Tips for a Colonoscopy & Prep
Alright babes, so you’ve got a colonoscopy scheduled? That’s exciting! Perhaps you’ll get more answers, perhaps you’ll receive good news? Either way, you will know more than before you had it!
The prep is the worst part, if you take the drugs/sedation during the procedure- highly recommended by the way, otherwise the procedure might be much worse than the prep and super painful. I used to be against all drugs, some of that was because I was all about being ‘au natural’, but the majority of it was because I was terrified of drugs, and the altered state they often induced. Yes, I was a bit of a control freak sometimes… for a multitude of reasons which I won’t go into right now.
So, I am gonna give you my best tips for getting a colonoscopy, because I have had 4 in the last 3 years, which makes me a bit of an expert. Although, it is important to add here that I have no medical certification and therefore am not giving any medical advice or anything like that.. These are simply what have worked for me and what I have told others to try. The other thing I’d like to add is that I have severe Crohn’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder of the digestive tract, so it may be that my prep was worse than others because I have a gut disease. I’ve had other people tell me the prep is totally no big deal, and if that is the case for you, I’m super happy for you, not sarcastically, and you may not need any of these tips anyway! But… just in case… here we go!
Firstly, I would recommend you stop eating nuts around a week before. These can clog the camera, and aren’t always easy to digest. I stopped eating them around 48hrs before my first one, then after that I stopped eating nuts around 2 weeks before the rest, just to be sure, if I was even eating nuts at the time (diet).
For my first two tests, I had to drink the gallon of ick, the second one was unsuccessful, so I drank SuPrep after that for the second two, which I preferred, those are two small bottles. I don’t know if you can request either, but if you have had one before, you probably can- and I much preferred the SuPrep.
For my first one, August 2016, I ate food right up until I wasn’t allowed to anymore. I hadn’t really ever fasted before, and quite frankly, I didn’t think I had a gut disease and thought it would come back inconclusive. My prep was pretty awful. I did drink bone broth throughout the day and ate Jello which was nice and I recommend that all the time!
When I had to drink the awful gallon of stuff, I put Crystal Light in it, which they recommended. This did help to get it down, I would recommend that too, but didn’t end up doing that for any of the following 3.
Another tip for drinking the ick- DRINK IT THROUGH A STRAW and CHUG IT DOWN!
Just gulp it down the best you can, wait the allotted time and gulp it down again. Make sure you’re drinking water in between, this is super important! You need to stay hydrated because you’re about to poop A LOT.
DRINK TONS OF WATER! STAY HYDRATED! Drink the amount the doctor recommends, NO LESS!
Okay, let's talk about chicken broth and bone broth. I definitely recommend this too. I crave the salt when I’m drinking all the water, tea etc. Salty broth is nice and warm and delicious. Sip it out of a mug, or even use a little spoon to trick yourself into thinking its soup. I don’t have a brand to suggest, I like chicken bouillon. Now, one nurse did tell me before my last colonoscopy that bone broth wasn’t allowed and only bouillon on chicken broth was allowed, something about the fat or something. But, I have never heard that before, so I would suggest researching that or asking your doctor because I’m not sure about that.
I love to sip on chicken broth throughout the day, but usually when I start drinking the prep I don’t want to drink anything else besides water.
JELLO! Let’s talk about Jello! You are only allowed to eat the green or blue jello, which are totally not my favorites, but oh well. It’s nice to have something cold in your mouth and to have some kind of a texture and feel mildly like you’re eating something. So I definitely recommend jello. It’s great for eating throughout the day and also great as a chaser for the icky drink. I usually eat one or two tubs during the day and then a spoonful or so after chugging the laxative ick. I don’t eat Jello any other time, ever, but it's great stuff for your prep!
Werther’s Originals and LifeSavers. AKA: hard candies to suck on. Remember you can’t have anything with a red, orange, purple or pink color, so don’t go getting a bunch of jolly ranchers, you’ll only be able to eat the green and yellow ones! But, I have to say, that sucking on stuff is super helpful too. I like the caramels to keep my mouth occupied and get rid of the other ick flavors I’m sick of that day. And peppermint LifeSavers are nice for soothing my nausea. So, go for all that for sure!
Sprite, Ginger Ale or other clear soda. I NEVER drink soda anymore, my tummy totally can’t handle it with my Crohn’s and I haven’t drank soda in years. But! I do get a bottle of Sprite when I’m gonna be prepping! It’s great as a chaser for the ick laxative drink, and it’s just nice to have during the day when you’re sick of water and broth. So a little Sprite can be nice, or ginger ale! But you do you, if soda isn’t your jam, avoid this!
I also looove TEA! But, you need to stick to clear herbal teas really, or perhaps a little green tea. I like lemon ginger tea with a dash of honey. Or there’s a wellness tea at Starbucks which is nice too if you feel like going out and getting yourself a treat! It’s lemonade and their wellness tea or comfort tea, a green tea and peach tea combo. Delish! And a totally worth it treat for your prep day!
