What I did Yesterday — Besides Having a #Colonoscopy

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Colonoscopy – An ugly word, with fearful connotations.

 

Yesterday I went for my overdue colonoscopy appointment. When I say overdue, I mean that it’s been three and a half years since my last one, and consequently, that was my first one.

 

After having my first one and enduring the awful, but not most awful of all the preps, I was lectured then by the gastroenterologist because I didn’t take the prep she instructed me to take, and my colon wasn’t 100% clear. Although, she had told me it was clear enough to see, and that I was fine. I was elated to hear the good news. But she also informed me that because I have Crohn’s disease, I should be having an annual colonoscopy.

 

I pleaded my case to her that my Crohn’s is holistically under control, I eat a healthy diet, and being that I had a clean bill of health from her, could she please let me do it every three years. Thankfully I won my plea, and she conceded.

So last fall, I was to have my three-year scope, but life was happening for me in full force, one crisis led to another, and the winter had passed in 2015. My doctor’s referral for this scope was to end by May, so I booked the appointment, and yesterday was the day.

Now, let me preface this by saying, the procedure itself is really no big deal, honestly! I mean, I go to this lovely digestive clinic where everyone is treated so well by lovely nurses, they put you in what looks like a small hospital ward, each with his own private curtain and gurney, and eventually you are wheeled into the small operating room, asked to verify some questions we previously filled out on the forms, and wham, we’re put under with anaesthetic. Just the way I like it!

 

But heaven help us all, that preparation the day before to cleanse the colon is the most vile, disgusting, nauseating, ass-burning day to endure. (I probably could have used more adverbs here!)

Getting back to the prep, after my first colonoscopy, I was reprimanded for taking something other than what was prescribed. The doctor didn’t feel that the prep I used (Citromag), was effective enough to empty the colon. I had researched something easier than what she had prescribed to ingest. All the preps are disgusting enough as is, and I am the sort of person who gags from a teaspoon of cough medicine. I also have a very slow digestive transit time, thus I get full very quickly, food and liquids hang around my upper stomach much longer than the average person’s.

 

The difference between taking Citromag and the many other formulas, is that you only have to drink two – 300 ml. bottles of gross stuff, chased down intermittently with 64 ounces of water throughout the day. This is a cakewalk compared to drinking 4 LITRES of other gross stuff mixed in with the water!

 

Now I cannot even conceive the thought of drinking 16 GLASSES of  liquid in a few hours span, even if it were my favourite drink, let alone with the vile taste and consistency. So, once again, I drank the Citromag and gagged from the briney/sugary mixture of fake lemonade, but held it down.

 

It took almost 5 HOURS until anything started to happen, other than the huge hard feeling and distention of my stomach, and nausea. Even after the rumbling urges came, they weren’t of much substance other than many Niagara Falls- like liquid showers. I was bloated, tired, starving — I was sure this prep was not going to be effective. I wasn’t wrong!

 

 

After I had the procedure done, and the doctor called me in for consult, I was informed that I wasn’t properly cleaned out, and I had to admit my crime of not taking her prescribed method of choice. The doctor then added that from the parts she could see through, she had found, removed, and sent for biopsy, two polyps. Just as I was processing the fears that came attached to this news, she then added that I was to come back in 2 MONTHS to do it all over again to be sure there was nothing else she missed. I immediately froze in fear. I knew my charade of switching preps was no longer effective for my lazy colon, and I didn’t have three years to put it on the back burner.

 

I began to panic with worry about my biopsy results, and what on earth was I going to have to drink, worse than what I had already ingested.

 

I returned home around noon and made myself a piece of toast and an egg. Surprisingly, after 36 hours without food and starving, I no longer felt hungry. My husband went back to work and I got on the computer to catch up with emails and intentions of doing revisions on my next book. But the looming fear within me about having another colonoscopy wouldn’t allow me to concentrate on anything other than searching for a potion that I could possibly tolerate for ROUND 2.

