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Colonoscopies? Where to start?

New Year, Check your REAR!- Part 2 By Zac Woodruff, RN BS Last week, I started a month long blog series on

Cervical Health Awareness Month

HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity. It’s also a major cause of cervical cancer. About 79 million

New Orthopedic Surgeon joins Medical Staff

 Dr. Mark Thomas joins WVMC Medical Staff Willamette Valley Medical Center is pleased to announce the newest addition to its medical staff,

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Zac Woodruff, WVMC Voices

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KendraKendra Lindell, Mommy & Me

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My Weight-Loss Surgery

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Amazing Care Stories

A Future in Medicine starts early

Taylor Vogel can’t decide whether she would rather assist patients directly as a medical practitioner or help

Project Compassion- An Unforgettable Experience

WVMC's Lori Cutrell, RN donates personal time to travel with "Project Compassion" providing medical care to countries in need.

Leading the Nation in Quality

Willamette Valley Medical Center Earns ‘Top Performer on Key Quality Measures®’ Recognition from the Joint Commission for


New Moms Group @ Birthing Center Classroom
Jan 24 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Moms with babies up to two years old are welcome to join us each week for this very informal session. You’ll meet with other new moms and a registered nurse to discuss infant development, health and social issues, breastfeeding and other important topics. Siblings and toddlers are welcome!

New Moms Group @ Birthing Center Classroom
Jan 24 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Moms with babies up to two years old are welcome to join us each week for this very informal session. You’ll meet with other new moms and a registered nurse to discuss infant development, health and social issues, breastfeeding and other important topics. Siblings and toddlers are welcome!

Breastfeeding Support Group @ Birthing Center Classroom
Jan 24 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

The breastfeeding support group is a place to receive advice, support and a place for new moms to gather. Sherry Green, RN has been a nurse for more than 15 years and will be able to answer your questions and help both you and your baby get better at breastfeeding.

Child Preparation Series 1 @ Birthing Center Classroom
Jan 25 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Prepare for your baby’s arrival with calm and confidence in this 6 week course. Learn about the many choices you can consider as you near the end of your pregnancy: nutrition, comfort during late pregnancy, physical and emotional experiences of labor for mothers and partners, comfort techniques (breathing, relaxation, massage, etc) for labor and birth, medications and medical procedures, postpartum care for mother and baby, and so much more! Class includes a full class dedicated to breastfeeding and one to newborn care. Also a birthing center tour, videos and handouts will be provided.


My Colonoscopy
By Zac Woodruff, RN BS

No matter how prepared you think you are for something, there is always a bit of nervousness and apprehension accompanying something new; the first time you ride a roller coaster, the first time you fly in an airplane, the first time you snowboard down the mountain. This is how I felt when I arrived at the hospital the morning of my colonoscopy. Prepared, but nervous.

I’ve helped countless patients get ready for their scope procedures, but this was the first time I was the patient, and I was the one who was going to be worked on. However, once I got to my room and I saw my friend Corey, my nerves starting to melt away. I knew I was in good hands.

I had to go over a few questions with him, and then get my IV started. After only a few short minutes, Shellie (the endoscopy tech), arrived and began to prep her instruments. I was still a little bit nervous, but having two great people that I knew getting me ready to go was very comforting.

After a few more minutes, Dr. Giss came in and was ready to go. He told me it would only be a short time before I would be waking up and everything would be finished. He told me that he had to get to the OR immediately following the procedure, but he would talk to me later about how everything went. And just like that, we got started.

Corey started to give me some Propofol, and I started to get sleepy. I remember hearing them say, give him so more…. And then I kind of remember waking up. I had no concept of time; how long I was out, what time it was, and when I would be talking to Dr. Giss.

Apparently, my wife told me that I woke up talking about the rapper Busta Rhymes, and that I talked to Dr. Giss for a few minutes following my procedure. Funny thing is, I don’t remember any of that.