Now, I would like to add here that for last prep I did, just a couple of months ago, January 2020, I fasted for an extra day beforehand because I really hadn’t been feeling very well going into the whole thing and was dreading my procedure and ther prep. So, I ended up fasting for a total of 42 hours by the time I had my colonoscopy and my prep was the easiest one of all 4. So I will definitely do that for my next one again. I don’t necessarily advise this because it may not be necessary for you to do so and you may not feel as energized with going that long without any food, and will likely have a headache. I also practice intermittent fasting, so to go a while without eating wasn’t too bad for me. To be honest, I was quite surprised at how easy it was for me to go that long without eating. I made sure to stay really hydrated and I took it easy. So, you know your body and you know if that is the right thing for you to fast beforehand… as I said, it was the right thing for me and what I will do for the future moving forward.
Alrighty, let's talk about the poop part shall we?
GET DIAPER RASH CREAM and WET WIPES! Again, if you don’t have a gut issue, the whole prep may be easier for you, but better safe than sorry and you can always do with some diaper rash cream and wet wipes on hand, why not, right?
You end up pooping so much, and have to wipe so often that your little bum is gonna get quite raw. Not fun. It will be so raw that even touching toilet paper to it will hurt, let alone a wiping motion. You are supposed to drink the prep until you are passing clear, non-sedimented liquid out of your bum, basically like you’re peeing clear out of your bum. So, if you ate a lot before you started prepping, you’re probably gonna have a lot to get rid of. And even if you didn’t, the intestines hold on to a lot of waste, you’ll be surprised how much is going to come out of you. But remember how good it’s going to feel to be all cleaned out!!! It’s gonna be great, a blank canvas if you will.
So, keep your diaper rash cream and wipes handy.
BE CLOSE TO A BATHROOM. This should go without saying, but for reals. There might be times that you literally barely make it to the bathroom, so be ready. Be ready to spend a lot of time in there and for your legs to fall asleep because of leaning on your tights. In fact, I suggest you don’t put your elbows on your thighs as much as possible, coz you’re gonna be there so much and it's miserable to feel your legs asleep all the time.
Take your phone with you to the bathroom maybe. Watch Netflix, listen to podcasts, a great one is The Real Life Show: Living with a Chronic Illness by the way! Or just listen to music and scroll the Instagrams, that’s my fave thing to do. It’s the best way to distract me when I’m spending around 6hrs on the toilet.
Again- I have Crohn’s and this has been my experience. I have heard from friends that their experiences weren’t that bad, so it might be like a couple of accumulative hours for you and not so bad!
HYDRATE and REST. When you start all the pooping stuff, make sure you are staying hydrated and drinking lots of water, and maybe lie down in between when you can to let your body rest. It’s hard to poop so much and empty your system and your body needs the rest.
The day of your procedure, you’ll want your bff or spouse or family member with you to keep you company beforehand and of course to drive you to and from the appointment. I had wonderful friends take me to all 4 of mine and they were fun and supportive and caring! Thanks you lovely ladies! Plan your after colonoscopy meal, what will you choose? Sandwiches? Pancakes? Pasta? Remember that you have a blank canvas of a colon, so don’t choose crap. You have just put your body through some tough stuff and you need to be kind to it for the rest of the day and maybe a few days after!
You also want to have someone with you for right after when the doctor comes in to tell you how it went because it's likely you won't remember the details! So ask your buddy to listen in and ask questions! If you have concerns, maybe write them down beforehand so your dear friend can ask them for you and get answers!
For your procedure, I have had both Fentanyl and Propofol. Fentanyl for the first two and Propofol for the second two. As I said, I was nervous about both but the nerves were totally unnecessary and I loved both drugs and it was great for me.
During my second procedure, June 2017, I was coming out of a small bowel obstruction and had been on a lot of Fentanyl for that for a week before. My tolerance had built up and I metabolized it too quickly, and the procedure was actually very painful for me and I remember a lot of it. That was miserable and awful. They recommended Propofol sedation after that and the last two were great, I don’t remember a thing and no pain at all. So talk to your doctor about the right options for you and just enjoy the nap. I'm sure it's all going to be okay and run smoothly!
I felt pretty good after my procedures, a bit of cramping and exhaustion, headache but overall not too bad. I did have cramping for around a week after my last one, which was an endoscopy as well, but that was unusual for me. Call your doctor for anything odd or unusual!! They do these procedures all the time, and you need to stand up for yourself and take care of yourself!
Oh, and it’s good not to be alone for a while after too… They say the medications can take a while to wear off, which is true. So it’s best to have someone with you for most of the day/evening just to help you out and make sure you don’t leave the stove on or the water running, things like that!
Okay, I think that’s everything. I hope your procedure is an alright experience for you and make sure that you remember how many answers you’ll get from this and how worth it all of this will be!
And as always, reach out to me on social media for questions or support or both!