How This Wimp Survived Her First Colonoscopy!
First of all, I know this blog is normally about music, food, wine and travel. Talking about a colonoscopy definitely does not fit into one of those categories. But, this blog is also about sharing my tips and tricks with you about life in general. And boy do I have some tips and tricks for you on this topic!
So, I am a total wimp when it comes to anything medical related. The thought of having a serious medical issue that would require treatment makes me nauseous. I can't look when they draw blood from me. My blood pressure goes through the roof as soon as I walk in a doctor's office.
I also have anxiety. While I've never been officially diagnosed and it's normally completely manageable with no medication, there's no question it rears its ugly head from time to time. One of the things that you do when you have anxiety, is you blow things way out of proportion. You start thinking and worrying about something and can't let it go. Well, welcome to my world for the last 4 months since I scheduled the appointment for my first colonoscopy!
On top of all this, I have never once heard a person say... "Oh, I've had a colonoscopy and it wasn't bad at all". Instead, people usually refer to the prep day as one of the worst days of their life. Needless to say, on a scale of 1 to 10, my anxiety about the whole thing was a 20!
Now that it's over, however, I can honestly say that it wasn't that bad. Maybe my point of reference is off, because I had built it up to be so horrible in my head that reality wasn't as bad as I imagined it to be. Or maybe it's some of the tips that others had given me, and I want to pass on to you in turn.
If a colonoscopy is in your future, keep reading for the play by play of my experience, as well as some tips and tricks I learned along the way!
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I'm going to walk you through a timeline of how the whole process worked for me. Please note that my experience could be completely different than yours. One of the things I learned from talking to others, is that even the prep your doctor prescribes can vary. IT IS IMPORTANT TO FOLLOW THE PREP INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO YOU EXACTLY!
ONE DAY PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE: For the entire day prior to the procedure, I had to be on a clear liquid diet. That means that the last solid food I had was Monday evening (my procedure was Wednesday morning). The only things I had on Tuesday during the day were tea, coffee, chicken broth, water and Gatorade.
2 P.M. THE DAY PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE: The prep began with taking 2 non-prescription Dulcolax (Bisacodyl) tablets. I took the tablets and really didn't notice anything at all after taking them. I continued to drink lots of water.
4 P.M. THE DAY PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE: The prep continues with the Miralax mixture. I had to take an entire 238 gram bottle of Miralax and mix it with a 1/2 gallon of liquid. In my case, I mixed it with Gatorade. The Miralax was not flavored, so the mixture just tasted like Gatorade. I was told to drink 8 oz of the mixture at a time, every 15-20 minutes. So, it took me about 2 hours to finish it all.
4:30 P.M. THE DAY PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE: By around 4:30, I could start to hear and feel some gurgling in my stomach and things started flowing. This is going to be a bit graphic, but be prepared - it's basically going to be nothing but liquid coming out for the next several hours. For about the next 2 hours, I was making a trip to the bathroom about every 15 or 20 minutes. I never had stomach cramps or felt uncomfortable.
6 P.M. THE DAY PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE: I had to take 2 more of the Dulcolax tablets. By this point, I felt like I was pretty flushed out. The prep instructions told me what to look for and I was there. Keep in mind that you've just ingested a whole bunch of liquid that has to come out. Throughout the course of the evening, I was hitting the bathroom once an hour or so.
OVERNIGHT THE NIGHT PRIOR TO THE PROCEDURE: I actually slept pretty well through the night. I got up once at 2 a.m. for a bathroom run, but that was it. I was not allowed any food or drink - not even water - after midnight.
THE DAY OF THE PROCEDURE: I had to arrive at 7 a.m. After filling out paperwork, a nurse took me back and got me situated in a gown and a bed. She put in an IV (which honestly was the worst part of the whole process) and took all of my information. I laid there for about 30 minutes before they wheeled me back into the procedure room. They hooked me up to a heart monitor and gave me some oxygen. I had to lay on my left side. Within seconds after they started giving me the meds, I was out. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room and they were giving me my results and instructions for going home. I honestly felt completely like myself immediately - no grogginess at all.
TIPS AND TRICKS
I got a lot of great advice from friends and the nurses on what to do and not do. I hope these help you!
Tip #1: You are going to be tempted to eat a huge meal for your "last meal" before the procedure. Don't do it. As the nurse said to me, whatever you put into your body the night before, has to come out during your prep day. Eating a lot the night before is not going to help your hunger pains, but it will make your prep a lot more uncomfortable.
Tip #2: In general, pay attention to your food intake for a couple of days before. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and other foods that are good for your digestive system.
Tip #3: On prep day, drink a LOT of water. I always drink a lot of water, but I probably doubled my intake on prep day. It was to the point that I was having to go to the bathroom more because of my bladder than my colon. But staying hydrated is super important. Several people suggested having some type of bone broth. I did the chicken broth. I can't tell you whether it helped the process or not, but it really didn't help curb my hunger.
Tip #4: Set up an area for yourself during prep that is close to the bathroom. Our master bathroom actually has a toilet room separate from the rest of the bathroom, so I set up my prep mixture in the sink area so I could move quickly back and forth as needed.
Tip #5: After the procedure, drink a lot of water again. Since you can't drink anything after midnight the day before, you are going to be a bit dehydrated after the procedure. The first thing I asked for when I woke up was water and I kept drinking lots of it all day.
Tip #6: Ease your way back into food after the procedure. While I felt great, my stomach definitely did some churning every time I ate something for a day or so. Don't expect everything to go back to normal right away. Stuffing yourself with a huge meal is probably not the greatest idea right after the colonoscopy.
So, that's my experience with my first colonoscopy. And while it's not something I would want to go through on a regular basis, it really wasn't a big deal at all. When you consider how important the test is for your health, it's 24 hours of your life that really isn't that bad. So schedule that test if you are 45 or older, or your doctor has recommended one for you. If I can do it, so can you!
Have you had a colonoscopy? Do you have any tips to share that I might have missed? I'd love to hear about your experience! Share it with us by commenting below or contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!
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