What is a Colonoscopy & How Do I Prep For It?
Does the thought of having a colonoscopy scare the living crap out of you? Ah, It's no big thing
You want me to have a what?!!!! and you're going to put what where?!!!
I have many friends who would rather have their teeth pulled out without any Novocaine than have a Colonoscopy.
And you have probably heard the phrase
"I'd rather die from cancer than have a Colonoscopy"
The fact is that you just may die from cancer if you don't have a Colonoscopy completed when your doctor suggests and colon cancer is a lot more painful and embarrassing than spending 30 minutes knocked out with a camera up your butt.
Colon cancer is one of the few cancers that is easily detectable and once caught early is easily treatable.
Pound this into your head - colon cancer is - easily detectable and easily treatable if found early.
And how do you find colon cancer early?
By setting up an appointment and having Colonoscopy as part of your routine physical exam usually at the age of 50, but some doctors are now talking about having your first one at 40. Then a second one at 50.
On this page I will share with you my recent colonoscopy and will also list resources so that you can find out more before you have your procedure done.
I'm going to be very open and frank on this page and if you think that it may offend you, then I suggest you leave now & get this information from your doctor or you could hang with me and tough it out a bit.
Ok, ready...let's go.
Lets start off with a bit of fun with Homer's Colonoscopy
We are going to work backwards
We'll start with the procedure and
work towards the night before prep
I was in my room for less than 15 minutes when I woke up, got dressed & went home
The Procedure or as some people call it - the crap shoot
The last thing that I remember is being wheeled into this tiny little room where the doctor, anesthesiologist and equipment was.
To confirm that I was indeed there to have a colonoscopy, the doctor asked why I was there ( this is a standard hospital question to make sure that they have the right patient for the right procedure).
Once I told him that I was there to have pictures taken of my ass, he laughed, they gave me the sleepy juice in my iv and the next thing I knew, I was waking up from a very restful sleep in my room.
The entire procedure lasted only 30 minutes.
This section is very short - isn't it? That's because I don't remember any of it. I think that I might have dreamed about being back on Kauai
Wish that I could say that about the night before prep part!
Here comes my favorite part of the whole deal
Yipee, It's time for la-la land
For many (if not most) colonoscopies you are given a combination of two different medications.
The first one is to relax you and let's you go into a light sleep while the second one is a
amnesiac drug to help you forget.
So if you tried to pick up the nurse or made a play for the doctor, they'll remember, but you won't - Whew - now don't you feel a bit better?
Unlike when you have major surgery, this combination let's you sleep but you don't wake up groggy or hung over.
You also don't have some of the side effects that you would have when you undergo a longer surgery.
We're going to be get a bit nosey now
How high is your fear level about getting a colonoscopy?
I know that this is kind of like our first date and we don't know each other that well - but heck I'm a Woodstocker so let me flash you my colon.
I won't tell, if you don't.
Funny thing... I never received a sonogram picture when I was pregnant, but here I get photos of my insides and when I had my gallbladder removed they gave me those photos also. hmmmmmm
They found, removed and biopsied 3 polyps.
I've had malignant melanoma in the past and luckily these polyps were caught in time. Had I put this off another few years....well I hate to think about it.
I also found out that I have diverticulosis. But that's no big deal.
If the pictures don't make sense to you don't worry, they didn't make any sense to me either unless the doctor explained what I was looking at. They are hard to see, but the lighter colored areas (that kind of look like a pimple eruption ) are polyps and on the last photo on the bottom row the back spot is the diverticulosis (basically a dent in the wall ). Diverticulosis can turn into diverticulitis (where the dents are larger and foods such as nuts can get lodged) but more than likely it won't.
Arriving at the Hospital & settling in
They often schedule colonoscopies for early in the morning.
I guess that's so your colon does get a chance to get filled up with crap again.
As the doctor starts working the camera up your butt it blows air so that it can open up the colon walls. Now if they scheduled these procedures for later in the day there might be a bit of ...well you know....getting blown out.
I was scheduled for 5:30 AM, so I had to be there at 5:00 AM.
After a quick rundown of my health history (they already had info from my doctor's office) they just have to double check a few facts and make sure that you have not had any food or water after midnight.