Luckily, my wife recorded our conversation with Dr. Giss on her iPhone, so when I was more awake, I could go back to that and listen to what Dr. Giss told me. This is something I absolutely recommend to all of you.

Had she not done that, I wouldn’t have any idea how the procedure went, because Dr. Giss had to skip to the OR to start a surgery, and by the time I was really awake and able to remember, he had already left to start his surgery. (Now I do work alongside Dr. Giss at the hospital, so I knew I could track him down almost anytime I wanted to talk about my procedure, but if you don’t have the convenience of working with your physician, I suggest you have someone record your conversation with them following the procedure).

Turns out, everything looked good. I had been having some occasional bleeding with bowel movements, and Dr. Giss informed me that a few small internal hemorrhoids looked to be the cause. He suggested I made some diet and exercise improvements, and that he believed my symptoms would dwindle as I ate better and lost weight.

Here’s the thing, getting the procedure done has given me great peace of mind, because I now have certainty about what’s going on inside my body. For the last year, I’ve wondered about if I had colon cancer because of my symptoms and my father has had it, as well as other members of my family.

As a nurse, I tend to see “worse case scenario” all the time. I get to take care of the people who often end up with the cancer diagnosis, and in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but recognize the possibility of having it.

I was very happy to find out that my colonoscopy was a success. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Honestly, the bowel prep was the worst part of the whole thing. But again, I have to stress to you how good it feels to have had it done.

If you are over the age of 50 or showing any signs of colon cancer (blood in stool, change in bowel habits, constipation, narrow stools, passing excessive amounts of gas, pain in the abdomen), please talk to your doctor as soon as possible to get scheduled for a colonoscopy. Here at WVMC, we are always here to help you and answer your questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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Oh Terrible Bowel Prep
By Zac Woodruff, RN BS

Anyone who is scheduled for a colonoscopy has to prepare for it, not just mentally, but physically. You simply can’t just decide you are getting one, walk into your appointment, and get the results that you want. You must prepare your bowels, and oh what terrible fun it is.

Today I’m continuing my month long look at preventing colon cancer and I’m going to share with you my experience with preparing my bowels for my colonoscopy.

Here’s the thing, if you are going to get any test, you always want optimal conditions so that the test has the best opportunity for accuracy and reliability. In order for your doctor to be able to see everything he or she needs to; you need to be absolutely, positively, unequivocally, cleaned out.

That makes sense though right? Imagine trying to find a small crack or hole in your driveway, when the entire driveway is covered in dirt and mud. Nearly impossible right? Now if all that dirt and mud was washed away and your driveway was completely clear, the chances of finding that small crack or hole increase exponentially. Such is the case with a colonoscopy.

Bowel prep usually begins the day before your procedure with a clear liquid diet. For me, that meant Jello, chicken broth, and Gatorade. A few times, I felt like losing my mind because I was so hungry, but I reminded myself that I wanted to have a good colonoscopy and I knew the importance of being cleaned out. That was usually enough to help me pull through the hunger and remain focused on my clear liquid restriction.

Some doctors have their patients drink this stuff called “GoLytely” which is a bowel cleansing solution (kind of funny name for a drink that really makes you go heavy!), but Dr. Giss had me use a combination of Dulcolax tablets, Gatorade, and Miralax. I also had some mag citrate on standby if needed, but trust me the Dulcolax/Gatorade/Miralax combination did the job just fine.

In the afternoon I started with the Dulcolax, which is a stimulant laxative. It acts directly on the bowels, stimulating the bowel muscles to cause a bowel movement. In the evening I took some more Dulcolax tablets and I dissolved a large amount of Miralax (like ½ a bottle large amount) in one liter of Gatorade. I drank that liter over an hour’s time and soon after that, I was spending some time in my trusty ol bathroom.

Man… That combination really got things moving. I have to confess too, my stomach was pretty upset throughout that time. I knew it was to be expected because I was in the process of completely cleaning out my bowels, but it was more unpleasant than I anticipated.

