in its very early stages. Don’t die young because you are afraid of the prep or the discomfort. It isn’t that bad, and this procedure could save your life. Literally.
Now, as a radiologist, I have to add one more thing: Based on my experience, I’m going to skip virtual colonography, and go straight to the ‘scope. VC is a good procedure, and it would have found my little friend with ease. But, I would have had to wait for another appointment, and I would have had to reprep. And, VC involves radiation. Had I come out negative, I might be singing a different tune, but for me, for the moment, the Big Black Snake is my new best friend. Apologies to VC affectionados world-wide.
I suppose my next foray into self-improvement will involve CCTA. Hopefully I won’t fall asleep from the beta-blockers.