Tuesday, November 30, 2021

My First Colonoscopy: Part Two (aka The Part You Hear About)


If you read part one, you know how at under the age of 50 I came to need a colonoscopy without a family history.  This process is not a pleasant one but let me tell you something that I didn't know.  I don't do my research on butt snaking so the Mr and I both thought that once you hit 50 this was something you were supposed to do every year like a physical.  Nope.  Typically, if they find nothing in there and have no family history of colon cancer, you probably won't have to do it again for 10 years!  If they find and remove a polyp(s), likely 3-5 years before you have to do it again.  (Though my friend who has IBS had two removed and they told him 10 years which surprised me.)  If anything more pressing is found, you may have to do it once a year or every other year until they're sure you're in the safe zone.  Ultimately, it depends on the gastroenterologist but that is the basic guideline.  I sure wish I'd known that for 40ish years instead of thinking I'd have to get roto rootered every year as a punishment for the aging process.  Laugh all you want but I know others who thought the same thing.

Now comes the part everyone warns you about..."the prep."  Disclosure:  Most of this was written in the throes of the process so it's real talk.  If you're someone who can't handle colorful descriptions or clutch your pearls over anything you find 'offensive', you're at the wrong blog and should probably go to a blogger who caters to rainbows, unicorns and lies about how life is.  



When I saw this video a friend sent me tips I could use to prep for the prep, that bottle looked like a vat!  As someone who considers a good day of getting water about 16 oz, I was somewhat terrified.  When the Mr picked up my jug o' death at the pharmacy for a lucky $7 for the honor, I actually thought "that's it?"  Here's the jug against my hand for comparison's sake.

(Excuse my stumpy fingers- I've been sans fingernails for 6 weeks up to that point)

It looked way smaller to me even though it was a 4 liter deal.  That meant 64 ounces at 6pm the first day and the same the next day, stopping it a minimum of 2 hours prior to procedure.  (But 3 hours is the magic number because you may not be done by that time if you get my drift.)  8 ounces of prep every 15 minutes for 2 hours each day.  I can do this.  

Took 2 stool softeners at 5pm as directed then started 8 oz of lemonade-y prep every 15 minutes.  Because I added the crystal light lemonade pitcher pack, it was completely palatable which I was super thankful for.  I heard some stories about how putrid it was and this literally tasted like lemonade.  I used a thick straw which helped get it down quick.  After about 5 rounds, I emailed my friend asking how long it took to kick in.  I did feel some mild discomfort which I can only describe as it feeling like the solution was eating away at any waiting logs.  I popped an Altoid and it gave almost immediate relief.   She answered my email about 20 minutes later and during my response is when the urge to anally purge came about.

The first bathroom break being no worse than usual but it'll sound like a hissing demon is trying to circumvent anything solid and you will laugh uncontrollably.  Apologize in advance to your loved ones because they're going to have to live with strange noises for about 16 hours.   The second one came about 5 minutes later and it was like I ate a box of Colon Blow. https://youtu.be/Ku42Iszh9KM (God love Phil Hartman). After finishing the prep, you MUST hydrate.  People have passed out from dehydration and can get cold as a result too.  

For about 3 hours I made 15 bathroom runs spaced just far enough apart that staying in there if you don't have room for a chair in your bathroom wouldn't be healthy because sitting on the toilet non stop can cause problems.  I was able to sleep for about 15-20 minutes at a time before the alarming feeling of liquid hit the first sphincter to let you know you have no time to dawdle.  I am very thankful for the advice of my friend to wear adult diapers because while I didn't have an accident, it would've been extraordinarily easy to given its way harder to hold in almost pure water.  It gives a level of security you're not going to get wearing your regular undies and if you cough for some reason, forget about it.

Then comes the next morning where you transition to pee coming out of your butt looking the same coming out as it did going in.  This is what the doctor wants to hear and at this point, you just want it over with.  This is when hydration is critical.  I took a few sips of water and herbal tea between prep saving real hydration for after every bathroom trip.  You feel triumphant with every new fill up because the jug gets lighter and lighter and you feel like it is possible to complete.  Hang in there, it sucks and...uh oh...hang on.  

Slather up!  Before the sh*tstorm, apply some diaper rash cream or aquaphor to your crack to keep the stomach acid from burning.  You'll sleep better!

Mark it.  If you're doing the 4 liter prep, fill the jug halfway with 64 oz of water and mark the jug with a marker on all sides.  At least on mine there was no halfway mark indicated and you don't want to drink too much or too little the first day.

Flush with the lid down (obviously!  You're not an animal that leaves the lid up to get poo aerosol all over your bathroom on a regular day much less under these circumstances!)  Make sure to open the lid back up.  You're going to be peeing out of your butt and you'll need every second to make it there intact.

Stay hydrated.  I know you drank a ton of prep but have some tea or broth heated up and ready to sip in addition to water or clear Gatorade.  The prep says you can literally die if you don't and you don't want to see if it's just lawyer talk.

Have some hard candy to suck on in between when you get toward the second round of your prep.  (Like after the 3rd dose, it feels like the taste is embedded in your tongue even with a water chaser.)  I had Werther's and Altoids.  The Altoids helped with any discomfort/nausea from the initial first 5 doses where it's dropped into the colon and is doing it's job.

Schedule a late morning/early afternoon appt.  While you will have to fast all day the day before, many have you split the prep and because you have to finish by a certain time, this means if you have a morning appt, you'll need to get up in the middle of the night to start round two.  Schedule for noon or later if you want to give yourself the chance to sleep...in an adult diaper because at this point you are all liquid and should expect a potential leak.

