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FINALLY Found a Colonoscopy Prep that Worked for Me!

Updated on March 23, 2014

Finally! A Clean Colon! Third Time's the Charm!

Admittedly, writing about your own colonoscopy is just a little bit embarrassing. But, hey, this former military gal has been through more embarrassing situations than this so let me share a bit about my procedure, more specifically, the really icky part...the prep!

To tell the truth, the colonoscopy itself was a breeze. The hard work really is in preparing for the procedure. It really isn't easy but if you are not cleaned out, you may have to go through the whole process over again. Let's avoid that shall we?

My first two bowel preps were not successful. To say that by this third one I was a bit desperate to find a good prep is not an understatement. I was almost frantic! By my third, I just needed to find a prep that would work and I found it! Just from searching the internet, I know I'm not alone and this is a common problem so I'd like to share what worked for me. Maybe it will work for you as well.


image courtesy of istockphoto/stylephotographs. Remaining images may be found by clicking on them and visiting AllPosters. Text on this page belong to Cari_Kay unless otherwise noted.

This Page Earned a Purple Star Award

I consider it an honor to have won an award for this page here on Squidoo. Thank you for taking the time to read my colonoscopy prep story. I hope, more than anything, that it helps make your experience just a little easier.

"Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20"

~American Cancer Society

Have you had a colonoscopy?

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Woman Drinking Glass of Water With Look of Disgust   by George Marks at AllPosters
Woman Drinking Glass of Water With Look of Disgust by George Marks at AllPosters

My Failed Preps

Because of my anemia, I've had several colonoscopies.

My First Prep

My first prep was roughly five years ago. Because of my anemia and some rectal bleeding, they wanted to find out if there was anything serious going on. My doctor gave me a prescription for Golytely. It came in a huge container. I believe it was about four liters. I was told to keep it refrigerated and mix it with Crystal Lite each time I drank a glass. Honestly, the taste was so awful. The salty taste made me gag and about halfway through the container, it kept coming back up. I couldn't keep it down. I developed a horrific migraine and was just so sick. The nurse just told me to keep trying to drink it and so I did but still nothing stayed down. All that laxative seemed to empty was my stomach and out the wrong end! As a result, my system was not as cleaned out as it should have been. When I told the nurse on the phone, she wasn't concerned so I went in the next morning. Unfortunately, it didn't work enough and they couldn't get a good visual. The nurse that morning was a bit unkind about it so I wasn't in a hurry to repeat the experience. We were in the middle of a move out of state so I put off the follow-up colonoscopy.

My Second Colonoscopy

Unfortunately, less than a year later, I knew I really needed to go back. There was more blood and, again, pretty anemic. We had moved but I was going back for a long visit so I scheduled another colonoscopy with the same doctor. This time, he told me to buy two over the counter bottles of magnesium citrate. The bottles were much smaller. After my first colonoscopy prep, I cannot stand the taste of any Crystal Lite products so I just mixed the bottles with 7-Up. It was more tolerable and although I did gag with the second bottle, I somehow managed to finish it. Unfortunately, two bottles was not enough. The next morning, although a lot cleaner than the first prep, I still wasn't there. The doctor and nurse were so kind though and said they were able to see enough and that, while not totally conclusive, they didn't feel there were any major problems. He recommended a follow-up though in another year or so. Of course, I wasn't overly motivated until my doctor, three years later, said I really needed to have a colonoscopy with definitive results.

Woman Drinking Glass of Water With Look of Disgust by George Marks
Woman Drinking Glass of Water With Look of Disgust by George Marks

My Third Prep

third time really was the charm

So, my gastroentrologist scheduled me this year for my third colonoscopy. This was a new doctor to me and one my hemotologist really recommended. He prescribed Golytely. He could tell I wasn't thrilled and I shared my experience with that vile stuff but he told me to mix it with different fluids and that it was just the best prep. So, I left his office with Golytely prep instructions and fought off thoughts on how to cancel the procedure.

