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Colonoscopies Save Lives


Tillamook resident Ed Ketzel, 60, recently had colon surgery at Tillamook Regional Medical Center following a routine colonoscopy. Ed--who says, "Colonoscopies save lives"--wants to share his story with his community and encourage his neighbors to have routine preventive health exams. Here is his story in his own words:

"The letter came. Time for a colonoscopy. I had been expecting it. I'm 60. Three years had passed since my last colonoscopy. I was not looking forward to it, but at the same time I knew something was wrong. I was experiencing frequent urination, sometimes a burning sensation, and pain in the abdomen. I had been doing my best to get in shape. Walking my dog daily, eating well and exercising. I'd lost some weight and managed to get off my blood pressure medications, but I still wasn't feeling right.

I made the appointment to see Dr. Pitts, the surgeon who did my colonoscopy in 2010. He did a great job and that was a good experience, as colonoscopies go. I didn't feel a thing. I was on the table and then--poof--a nurse was spooning ice chips to me, telling me I did just fine. May everyone have it this easy.

Three years ago Dr. Pitts found seven polyps in my colon; four were precancerous. All were safely removed. At the time I was amazed that colon and rectal cancer kill thousands of people every year when a simple examination could save their lives.

Arriving at Tillamook hospital for my recent colonoscopy, I was a good deal more relaxed about it and at the same time wondering what would be found.

Dr. Pitts came to ask if I had any questions. A technician spoke to me, and then I woke up. I felt fine. Time for answers.

Dr. Pitts found only one small polyp this time, but he did not like how my colon looked and ordered a CAT scan to find out more.

Now this is one neat machine. Drink a bottle of flavored stuff, and get put through a doughnut-looking thing that takes a bunch of pictures. I got to look at the pictures too.

The results showed that I needed surgery. A section of my colon was badly infected and was in contact with my bladder. It needed to be resectioned. No way to avoid it. We set the date.

Following the surgery, I had no pain. I woke up and saw a bandage on my belly, so I knew the surgery had been done. I had no pain at all from a major operation. A backache was the worst of it. I was on my feet that night and walking with a nurse the next day. The following day I was walking alone.

I spent a total of seven days in Tillamook Regional Medical Center. What impressed me most was the excellent nursing care and constant regard for safety. Always checking my ID bracelet. Always using hand sanitizer. Always asking how I felt. What was my pain level? Did I need anything? Checking and rechecking.

The diseased section of my colon was removed, and my outlook was excellent. My surgery went more than well. I am on my way to a full recovery and back to walking my dog. I am lucky. I want to tell my friends and neighbors: Never ignore abdominal pain or any persistent pain. Have a colonoscopy. The idea of it is worse than the actual procedure, and it just might save your life."

You can schedule a colonoscopy today by calling (503)-842-5546.