Don't rest your hands/arms on your stomach at any time during the prep process.  This pushes anything inside... out.  Even if you just went.
A one bathroom household must yield all duties to the one with uncontrolled bowels.  If you're like us and have a one bathroom place, make it clear other members of the household are not to enter the bathroom for anything less than the nose cone of a bowel movement has breached the chamber or a very quick pee.  If TP gets to 1/4 of a roll, grab another in the name of preparedness.

It goes into the next day.  Also know that for some of you, it won't end with the prep.  When I was told they would "suction out any additional liquid" while they were in there, that didn't mean it was out of my system and hid in pockets of my colon.  I spent the rest of the night after a meal peeing yellow out my rump with the lovely addition of stomach acid from digestion.  If that doesn't make you slather your crack and hole with triple paste, nothing will.  Keep those gas x handy too.

I didn't tell you all of that to scare you, consuming the prep was nothing and that's the part I heard about the most.  I had two friends who had ZERO explosive 'rrhea like I did so it really is the roll of the dice how your system reacts.  One friend said she went to a restaurant after and was fine...I knew there was no way I could trust my system like that...and I was right.

Here's a list of what I consider absolute essentials to get through your prep as comfy as possible.  Between two of my good friends who had been through this before and the video, I'll give you a list of what I consider MUST haves for this process- a lot of it you probably already have on hand.

Laxative- It'll likely be on your prep list

Anti-Gas Medicine- You will NEED this and it will likely also be on your doc's prep list.

Zotz- For post-snaking gas which will be ungodly since they pump you full of air.  The baking soda center will give you immediate relief while waiting for GasX to kick in.  I didn't have these and I wished to God I did!

Ice Sheet- This was imperative to keep the prep as cold as possible.  Everyone says keep it ice cold to help with the taste and by the end of the 2 hours, it was as cold as when it was put on the sheet.  You will not have time to be running up and down the stairs or back and forth to the fridge to pour.

Crystal Light Lemonade Pitcher Packets- Even if your prep is flavored, it smells like where it's going through so trust me, this is a necessity!  One pitcher packet was all I needed.

Milkshake Straws- This enabled me to suck down an ounce per chug so it was very quick and felt like no big deal.  You might even get a little cocky until about the 6th or 7th serving.

Werther's Hard Candy (or any NON-RED/PURPLE hard candy of your choice)- don't chew it but you can suck on it to get the taste off of your tongue and to ensure you'll be able to drink lemonade (or whatever flavor you choose) again at some point in your life.

Altoids- When I felt the prep drop into the colon, I felt slight nausea and popping an Altoid gave almost immediate relief from the peppermint.

Your favorite hot tea- you may get cold drinking the prep.  Sipping on something hot a sip or two in between will stop that from happening.  I got cold afterward so it was nice to have on hand to warm my innards.

Chicken Broth- heat it up and see above.  Also, you're on a liquid diet the whole day so you'll need clear liquids.

Glacier Cherry Gatorade- They don't want you drinking ANYTHING red (or blue/purple depending on your gastro) so you can still get a cherry flavor without the color risk.

Adult Diapers- Not fun but when you're peeing out of your butt, risking that you'll have the sphincter control to stop that before making it to the bathroom is a gamble you don't want to take and Lord help you if you sneeze.

Water Wipes- Your butt is already going to be going through it, using a regular wipe with any trace of chemicals even if you run it under a faucet is not going to be fun for you.  These wipes are water and can be torn in half to double the usage.  These are not flushable!  Have a little zip top bag you keep in your bathroom trashcan to put the used wipes in and dispose of them properly.  

Trash bags-  Big ol' commercial ones.  Put one under your sheet in case you literally sh*t the bed during the night because again- liquid poo and one on the car seat for the drive to the docs because no one wants to clean that up should you need it.  Throw an old towel over your sheet too.

Triple Paste Rash Cream-  After your 10th trip in 2 hours, your crack will be ON FIRE.  Use this before for protection, before bed in between prep doses to soothe overnight and after it's over to speed healing.

Bidet- No, this isn't a necessity but we already had one due to the pandemic and it came in handy.  Overwiping no matter how soft the TP, can make you raw and you're in it for at least 2-3 days.  This one is cheap enough and can easily be uninstalled when you're done if you don't want a permanent bum gun at your disposal.

Swing back this week for the exciting conclusion of my colonoscopy and what song I sang with the nurse.

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  1. Seeing as how I have one of these coming up next month, I am glad you have detailed all of this out. Sorry you had to be the first one to go through it of course but you were such a trooper!

  2. I did mine last year and my husband, because of family history, did his 3rd one this year. We both did the Suprep to prepare. It was one bottle plus water for about 16 oz as the first drink followed by 2 more 16 oz of just water the night before. Then the morning of same thing. It was so much better than doing the jug according to my husband who did the jug the first 2 times. I remember his 2nd colonoscopy he could hardly finish and started gagging.

  3. I have mine scheduled for the end of January and all my prep stuff is the over the counter stuff, like they did the first time. At least this time I'm prepared for that horrendous pucker reflex with the magnesium citrate this time! So glad you had a good prep experience and it wasn't as bad as you thought. Not great feeling by any means, but overall not too bad. That is excellent for your first experience with it!

  4. We are very experienced here, one of my daughters (27) has had about a dozen related to a health issue. We do better with the gateraid and miralax prep set. Her doc runs two bags of IV fluid in during the procedure and recovery and that makes a world of difference. We also have to travel just over two hours for her procedure. Also highly recommend afternoon procedure time, as you said, regardless of travel.


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