Four times to get it right

When you put your all into something — when you really try your hardest — you want very badly to succeed. I think we can all agree this is true.

That’s why I was so bummed out when it took me not one, not two, not three, but four — count ’em, four — tries to get a good colonoscopy. Yes, I’m at the point in my life where getting a good colonoscopy is something I try very hard to do. Failing to get it right is, literally, a pain in the butt, haha.

Men over age 50 are urged to get a colonoscopy once every 10 years. When I got my first one, they found polyps. These were removed, but just because I had them I was urged to get future colonoscopies every five years.

So five years ago, I did it; no problem, but when I tried again this time it was problem after problem. Welcome to old age!

I had my wife mix up the preparation solution. Of course then I blamed her when I failed. But it wasn’t her fault.

They wanted me to get up at 2 a.m. and drink water every half-hour until 6 a.m. I chose to sleep instead. Of course, that round failed: My preparation was so bad they couldn’t see anything from the camera that they shove up where the sun don’t shine. So the first failure was on me.

For the second try, I followed the instructions to the letter. I mixed up the drink myself, drank it at the appropriate times, then got up at 2 a.. and drank water every half-hour until 6 a.m. What a rotten way to spend a night.

Some of the infomercials on the in the middle of the night are truly bizarre. Even after all this, I failed yet again. Now I knew something strange was going on.

At this point, I did some research. It was then that I found out that the main ingredient in the colonoscopy preparation solutions is a chemical called magnesium citrate. Turns out this chemical has been on a worldwide recall since July 2022.

It simply is not available at this time. So the preparation solutions I had been using were not up to snuff. Just my luck.

I had mentioned all this to my little brother. He told me about the solution he used, which was so powerful, he claimed, that his doctor told him he’d had the best colonoscopy preparation he’d ever seen. Wow.

So, for my third go round, I specifically asked for this preparation solution. I got it, I followed all the directions exactly — and I failed again. Three strikes and you’re out!

At this point, I was freaking out. Breast cancer is the most common cancer, but colorectal cancers are right up there (see Since I’d already had polyps removed once, I was extremely worried that I had them again, and that these failed colonoscopies were preventing my doctor from finding and removing them. So I had to change the game plan.

The next thing I did was go into the doctor's office myself — this was too important for phone or email — and get right with the nurse who worked with him. I explained to her that, for my fourth colonoscopy attempt, failure was simply not an option. She then met with the doctor, and I received new instructions.

For the fourth one, I was going to have to eat a low-fiber diet — the exact opposite of a healthy diet — for several days before the colonoscopy. Then I would have to fast not one but two days before the event.

Finally, I was given a new colonoscopy solution to try, and not only that, but I had to double it over two days. Clearly, they were going for maximum firepower to get my stubborn bowels cleaned out.

So how did the fourth colonoscopy attempt turn out? Do you remember the column I wrote about two years ago, where I told about the new bidet I installed myself? Well, let me tell you, over those last six or so hours before the colonoscopy, I got my money’s worth out of that bidet.

Believe me when I say it, without that soothing and cleansing water jet, I would have rubbed my nether regions raw with all the wiping. With a clean prep, the doctor was able to get right up in there, and one polyp was found and successfully removed. I even have pictures from inside my colon. Just stop by if you want to see them, haha.

I talked to the pharmacist about the magnesium-citrate issue. She said drugs and chemicals get recalled for various reasons all the time but, because colonoscopies are so commonplace, this one has affected many, many people.

In fact, the nurse who worked with me prior to my last, successful colonoscopy told me that she herself had to do it five times before she got a clean one. How about that?

Cancer is no laughing matter, obviously. If you are a man over age 50, please work with your doctor to schedule a colonoscopy if you haven’t done so already. It’s not fun, it’s time-consuming, and the prep solution tastes awful, but it just might save your life.