I checked my emails then went directly to Google. I typed in numerous search words with the names of each prep available here in Canada and the U.S. And then I went on forums to read about other people’s experiences with different potions, and read about their stories and success rates. I was obsessed and engulfed in the stories and blogs I read. There were moments I laughed so hard at some descriptions, and I could barely breathe as I pictured them.

 

Many offered tips and tricks about how to get through the dreaded prep process. The most repetitive information I read was to stay close to the loo, (I know that) have baby wipes handy to ease the soreness down below from the acidic explosions, and to use baby zinc cream to comfort and protect the delicate area below from the sting. But when I read about some various methods used to ingest the vile and copious amounts of liquid, I couldn’t stop laughing.

One girl advised to cover your nose with a Bounce dryer sheet as you gulped, to avoid the smell, which enhances the flavour. Many advised to drink from a straw and to make sure it’s placed at the back of the tongue to avoid the front palate where most of the taste buds are located. Others had their own rendition of avoiding to taste, admitting there was no way to fully mask it. But the most hysterical description I read was from a boy who was trying to describe what his prep tasted like. He said, “Imagine a hockey team’s socks soaking in a tub overnight, and then drinking the water.” I gagged at reading it, as well as doubled over in laughter. Another said that he sat on the throne so long that his foot fell asleep and he didn’t know it until he got up and his foot turned over and he sprained his ankle.

 

I processed so much information, that before I knew it, I had been sitting at the computer for 6 HOURS! It was 8PM and I had yet to eat dinner. My work day had vanished while it was spent investigating ways I could get through the next scope.

It really is a procedure feared by the masses. The actual procedure is nothing, like I mentioned, but that prep day is the horrific part that keeps people from having the procedure done.

Yes I’m nerved out about doing a repeat and then having scopes annually after, but I have to do it. These polyps they find are a precursor to colon cancer. And after losing a grandfather to colon cancer, an aunt to pancreatic cancer, a cousin to colon cancer (from Crohn’s disease), and another aunt on her way now to the next world from stomach cancer, I have no choice.

I know I had a hard enough time taking the Citromag and litres of fresh water. I don’t know how I’ll be able to chug 4 LITRES of mixed prep with my gag reflex, but I know I have to start summoning up my courage NOW.

If any of you have any handy tricks or tips to help, I’d sure like to hear about them.

DGKaye©2015

D.G. Kaye

DGKayewriter.com Copyright 2017

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46 Comments

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  1. No tips, but you have my sympathy. I only have to do this every ten years. I would go crazy doing this every three. I think there are some other preps that taste OK (to me) but I can’t remember the name. But then it’s not the taste but the results that are hard to take. No Crohn’s or colon cancer in my family history; my family history is prostate cancer. So I and my doctor agree, I WILL keep taking that PSA test every year despite the advice to stop.

    1. Thanks for your feedback John. It’s seems everyone has a dose of a poison. Good you are keeping check on your PSA. My husband just thankfully recovered from stage 4 prostrate cancer a few years ago. It was rough. 🙂