The thought of going through that again just stressed me! Really, my experience with the Golytely was just so awful and I didn't want to be gagging and throwing up all night again. I took it upon myself to scour the net to find what the easiest prep would be. Let me just stop and say, the words easy and prep really do not belong in the same sentence when it comes to getting ready for a colonoscopy. That said, I did find one that worked and wasn't as bad as the first two. So many forums had people who had struggled with their preps and finally found the Miralax/Dulcolax prep worked for them.

I called my doctor and told him again that I just couldn't do the Golytely and I really stressed that I COULD NOT do it. He finally agreed that I could do a Miralax/Ducolax prep.

The 'Official' Miralax/Dulcolax Prep

What you need:

One 238gm bottle of Miralax and two Dulcolax tablets

These are easily purchased over the counter. I bought both at our local Walgreens.

The day before your procedure, you are only allowed a liquid diet and you need to avoid all red and/or purple products. You don't want them being mistaken for blood during your procedure!

Around noon, take 2 Dulcolax Tablets with plenty of water. Around 2pm, begin taking your Miralax. Mix the bottle with 64 ounces of Gatorade. Drink 8oz every 15 to 45 minutes.

Wait. No worries, it'll work.

That said, I didn't follow it exactly.

My Miralax/Dulcolax Prep

This is the part I added (and it was so easy!)

For three days prior to my procedure, I decided to eat a low-residue diet. I wanted to make sure that I ate only foods that were easy to digest. With the prep, you're emptying your body so why not make it easier and not have as much in there.

Have to say, I had fun with the low residue diet. What can you have on it? Pretty much all the stuff I normally avoid! You know how you are told on many diets to avoid white foods? Not so with this one. This is sort of the anti-diet diet!

- refined breads (no seeds), english muffins, pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc...

- cereals such as Cream of Wheat, grits, cheerios, corn flakes, etc...

- white rice

- refined pasta

- dairy such as milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt.

- canned fruit, bananas, avocados

- meats such as ham, veal, chicken or fish

- mashed potatoes.

During these three days, we visited our local Cracker Barrel restaurant and, let me tell you, that is a low-residue dieters dream. It was wonderful!

I did find it interesting that while enjoying all these foods for the three days, I still lost a couple pounds. But, we do eat healthy for a reason so moving on...

Woman Drinking Water is Studio by George Marks
Woman Drinking Water is Studio by George Marks

The Day Before the Procedure

Well, a day and a half before the procedure really

Okay, I won't kid you. I didn't look that happy drinking the prep. In fact, I am sure I still made some faces but I have to say, it was so much easier this time. Well, here's my story:

So, I had the bright idea that the night before my prep, I'd take two Dulcolax tablets just to get things 'moving'. I've never taken them before. Well, they worked. I took them around 10pm and woke up around 2am with some intestinal cramping and needing to 'use the facilities' immediately. In fact, I thought there was nothing left in there after that little episode but I was to be proved wrong on that count.

So since I was up at 2am, I stayed awake another hour or so which was a good thing because I had to run into the bathroom one more time. Finally, I went back to sleep.

Little bit of advice here: Get all sleep you can the night before you prep. You likely won't get much after prepping.

6:45am. Woke up. Knew I was only allowed fluids so had a nice cup of tea. Wasn't really hungry until mid morning so I had some jello.

11am Took one more Dulcolax although I looked at it a little warily. I didn't want more cramping and it didn't give me much time to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

12pm Because I DESPISE Crystal Lite now from my prior prep attempt, I just didn't want to make that same mistake. I had in my house Sprite, two flavors of Gatorade, apple juice, white grape juice, lemonade and limeade. I decided to mix each 8-ounce Miralax mixture differently. Have to say, recommend doing that. You might find one mixture tastes better than the rest.

