Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Prep Not the Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy Prep Items 
It's the prep, it's not the colonoscopy.

I've heard that from many people who have had a colonoscopy. And now I know this is true. But I can also tell you, that the prep was only challenging for about two hours.

And because I read various accounts prior, I was ready.  It really wasn't that bad.

[Note: I am not a licensed medical professional. If you are preparing for a colonoscopy, follow your doctor's instructions, which might differ.]

Because I had a colonoscopy scheduled for Monday, June 9th at 9 am, I had instructions to start my prep at noon the day before.

Briefly stated, the prep took place in five stages:

12 noon to 3 pm: Three hours of ingesting of the majority of the prep items with fairly passive emptying of my bowels starting at the end of this stage.

3 pm to 5 pm: Two hours of active emptying of my bowels.

5 pm to 11 pm: Six hours of moderate emptying of my bowels.

11 pm to 5 am: Six hours of sleep.  (No liquids after midnight or until my screening was complete.)

5 am to 10:30 am: Five and a half hours of waiting in the morning (at home and at the surgery center) until my scheduled screening.

What to Expect

A couple days prior, I ate softer foods and low-residue foods as recommended by a few sample menus I found online. Here is a post that contains links to those menus; the links are near the end of that post.  But my doctor only limited my diet starting noon the day before.

Mixing the Solution
12:00: I took 2 tablet laxatives (biscodyl).  I was able to do laundry, dishes and stage my bathroom for the more active part of the prep.

2:00 pm: I mixed up the 238 grams of polyethylene glycal with 64 oz. of Gatorade, shaking the bottle vigorously after all the powder was added. I used a generic brand where many might recognize MiraLax as a popular brand name.

I had to take about 8 oz out of the bottle in order to make room for the powder.  I never added that back in. I decided that if I ingested all of the laxative, it didn't matter if I was short a few ounces of Gatorade. I could always hydrate more later if needed with broth, water, juice or even that extra Gatorade.

8 oz every 15 minutes
I drank 8 oz. of this mixture between 2 pm and 4 pm until I finished it.  I found the taste to be neutral. It wasn't delicious, but it wasn't distasteful either. I watched the clock on my nightstand so that I paced myself to drink 8 oz every 15 minutes.

3:15 pm: My bowels started actively emptying every 15 minutes.  I was able to stay in my bed for the firsts hour so that I could keep my drinks out of the bathroom and so that I could stay under a heavy blanket. This process made me feel cold.

4:00 pm: I was finally done drinking the prep, and the frequency, so I took up residence in the bathroom.

Distracting myself with a movie
My bowels then started emptying about every 5 minutes.

I set up a portable DVD player on an end table in the bathroom earlier in the afternoon, given that many who have been screened advised me to bring magazines, a book, a tablet or a DVD player right into the bathroom. That was a good idea. I watched a 90 minute movie in there, which helped distract me a bit.

By 5 pm, I started using wipes and cream that I purchased in the aisles next to the adult disposable underwear.

Staying well hydrated
6:00 pm: Things slowed down enough that I was able to return to my bed where I could cover myself with a heavy blanket again to get warm and where I drank broth to keep hydrated.  I only needed to make trips to the bathroom every 20 minutes or so for the rest of the night.

Sunday morning, I made sure to be well hydrated before emptying my bowels. You can see various clear liquids on my nightstand: L-R Broth, water, white grape juice, Zero Water, and Gatorade.

After all those sweet beverages I consumed throughout the day, I craved the broth, which I found tasted like a triple decker turkey sandwich.  I tapered off my drinking as the night wore on. I wanted to reduce trips to the bathroom.

8:00 pm: I took another 2 tablet laxatives (biscodyl) as instructed.

11:00 pm: I fell asleep around this time.

5:00 am:  I woke up around 5 am. I was amazed that I wasn't up all night making trips to the bathroom.  I had instructions to not drink ANYTHING after midnight. I forgot and had about 3 oz. of water at 5 am. I talked with the anesthesiologist later who concluded that the water was eliminated prior to my screening, which didn't happen until 10:30 am.

I have some notes about the trip to the surgery center where I got my screening. But I'll leave that for another post.


Why Get a Colonoscopy?
My 1st Colonoscopy Screening


  1. Mine never have been that exciting. Far fewer visits to the latrine overnight.

    1. Oh, you sound like a pro. I am glad that they have been relatively uneventful. I did a lot of hang wringing the week before. I won't be that nervous next time.

  2. Well, I agree the prep is worse than the procedure. But I have to say (lol) ... this is perhaps TMI ... too much information! But anyway, congrats on getting it done, and I assume everything went okay which is the more important point.

    1. Yes, I can see how some would rather not have the details. But I was a person who read 250 graphic birth stories before I had my first child. I like to know what to expect when I have a "scheduled" ordeal. Others want a preview as well to mentally prepare. Oh, I had no polyps, no diverticulitis and no diverticulosis (the precursor). So I can keep eating popcorn and nuts and other high fiber foods. Yipee! Hugs to those who have to be screened more frequently than 10 years due to family or personal history of colorectal cancer (or IBS or Chrone's or Celiac, etc.).

  3. I had to have one a few years back, dear lord it was horrible! They gave me a gallon of the most disgusting stuff ever to drink. I ended up throwing it up and spent hours ill. Horrible...maybe it has gotten better??

    1. Oh, I am very sorry that your system reacted more strongly. I have read that there rare other newer prep mixtures than the one I took, so maybe it will be a 3rd generation of solution before you have to do that again.

  4. I am a serious water drinker. But I was not specifically informed by anyone, or anywhere in the instructions to stay extra hydrated before the prep or after or until midnight. Consequently, I woke dehydrated, disoriented, got out of bed and collapsed on the bedroom floor unconscious. Because my husband couldn't rouse me, he called 911. Two local police and three paramedics later, it was determined that I was severely, even dangerously dehydrated. It should go without saying, but DRINK A TON OF WATER BEFORE YOU START, DURING AND FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN (sorry about the caps).

    1. Susan: I am so sorry that you were severely dehydrated. Yes, the instructions should have admonished you to drink more than usual. What a horrible experience. Thank you for stressing that to readers so that they can avoid the difficulties you had. So preventable!

  5. oh my! I feel like I really know you now! I am due for one myself. Thanks for the heads up on what to expect!

  6. I've been putting this off for years. It's finally time to get things scheduled. Thanks for the walk through. I had no idea what to expect. It helps so much.

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