  2. I hesitated to click “Like” – given the ordeal you went through yesterday. I’m 63 and have never had a colonoscopy because every time I did the prep I ended up throwing up – first time carted to the hospital in an ambulance. The second time I took myself there. In the misery of the hours of trying to keep the stuff down, nothing ever did happen the way it was supposed to. The process damaged my esophagus and I ended up in the ER twice more before I figured out what was happening. Two years of Prilosec and time has healed it 90%. I’m not anxious to revisit the process. I’m pretty sure that I should be in there getting it done, but I’m stymied by the prep process. My mother lived to be 97 and never did have one. I’ve heard of people taking 3 days to clear their systems in lieu of the difficult preps. Part of my problem, at least at that time, was dehydraton. Many medications cause this and it goes undetected. I didn’t have the fluid in my system to help the stuff work. All this being said, your courage has given me a kick in the butt. It’s time for me to suck it up and join you in your journey to health. If it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger, right? 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing your honesty here Dorothy. It seems nobody has a great story to tell when it comes to this awful prep. Of course this crap can’t be good for us, especially those of us who suffer digestive ailments to begin with. But what’s the alternative when one is surrounded by cancer and suffers a bowel disease already? I have no alternative but to comply because I’ve seen to much and fear the dreaded disease. Surely, I tell myself, sucking this crap back is better than the alternative. I shall keep drilling that in my head for now. They do emphasize that you must drink litres of water. I too don’t eat or drink enough. I’m sure this is why my test half failed. This time round, I’m going to start chugging water a lot more days before. As for the prep, it remains to be seen which one I will attempt. I will definitely be posting an update when the evil deed is done. 🙂

  3. Oh poor you.. I personally have not gone through this.. But my husband has twice.. And He would agree with you about the drinking of the horrid stuff to cleanse your bowls..
    Good to know though Deb all is well..

    He followed the instructions to the letter and was squeaky clean for the Camera!! 🙂 And enjoyed watching the journey around his insides.. Doubt I could be as brave.. Thoughts your way for the next time… Big Hugs. xxx

    1. Thanks Sue. I believe I shall become a nervous wreck come July! My husband takes that stuff like a trooper. He has to have a scope done every two years because he is prone to polyps. He’ll tell anyone that if he hadn’t been going for it for years, he wouldn’t be here today. Something to keep thinking about for me. 🙂 xo

      1. Yes it is Deb, so keep that thought of his.. xxx <3

  4. As you imply, the prep is the ugliest. When I had my colonoscopy 4 years ago, I spent the day before the procedure painting the back of my china cabinet blue. I won’t say the hours just sped by, but it ate up some time waiting for “results,” if you know what I mean. 😉

    1. Thanks for sharing Marian. I spent the day (intermittently ;)) at my computer.

  5. Deb dearest, I did hesitate to click on “like” after I’ve read your medical report… we say in French: it’s NOT a pleasure party, but if you need it, just do it! Hopefully we live in France and Canada, where we are well followed – medically speaking…
    * * *
    my very best, try to stay positive and optimistic… have a serene weekend! 🙂

    1. Lol, thanks Melanie. You weren’t the only one who commented about hitting like; it’s sort of an oxymoron. 🙂 Well, ‘like’ is for the post, not the subject. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration. <3

  6. Oh, Debby, your post is so thorough and in spite of the unpleasant subject you have the talent of making it into an enjoyable read. Wouldn’t a bottle of prune juice be just as effective?

    1. Lol, Carol you crack me up! Oh how I wish it is was simple as prune juice. (Which by the way has no real effect on me.) 🙂

  7. Ugh!!! I just had my 4th. Each time I say never again, but then it’s over and, like having a baby, I forget…the prep is a killer for all! I have to take anti nausea pills beginning the day before or I can’t get through it. But, it can save our lives so we must do it!

    1. Oh thanks for sharing that Mandy. I had read that we can take anti nausea pills like gravol. My concern is that gravol knocks me out, lol. The dilemma is twofold, passed out and not continuing to drink, or passed out and missed the loo. Scary alternatives. Or, I suppose I could just set up shop in the bathroom and get comfortable, lol. (Like the photo I posted). <3

      1. The anti nausea med I took didn’t make me tired at all, Debby. I didn’t want to take it but had no choice. I can’t remember what it was. If I remember I’ll check and let you know!

        1. Thanks a bunch Mandy. <3

  8. Wow! Your experience was a rough one. Thanks for the honesty. I hadn’t heard of anyone having so much trouble. I didn’t love the prep but didn’t find it horrible and it was thorough. On the other hand, I’m due for a second one and haven’t made the appointment. You remind me to make that phone call on Monday. Because Vic isn’t here, I’ll also have to enlist a friend to bring me home.
    I hope it goes much easier next time.