Then it's on to putting on the gown - I was surprised to find that I could leave my shirt and socks on. Kind of felt like I was getting ready to be in a porn flick. You know leaving the socks on thing.
If you have had anything to eat or drink after midnight you might have to have your procedure rescheduled since you can puke your brains out if have had anything in your stomach while under the anesthesia. The only exception is if there are certain medications that they allow you to take with a sip of water no later than 2 hours before your scheduled time.
You should also be aware that you can't even have gum or breath mints - so brush your teeth good so that you don't knock out the hospital staff when you talk.
Now it's time to stick in the IV needle where the "magic potion" will soon flow.
Ok, it's camera time.
Are you feeling a bit more relaxed yet?
Clicking on the above photo will take you to Wikipedia -- but please don't leave us yet the fun is just beginning.
Now it's showtime
Go grab a cup of coffee, bottle of water or go pop some corn.
It's time to kick back, relax and watch a few short but very informative videos.
Actually I lied - the second video is 10 minutes long but her voice is so relaxing and sweet that the time will just fly by
Katie Couric's Colonoscopy
This is the famous Katie Couric video.
It was this video that was shown on TV that alerted many to the importance of having a colonoscopy as soon as you are 50 or whenever your doctor recommends one.
Since Katie was going to be filmed while her procedure was being performed she was given a fairly light sedation.
I was, as are most patients are ---out 100%
Preparing for your colonoscopy
Great video and well worth watching & will make you feel more informed and also more relaxed.
Diverticulosis is a common gastrointestinal finding during a colonoscopy
Just a quick addition 3-2011
My 95 year old
mother-in-law just had
her first colonoscopy &
sailed through it
with no problems at all.
If a 95 year old can do it -
so can you!!
Ok, it's time for the day before prep
This is the hardest part of it all
The day before prep or as I refer to it as the night of the living dead
Before I start freaking you out, I'll be very honest - 95.9% of people have no problems with the day before prep and I'll let you know how my personal night of hell differs from most.
There are several different ways to prep the day before your colonoscopy and each hospital, medical center or outpatient clinic has their specific way of preparing so you must follow their instructions to a t. -- I can't stress this enough.
The day or night before prep is to meant empty out your colon and there are many different ways that can be done.
Some facilities give you a pill to take the afternoon before, others have you take a laxative and then have do an enema.
Now this is the part that scared me. I've seen those colon cleansing photos with several feet of goodness only know what coming out of your butt.
Oh the horror of it all!
I got prepared - bought the large package of toilet paper & the hospital recommended purchasing those baby wipes thingies saying the I'll basically be shitting my brains out for a few hours.
Oh, lucky me.
Ok, so here is the prep instructions that I received (remember to check with your doctor or hospital for your instructions)One week before the colonoscopy I couldn't take any blood thinners, aspirins, ibuprofen or NSAIDS ( I don't so I breezed by that one)Two days before the colonoscopy if you often get constipated you have to take Milk of Magnesia at 8 PM. (Ok, didn't need that either)so far I'm sailing through. The day before the colonoscopy you can't have any solid food (including any dairy) and can have clear liquids only. This includes all the water, sports drinks like Gatorade (any flavor except those colored red), Kool Aid (again no red) , ice pops (no sherbet or fruit pops) - yep, no red, soda( no red but cola is ok), coffee or tea - without milk or creamer and hard candies-yep again no red. You can also have juices such as apple, white grape or cranberry (hmmmm cranberry is red - how come you can have that?)
So far so good. It's 3 PM the day before and I'm feeling great. Sucking down ice pops and chillin on jello.
It's 4:00 PM & time to mix the prep
But before I do that I have to take 4 Dulcolax tablets.
Now I have to mix 1 large bottle of Miralax (238 grams) with 64 ounces of a sports drink, water or Crystal Light.
Since the store didn't have the large bottle of Miralax I picked up 2 smaller ones and then mixed each bottle with a 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade.
I don't usually drink Gatorade or sports drinks so I choose 2 different flavors (next time - and yes, there will be a next time I'm using Crystal Light since I prefer the flavors and I'm use to it).
The Miralax dissolved instantly but was told to put it in the fridge for 2 hours.
At 6:00 PM I have to start drinking the prep, 1 cup every 10-15 minutes until it's gone. However, you must finish it in 2- 3 hours.
