Officials at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital say they’re concerned by the dramatic increase in people having recreational colonoscopies.

“Although colonoscopies are now legal in Canada, this doesn’t mean it’s wise to binge the procedure,” said NRH spokesperson Fareeha Amari. “We’re asking people to try to limit their use.”

Colonoscopies now account for nearly half of Nanaimo’s emergency room visits, with wait times often longer than six hours to get the procedure.

“I really just can’t get enough,” said Mei Ling Zhou, a polar scientist who moved to Nanaimo four years ago. “They’re just so much fun!”

Former weightlifter Aleksandra Zaryanova agrees. “I mean, everyone should try a colonoscopy at least once. Especially the bowel prep the day before. That’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. I got through so many emails sitting on the toilet for eight hours.”

Zaryanova, known as “Zarya” to her friends, even has a nickname for the bowel prep: “I call it the Graviton Surge.”

But not everyone agrees that the legalization of recreational colonoscopies has been a good thing. Lena Oxton, a support worker at Nanaimo’s Edgewood Addiction Centre, says the alarming increase is driving more dependence among mid-Island residents.

“I don’t think people realize how dangerous colonoscopies can be,” she said. “Sure the first couple are fun, but after a while you begin to need more colonoscopies to get that same feeling. So you ask the doctor to increase the instrument diameter a little bit each time and before you know it, you’re well past ‘garden hose’ size.”

In response, Health Canada has increased grant levels to fund hiring of gastroenterologists, and lowered the education requirements. Under the new federal guidelines, anyone with a grade eight completion certificate can now qualify for licencing.