Colonoscopy Prep Tips

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I am still totally focused on all things vagina, but after the age of 50, one must pay a little attention to the vagina’s next-door neighbor.

Let’s chat about the dreaded colonoscopy!

It is generally recommended that you have your first colonoscopy at age 50. if you have a higher risk of colorectal cancer, your physician may recommend earlier and more frequent testing. To help you understand your risk level, check out this link from the American Cancer Society.

Before you click delete, let me remind you that prevention is the key to good health. The prep is probably the yuckiest part of the colonoscopy procedure. The test is not painful at all, as you almost certainly, will be under sedation.

If you are 50 or older and have not yet had your first colonoscopy, get your head out of your ass and get an appointment for this important test!

Screening is vital because colorectal cancer often shows no signs or symptoms in its early stages.

According to Web MD, “Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). He or she uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).”

I am a colonoscopy veteran.  Until this week, my last colonoscopy was done in 2007.  I received a “clean” and healthy bill of health at that time. It was recommended that my next colonoscopy should be in 10 years. Time flies, especially in colonoscopy years. (If you have a polyp or if you have colorectal cancer in your family your protocol may be different.)

It is 10 years later, 2017.  I just had my colonoscopy. Here is my story and a few helpful tips for a smooth passage:

Usually, your Gastroenterologist has you come into the office to chat before your colonoscopy. Maybe just to meet you face to face! Do you blame them for wanting to see some faces rather than the views they normally deal with??

You can choose to have your screening done in a hospital outpatient department, a clinic, an ambulatory surgery center, or a doctor’s office.  I prefer all procedures where I am sedated to be done in the hospital.  I do this because I know if you have any kind of issue during the test that requires urgent care, an ambulance will need to be called to take you to the hospital for treatment.  Then why not just be extra cautious and have the test at the hospital?

Every doctor chooses the prep kit that they think works the best.  My doctor had me do the Prepopik – Split Dose Regime. After reviewing the directions for it that my doctor’s office mailed me, I postponed my colonoscopy three times!

Not sure which I was dreading more; being on clear liquids for the day before the procedure, drinking the prep, pooping like crazy, having that colonoscope jammed up my tush or perhaps all the above! Finally, I grew a pair of ovaries, made my appointment, and kept it!

The day before your procedure you will be on clear liquids.

It’s best to pick up everything you need well before the day you begin.  I bought tasteless Pedialyte to keep from getting dehydrated and depleted. I also, picked up the white grape juice, chicken broth, lemonade and Jell-O (non- red).  Be careful to read the Jell-O label…you do not want anything with red dye in it.  Some non-red Jell-O’s have red dye in them, too.

 

The night before I began my liquid diet, I put a post-it note in the kitchen to remind me NOT to eat anything.

I woke up at my usual 7 AM on the day before the procedure and began drinking my liquid diet. I missed my wonderful bowl of fruit, but thank goodness, I could have black coffee.  So, I could avoid caffeine withdrawals.

I had a lunch meeting that day, so I heated up an entire container of chicken broth and brought it with me to the meeting.  I sat and drank my broth while everyone ate this wonderful Greek food, making a note that I must return to this restaurant when I could enjoy the great food.

Before I took my first packet of the Prepopik, I put a bunch of magazines and my laptop in the bathroom.

At 5:30 PM, I was instructed to drink Packet 1. You stir it into 5 oz. of water.  Then I was required to drink 40 ounces of water over the next few hours. I am a big water drinker, so this was not a problem for me.  I can see where someone who is not used to drinking a lot of liquids could struggle with this.

While my husband ate dinner, I ate every single bite of the Jell-O that I made the day before in a 20 X 20 Pyrex dish!  It reminded me of my childhood. My Mom made tons of Jell-O molds.  It was a staple in our house.  I hadn’t had yellow Jell-O since my last colonoscopy.

By around 6:30 PM, I was worried as I hadn’t pooped yet.  Then the rumbling started and the feeling that a rocket was about to launch out of my rectum.  I ran to the bathroom, and there I sat for quite some time.

I was so thankful that I prepared my bathroom for this pooparama, as I did not get off the toilet for quite some time.

I couldn’t believe that all this poop was in my body!

I continued to drink my white grape juice, a little lemonade, and more Pedialyte. Finally, the flow stopped.  I thought it was safe to peel myself off the potty.  My husband suggested that I wear his cotton underwear, as my little fancy undies might not do the trick.  I looked at him and emphatically said, “There is no way I am wearing your underwear.”

I showered, put my silk undies and went to bed.  Set my alarm for 5:45 AM…….as I needed to take my next packet at 6 AM.  I could drink fluids all night – up until 7 AM.  My procedure was at 10 AM.

I meditated myself to sleep, hoping to sleep through the night.

Around 2 AM, I was awakened with the rumbling and thunder urgency that gave mere seconds before the dreaded drip began shooting out :< (

After my shower and tossing my cute undies in the washing machine sanitation cycle, I found my way into David’s underwear drawer.  I sheepishly put on his very large, soft, cotton underwear and felt a sense of protection that one doesn’t get from skimpy cute underwear.

I woke up ravenous at 5:45 AM, and downed some Pedialyte. Then I headed to get Packet #2.  I was doubtful that there was anything at all left inside me to come out. I glanced at my stomach.  It was completely flat. I had forgotten what they looked like!

