What To Expect When You Get A Colonoscopy

Eventually It Happens

I have always heard about people having a colonoscopy, and I thought that had to be one of the most unpleasant things ever.

When my Doctor told me that because of age, he was going to send me to have a screening colonoscopy done, I started to dread the idea. A local center advertises it on TV, and I swear every time it sounds like they are saying screaming colonoscopy! The whole idea sounds kind of demeaning, and above all pretty painful. I mean, can you imagine what it would feel like to have that big scope shoved up your nether regions?


I was referred to the local hospital's digestive center, where they set me up with an appointment to see a doctor. When I went to that appointment, the doctor explained that I would need to take the day off before the procedure to prepare, and then also the day of the procedure. He wrote me a prescription for the prep solution, which in my case was something called Tri-lyte. He also told me that there would be no discomfort associated with the procedure and that I should not be concerned about it. There was also a list of foods that should not be eaten the week before the procedure. These included foods with red, purple or blue dye, Also, no iron supplements or aspirin can be taken in the week prior.




Prep Day

My doctor said that I should not eat at any solid foods the day prior to the procedure, but others may allow some food in the morning prior. Obviously follow your doctor's orders.

On this day, you can drink things like:

  • Apple Juice
  • Tea or Coffee (honey, sugar, and sugar substitutes can be used but no milk)
  • Jell-O (No red or purple)
  • Diet Soda
  • Popsicles (orange, lemon-lime)
  • Gatorade (orange, lemon-lime)
  • Clear soup, broth
  • White grape juice
  • Hard candy

My choices were apple juice and chicken broth.

At 2pm I was to start drinking the prep solution. In my case, the prep was a product called Tri-lyte, which is a gallon jug with some powder in it. It comes with flavor packets (orange,pineapple, cherry, lemon lime, and citrus berry. A friend suggested that she found the orange most palatable, so I went with that. Once the solution is mixed up, you are to drink 8 ounces of the solution at timed intervals. This varies by your doctors preference. My doctor suggested 8 ounces every 30 minutes till the jug was gone.

Many people call the taste of this product vile, but I was lucky that i was able to get it down without a problem.It helps if it is cold, and also it helps if you chase it immediately with something else. My choice was Diet Sprite.

I don't want to be too graphic about the results of drinking this product, but being within 10 steps of a toilet would be an excellent idea. It didn't hit me immediately, I think I was on my 6th glass of the stuff when I got results.

I was to stop drinking anything at midnight, so I had my last diet sprite at 11:59 and headed for bed.

Procedure Day

I got up at 5 am because the doctor wanted me to take my blood pressure meds then, with as little water as possible. After taking those, I went back to bed for another hour or so. My wife was going to drive me home, so at 6:45 I woke her and we trudged through the snow to our car. We arrived at the Colonoscopy center, and they had several forms for us to read and sign. The receptionist offered my wife an Ipod to use to pass the time.

My procedure was scheduled for 8:30, and a nurse came and got me at 745 or so, and she took me back to my bed. There she gave me a gown, instructed me to strip naked except for socks, and get the gown on. Once I was gowned, she came back and had me lay down on the bed. She took my vitals, and then inserted an IV. She explained that the anesthesiologist would use the iv to inject propofol to put me out, then inject something to bring me back when the procedure was over. The doctor came to my bed and told me that they were ready to get started and wanted to know if I had any questions. After I said no, then the anesthesiologist wheeled me into an operating room, and a nurse there asked me to roll onto my left side.

The anesthesiologist then took a syringe and told me she was ready to go, she injected the syringe into my iv port, and in about 15 seconds asked me if I was groggy at all. I remember telling her no, then about 10 seconds later starting to say that it was working.

Next thing I remember, they told me that the procedure was done, and that they were taking me back to my room to recover. Once I got there, my wife was allowed back, and I was amazed how alert I was. I didn't feel groggy at all.

The doctor came in and explained that they did find polyps and removed them, and that I would get a letter in a few weeks explaining the biopsy results and whether any further treatment was required.

They gave me the ok to get dressed, and a nurse came in and reminded me that even though I felt fine etc, that I should not drive or do anything that required mental acuity such as entering into legal agreements or purchases.


Colonoscope

Colonoscope
Colonoscope

Afterwards

My most pressing feeling was that of hunger. We left the clinic and ate immediately.

My only real after effect from the procedure is that I am just a tiny bit tender in part of my belly. I suspect that could be from the area where they removed the polyps, but I have no way of knowing if I am right.

The biggest feeling after the whole thing was how easy it was.


Test Results

I got the results of my polyps biopsy yesterday, and it turns out they they were not malignant, but they were not benign either. They showed to be precancerous, so I guess what happens from here is I will have another colonoscopy at times set by my doctor.

The only big problem with that, is my insurance will only pay for this procedure every 10 years.

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Comments 6 comments

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

That is a horrible procedure. Well at least we are asleep. Its the stuff that you have to drink and then of course the after effects, yuk. Good for slimming that's for sure.

My husband had both down the throat as well. And to make matters worse they blew him up with air to get a better look down there. Gee he suffered with pains. He looked pregnant because he was so blown up.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

You were lucky, my late Husband had the procedure without any sedative and when he complained how much it hurt the doctor told him "not to be such a baby". Shortly after it was proven that he had advanced Bowel Cancer and his Colon was totally brittle like plastic. Within two weeks after diagnosis he died. A tragic time for all of us, yet in the UK no-one suggested any kind of anaesthetic before the procedure.


puter_dr profile image

puter_dr 7 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Mistyhorizon2003, sorry for your late husband's death, and the events that led up to it. That must have been a terribly difficult time for you.

Until recently, the procedure was done here with a sedative that left you able to talk to the doctor during the procedure, but after, you would have no memory of the event.

Recently they switched to a quick anesthesia that puts you under, then back to fully conscious within seconds of the end of procedure.

A few years ago my wife had the procedure down the throat, and she had a bad reaction to the sedative and was unconscious for 3 days.

Eileen,

They did blow me up with air, I was just leaving out one of the more colorful effects of the procedure.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Yes it was a difficult time and I do wish they had given him a sedative when they tried to Colonoscopy on him, but they didn't. Much later when the facts came out the Doctor said it was no wonder it had hurt so much if the bowel was rigid.

I am sure there is no truly nice way of having one of these procedures though.


pddm67 profile image

pddm67 6 years ago from Queens, New York

Glad everything turned out alright :-) I also had a colonoscopy but wasn't lucky enough to be knocked out while it happened. They did give me some Demerol but I could still feel everything that was happening. It didn't hurt or anything, just was very uncomfortable. When I mentioned it to the Doctor he said I shouldn't be feeling anything since he seemed to believe they'd doped me up enough. Then he asked me if I wanted to watch the procedure as it was happening. Nope - not for me. I could already feel it - didn't need to see it too!


Nelle Hoxie 6 years ago

Because of a family history of colon cancer, I have had a colonoscopy every 3 to 5 years since I was 35. It isn't the most pleasant experience. But it is truly a life saver for many people. I try to think of it as 2 or 3 unpleasant days for over 1,000 days with peace of mind. (My mom is a 20-year survivor of colon cancer and her mom was a survivor for just as long as well).

Mistyhorizon sorry to hear about your husband and his experience.

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