    1. Thanks for your feedback Elaine. May I ask, last time you did it, did you have to drink 4 litres of that gunk?

  9. It was 10 years ago and I don’t remember the details. But if I had to drink that much, I could. I’m a prodigious water and herb tea drinker with a few cups of green thrown in there, too. So I can handle the fluid. Taste was bad but not impossible. I think protocol for cleansing has become more rigid when I hear other’s experiences. I will see.

    1. Thanks for this Elaine. I am already practicing drinking tons of water now, for July, lol. 🙂

  10. I feel your pain. When I became old enough to get a colonoscopy, I wrote a book about it! “Night Of The Colonoscopy – a horror story (sort of).”

    Yes, I survived. I was told my colon looked great – thank you; I’ll be honest, who doesn’t want to hear that they have a great looking colon? – and that they’d see me in ten years.

    Ten years! Happy dance!

    Then my YOUGER brother was diagnosed with rectal cancer. Which increases risks for his family members. Now I get to go redo the fun that is a colonoscopy every three years.

    From ten years to three. I lost a seven year free pass, just like that. On the other hand, my brother has a colostomy bag and can’t eat pizza. So no ones cares that I have to go enjoy another colonoscopy in just 18 short months.

    No one.

    Including me.

    1. HI Dan, thanks for your candor here. First off, yes, I saw that book you wrote, and marked it for my TBR. I’ll be sure to let you know my thoughts. 🙂 On the serious side, I’m so sorry to hear about your brother’s demise. I know your humour (from reading your posts, that’s why I enjoy them) so I see the humour in your comment about ‘the free pass’, but understand the seriousness of it. Keep that smile on and soldier on with the scope. We all hate it, but it saves lives. (That’s what we have to keep telling ourselves as we gulp down the vile, disgusting potion. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the honesty, Debby. This is not an easy subject to talk about with family let alone share with the world. More people are suffering from bowel ailments, so this subject has to become more open.

    I’ve never had a colonoscopy, however, many in my family have. My mother lost a son when he was six weeks old due to bowel disorder (this was five years before I was born). My youngest brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when he was 15 (early 1980s) and had a colostomy bag since 1997. Several of my siblings (there were 11 of us in all) also suffer from Colitis or Crohn’s. I have a niece who was also diagnosed with Crohn’s when she was 15.

    I know the language all too well. Because of my family history, I am cautious about the food I eat. I’ve eaten a clean, bland diet since the 80s because I live in fear that anything too spicy or complicated might trigger something I don’t want.

    Recently prescribe antibiotics sent my bowel in a whirl. I stopped taking them once the symptoms started. This is the second type of antibiotics in six months that gave me pain and discomfort.

    Although struck hard with bowel disorders, we are fortunate that cancer is rare in our family. My father died of lung cancer, but he had smoked like a chimney since he was nine (he died at age 67), and he lost a lung in the Second World War, so when he got it in his good lung, there was nothing they could do.

    You are braver than me for taking the test. I’ve heard too many horror stories to even consider it unless something drastic happens.

    1. Diane, first of all thanks for sharing your private woes with these diseases. It is a frightening widespread issue it seems. After what you told me about how much bowel disease is in your family, you frighten me by not getting scoped. It doesn’t matter how clean your diet is when your are susceptible, judging by the amount of this crap in your family.
      I live eating a very clean diet, not much meat, gluten/dairy free, and lots of healthy foods and supplements and they still removed polyps.
      Please don’t ignore this Di, get yourself tested! I am not brave, my fear of dying from bowel disease outweighs my fear of the prep!

      1. I can tell you I’ll get one, but I’d be lying. I guess my fear of dying doesn’t top subjecting myself to the medical community I’ve grown to distrust. It took me five years to get a mammogram, and I did it only out of guilt from society. That’s the wrong reason to do anything. Now I fear what I’ve subjected myself to during the exam; all that radiation directed at one of the most sensitive areas of the body. It is a vicious circle.