At 6 AM, I downed Packet #2, and drank 3 – 8oz glasses of water.  Got my cup of black coffee in and then my buzzer went off.  It was 7 AM – no more fluids for me until after the scope. (Please note that the timing of all this depends on the time of your colonoscopy.  Your doctor will give you the exact times that are correct for your specific procedure.)

I kept myself very busy answering emails from women and one husband, desperate for menopause support until it was time to shower. I was shocked that I had anything at all left inside of me, but apparently, I did! Good Lord!

Although there is a small video camera attached to the colonoscope so that the doctor can take pictures or video of my large intestine (colon), I quickly surmised that there was no need to do my hair or makeup before this test. These pictures will not be posted on Facebook or be included in my folder of cherished family videos.

I pulled off my “exit only” sign that remains firmly planted on my tush and David drove me to the hospital. I was certain that he was going to suggest that this was the first time in our marriage that I absolutely was not full of sh-t!  Of course, he knew better than to make that joke!!!!

I was immediately checked in and taken directly to the pre-op room for vitals.  Then I signed away my colon to my gastroenterologist’s great hands.

I recommend that you bring in a list of the medications and vitamins that you are currently taking.  It’s hard to remember anything when you haven’t eaten or slept very well. (BTW they told me not eat or take nuts, popcorn, corn, seeds, iron pills, vitamins containing iron, vitamin D or K, fiber supplements, anti-inflammatory meds, and blood thinners for 5 days prior to the surgery.  I could take my normal poop protocol which is a combination of Magnesium Capsules and Probiotic. However, I did not take any of this beginning the evening before the procedure as I was sure that there was nothing left inside of me except my organs.  For more on my daily poop protocol read: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS Not Pooping?!

The doctor came in to chat with me.  I confirmed that I wanted the 10 mg. of Versed with 100 mcg of Fentanyl for my anesthesia like I had the last time.  He agreed. He reassured me that they would keep monitoring me throughout the procedure.  They put oxygen on my nose and asked me to turn on my left side.

I don’t remember a single thing after that.

Next thing I knew, the nurse was giving me graham crackers and apple juice.  They were delicious……. they would have been better with melted chocolate and marshmallows, but I was starving.  I had 5 of them!

I do not remember the doctor telling me that I had a small polyp. He reassured me that it was benign.  However, the biopsy would be back in a few days, and I would know for certain.

David told me later that I had a lengthy conversation with the doctor. I don’t remember that at all!

I slept all the way home.  David made me an egg and toast which I immediately scarfed down and then I fell asleep.

Slept off and on until 8 PM.  That is when the cramping started.  They do fill you with some gas during the procedure – unfortunately, it must come out. That is why I would not plan an evening out on the day of your colonoscopy.  After a few bouts of cramps – it was gone.

Two days later I got the call from my doctor’s office that my polyp was benign.  My next colonoscopy is in 10 years- in 2027!

Gotta go now, I am pooped!

Remember:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

For more great tips on how to find a menopause specialist and deal with menopause, download my free eBook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS  the Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.    

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After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • Louise

    That was so cute! I have my second one in 2018 and will ask about the various prep products as the one you used sounds easier than what I used for my first one. Congrats on the clean bill of (colon) health!

    • Yes, Louise………..it is great to get that news!

  • Christine

    I so appreciate you sharing your personal experiences with us! It makes it easier for us than to open up about the same experiences.

    • I always learn from other people’s experiences. So, I thought since most of us have this lovely test every 10 years………..I might as well break open the conversation!

  • I had a colonoscopy a while back and agree, the prep is the worst part. My medical plan now has me do a stool test once a year. If it comes out normal I don’t have to do the colonoscopy. A little gross, but much easier. Also, make sure they give you a sedative. I took my friend in to get one and, for some reason, she didn’t get the sedative. It was not pleasant.

    • Oh my, your poor friend. That is interesting about your medical plan. I do that stool test once a year with my physical, but my doctor still insists I get this colonoscopy every ten years. I am going to mention this at my next physical. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    I loved my gastro guy who prescribed pills instead of all that liquid, which I honestly don’t think I could have gotten down. The pills plus my iced tea were easy, and I had such a restful sleep during the procedure, I won’t dread it next time.

    • Wow…….Lois……..thanks for sharing. Can you elaborate on that? I have never heard of just taking pills for prep.

      • Lois Alter Mark

        It was literally about 30 pills, which was still so much better than drinking the liquid. I went to Dr Robert Goldklang in Encinitas, who my GP said was the best. He used to live on my street so I was a little wary but she said she goes out to dinner with him and still uses him, so I went with him! I would recommend him highly.

        • Thanks for the details. I am going to look into this!

  • Karen @ BakingInATornado

    I’ve been dreading going, Hubs did but so far I haven’t. The way you’ve described it all somehow is comforting. Sounds like I was expecting it to be a lot worse than you’re admitting to.

    • It isn’t bad at all! You just poop a lot! It is an important test! Book it Karen.

  • Is it my imagination or is this 2 Menopause Mondays talking about poop? It really is a no brainer to have a colonoscopy. I am due 2018. Yes the prep sucks but it is an extremely effective screening procedure for colon cancer. My metabolism is slow so I know I have to take prep earlier to have the evacuation needed in time for the procedure.

    • Yes, two Menopause Mondays about poop! You are so right, Haralee, this is a very important screening. Interesting about how your metabolism affects the prep. Thanks for sharing.

  • Just had my latest e 2 months ago…not at all scary or difficult…10 years till my next!

    • How great! I agree, we are lucky we have this test!

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