Colonoscopy Hacks

March is almost over—have you committed to scheduling your colonoscopy? Yes? Great, let me give you a few tips since I’ve had about 10 of these procedures!

1. ASK FOR OTC PREP. I’ve done all the preps: expensive prescription preps, expensive prescription preps with a coupon, and over-the-counter. Hands down, my favorite way to do a colonoscopy prep is with OTC items. They are cheap, they get the job done, and I’m not any worse for wear afterward. Ask your gastrointerologist for OTC prep; she may not agree, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

2. EAT SOFT THINGS. Before you begin your prep, you should remember that what goes in must come out, forcefully in this case. Don’t eat anything that is too hard to digest or that doesn’t provide enough long-lasting nutrition for your fasting day. I recommend eggs. If you can get two or three eggs in as your last meal, you’ll be thanking yourself.

3. DRINK EVERYTHING!!! I‘ll never forget the time I thought I could fast, neglect my hydration, then push toddler twins up street in a double stroller in hot, late summer weather. I found myself curled up on a crib mattress with one of my toddlers, crying and cursing myself for neglecting the liquids. Drink, drink, drink ‘till you think you’ll drop. Or, you will drop.

4. FINISH THE JOB. Think you can cheat on that colonoscopy prep? Think again. Let me tell you how much fun it is to go in and still have stuff in your system. You go home, do the prep again, still fasting, and come back the next day. Don’t even think about cheating.

5. ENJOY THE THREE-SECOND RAINBOW UNICORN TRIP! I tell myself the whole prep is worth is for the three second Midazolam happiness that I experience before I pass out. So much warm and happy.

*I do not condone illicit drug use. I do condone drug use administered and managed by a team of health professionals before they turn the room into a science-fiction nightmare that is modern medicine. I do not want to be awake for this Orwellian scene that will save my life.

** Wait. I just remembered—I actually woke up in my first colonoscopy! I groaned in confused agony, there were bright lights, machinery, beeping, and an awful feeling inside (literally inside.) I was told later that I cried, “I have cancer, I have cancer!” I imaging the doc and techs saying, “’re okay, honey, you don’t have cancer, just go back to sleep...hey over there! We need some more meds!”

6. HEY, WHO PASSED OUT THE GAS??? (Seriously, one of the funniest things my kid ever said.) Also, seriously—they won’t let you go home until you have pushed out some of that gas that was used to open up your innards. After my last procedure, I just couldn’t get anything to come out, so after 30 minutes in the recovery room, I lied so I could go home. Don’t try this on your first colonoscopy! I am Professional Colonoscopy Recipient, and I know what I’m doing. I don’t know where that gas went. Maybe in addition to a polyp factory, I’m also a gas sponge.

7. PLAN TO REST. I’ve had procedures that put in bed for the day, and others where I felt fine and normal after a good meal and an hour of rest. But, you never know what will happen, so just be kind to yourself and plan to take it easy the rest of the day.

I wish you the best on your procedure and am so proud of you for getting it scheduled! Mine is coming up in a few days, and while anything can happen, I don’t expect to find anything surprising. I expect to get the thing done and say, “See you in three years!”

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