After 90 minutes to two hours of discomfort, I finally caught a break in my bathroom usage frequency and I laid down for a short nap around 7pm. I slept for a few hours, used the bathroom a few more times, and then prepared for the final leg of my bowel prep journey.

At 11pm, I prepared my final liter of Miralax/Gatorade, and over the next hour, I drank it down one cup at a time for every 15 minutes. Needless to say, I was up until 2am, with many, many visits to my bathroom.

All in all, I counted 15 trips to my bathroom. Yes, 15.

I know that sounds like a lot over the course of one evening and night, but by the time I was all done, I had nothing but clear liquid coming out of my system and I knew I was ready. (No need for the mag citrate baby!!!)

I finally went to bed around 2am, dredding the pending 5am alarm clock. At 5am, my wife and I woke up so that we could be to the hospital by 630am, and be ready for my 730am procedure.

While we were driving to the hospital, my wife and I were reflecting on my bowel prep experience. It really was much more involved and draining than I thought it was going to be. However, more important than anything, I knew I wanted to have the best possible conditions for my procedure, and I was very proud of myself for completing the entire recommended bowel prep.

When I arrived to the special procedures area of our hospital, I was excited to see a friend of mine getting my room and equipment ready. The first thing my buddy Corey asked me, “did you complete your bowel prep?”

Oh you know I did my man. You know I did.

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Have you met our newest General Surgeon at Willamette Valley Medical Center and McMinnville Surgical Associates? Well allow us to introduce you to Dr. Steven Giss, a Board Certified General Surgeon, Breast Specialist, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Giss is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at OHSU and started the surgical residency rotation program at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, OR.

Born in Los Angeles, he stayed close to home for his Bachelor degree at University of California- Santa Cruz, achieving a Bachelor of Arts in Biology-Honors. He then ventured out of state and attended University of Cincinnati College of Medicine for his doctorate of Medicine. Dr. Giss completed both his Surgical Internship and Surgical Residency at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati. He has served as Director of Trauma at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay, Oregon along with a long list of Board and Committee positions. He recently returned from a year in Willington New Zealand where he worked in an academic medical center with their breast cancer and acute care surgical team. We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Giss as an extraordinary addition to WVMC’s Medical Staff.

Dr. Giss recalls his realization that he wanted to practice medicine after he discovered his love for biology in high school, and the development of his interpersonal skills and passion for people. He knew that “taking care of people of all ages and establishing long term relationships” appealed to him. Initially, he was pursuing a career in family practice, when he discovered that surgery was his calling during his first grueling surgical rotation in Medical School, and says he has had no regrets since. Dr. Giss has a passion for cancer surgery including working as a breast specialist. He brings great skill and knowledge to McMinnville to aid in our Breast center. He is equally as passionate about preventative care such as endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures. Dr. Giss says he is looking forward to “starting up new surgical programs and being a part of a young equally enthusiastic group” at McMinnville Surgical Associates and Willamette Valley Medical Center.

In his clinic, McMinnville Surgical Associates he will treat the full spectrum of conditions including:

• Specialized Breast cancer surgery
• Breast biopsies
• Colon, Skin, and Lung Cancer
• Minimally Invasive surgeries
• Performs endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures
• Small and Large Bowel Disease
• Gastrointestinal Conditions
• Gallbladder Disease
• Hernia Repairs
• Varicose Vein care
• Burn/Wound Management
• Diabetic Wounds and Infections
• Trauma Care and Emergency Surgery

Dr. Giss is extremely dedicated to his patients and loves the strong relationships that develop from the first encounter all the way through the healing process. He enjoys incorporating teaching and preventative medicine into his practice. When not working in his clinic or at WVMC, Dr. Giss will most likely be found playing with his family. They enjoy surfing, skiing, and snowboarding and he also has a knack for music as he plays both piano and guitar.

Appointments may be made by calling
McMinnville Surgical Associates
392 NE Norton Ln,
McMinnville, OR
(503) 434-6060
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