From Noon until about 5pm - I worked on drinking those 8 ounce mixtures. They were a bit thick so I wasn't crazy about them but they weren't bad at all. They didn't have that awful salty taste the other preps had. That was really nice. They kept me full so I wasn't hungry in the least. At one point I had some beef broth but didn't really want anything else.

By the way, the best tasting mixture, I thought, was the Miralax with the apple juice. I had it chilled and it tasted a little like grapefruit juice to me. I ended up having that one twice.

Honestly, with the bathroom trips, this one was much different. With the last two, I had such horrible stomach and intestinal cramps and would run for the bathroom. Not so this time. I really think the low residue diet made this so much easier. I had no cramping at all after the initial run for the bathroom. I did spend a good amount of time in the bathroom with a favorite book but no pain involved.

Another tip here, buy those wet wipes (the ones with aloe are wonderful) and leave them next to the toilet. Toilet paper will irritate after awhile. Also, baths are quite soothing.

After 7pm or so I kept up on fluids. Enjoyed my Sprite and white grape juice sans laxative. Still visiting the bathroom every so often but things were definitely getting clearer.

Sleep the night before the procedure. Not so much. The liquids were moving right through me and ended up racing for the bathroom ever hour or so. One time I didn't even make it. Won't go into detail on that but was thankful I had hubby sleep in the guest room that night. And, just a word to the wise, if you're taking the prep and think you are about to pass gas, you can pretty much assume that isn't just gas. Don't walk. Run for the nearest bathroom!

Just so you know, be prepared to have an accidents! You may not always make it to the toilet in time!

Pretty much spent the entire night just catching the occasional cat nap. The next morning, I was exhausted. One worrisome thing was that all of a sudden everything coming out was bright yellow. I was so worried after my last preps. I found out at my appointment that this is normal and, at this point, you are seeing the bile and digestive juices. This is normal and means that you did everything right. Yay!

Doctor on the Telephone by George Marks
Doctor on the Telephone by George Marks

What the Doctor Said

about my prep

So, of course, I was very anxious to know if the prep worked satisfactorily. After two failed attempts, I was more than a bit anxious.

He told me after the procedure that I was completely clean and had done a good job!

After two failed preps, I cannot even tell you how that felt. At that point, I didn't care what they found, I just felt such relief! We'll blame the little jig I did on the after effects of the anesthesia!

I did find out that everything looked just fine and there were no problems. Three colonoscopies to find that out but, no more colonoscopies in the near future. That is something to celebrate!

A Down-To-Earth Primer on the Colonoscopy! - very easy to watch

Do you think you might try the Dulcolax/Miralax prep?

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Need to contact the author? You may e-mail Cari_Kay at carikay11@gmail.com

So do you have a prep you'd recommend? Are you about to have a colonoscopy? I'd love to hear from you.

I'd love to hear from you

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    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 23 months ago

      That's why I shared this. I want it for when I have to do another one (which I hope is not for a very long time) :)

    • profile image

      Susan 23 months ago

      I did not use a low residue diet. I did not listen to my husband on this diet idea. My bad. My doctor did not recommend this prep and I am sad that I just went through the entire cleanse and it was awful. If and when I need to do this again I will follow you recommendations. Thanks so much

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 3 years ago

      You are a pro at this then! Have they ever found anything? Praying that you always stay colon cancer free!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 3 years ago from Sydney

      Oh no! I've had colonoscopies regularly for the last 25 years, because I have an inherited gene for colon cancer. Fortunately that's not as bad as it sounds - up till now it's been a test very 5 years or so. However now I'm over 60, the surgeon is talking about having them every 2 years. :(

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 3 years ago

      The low-residue diet is so important. And, about a month ago at an appointment, they mentioned having another one...noooooooo! Holding off as long as possible. If it happens, I'll be looking up the PicoPrep. Thanks!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 3 years ago from Sydney

      I had exactly your experience with the prep for my first colonoscopy! The surgeon prescribed TWO preps. I drank two glasses of the first one, threw most of it up, got a pounding headache and couldn't face the rest. Later, I made up the second prep called PicoPrep - two sachets, each dissolved in just one glass of water. They both stayed down.

