Colonoscopies- Are they really a horror??
Don't believe all of the horror stories!
I went in for a colonoscopy yesterday and I want to share my whole experience so if anyone has any fears then hopefully I can put your worries to rest. I have been battling IBS for over 20 yrs, but that is for another hub which I will publish soon. After doing a lot of research on this subject and to minimize my discomfort for the procedure, here is what I did. My exam was on Monday morning at 11:30am, just for reference.
The most important part of getting a colonoscopy, for both the doctor and for yourself is getting your body ready for the exam. This is the part that people slack off on and either don't get a good test or suffer unnecessary pain later on. Beginning 2 days before your appointment you have to start modifying your diet. The general guidelines are to eat lightly on this day, small meals that are easily digested. No corn, vegetables, nuts, meats, fruits or anything that is high in fiber. A lot of people "pig out" on this day because they know tomorrow is a fasting day but don't do it. I know a person that ate half of a pizza the night before the fast and paid dearly. My goal was to make this as easy as possible, I would rather be hungry now then in immense pain later. I decided to make it a 2 day fast and began on Saturday. I ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast and that was it for the day. I drank nearly 2 gallons of fluids during the day but I held strong.
Sunday- "Fasting day & prep day"
This is the day that people fear the most and where most of the horror stories come from. The best advice I can give is to stay off the internet forums, unless you only read the positive experience ones. Some people blow this way out of proportion and compare it to a slow painful death and will scare you out of getting the exam which isn't good. It is not a fun day but you can get through it with determination. This is where Saturday eating light or fasting will pay off big time.
This a a NO FOOD DAY. ONLY LIQUIDS like tea, lemonade, water, jello, broth etc. I didn't get physically over hungry but it was the thought that I couldn't that made it worse. I drank a lot, which you are supposed to do to avoid dehydration for what comes next.
6pm- start the prep drinking
The prep I was prescribed was called MOVI PREP. It is a mixture of miralax with a lot of other ingredients. The kit came with a marked container and 2 sets of 2 pouches marked A & B. One dose was to be used tonight and one early in the morning. Sunday morning I dumped one packet of A & B into the container and filled to the line with lukewarm water, shook it well and then put it into the refridgerator for later. I had read numerous times that it was easier to drink if it was chilled first so that's what I did. After worrying about it all day and just waiting for 6pm to get here to start I decided to go ahead a half hour earlier at 5:30 just be sure I would be done to get a good night sleep.
The container has 4 markings on it at 8 oz per line. I stuck a straw in it and prepared for the worst. "Wait a minute, this isn't so bad"? It tasted like a lemon lime soda with a little bitter aftertaste but definitely tolerable. I sucked down each line every 15 minutes as directed, drinking a sip of gatorade after each line. When I finished I drank the rest of the gatorade, the directions are to drink another 16 oz of fluid after the prep, I just drank as I went so there wasn't so much to do at the end. Round 1 is done at 6:15 and now I just wait for the inevitable. This is where the light and no eating comes in. This drink you just finished is designed to flush everything out of your entire colon. If there is a ton of stool in there then the cramps will be much worse because the intestines will have to work harder. After about 40 min I was starting the get the "urge". Without much warning I was "pressure spraying" out of the backend but without cramps and pain. I only had a little stool and the rest liquid and getting lighter as I went so my diet has paid off. I had no nausea, vomiting etc either due to keeping myself hydrated for the past few days. For the next hour or two, stay near the toilet because you have about 5 seconds to make it between rounds. Surprisingly at 8:10 I was done and didn't feel too bad, just a little fatigued from loss of fluids and no eating. My toilet water was a cloudy yellow color and the ultimate goal was see- through yellow so I knew after my dose tomorrow morning I would be there no problem. I mixed up my remaining container, put it away to be chilled and it was back at it at 6am tomorrow morning.
Monday- The day of reckoning
Well it is finally here. After waiting for a month since I scheduled my appt, the past two days of prepping my system, I'm almost to the finish line.
I started the day with finishing my final prep drink. I started at 6am and followed the same regimen as I did the night before. Things were happening a lot quicker now, I could barely stand up without having to sit back down. The pressure wasn't as intense as last night but it was more frequent emptying and getting clearer as I went. There was no waiting time this time around, it was pretty continuous. I don't think I felt finished until around 9am, even though the toilet bowl contained see through yellow for the past half dozen bouts. It was now time for the appt and it was 10am so my wife and I left for the hospital for a 10:30 arrival time, the test was scheduled for 11:30am.
We arrived, registered and within minutes I was changing into my hospital gown with nothing on but my socks. Laying in a bed with a warm blanket and waiting for my round of questions from various nurses and doctors, my IBS nerves were starting to kick in but I knew there were no bathroom trips to make because there was nothing to come out? After I spoke to the doctor and anesthesiologist, making sure I got the tamest and mildest side effect dose of medicine that my doctor has promised then I was wheeled into the exam room. I had bad reactions from different anesthesias over the years ranging from nausea, dizziness, violent shaking, chills etc so I was the most nervous over this. I was prescribed Propofol & Zofran given through my IV and they promised as much as they could that I would be fine afterwards. After hearing the words "I'm going to sedate you now" that is all I remember. I have no memory of the actual test or much when it was over. My wife who was with me in the recovery room said that I drank a cup of cranberry juice and spoke to the doctor but I don't remember either one. The doctor gave us a sheet explaining the results and even a few color pictures of my colon. I was all normal and had no side effects from the medicine, except the temporary amnesia and most of all I was all done for at least 10 years- HURRAY!!!!
I guess the bottom line is you have to decide if going through a few days of inconvenience is worth keeping yourself from getting cancer. Most of the time when polyups or growths on the colon wall are found early enough and removed then you are spared from a possible future cancer. This is the only and best test to see these growths. I can't guarantee that everyone will have no problems but if you do what I did I can promise you that you have an excellent chance to get the same results. Don't buy into everyones overblown and highly exaggerated horror stories. I have battled IBS for over 20 yrs and my colon is super sensitive so if I can handle this then anyone can, you just have to do the right preparation.
Lastly I want to add that there may be some gas pains for a few hours to a few days after because of air being blown into your colon to improve visibility. Eat lightly for a few days until your body re adjusts itself again. I also recommend taking some probiotics to replace the "good" bacteria that got flushed along with the bad to have good intestinal flora again.