I had a colonoscopy recently. Who wants to hear about this medical procedure? Probably no one, right? Right. So… I’ve written this blog for anyone having the procedure, letting patient’s know what to expect, hoping my medical journey can help others.
A colonoscopy can save lives by screening for colon cancer. It may have saved my life. Read on to discover why.
At my yearly medical appointment, my GP shared that I was of that age where screening for cancer of the colon was important. I remember not being overly impressed, immediately thinking of my personals. But my doctor filled out the necessary paperwork, telling me not to worry, it might take two years for the appointment to come. Oh joy, six months later…
My journey begins with a preliminary appointment to explain such things as the reasons for having a colonoscopy, the diet prior to the procedure, the prep the day before, and finally the day of the colonoscopy. If you’re not scared away at this point, you’ll discuss any medical concerns with a nurse, and then you’ll book the procedure.
Four days Before
Four days before the colonoscopy, you’ll begin a low-fiber diet. This was no great difficulty. The purpose is to eat foods that will not bulk or linger inside the colon as some foods, such as seeds or nuts, can get trapped in the lining of the colon making it more difficult for the doctor to see any issues. Among other things, the doctor is searching for polyps, small growths that can lead to cancer, so removing these little demons is important. Eating a low-fiber diet was the easy part. I’ve included the following image, borrowed from www.YouandColonoscopy.com.
Preparation for the colonoscopy begins the day before the procedure with a light breakfast. I had a plain bagel and yogurt without fruit.
- OK to drink? Fluids such as Gatorade or Powerade, coconut water, apple juice, white grape juice, white cranberry juice, Kool-Aid, Iced Tea, Lemonade, Ginger Ale, 7-Up, Sprite, Jell-O, Popsicles, Tea and Coffee, and clear broths.
- Avoid fluids red in color (can stain the colon), pulp, juice with pulp (pulp can coat or hide inside the colon), orange juice, milk or milk substitutes (dairy can coat the colon).
This was a tough day. My advice? Drink fluids you really enjoy. Buy a Slurpee! Don’t worry about the sugar content as you’ll need this energy. I drank a combination of water, white grape juice, clear broths, and Ginger Ale. Ginger Ale was my friend. This fluid got me through! I wish I’d had the Slurpee!
At 8:00 pm, the worst began. I drank eight, 8-ounce glasses of Colyte through a straw. You really want the straw to avoid liquid contact with your tongue. Within two hours, I drank the liquid, but by the last glass, I barely tolerated the taste. My son had warned me that the ‘taste’ was horrible. The first glass wasn’t terrible, but after consuming eight glasses, I was really aware that something chemical was entering my stomach. The purpose? The Colyte assists in drawing liquid into the colon, permitting the body to flush waste from the colon. This is an important factor so the colon’s lining will be clean. Stay at home. Within an hour or so, you’ll be in the bathroom frequently. You might also feel cold from drinking so much liquid. Wrap up in a blanket. Have a bath. Stay warm.
Day of Colonoscopy
My appointment time was at 1:00 pm. Five hours before the procedure, I had to drink eight more glasses of Colyte. Ugg… I awoke with a headache. I tolerated the first glass, but as I didn’t feel well, I had a few sips of Gatorade. This might have been a fatal mistake. (If I was ever to do this again, I wouldn’t drink any other fluids while drinking the Colyte.) Because… fifteen minutes later, I drank my second glass of Colyte. After which, I immediately vomited. I took Gravol to try to calm my stomach before attempting the third glass. Didn’t work, lost that too. I called the CCS Centre for help and they recommended trying the oral purgative PICO-SALAX. Long story short, didn’t go well. Laying in bed, I really worried that I’d not be able to have the colonoscopy, after all the Colyte hell! But if you can get through the first eight glasses, you should be okay to have the procedure because what I didn’t know is that the doctor can flush ‘light matter’ from the colon while he/she is working. So if this happens to you, don’t fret. You’re likely able to proceed with the colonoscopy.
It’s what I’d been dreading for weeks. Don’t worry, it’s not so bad. Accept the sedation. It assisted in calming my anxiety and likely pain levels too. You might experience cramping as your colon is filled with air, or as the camera travels through the colon. I felt some discomfort, but honestly, I became more drawn to the television capturing the visual drama of my colon. (Oh my God) I felt some pinching as the doc removed ‘four polyps!’
The purpose of having a colonoscopy is to check for such things as inflammation, ulcers, or to remove polyps found in the lining of the colon. Polyps can live harmlessly inside the colon, but they can also become cancerous, turning into tumors. Removing them removes the possibility of coping with a worse issue⏤colon cancer⏤so for me… very worth the procedure. It was over in about twenty minutes.
After the Procedure
After the procedure, go home and rest. You might be sore. Not down there exactly, but beneath your ribcage where your colon lies. If needed, Tylenol is an acceptable drug for pain relief. My son overdosed me with two 500 mg pills. (LOL) I had a fabulous sleep and didn’t suffer any lasting effects! I say this with humor as he really meant to take care of his mom. And the best news, you can begin a regular diet again. Having had a stressful day, I ate lightly, but I enjoyed the treats my son gave me after. Red Licorice and chocolate. (My son has ulcerative colitis and has had his colon removed, so he really understands issues and procedures involving the colon.)
I’m glad I had the procedure. I know my colon is healthier, having had four polyps removed. What more can be said? Sometimes to have a healthier life one must brave unpleasant medical procedures. Would I have it again? “Colyte,” Shelley says with a grimace, “probably.” This elixir was the worst part for me. Knowing my colon is free of polyps that could potentially cause cancer will help me sleep easier at night.
Now, I think I’ll get back to doing what I do best, writing books!