“Oh honey, if I give you the generic, you don’t get flavor packets.”
“It’s fine. I usually mix it with Sprite anyway.”
“Oh my, have you done these quite a bit?”
“This is number thirteen.”
Lucky number 13… and I’m not even 30!
So since I’ve been around the block with colonoscopies, and it’s IBD awareness month, let me fill you in on my tricks and routines for surviving this not-so-pleasant procedure.
Two Days Before:
Eat light on this day. The less you have to cleanse out of your system, the easier prep time is. Since I’ve been living off protein shakes and one small meal a day, I decided to splurge with my “last meal” and eat a little more than usual. I even threw in some broccoli, the first veggie I’ve touched in ages! However, as I’m not used to large meals, I wrapped up the rest in hopes of finishing before bed. Instead, I passed out. #lame
One Day Before:
It’s clear liquids time! You may drink any liquid you can see through, but avoid red or orange drinks, as the dye can coat the lining of the intestines, fudging your results. I prefer to live off Sprite and water, but sometimes jello, broth, or gatorades can feel more filling, so it all depends on your preference. I go to work, as I prefer to be distracted instead of sitting at home feeling hungry. But, since my hospital is two hours away, I do have to take off, rush down there, and start drinking prep by 6 pm the day before. Keep some Zofran on hand (dissolvable kind), if you can, to help stave off nausea.
Now for the fun part! If you are one of the lucky ones who gets to drink the Gatorade + Miralax & Ducolax pills combo, good for you. If you have to drink the gallon of prep like the rest of us, here are some tips. The instructions read to drink one eight ounce glass every 10-15 minutes over the next several hours. You are supposed to finish up by 10 pm, but for me, that’s not feasible. After about two hours I get extremely nauseated, and sometimes it will all come right back up, which you DO NOT want to happen! If you start feeling sick, it’s better to take it slow. This last time I took an hour break at the halfway mark, then sipped slowly until it was all gone. I finished up around midnight. Pay attention to when your appointment time is, though. If you are booked for first thing in the morning, and you fear it might take you a while to drink the prep, it’s okay to start a little earlier than the given time. This way the prep clears out your system before your scope. Also, do mix with Sprite, or apple juice, or something, because otherwise the prep is horrible. Seriously, I pour a glass 3/4 the way full, then top it off with Sprite. It is sooooo much easier to sip on! I don’t even need a “chaser” to get the taste out of my mouth anymore.
Once the prep is all gone, and your “stool” (more like pee from your butt) comes out clear (by clear I mean a pale yellow), then you are all set! Get some sleep!
You made it through the hard part! Now for the easy part. I’m sure it’s common knowledge, but have someone take you there, so they can bring you home. There will be a plethora of medical staff coming in and out, from anesthesiology to your GI team, along with nurses coming to ask you a mile long list of questions and to start your IV. If you’re a girl, hold that pee in until you get to the hospital and ask to take your pregnancy test STAT! This moves things along a lot quicker, as the nurse can crank that out and anesthesiology can get you checked off. Then, you wait. Bring something to do, like a fully charged phone or a magazine, because sometimes the staff is behind on schedule.
They will wheel you back to the room, start the sedation process, and hang out by your bedside chatting you up. If you’re like me, you’ll fight the sleepiness, rambling on about work or kids and asking questions and answering questions and…. saying… something… about…
It’s all done! Keep blinking those eyes open. Ask the nurse for some Ginger Ale. Sit yourself up. It’s hard fighting off that heavy blanket of sleep, but I’ve found when I’m aware I need to wake up, the fog starts to clear. It takes a little while. The anesthesiologist came in to chat me up, and I wanted to text my husband about it, but the result was absolute rubbish. I have to laugh as I know what I was trying to say, but instead this came out…
It’s okay, within the next twenty minutes I was texting coherently.
Still when the GI came in to give me my proper results, it took a lot of me asking the same questions over and over and focusing really hard on his answers to let it sink in. Have your friend take notes for you, in case you do forget.
Rest up for the rest of the day! You earned it.