Colonoscopy: Is a visual examination of the colon from the cecum to the rectum
via a colonscope which requires sedation.
So you just had a visit with a colorectal specialist and he has informed you that you are needing a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy can be used to detect a range of issues or illnesses going on in your colon. I am certain your specialist has discussed with you the importance of the proceedure and how it will happen. You won't feel any pain during the proceedure as you will be sedated. Your doctor would have told you about the special diet that you need to take, along with colon preparation as well.
In the period between 2010-2013 I have had around 10-12 colonoscopies, and I want to share with you my:
10 tips for helping prepare for a colonoscopy
And to help you be more comfortable the day before as well!
Tip #1: I think it is only fitting that this tip comes first, as from prior experience I think it is one I consider important...
DO NOT SCULL THE COLON PREP SOLUTION.
As tempting as it is to hold your nose and scull the solution (because it tastes horrid and you want it over), there are a couple of reasons why you shouldn't: a) it will bring on the urgency of cleansing your bowel- prepare for a bit of an explosion when you reach the toilet b) it will upset your stomach and make you feel nauseated c) you may not actually make it to the bathroom (learnt that one the first time)
Tip #2:The day before your colonoscopy you can only eat/drink CLEAR FLUIDS.
The first time I went for my colonoscopy my dad told me to stock up on lemonade iceblocks as they are: a) clearb) filling and c) trick your stomach into thinking it has had 'food'.
I swear by this! I also drink apple juice, soda water and mineral water too.
Tip #3: I say this with brutal honesty- DO NOT LEAVE THE HOUSE THE DAY YOU TAKE COLON PREP.
If this will be your first colonoscopy you will soon see why I reccomend staying home and close to a toilet! There will be times where you will literally be running as fast as your little legs will carry you. There may be times where you might not make it to the toilet. If like me, you would be that exhausted come night time you just sleep on the toilet. If you don't live alone, I really hope you have a second toilet as the last thing you need is someone taking their time while doing crosswords or sudoku, while you are eagerly urging them to hurry along!
Tip #4:Invest in some baby wipes or vasoline.
Now.. have you ever had a really bad case of 'the runs' and found your bottom felt like it had been burnt, & was stinging? Well imagine that, but 10x worse. Your bum will burn, it will sting and it will become more and more irritated with ever wipe. I found that baby wipes and vasoline helps- It will still sting but not as much.
Tip #5:Keep an eye on your circulation in your legs.
You might think this is odd, but you will be sitting (often rather uncomfortably) for many, many hours. So it is really important that you find ways that can help your circulation and blood flow to your legs. I found I would often get pins and needles if I had been sitting for too long. So I invested in a bath step (a toddler one is perfect) to keep my legs slightly elevated and not so much dangling. If possible look into replacing your toilet seat with a more cushioning or padding seat (your buttocks/thighs will thank you), along with not crossing your feet/legs while seated. And if possible stand up or shake your legs every now and then to keep them moving and blood circulating.
Tip #6:Try and find something to entertain you.
I found that it made the time go quicker if I set up a little table/bench in front of the toilet with my laptop so I could watch some tv shows or DVD's that I had. Also if you are into reading but haven't "had time to read" lately, this is the perfect opportunity. Grab that book and prepare to immerse yourself into the story and escape the 'shitty' situation you are in. Pun intended!
Tip #7:Prepare to sleep on the toilet
I know I briefly mentioned this above ^ but you will be that exhausted andso 'over it' that you will just want to sleep... whilist still sitting on the toilet. This might sound so strange, but in all the times that I have had a colonoscopy, I found that I got more sleep the night before if I just propped a pillow up beside me and slept. Think of it like sleeping in the car while travelling.. just you are on your toilet.
Tip #8:Keep your fluids up!
When you are having a colonoscopy, you lose a lot of fluids and can become dehydrated very quickly! It is really important to keep up your water intake, I suggest getting a water bottle and just drink from it constantly. Also don't just start drinking plenty of the fluids the day before, start many days before and also having hydrolyte iceypoles, or drinks like gatorade and poweraide can give you a lot of the electrolytes needed. NB: That the two days prior to your scope you only have clear fluids and cease drinking any drinks with colours.
*But as always, please consult your doctor, nurse or health physician on what is best for you and your situation.*
Tip #9:On the day wear baggy, comfy and loose fitting clothing.
You will want to thank me afterwards for this tip. After your colonoscopy often you feel so bloated and blegh that the last thing you want is clothes that feel too tight or trying to do up buttons (when you still feel groggy). Also remember to take a jumper, often when sitting in a hospital it can be quite chilly, and when you finish and are sitting up eating something (often for a while before being discharged) you may get cold.
Tip #10:Organise at least the day before and day afterwards off work.
The day before the proceedure is when you need to take your colon prep, and needless to say you really don't want to be at work on this day as you will literally be on the toilet for most of it. As for the day afterwards; you shouldn't drive, operate machinery or make important decisions as you are still considered to be under the effects of anaesthetic which can often cloud judgement, or make your head a bit 'foggy'.
*Different people react differently to anaesthetic, so important to follow any instructions provided by your doctor*
It is best to arrange to have someone collect you after your proceedure,and at least have someone with you overnight.
Now, I know that no one finds colonoscopies especially the preparation fun or comfortable, but I hope that these tips and advice can help you feel more comfortable.
I have offered the advice above based on my own experiences. Your own experience might be different or could
be similar. If you have any questions or concerns it is best to consult your doctor, nurse or health physician.
LOVE the honesty and tips, I had my first colonoscopy last week and used your '10 tips to prepare for a colonoscopy' and I am glad I did. MAN!! I certainly don't want to go through that again in a hurry! As least with your help I knew what to expect, and I appreciated your humour too in the post!
Posted by Kate on 03/10/2014 - 09:48 AM
Just wanted to say I love this post. I have Lynch Syndrome so I have yearly colonoscopies (I'm 25). I have done all of the above, including sleeping in the toilet and sculling my prep kit a little too fast and bringing on the "cleansing process" at an accelerated rate!
Lemonade ice blocks are life savers, especially when your second day prep (before the prep kit drinking starts) is at work.