      When I told the doctor about my reaction, he said he'd never heard of such a thing!

      The next time, without telling the doctor, I just bought the PicoPrep and used it on its own. And it was fine, in fact the report said clearance was excellent!

      However it's worth noting that my doctor gave me a diet sheet for a low residue diet along with the prescription and said it was absolutely essential, so I think doing that bit right is important to get the right result.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I've never had a problem with the prep working, but I sure hated doing it. As you say, the prep is the worst part. I hope I've got a few more years to go before they make me do this again. Twice in a lifetime is enough I think.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 3 years ago

      @flinnie lm: That prep thing is the worst! Fortunately, I won't be due for some time to go through this again but, part of the reason I posted this was so I'd remember what I did :)

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 3 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi the prep did not work for me. I hope to use this prep next time. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      WinWriter 3 years ago

      I don't have to have another one for several years, but I found your article and your story something for me to remember when that time comes. The prep I had years ago wasn't terrible, but bad enough.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 4 years ago

      @BLemley: I know the relief I feel knowing that I'm done (at least for awhile) is enormous. Still, you are correct, this procedure does save lives. Thank you so much for your comment!

    • Lakegirl LM profile image

      Lakegirl LM 4 years ago from Australia

      Had my first colonoscopy last year and agree with you - procedure is a breeze but the prep a nightmare. Really, really hated drinking that mixture! Love your photos.

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 4 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      I had a colonoscopy and I too remember the prep being horrible! Thanks for the alternative treatment, and the facts here can save lives. I am overdue for one, so maybe this will help push me to get it done. Not looking forward to it, I can tell you that! Thanks for all the details and recommendations and not so pretty facts; it helps to have someone "hold your hand" so to speak, letting you know what to expect. As I face another colonoscopy, I will twist my gastro's arm and tell him he owes me the best prep there is! SOOO glad I found this alternative! Blessed! B : )

    • Kalafina profile image

      Kalafina 4 years ago

      Yes!!! Love your photo and so glad you got my purple star. Ironically, I got another one today so now I'm in search of a new lens to pass on the pretty purple. Your lens made me want to share my experience in getting a test where they used acupuncture needles, put them in a nerve, and ran electricity through it. Sooo painful! I do share my ICU experience in a lens if you are ever interested in reading it.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 4 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      I had a colonoscopy in 2011 and everything went very smoothly with the prep and the procedure. This is a great lens because it will save some poor unwitting folks from having to go through what you did the first two times. So glad you found a prep that worked, must have been a huge weight off your mind!!

    • peterb6001 profile image

      Peter Badham 4 years ago from England

      Thanks for sharing this personal information. People will find it very helpful. Congratulations on your purple star. Well deserved :)

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 4 years ago

      @audioslaved19771: Thank you so much!

    • audioslaved19771 profile image

      audioslaved19771 4 years ago

      I definitely agree with Kalafina. The lens is quite very good.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 4 years ago

      @veronica-sand: The colonoscopy really is the easy part.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 4 years ago

      @Kalafina: Oh wow! Speechless. Completely speechless!

    • Kalafina profile image

      Kalafina 4 years ago

      Left you a comment in the forum and loved this lens so much, I nominated it using my latest purple star. I was beginning to wonder if it would expire (as it has been sitting in my inbox for weeks) and lo and behold! I find the perfect purple star lens out of nowhere.

    • veronica-sand profile image

      veronica-sand 4 years ago

      Very informative. I'm not looking forward to this procedure. My mom told me the worst part was the prep.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image
      Author

      Kay 4 years ago

      @Kalafina: Thank you for the awesome comments! So greatly appreciated!

    • Kalafina profile image

      Kalafina 4 years ago

      I love this lens!!! So much. Love the old-fashioned pictures and my favorite was all your descriptions. Isn't it great to share the ins and outs of your medical procedures? So much fun.