As tests go, the colonoscopy is one of the least pleasant to consider so I was definitely less than pleased when I was referred for one. I put the gastro office off initially when they tried to schedule me during my vacation but there was no escaping it forever. I dutifully picked up the prep meds at the pharmacy before I left for the summer, promptly stashing them and the myriad instruction sheets from the doctor in a cupboard, thinking "out of sight, out of mind." Of course, we all know it doesn't work like that, especially when you are an habitual oversharer like me, so I started telling people that I had to have this done. This garnered a lot of sympathy and some advice from friends who have already been there and done that, sometimes several times. And it was good advice. (Which I will share. Just hold your horses a bit.)
Because of when the test was scheduled, we had to come home from vacation a little early. We also had to come home for dance tryouts and soccer preseason, but the kids are full on blaming my butt for cutting our time at the cottage short, not that I blame them. If I was them, I'd blame my butt too. After all, since they have my genetic history but enhanced with anything their father brings to the table, they'll get to face this particular medical joy early one day too. (And before you suggest that perhaps I shouldn't have reproduced either, I have to plead ignorance of the full extent of bad DNA until after the beasts were already around and it was too late to take my own advice.) So we came home earlier than any of us would have wanted so that I had a few days before the procedure to ease us back into regular life. Turns out it's a good thing we did too.
My lovely husband had cleaned out the refrigerator while we were gone so it was extra empty when we got back from almost a month away. So I did what any
But if I thought the flavor deprivation and then avoidance of all solid food was the low point, I was very much mistaken. And this is what people mean when they tell you, with a twisted evil grin on their faces, that "the prep is the worst part." Yes, the hunger from not being able to eat (everyone, not just my Gestapo doctor, has the clear liquid diet the day before) is annoying but the bottle of Suprep is NASTY and there's no getting around it. Even diluted with water, it is beyond disgusting tasting. Who knew my sick chugging skills would come in handy here. When I was a small thing, I learned to put yucky to me food I didn't want to chew in my mouth and then swallow it down whole accompanied by my entire glass of milk or water. This same skill came in handy in college and impressed my now husband (probably why he married me really). And now it helped me get the gross meds down in one long gulp. Following said prep meds with another 32 oz. of water within an hour was not too hard but my stomach did end up so distended it looked as if someone had poked me with a pin, I might have gone off like a sprinkler. So then the fun started. I had taken one of my smart, experienced friends' advice and silly though it seemed, I lubed my bottom up with Aquaphor before drinking anything. (If you don't know Aquaphor, you should. It is absolutely the best for diaper rash, runner's rash, chapped lips, and also apparently keeping your butt safe during colonoscopy prep.)
I don't know if there's an estimated average time before the prep stuff starts working but let me tell you, from the minute you finish that bottle and the necessary water, you know it's only a matter of time before you move into the bathroom permanently. If you're smart, you've not only prepared your bottom, you've checked to see the toilet paper situation in any bathroom within range and added another roll and you've told you family that one bathroom in particular (whichever one is closest to your body after drinking the prep) is yours and yours only for the next 12 hours or so. Plus, no matter how much toilet paper you think you'll end up using, you should double the estimate and stock "your" bathroom accordingly. Finally, after you finish drinking the prep, do not fart. Really. Let me repeat that. DO NOT FART. Under any circumstances. Just trust me on this one. Once the deluge from your butt starts, hopefully not until after loud rumbling warnings from your soon to be beleaguered intestines, you can carry on with normal activities as long as they occur not more than a foot and a half from the toilet and you are wearing elastic waisted pants (or have given up and permanently unbuttoned the non elastic waisted). When you feel the first urge to go, you will then have approximately 3 nanoseconds to plant yourself safely on the commode, hence the elastic advice.
If you have been smart and followed the awesome advice to goop up your nether regions, you will have as pleasant an experience as you can when you are cleaning yourself off. But be warned that once the glop is gone, it will feel like your butt has started moonlighting as a flame thrower and you're pretty certain that the pure acid shooting out of your anus is melting not only your internal pipes but the actual sewer pipes as well. So like with sunscreen, my best advice is to reapply, reapply, reapply. This constant stream of molten lava exiting your body and searing the skin off your hiney is exactly what people mean when they say that the prep is "unpleasant," and that description is the world's most understated euphemism ever. But if you get really lucky like me, you'll eventually feel like you've cleaned out anything that ever thought of sticking around in your colon all the way back to newborn meconium and you'll head to bed to try and get a little sleep. And this is fine but you're not done. Oh no. Not even close.
When you get up to take round two of the vile meds, hit the bathroom first and try to clear out anything that might otherwise leak out when your innards clench in protest as you chug down the next set of nasty. At this point my experience veers wildly from everyone else I talked to (except my mom) so maybe you won't be so blessed (either that or no one wants to admit to this added awfulness). I needed to get another 32 ounces of water down on top of the meds within the hour again but I could only choke down 16 before I felt wretchedly horrible. I laid down to try and ignore the rising nausea. Then I sat up to try and make it better. Then I stood up and paced, actually praying to keep the meds down. No dice. 45 minutes into the second set of prep meds found me sitting on the toilet, jammies around my ankles, heaving 16 ounces of meds and 16 ounces of water into the trash can on my lap. If that's not a party, I don't know what is! I did eventually stop vomiting and after sipping the remaining 16 ounces of water, crawled back to bed for an unhappy couple of hours. When the alarm went off to get up, I had to dash to the bathroom, first to throw up again, then to torture my poor acid burned bum again, and finally to enjoy a few last dry heaves.
And then we were off to the doctor. I had to keep my eyes closed most of the way there and I wanted to complain bitterly about all the bumping around the car was doing but was too busy trying not to get sick to say anything. Incidentally, very similar to how I felt during the drive to the hospital when I was in labor with my oldest so long ago. Not that I'm comparing my oldest to a colonoscopy or anything, but he is a teenager, so... Anyway, as every tells you, the procedure itself is a piece of cake. The last thing I remember before waking up in recovery (after complaining that the anesthesia being pushed into my IV was burning down my arm) is the nurse anesthetist asking me if I was starting to feel sleepy. And I got lucky and everything was normal so I don't have to revisit this fun house adventure for another 5 years.
Now, ghastly as this might read, here's my PSA for the day: do it anyway. If you are of an age or have a family history, endure it and get it done. It's really no worse than raising a teenager, in the long run. ;-) And it can save your life and prevent you from developing a terrible cancer, which teenagers can't do. As Nike always says, Just Do It.