        1. Oh indeed it is a very vicious circle. Heck, I don’t even want to get into the amount of radiation I get going through those damn airport scanners! Don’t get me started. 🙂
          And of course the choice is always yours and I respect that. I’m just so petrified at people dropping off around me that it propels me to go through all this crap. 🙂

  12. Poor thing Debby. I hope the next one is clean & clear.
    Colonoscopy (:) could be a check for writing afflictions. So could a Semicolonoscopy (;) 😉 lol <3

    1. Lol, I think? Thanks Ralph xo 🙂

  13. I once had that thing… I don’t even want to mention it as I was having awful aches… I still remember it… I was so freaked up I thought I was going to pass out…
    Good to know that all os fine, though… Much love. Aquileana 😀

    1. Unfortunately, nobody I know of ever had a pleasant experience with this. 🙂

  14. Oh Deb 🙁 Just seeing this one now and you have my sympathy for sure. Every 3 years, wow, I’ve never had one but have heard testimonies… I hope the next one at least goes smoother for you. Gentle hugs xo

    1. Thanks for your sympathy Christy. 🙂 I’m dreading the do-over 🙁

  15. Oh dear…you poor woman. Appreciate the humor here but I know how taxing the whole process has been in many ways. I can see why they are strict with their protocol but it is always a good idea to arm yourself with knowledge which translates into options. We maximize control that way.

    1. And I’m still trying to master control, and trying to master a plan for something I can tolerate getting down for the next round. 🙁

      1. It’s tough. Some things you just have to submit to. Reminds me of childbirth. Hurts more if you fight it. I trained for 12 wks in the Bradley method to arm myself with knowledge (of what the hec will be going on) and to lean fully and calmly into it.

        1. Thanks again Diana. I will remember your words of encouragement as I try to gulp down the next dose of nasty. 🙂

  16. The preparation sounds like ‘military precision’ and I sure would want to do it right the first time–can only hope I can. Good share, Debby. As with all things not openly discussed, this one needs to be. 😀 <3

    1. Thanks Tess. I thought by adding a bit of sarcastic humour, it may go down a bit more palatable. Lol, pun intended. <3

  17. Oh Debby. 😮 I had to have an early colonoscopy because of my IBS and it was a good thing too because I too had two small polyps which were removed during the procedure. The prep is horrible but necessary. My best advice would be to keep yourself very well hydrated prior to the prep (drink 8-10 8oz. glasses of water a day leading up to prep) and take the powder laxative (which is mostly salt) with Gatorade. I hope it goes much smoother for you next time. <3 xx

    1. Thanks for sharing Vashti. Wow, you were digging deep in my archives to find this, lol. Thank you. Yes, that prep is horrid, but it is so necessary. I’ll be venturing out for another next spring. 🙁 <3

  18. Catherine Henderson

    I am having a colonoscopy done tomorrow. This is my third one and my doctor has always prescribed the same thing each time. It is called pico salax and it has a lemony taste to it. You do the following on the day before your procedure. You empty one packet into one cup of cold water at 8:00 am and do the same again at 4:00 pm. Believe me, it works within 30 minutes and after that the toilet is your best friend!
    You still have to make up another 14 cups of liquid, be it jello, water, Popsicles, etc.
    The citro-mag is taken at 7:00 am on the day of your surgery and you only have to drink one bottle.
    Hope this helps

    1. Thanks so much Catherine. I suppose things are a little more complicated with me because for one, I’ve taken that before and I was told it wasn’t effectively enough clean out for me. I wish it was because it is the most palatable of all the evils. Last time I had a colonoscopy I took Miralax. I’ll try anything to avoid that dreaded ‘light’ stuff, lol. Thank you. 🙂

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