The hospital suggested to drink the liquid cold and through a straw --so I did.
They said "stick close to the toilet"
It's starts off pretty good
Finished the first bottle of prep with no problems. The Miralax has no taste and absolutely no grit.
Had I not mixed it myself I would not have known it wasn't plain sports drink.
As I started drinking the second bottle I started feeling full as as I drank I felt fuller and fuller until I felt as though I couldn't drink anymore - bit I had to. The last few ounces had to be forced (next time I'll drink less during the day so that my stomach isn't filled with liquid before I start the prep).
Ok, I'm starting to feel that urgent urge to hit the bathroom - this is what I had feared -now all those colon cleansing photos came to my mind and I dreaded going to the bathroom but I had to.
Hey, you know what - it was like my regular morning crap - I felt like this was a piece of cake and I was cruising.
I thought that I was going to get though this easily.
Then the next thing I know I running to the bathroom -whew just made it -- and the weird thing it's looks like plain blue water ( I had blue colored sports drink). No yucky poops or anything.
This went on for several times. What had surprised me was that I had taken only 1 normal crap and then the rest of the times that I went to the bathroom it was just blue water ( I was drinking blue sports drink ). There was no diarrhea, no loose stools. I don't know if this is average or not but it totally surprise me.
What may have helped (but I can't be sure 100%) is that a few days before I happened to see a Crystal Light product that had added fiber in it. Since I love Crystal Light I picked it up. Maybe having the extra fiber a few days before had helped the "poop part of the prep".
So now I have had 1 regular crap and 5 blue watery one so I figure it's time for bed. The instructions said that if by chance the bowel movements wasn't clear or yellow that you have to drink a bottle of Magnesium Citrate - thank goodness mine was blue cause I couldn't drink anything if my life depended on it.
So I'm watching tv, feeling a bit nauseous & I have to jump up and run to the bathroom cause I felt the gurgling starting..
Didn't quite make it & the pretty blue liquid gets on the bathroom floor, I slip fall on the floor, bang my hip and hit my head and feel so sick to my stomach that I just lay for for about 30 minutes before calling my husband for help.
By now I am incredibly sick to my stomach & for some unknown it spurred on a panic attack.
I don't know if you have ever had a panic attack but they are not fun at all. And if I get one I don't get the normal symptoms, I do get the sweats, rapid heart beat & oh, nausea. Just what I need more nausea.
By the way - they tell you that if you do by chance toss your cookies on the liquid you have to reschedule your colonoscopy - so I'm trying my darnedest to keep it down- but hell it's hard.
I was afraid that I would be too sick to go for the procedure the next day.
So after lying on the floor for a while, my husband helps me up, cleans the bathroom floor & I hit the shower. Gosh that felt good
Finally was able to fall asleep right before the alarm rang.
Still felt kind of crappy but after about 45 minutes I began feeling like my old self & was feeling good again.
Took another shower ( don't you just love showers - they make you feel great), then left and breezed through the colonoscopy.
Now you know why I started this lens with the procedure an not the prep - I didn't want to scare you away
Ok, what you need to know
Very rarely does anyone get sick from the prep mix.
I just had a weird reaction so please don't let my experience stress you at all.
Be sure to read the section about Jane's Colonoscopy that is down below, as this is more like the "normal" experience that most have. Honestly the prep part for most people is more of an inconvenience for a few hours than anything else.
Since going though the full cleanse type of a thing I feel better than I have in a very long time.
My cravings for carbs and sugars have gone away.
I sleep better and I'm much more relaxed.
It was actually worth going through that hellish night just to feel this good now.
Did get a pretty good bruise on my hip from the fall and my back aches a bit but it's all cool and will go away.
