When I first wrote this post, I had just experienced my first colonoscopy. I’m a romance author and I least expected that “The dreaded Colonoscopy” would be the most viewed and most read blog post. I’ve since experienced my second colonoscopy. I’ve revised the information somewhat for anyone having the procedure, to let patient’s know what to expect, hoping my medical journey may 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. At that medical appointment 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…and now again in 2022.
My journey began 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. (Do not add milk/cream/soy milk/almond milk, etc. to your hot drink.)
- 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, Jell-O and Ginger Ale. Ginger Ale was my friend. This fluid got me through!
Note: I drank similar fluids for the second colonoscopy, drinking lots of pop. I didn’t feel hungry.
At 8:00 pm, the worst began. I drank eight, 8-ounce glasses of Colyte through a straw. You 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.
Note: For the second colonoscopy, I knew I could not manage the Colyte, so my preparation changed to a product called PICO-SALAX. At 8:00 pm, I mixed one package of powder into an eight ounce glass of water, stirred well and drank. This was followed by eight glasses of water, drinking every 15 minutes or so. I highly recommend taking PICO-SALAX. It was much easier to consume.
Day of Colonoscopy
My appointment time was at 1:00 pm. Five hours before the procedure, I drank eight more glasses of Colyte. 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 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. I 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 worry. You’re likely able to proceed with the colonoscopy.
Note: After recently having a second colonoscopy, just use PICO-SALAX from the start. I had no issues this time and me and my colon were ready for the procedure.
Don’t worry, having a colonoscopy is not terrible. 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!) I felt some pinching as the doc removed ‘four polyps!’
Note: For the second procedure, one polyp was removed.
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…the procedure was worth the discomfort…both times! 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, twice. I know my colon is healthier, having had four (plus one) polyps removed. What more can be said? Sometimes to have a healthier life one must brave unpleasant medical procedures. Would I have it again? Probably. But 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! I really hope this blog post has helped you!