Since I do have a history of cancer (and have recently "failed" my latest mammogram- but that's another story), I have to schedule my next colonoscopy for 2 years from now and not the normal recommended 10 years.For my next visit I will not drink the liquid cold, but at room temperature. I think that drinking so much cold liquid fairly quickly kind of did me in. I probably won't drink the liquid through a straw just drink it down. I mix the powder with Crystal Light or water since I'm used to those flavors. I also won't try to fill up on liquids during the day, but stay a bit hungry. I will probably also pick up a pack of Depends (or another adult type of thing) just so you don't have to worry about accidents and having to quickly run when needed. May not need them but for ease of mind it would be worth it.Sometimes when you have polyps removed there may be a little bit of blood -don't be concerned this is normal. I didn't have any bleeding and I found out that most don't.I thought that I might feel something after the colonoscopy and didn't know if when I took my next crap if it would hurt at all.Seriously - you will never know that you had a colonoscopy - there was at least for me no side effects- (well I did fart a bunch as I walked out of the hospital- but always being the lady that I am they were quiet and only I knew about them) but otherwise I felt "normal"Since the medication is so light, I didn't feel any after effects. Yeah, I did take a nap but I hadn't slept the night before.My first crap after the colonoscopy was like 4 or 5 days later & it was like everything was normal - if you call waiting several days normal - but I guess if your totally cleaned out it takes a while to fill up ( and I do eat a lot of fiber) so if you don't it may take even longer.
In all honesty --
a colonoscopy is a walk in the park
and can save your life!
Digestive Health with REAL Food
Most digestive issues are caused by our diet - or by being on the wrong diet for us.
When our digestive system gets out of whack we feel tired, sluggish, our skin looks pale and lifeless and we will often find that gas is a problem and so are irregular bathroom trips and heartburn and weight gain ( or loss) and we will often catch every cold that comes along..
When we feel this way there is a tendency to run to the medicine cabinet and either take an over the counter product or one of the common prescription pills.
While they will relieve your symptoms they won't help to get rid of the cause.
You have a better chance of changing the way you feel by making a few small changes in the food that you eat. We are not talking huge changes, but by discovering the best foods for your own digestive system you can change the way you look and feel.
Do you already know that you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Now you can learn how to reduce your FODMAPs by identifying which are irritating your digestive system.
Includes 80 low FODMAP and gluten-free recipes.
Here are a few great resources to learn more
- Quick facts from National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Short & to the point this information is also available in Spanish
- Fantastic Site - Highly Comprehensive
Love this site! Since I had no fears about having a colonoscopy ( I looked forward to getting knocked out - sorry but I love it). I didn't do a lot of research about it. I had an idea and I was fine with that. However, if you have any fears at all,
Another good resource and although covers much of the same stuff as the above sites, it's always good to learn as much as you can.
Don't be too embarrassed
to have a colonoscopy
It can save your life --really!
Before you freak out
Please read the next section
as it quickly describes my best friend's
Colonoscopy & her prep -
which is more like the "average"
Jane's Colonoscopy Adventure
No, Jane is not her real name but her story is actual and from what I understand closer to most people's experiences & should make you feel at bit more at ease.
On May 10th, at 5:00 PM, Jane started drinking her prep concoction. The mixture that she had was a bit different than mine but each hospital or doctor has their own preferred mixture.
When she just about finished her first 8 ounce glass, she already had to use the bathroom (it was just like your normal crap).
Then as she was half-way through her third 8 ounce glass, she found herself running to the bathroom but this time - excuse the expression - she was pissing out of her ass - I think you know what I mean.
For the next 3 and 1/2 hours she went to the bathroom approximately 15 times, each time it was very watery and was a light yellow. I know that it is hard to understand but when you get to the watery part it's basically just the mixture that you are drinking - it's not like diarrhea so it's not disgusting or stinky.
By 9:00PM, basically all her pooping was over and done for the night.
When she woke up at 4:00 AM or so (remember that many Colonoscopies are scheduled very early in the morning) she had one more "liquid" crap.
Her experience with the prep was what most should expect. It's easy - sure it's annoying running to the bathroom a dozen or so times but there is usually isn't any nausea like I had.
Jane's Colonoscopy procedure sounded just like mine however, she did sleep for about 2 hours in the hospital before she was awake enough to be driven home. Remember that due to the medication you can't drive for 24hours and there must be someone with you to drive you home. She also slept for another 4 or so hours after she got home--not a groggy sleep but a very relaxing one.
Do you have any comments that you would like to share?
Maybe you've already had a colonoscopy and want to share your experience or if we have possibly made you a little less skiddish let us know.
You can even stop back after your procedure & let us know how it went.
Thank you for stopping by today & please, please if your doctor has recommended a colonoscopy don't put it off.
It's that important!